Speak, Brother

One of the nicest things about running Creative Kingdom is that from time to time we get to hear previews of songs before anyone else does. It makes us feel very special!

Especially when the music involved causes involuntary head bobbing, goosebumps and even a couple moments of tears-welling-up. Which is exactly what happened when I got to listen to the preview of the self-titled EP by Speak, Brother.

Speak, Brother, is an indie folk trio made up of James, Matt and Nath, and before I tie myself in knots trying to explain to you exactly what their music sounds like, why don’t you checkout the video of their single; Dry Bones here and see for yourself.

Speak, Brother

speak-brother-3

OK have you recovered from that beauty?

I have no idea how these three guys create such a full sound but it is incredible!

I have been playing their upcoming EP on a loop for the last few days. I know music appeals to people for different reason; some are looking for a certain sound, others like songs that link them to memories, but for me, I love songs that tell me a story.

This might be the reason why I have fallen for Speak, Brother. Their music is full of stories told with passion, authenticity and catchy melodies that you find yourself humming throughout the day.

Whilst Dry Bones is undoubtedly the showstopper, (and is available to download now!) my personal favourite track on the EP is ‘Two Bands of Gold’, it is a beautiful piece; romantic, timeless and triumphant.

I will stop gushing shortly and give you the more practical details of how you can get your hands on this EP but before I do I must just say that vocals here are incredible; full of harmonies, soothing calm one minute, rousing you to get up and do a little dance the next!!

I have a strong suspicion that this will be a band worth seeing live and if after hearing their single, you agree, you can see details of upcoming gigs here.

The Speak, Brother EP is launching on Monday 3rd November and will be available to download on itunes, amazon mp3 and the Speak, Brother website.

Speak Brother Happy Street

With Us

We all know what it’s like to feel black and blue – battered by life, beaten up and bruised by stuff that we go through along our journey of faith. Sometimes we feel like we’re on our knees and that God is no-where to be found. But He always comes through for us, and, whether we feel Him near or not, He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.

Below I share two videos. The first video is of some powerful testimonies of friends who have gone through tough times recently, but who have come through with massive stories of God’s faithfulness.

The second video is our music video with a spontaneous time of free worship at the end. The track was recorded live at our pad in London, with a make-shift PA, but we trust that it’ll be a blessing for some struggling in their own black and blue times. We’ve gotta be better as church at walking through very tough stuff together and having songs not just of victory and faith-filled declaration but also of lament to enable us to boldly come before our Daddy God together, Who wants to know how we’re really doing.

My prayer for you watching this is that you would know the presence of Jesus with you wherever you’re currently at, whether mountain or valley, and that faith would arise in your heart that the very real, living and all-powerful Comforter is with you as you listen and sing your own new song.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1: 3-5

 

 

 

Original articles: With Us Live & With Us: Oikos (Behind the Scenes at Home)

Fall into me

It’s a well known fact amongst those who know me best that I’m a bit of a “space cadet” at times; which is often the perfect setting for a songwriter. You need to see the world differently, give yourself chance to read between the lines and quieten yourself in order to hear things other miss.

However the time always comes when you need to pop that thought bubble, exit the dream and begin working hard to build what you’ve been imagining.

Although the ideas for “Fall into Me” were born in a flurry of emotion and lines upon lines of verse; it was actually written around a solid songwriting structure.

It is over a year ago that I joined Taxi Music, an A&R company based in the US and began writing music to brief. It gave me the chance to pitch my music for commercial use and get useful, constructive feedback from industry professionals on how to improve. The whole experience has made me a better, more honest songwriter. It has taught me to be tough, critical of my work in the best sense and to deal with rejection with dignity.

piano

The brief for Fall into Me was essentially this: “A Major Record Label is looking for SINGER/SONGWRITER SONGS to be re-recorded and released by one of their TOP FEMALE ARTISTS. “

They requested that the song be in the stylistic ballpark of the following artist: Lana Del Ray, Sia & First Aid Kit. They wanted dark, moody minor chords, a down tempo feel and a stirring, soaring melody.

This gave me a set of keywords to use as a guide in my songwriting session: singer/songwriter, moody, dark, minor chords, down tempo, stirring, soaring melody, Lana Del Ray, Sia, First Aid Kit.

These were my parameters, and what the client was looking for.

Give yourself limits
Which brings me to my first point. Surprisingly, it’s a good exercise to give yourself restrictions and limits which sounds like a contradiction to the creative soul. However, it is good practise to give yourself keywords to work with. If you set out to write a song in the style of Lana Del Ray, then it will only distract you to look at the work of Jay Z. They are polar opposites and will only water down your songwriting efforts.

