CMB Spotlight #13 : Jonas Park and David Bollman

I'm always stoked to interview artists from my subscriber list.

In today's 13th CMB Spotlight, I had a conversation with songwriters Jonas Park and David Bollman. We talked about their songwriting process, their influences, and their new EP released on Forerunner Music called Forward.

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CMB: How did you get started in music?

Jonas: I have been taken with music since I was very young. My grandma has played the piano and the organ since she was a young girl, as I grew up she would always play old songs and hymns for us kids and teach us. Both of my parents are musical and we'd always have some cassette tape playing in the house. I remember sitting up by the tape player with my ear next to the speakers, I'd keep rewinding and playing the parts of songs that moved me. I began taking guitar lessons when I was about 12 and started leading worship a few years after that.

David: I took piano lessons from my mom when I was about 5. It’s funny though because the lessons didn’t last very long because I was a little A.D.D. and didn’t enjoy reading music.. at all. However, a few years later, when I was about 11, someone from church showed me a couple chords and song progressions on the church’s keyboard. To say the least, I fell in love with music that day.

CMB: Who would be your top three non-musical influences?

Jonas: It's hard to narrow to the top 3! My parents have influenced me with their love and belief. Mike Bickle is a Bible teacher that has influenced me a lot. He teaches about the worth, beauty, and love of God in a way that has greatly influenced me. Also, various mentors throughout my life have greatly influenced me, such as friend and singer-songwriter Adam Cates.

David: My mother and father have been two of the biggest influences in my life. They continue to exemplify love and sacrifice to me and my family. And another great influence in my life is a Bible teacher named Allen Hood who teaches the Word beautifully and unlike anyone I’ve ever heard before.

CMB: How about your top three musical ones?

Jonas: I think one of the best ways someone can be influenced is by being impacted to walk freely and humbly in who they are. Some artists may not be your favorite musically but they can sure powerfully influence you to walk freely and humbly in your gifting. I like surrounding myself with influences like that. Moving on, I do like bands Coldplay and MuteMath, composers such as James Horner or Harry-Gregson Williams, and also authentic worship artists such as Hillsong and Jason Upton.

David: It’s very difficult for me to choose my top three musical influences because I’m such a fan of so many different artists, producers, and composers. I really am inspired by all genres of innovative and beautiful music while also being a fan of classical music and the “oldies”. However, to list a few, I really dig bands like The Black Keys and Hillsong United, while somedays, I’ll just stream composer Hans Zimmer’s music for inspiration.

Candid-2CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?

Jonas: David and I write very similarly. But I'll expound from one angle. As for song beginnings, oftentimes I get an initial idea, like a melody, while I'm driving or walking. I'll usually record that idea and let the theme develop as I figure out I'm actually feeling. I ask myself simple questions like "What do I feel? What is the truth? What do I want to say to God?" From there the song develops. I'm a major feeler with music. Often times when I have the basics of one part, I "hear" what I want to come next, then I develop that next part. Almost always I write by singing gibberish at first to land my melodies then I move on to lyrics.

David: Song writing is an interesting process for me. Most days I’ll just sit behind the piano and start playing around with different chord progressions while singing out whatever melody comes to me. Usually the lyrics are gibberish at first. But subconsciously, there are themes and lyrical ideas that are sometimes captured at the “beginning of a song” that are inspired by either a recent devotion, a film, something beautiful or difficult I’m working through, a sermon, and or life in general. I usually program a beat to the song that’s just begun to develop. And I may finish the song that day, or step away from it for some time. I usually know that I’ve got something good when I come back to a song to finish, and I feel just as inspired as day one of starting to write it.

Album-CoverCMB: Let’s talk about your new EP, Forward. Where did it all start?

Us: We’ve been very close friends since we both were about 15 years old. And being young adventurous teenagers, we bonded through music, mischief, family, church outreach, and Jesus.

Two years ago, we decided to collaborate and work on our own professional music project together.

And in late 2012, we had friends and family support our efforts through Kickstarter to fund the project. While Jonas has been living in Kansas City and David living in Virginia Beach, we would send each other ideas and progress of our songs. We recorded together for only two weeks for the project in December of 2012.

