Press Elliott Powell Music Ministries

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The Christian Music Junkie

The Christian Music Junkie

Can you give us a little background history on how you got started playing music?

Hi Courtney. Thanks for the interview. I got started playing music in my early teens. Like a lot of kids that age, I began to pay attention to popular music. For me, however, it didn’t just stop with enjoying music; I wanted to learn how to create it. My Dad lent me his acoustic guitar when I was 12 or 13 and I began to teach myself guitar.

How would you describe your sound musically, and who are some of your influences?
On “Songs of Ascent” I think you’ll hear some Coldplay influence, some modern dance/rock beats, and some Indie/Folk sensitivities comparable to Bon Iver or Escondido. Those were some of the bands I was listening to at the time of writing and I think you’ll hear that influence in these new songs.

How do you think being a pastor affects how you write your music?
That’s a great question. It certainly affects the lyrical content of the music. I was also purposeful in writing songs that are accessible and sing-able in hopes that the melodies and lyrics would stay with people through the day after listening to them, so as to minister to them.

What do you hope listeners will get from listening to your music?
Encouragement. There are so many contemporary Christian songs which focus on the topic of God’s love- which is great and necessary – but I purposely focused on other themes that, I think, are needed in CCM. “Brighter” is a song about the light one finds in the person of Christ; “Majesty” is a song about trusting God in all circumstances knowing that an ultimate, secure destiny awaits the church; “You Gave” is about our response to God’s sacrificial efforts to offer us salvation. So, I hope that these songs will offer encouragement through these topics. That, and, I hope people just enjoy the music!

Where is your favorite venue or place that you have played?

I have a number of favorites. Probably at the top is selling out the Viper Room in Hollywood.

Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?

Jesus. The more I come to know him, the more he astonishes and inspires me.

How does your family inspire you, in everyday life, as well as in your music?

My wife and children are amazing people. I regularly give thanks to God for my wife- the love of my life- and our children. They inspire me by their unique personalities and their devotion to one another. They bring so much joy to my life and that, of course, has a way of coming out in one’s music. For example, I don’t write any more love-lost type of music! I’ve got all the love I can handle from them. I’m full-up on love.

What is the best piece of advice that you have ever been given?

Personally given to me? My mother said something to me once that really stuck with me- probably because of the imagery of it. She’s a strong Christian and she told me once to “keep the center of your life uncluttered.” I like that. Keep the important things at the center. Don’t crowd your life with a bunch of stuff that doesn’t matter. I also took it to mean that one should regularly take a life inventory: Is your life clean and ordered? People do better in order; not so good in chaos.

Five Random Bonus Questions

1. If you had one day to do anything, anywhere, what would you do?

I feel like I’m supposed to say something epic, like climb the Himalayas or something. But, you know, because my little girls love Disney princesses so much, a day at Disneyland sounds pretty fun – as long as they have a place to take a nap. Little kids at Disneyland with no nap = no fun.

2. What is last CD you bought?

Like most people these days, I mostly buy downloads as singles or selections from records.
The last full CD I bought was Arcade Fire, “Reflektor.” Most recently, I’ve been listening to Ivan and Aloysha, Imagine Dragons and American Authors.

3. Do you have any pets?

No. I have nothing against pets, but I am allergic to cats and dogs, so that kind of ends any thoughts of pet ownership for me.

4. Camping or hotels?

Hotels.

5. What is your favorite movie?
It’s an oldie- “Chariots of Fire.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview! Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thanks, Courtney! This was great. Be sure to “like” Elliott Powell Ministries on Facebook and sign up at my site, www.epmusicministries.com, to get updates and free downloads.

Interview with Tim Gugudan

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What instruments did you play on Song of Ascents?
I played electric guitar, banjo, and did some BGV’s.

Anything unique about the tones you created for this record?
The banjo I used was my great grandfathers and is over 100 years old.It has a much warmer tone than newer banjos.

You all recorded at the famed East Manor Studio in Nashville.  What was that experience like?
It was great. It was my first time there and I loved the rooms; they felt homey, classic, and very chill.

What’s your favorite track on Songs of Ascent?
The songs are all great and I thoroughly enjoyed working on all of them but I would probably pick Brighter because I always love songs that groove.

Is it true that men with big beards have more fun?
Hahaha, I think we get some unspoken respect for it.