In the end, it doesn’t matter if you’ve end up with a kick-ass reggae dance anthem, the client stated what they wanted, and reggae wasn’t on the list.

It was in this narrowing that I found flexibility and room to mould my ideas. Where I thought I would find restriction, I found freedom. I could discount certain ideas and styles; when forced not to go off on a tangent it freed me up to focus on what was in front of me.

Research
With the parameters in place, it’s time to research and review. You might have a few existing ideas; a melody line, hook, rhythm or lyric. It’s time to build around those ideas by what is essentially “Pinterest for song ideas”. The client gave three artists to reference, so it’s was time to hit YouTube and make notes of the similarities in the three tracks.

Using the keywords, I made note of similar chord progressions, instrumentation, harmony and form. This helped me build around my existing ideas.

Make yourself an oasis
First of all get yourself centred. Find yourself a good, tidy creative space with no distractions. Do everything you can to make yourself as comfortable and confident as you can! Whether that’s a slick of lipstick or looking at your previous work that you’re proud. I have a friend who loves to light candles to get themselves focussed; do all you can to get confident.

Get yourself a cup of tea, plenty of paper, your instrument of choice and a method of recording.

Know your Audience
If you are writing for yourself, locate the best parts of your voice, remembering to reserve the higher, more “sparkly” notes for the chorus and bridge. This will help give the piece momentum. If you’re writing for others then be aware of vocal ranges and whether the piece of music is a stand alone piece or congregational.

Once I’ve figured this out, I sit down and start playing around with some ideas.

Blue Micraphone

Record Everything
You don’t need to have a sophisticated piece of equipment at this stage; your mobile phone, a dictaphone or laptop will do just fine. Make sure you make notes of the key you’re in, the chords and if you read music notate everything.

I’ve learnt the hard way in this regard. You’ll come back to your work the next day, draw a blank on that great idea and panic! What was the key again? I had a KILLER hook and now it’s gone!

Save yourself the self-deprecation and write it down!

Don’t let fear hold you back
Write as often as you can and remember inspiration can strike at any point. Sit at your piano for hours and just enjoy playing. Scribble lyrics on napkins, keep your eyes open and go experience the world live your life! After all, how can you write about what you don’t know.

When it comes to songwriting, it is fear that holds us back the most. It’s a personal and exposing art; your insecurities will try to bait you at every turn. I’ve had and still struggle with these emotions. Do not give in or stop trying.

Remember; this is a skill like any other where only experience, practise and putting yourself out there will make you a better songwriter. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back.

Develop a tough skin; not everyone will get you or like you’re music. But as long as you are working hard and writing music that you are proud of first, and for accolades second, then you are on the right track to creating the right track.

Good Men

This song that eventually became the title track of my EP started with a melody idea I got for the chorus, and I just ran with it! I think I wrote about five choruses worth of lyrics in about half an hour! Obviously that wasn’t going to work so I had to edit it down. I then spent ages agonising over the verses which felt very hard.

Without wanting to force an interpretation – people have told me it means really different things to them than it does to me – it’s about how often we look for things from certain relationships that actually those relationships can’t provide, and as a result both parties are left a bit broken.


Rob’s EP: ‘Good Men‘ and is available to download on itunes.

Q&A with Rob Moles

Singer, songwriter and producer Rob Moles answers our artists Q&A and shares ‘Everything You Are’ from his EP ‘Good Men‘.

If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

People have described it as a mash-up between Ellie Goulding, Keane, and Coldplay. I try to not worry too much about what it sounds like and just make something I like. – sorry that’s more than four words!

What is your number one tip for song writing?

One thing I always try to do for myself is to listen to a wide variety of music – not just have it on in the background but to give it my full attention and listen critically. Things like: ‘oh I liked how the chorus has this hook in an unexpected place’, and ‘that was an interesting lyric because it made me think of this’ etc.

It’s always said that you can’t expect creativity to flow out of you if you’re not putting things into you – but in addition to that, I think you have to be deliberate and not passive about how you consume media.

Another thing that is important, particularly when you are starting out, is to not worry too much about what you think other people will think about your song. Just focus on writing something that excites or moves you. It might be that the first few songs you write are too precious to be heard by anyone else but you – but that’s ok!

What is your earliest musical memory?

Sitting in the car on long journeys with my Dad listening to classic FM – how very rock and roll! Probably that and playing in church from pretty much as soon as I could hold an instrument. Seriously though, I think the fact that I’ve been exposed to so many different musical traditions is great and that’s probably why I like so many different things.