And in 2013, Forerunner Music got behind the project and has really championed us. Forward is simply a dream come true for us being able to work on and release a project together.

CMB: What recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

Jonas: We recorded a lot of this EP in a couple different studios in Virginia Beach, such as Thomas Crown and Earth Sound. At home I write with an iMac, piano, midi keyboards, 000-series Martin acoustic, studio monitors, and a couple simple microphones. As for software on my iMac I use Pro-Tools, Logic, and Ableton Live.

David: I have a modest set up. A computer, piano, studio speakers, and a midi keyboard. For recording software I use Logic.

CMB: What would be your biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?

Jonas: Just start. Learn to trust what comes out of you and your taste. Be yourself but also don't be afraid to be inspired by others. Let go of your ego, be free to celebrate others and not think you're elite. Submerge yourself in the Word and spend time with God. Writing can be quick and inspired and other times take quite a bit of effort, write either way!

David: Get inspired. Don’t surround yourself with “debbie downers”. Surround yourself with those who believe in you and who want you to succeed. Be yourself and don’t be afraid to grow. Know where your gifting comes from, spend time with Him, and create!

CMB: Can you tell us a little about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?

Jonas: My church In Kansas City, Missouri, challenges me because it has a high value for both authenticity in worship and creativity. It is an encouragement to keep preoccupation on God and excel in our gifting.

David: For many years, I grew up playing on different worship teams in church. Currently, I attend New Life Providence Church in Virginia Beach.

CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online?

Us: Thank you for this interview! We feel honored and blessed to be featured on CMB’s blog. You can follow us at the links below.

CMB Spotlight # 12 : Jonathan 4Christ

In today's 12th CMB Spotlight, we are introduced to Christian singer and guitar player, Jonathan Wilson, also known under the name Jonathan 4Christ. We talk about his story, his musical journey, his album I'm 4Christ, and more....

CMB: How did you get started in music?

Jonathan 4Christ: Growing up in a musical family, it was only a matter of time before I picked up an instrument. Because we had everything else in my church band, I decided to play the bass. Ive been playing bass exclusively from the age of 14 until about two years ago. Which is 17 yrs. You gotta work out the math if you want to know how old I am! ;)

CMB: Who would be your top non musical influences?

Jonatan 4Christ: I would say God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit if I wasn’t sure they had a rocking acapella trio going on. But seriously, the people who have been my biggest influences in life are somewhat personal ones. The first would have to be my parents. Living in a house with 10 sibling we never had much growing up. However, my folks made sure they gave me what's most valuable. They taught me the value of setting my affections towards Christ.

They taught me at a young age that everything else in this world has the propensity to let you down, but God never will. This is a thought that never left me and helps me even now as a grown man. My Dad now has Alzheimer and I care for him here in my home. I hope through my care for him, I can somehow show him the appreciation for that lesson.

Another influential person in my life is my loving wife. She may not know it, but even when we are at odds she teaches me and helps mature me as follower of Christ. Her spiritual growth, love, and understanding during our current journey propels me. I thank God for giving me the perfect person for me.

I will have to say the third most influence is a combination of multiple people. These would be the servants of God who have pastored me in my life. I thank God for each one that has been an intricate part in my development as a man, servant and musician.

From times when I didn’t know what to do, or just needed someone to talk to, these men and women of God truly poured in to me in a way that if I had not known them, my life would be drastically different. I think we all owe a lot to the people who bear the burden of teaching us the Word of God and building us up in all areas of life.

HDRtist HDR - http://www.ohanaware.com/hdrtist/

CMB: How about your top three musical ones?

Jonathan 4Christ: Since most of my brothers are musicians (one who is a musical genius), they have been a huge influence on me. Two of my brothers, in particular, have literally taken me from showing me where to put my fingers on the bass fret board, to teaching me how to mix and master a record. I'll always be grateful for God giving me this giant “leg up” in learning music.