What’s next for you, musically?
I plan to keep on working with artists that want to make music and who knows?  Maybe I’ll be putting some of my music out there soon.

How can we hear more of your music?
Check out the Artists Brad and Rebekah; I work with them quite a lot.

Interview with Markus Huber

markus (1)

What was your role on Songs of Ascent?
I was the producer and the bass player for the record. I also arranged the songs with Elliott during the songwriting process. And the most important role: I was the resident barista for the entire band during the pre-production process.

What is the producer’s role when it comes to making a recording?
For me, the producer is someone who bridges the gap between the ideas and the vision of the artist to a more tangible element. Understanding where the artist is in his/her art and translating that into musical ideas and concepts. Then there’s more of the technical aspect which includes choosing the band members, recording studio & who to mix/master.

Tell us about your process in shaping and completing Songs of Ascent.
It starts with the songs and the emotion behind the lyric and the delivery of the melody. A song can go on so many different direction as far as production and arrangement is concerned; but being sensitive to what the song is conveying is the most important element of shaping the songs. I think that helped Elliott and me make creative decisions along the way. Once the song, arrangement and the message is clear, then I pretty much gave it to the guys. Trusting them to create parts is important. But my responsibility was to share the vision and the message to them. 

What was the vision for this record?
I think the vision is always to create, and let the message of the songs transfer to the sound that will be heard by the listeners.

Was there any particular emotion you were trying to evoke?
I think this will vary from time to time. That’s one of the things I like about making music. You can’t put a song in a box. These three songs can mean differently to people who are in different stages in life. But I can speak for myself. For me, it’s the emotion of being in awe.

In your opinion, what is the stand-out track on Songs of Ascent?
In my opinion, the stand out track is “Brighter”.

What part does your faith play in your creative line of work?
It is a part of all aspects of my creative work. It reminds me that it is always more than just what we hear in the music but the purpose of it and the relationships we cultivate in the process of making music.

What’s next for you, musically?
I’ll be working on an app that will be geared towards solo artists and bands in live performance settings. I’m also composing soundtracks on a few new projects and hitting the road with Johnnyswim sometime in the Spring.  You can hear more of my music at www.soundcloud.com/markushuber.

Dan MacIntosh Review

When Elliott Powell sings about being caught in the “thorn and thicket” in the song “Thorn and Thicket,” he’s using a metaphor – I believe — to describe how the things he thinks can sometimes trap him. He begins by singing, “Can’t you see the thought has taken a hold of me?” He sings these words over a lush, but gentle and mainly acoustic pop arrangement. Thickets are very dense stands of trees or tall shrubs, which can trap a traveler physically, if he or she’s not careful. There is also the mental variety.

 

The song, in part, appears to be inspired by the Bible story of Abraham and Isaac. When Powell sings, “The ram was there/Caught in the thorn and thicket,” it brings to mind the way God provided an animal sacrifice, which meant Abraham would not need to sacrifice his own son after all. Then when he adds, “Talk about testing limits,” this may well refer to how God tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to prepare his son as a sacrifice, just to see how loyal he was to his Maker. It ended up revealing how much he trusted God as well.

 

Although you may not guess this from the song’s lyrics, this composition was inspired by the artist’s near-fatal automobile accident, as well as his “miraculous” deliverance. Powell is a Christian artist, but he’s not the sort of songwriter that tries to pound a whole lot of theology down your throat. Instead, he makes music that is poetic, yet still inspiring.

 

Powell is a solo artist now, but he was a founding member of the alternative rock group Joy the Bug, which existed from the late 90s to the early 2000s. The act was even signed to Universal Records. These days, he performs in secular venues, as well as leads worship at church.

 

For such a serious lyrical work, this is really a pretty track. It’s the sort of complicated song that showcases what a fine singer and songwriter Powell is. He may well be someone truly special, so don’t forget his name.

 

Artist: Elliott Powell

Single: Thorn and Thicket

Review By: Dan MacIntosh

Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

 

 

Dan MacIntosh has been a professional music journalist for 30 years and his work has regularly appeared in many local and national publications, including CCM, CMJ, Paste, Mean Street, Chord, HM, Christian Retailing, Amplifier, Inspirational Giftware, Stereo Subversion, Indie-Music, Soul–Audio, Country Standard Time and Spin.com.

Featured in CMB

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Nate Fancher of  Christian Music Blog.

We talked faith, songwriting and my unusual conversation with Bono.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

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