What is the last song you listened to?

Pink – ‘Just Give Me A Reason’. Just shows how uncool I am I missed this one the first time round. It’s a really great duet between Pink and Nate Ruess. I’m not a huge Pink fan but I really like this song and the fact that the production is quite minimal for a pop song is cool too.

Which of your songs do you love to perform the most?

Probably ‘Everything You Are’ – it’s just quite a simple fun song that you can rock out a bit too.

This song was funny because it came together very fast in about two days – that never happens! I wish it did more often!

To me the song is really talking about legacy and what kind of things we invest in are going to create a lasting legacy that is worth something. When I talk about love in this song I’m talking more about companionship and investing in others as part of a community, rather than about boy/girl relationships to be honest – although I suppose it could be about that too!

What’s next for you? Up-coming events/plans?

I’m currently putting a band together with a view to doing a few gigs over the summer and afterwards – up till now it’s just been me on a guitar which is fine but a full band is more fun for sure!

I also work as a producer/engineer and have a few projects lined up for that. I enjoy helping other people to sound as good as they can be and achieve their musical vision.


Everything You Are is included in Rob’s EP: ‘Good Men‘ and is available to download on itunes.

Lightning

Lightning is a song that was written as a collaboration. My Aussie friend Jacob Darlinson came to me with a partially written song and asked me to help him finish it.

Song writing with someone else is a different challenge in comparison to writing on your own. There is a level of vulnerability in it as it takes courage to share creative ideas with other people, what you may think is great other people may not understand or connect with. You can clash in your styles or over where you think the song is going.

However alongside these challenges, there are a lot of positives to co-writing with people; you can bounce ideas, lyrics and melodies off one another and often come up with a much stronger dynamic to a song.’Lightning’ is an example of this. Jacob came to me with a song that was already close to being finished but was lacking a bridge. After listening to it I had a different thought of how that bridge could go, so together we created a more rounded song.

Jacob’s back in Australia now and he recently recorded this performance of our song. I’m really excited that it is going to be played at Soul Survivor Melbourne this year.

 

 

Potter’s Hand – by Joe Farrar

Joe Farrar shares his song ‘Potter’s Hand’ with us and answers our songwriters Q&A.

If you had to describe your music in three or four words, what would you call it?

Relevant Honest Worship.

I never want to write something that I don’t believe in my head or heart, I always want to speak and sing things that I know are true and that have impacted my life and the people that surround me.

How do you like to approach song writing?

I often start with an idea of what I want to write about, whether that is creation, God’s love or something that He is doing in my life that I am thankful for.Then I build on that idea, looking at scripture and talking to people to get their views and thoughts on it.

Once I have thought about that I get stuck in and sit in a room on my own with a guitar and just jam it out, sometimes it comes quickly to me but often it’s a long time before I get to the final product. I often come up with a basic structure of how the song goes and put down a rough idea of the words and then as I play the song more lyrics start to change.

So far in my song writing I have only had one experience of sitting down with no clue of what I was going to write on and 20 minutes later I had a song which I was really happy with (and still play to this day), more often I take a lot of time over songs starting with just an initial thought or melody.

What is your earliest musical memory?

My earliest musical memory (other than a church organ) was probably going to see ‘Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ with my family. I remember just falling in love with the music and was amazed at how well a story could be told simply through singing. It definitely sparked my love for musicals which then led me on to get interested in all sorts of music.

What instrument(s) do you play? Which is your instrument of choice?

I sing, play guitar and dabble in banjo and harmonica (that’s my love of folk music for you). I started playing guitar about 3 years ago after I had been playing bass for a year and wanted to take on the challenge of guitar. I am self taught.

What is the story behind the ‘Potters Hand’?

What I really find interesting is, the plans God has for us and the sacrifice we make when we lay down our lives that He might use us for His good will.

I have explored this idea through song writing a couple of times expressing it through metaphors such as being led on a path, however for this song I wanted to express the actual reality of facing God and saying ‘This is my life Lord, use it for your will’.

As I started to play through this line and shape it a bit the idea of being moulded and shaped crossed my mind and the imagery of God being the Potter and we are the clay. I think it is one thing to offer our lives to God but it is another to ask him to mould you into who he wants you to become.

This song is almost a challenge for me, and I want it to be for others, that our time on this earth is short and we can live it our way or we can ask God to shape us and teach us how to live for His glory.

What’s next for you?

I am still really busy at my church doing lots of worship events and services over Easter which is great fun. I am off to Spring Harvest this week to co-lead at iScape which is the 15-18s age group which is a huge privilege and something that I am very excited about.