As far as musical stylings, the music I grew up listening to is oddly very different than the type of music I ended playing. However, I would have to mention Fred Hammond as one of the song writers whose songs still stick with me. I think I really loved both the depth and personal quality of his writing. His writing comes from a true brokenness. I feel this is something that is missing in a lot of music today.

A current musical influence of mine will have to be Brandon Heath. I love how his messages are poetic, but still clear and present in his songs. Also his music rocks and is always technically perfect. And also the dude has a great voice.

CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?

Jonathan 4Christ: Honestly for me it has to start with a message. It has to be something that I feel I want to say or needs to be said. I feel that music is such a great tool but at the end of the day that's all it is.

I endeavor to use this tool for the purpose of building up God's people and glorifying his Kingdom. So at the center of it there must be some message that needs to be delivered. Once I have something that is God inspired to say, I just write it all out. It doesn’t have to rhyme or be in any type of timing. The idea here is just to get the thoughts on paper.

Then, there will come a melody that will coincide with the general theme of the thought. From there I begin to shape the thoughts into stanzas - as if I was writing poem. Then I structure verses, bridges, and so on in order of the progression or completion of the thought and dynamics. There are many times when the thought does not match the melody, and I have to continue to reshape things. But most of all I truly try to be lead by God to make sure what I'm saying and singing is not just coming from my heart but from His.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81XoOKG-qqI

CMB: Lets talk about your new album “I'm 4Christ” Where did it all start?

Jonathan 4Christ: The “Im 4Christ” album is probably the most interesting and miraculous thing that has ever happened to me. As I stated before, I was always just a bass player in church. Through many years of service I came to serve as minister of music at a large ministry in North Jersey. Then I came to a point in my life where I hit a brick wall.

I was not growing spiritually, or in any other aspect of my life, but I was still very comfortable where I was in the ministry. At that time I knew God was calling me away from everything I was involved in, but I had no idea to what. So, after much internal struggle, I finally said Yes to the voice of God and made many hard decisions for me and my family which left us in a place that was uncomfortable.

This is when God started to show me what he wanted me to do. He started to give me song after song that had the recurring theme of standing bold “4” Christ. But not only that, I started to learn new instruments seemingly over night. I never had any aspirations of singing or recording a record and never dared to step in front of a microphone, But he gave me the courage to sing loud the songs he was giving me. So only in about a year's time, coming from no money and being able to play one instrument to now playing 3 the “Im 4Christ” project was completed, and is now touching many hearts and minds.

This has been an amazing journey! I know that this music is just a tool to champion this message, spearheading a ministry that encourages us not to conform to the world, but to unite and stand taller 4Christ and His truth.

CMB: What recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

Jonathan 4Christ: I spent a few years after high school working as a recording engineer where I became well acquainted with Protools. Protools is my software of choice with a small helping of Logic on the side. I recorded the entire project in my humbled basement setup which I named “Isaac's House Studio” after my 2 yr old son who constantly reminds me whose house we live in.

I currently run Protools 10 off of a mac pro , with a 003 rack and a AU 710 pre amp with a c414 mic. Its A very simple, relatively low end set up which God has graced me with in order to get the project done.

CMB: Whats the biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?

Jonathan 4Christ: If I can give any advice it would be to remain sincere and unique. There are so many out there who wish to follow a formula because they know what people want to hear. I believe we have no idea how intricate the gifts God has given us are until we give them back to him.

Last Christmas, I gave my son a race track. He opened the box and started playing with the separate pieces. It wasn’t until he finally gave it to me and let me put it together that he saw it had loops and ramps and all other cool stuff.

It's only when we surrender our gifts back to the giver when we'll see the total scope of it. And we should understand that these gifts have purpose that supersede our benefit. So don’t seek to follow a mold. Only follow God. He will show you what he wants you to write.

CMB: Can you tell us about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?

Jonathan 4Christ: I fellowship at a church in Newark called The Rock Fellowship. It's a ministry that believes in teaching the Word of God verse-by-verse, and places a great emphasis on the growth of the congregation and also reaching the community.

I believe that being a worship leader and a recording artist “4Christ” is really no difference at all. We are all servants. So whether Im playing and singing at my home church or the other side of the country, it's all the same. I think only when we don’t have the mind to serve is when things can get complicated.

We are all one body with many members. The music God has given me is to serve the other parts of the body - no matter where I am. I think the only thing to be mindful of is time commitments. If you are a worship leader in your church and an artist, there needs to be an understanding of expectations of when you can or cannot be in service because you may have to be somewhere else. Other than this, I think it's great to have the support of your local church in your endeavors as a Christian artist.

CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online.

Jonathan 4Christ: I want to thank everyone at CMB for allowing me the opportunity to share. This is truly a great service to the body of Christ.

We are currently involved in a great effort to reach the youth and encourage them to stand bold for Christ. Everyone can check it out and find out how they can be a part at http://riseofthevanguard.com. You can check out my personal website at jonathan4Christ.com and listen to the music for FREE at Soundcloud.

CMB Spotlight #11 : Modern Day Cure

In today's CMB-ite Spotlight, I'm stoked to introduce you to Michigan based, pop/rock worship band, Modern Day Cure. Here we go.... CMB: How did you get started in music?

Aaron: We’ve all had a love for music since we can remember, but we had no idea we would be in a band. Everything changed for us after I attended a youth conference in Atlanta. God spoke to me to start a band – I couldn’t deny His leading. I came home from the conference and told Tamar (my fiancé at the time) what I experienced, and she got onboard. Then I reached out to Tifani, a good friend from our church, and she said yes. The funny thing is that none of us were currently playing any instruments at the time, but we obeyed God anyway.

We found that the call from God overshadowed our inexperience. We began to meet and practice and slowly God opened doors for us. We released a four-song EP in 2012 and currently are in the process of finishing our first full-length album to be released this year. I play the drums, my wife Tamar plays keys and is lead vocalist, and Tifani plays rhythm guitar and also sings.

CMB: Who would be your top three non-musical influences?

Tamar: This may seem cliché, but Jesus is our main influence. Our name comes from Hebrews 13:8 which says, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” To us, that makes Him the Modern Day Cure. He’s the solution this world needs. Our songs are based on this timeless truth. Our pastors and parents are also great influences as well.

CMB: How about your top three musical ones?

Tifani: Too many to name but our three favorites are Desperation Band, Jesus Culture, and Elevation Worship.

CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?

Aaron: The framework for most of our songs starts during personal times of worship and they develop collectively. Often times I’ll write the bones of a song on the keyboard and bring it to Tamar and Tifani. Then the rewriting process begins. They help with ideas for instrumental parts, melodies and harmonies. It’s beautiful to see the words come to life when we put all the pieces together. We sing the songs over and over, and they become a part of us. Then we share them with our local church at our worship services.

There are also times when we have group writing sessions - those are a lot of fun as well. We’ll come with ideas or a theme and put it all together. Some of our favorite songs didn’t make the new album, but there are no egos in this band. We really work well together and we’re growing as songwriters.

CMB: Let’s talk about your new album Victorious. Where did it all start?

Tamar: We have such a personal connection with our first-full length album Victorious. It carries a message of hope and victory that is only found in Jesus. Both individually and as a group we’ve had to overcome fear, rejection, and uncertainty throughout our journey as a band. We’ve had challenges but we’ve kept moving forward. It’s our prayer that others will be filled with hope by our music and story.

stronggodcover-1We just released our first single from the album called Strong God. We are giving away a free download of the song at ourstronggod.com. The straightforward lyrics declaring the truth of God’s strength seem to really resonate with people. We had a blast shooting the music video for Strong God! People can view it below.

Other songs like Mighty One and Victorious stir up a sense of awe in God and remind us that even in death, we are victorious through Christ. These songs have been the soundtracks to our lives over the past couple of years and we can’t wait to share them.

CMB: What recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

Aaron: We recorded the new album with a great artist named Andy Reed. He has his own studio in Bay City, Mich. called Reed Recording Company. He uses Pro Tools. We mixed and mastered the project at Studio A in Dearborn, Mich. They are a Pro Tools based studio as well with all the latest gear and world-class engineers.

CMB: What would be your biggest piece of advice to artists who write and create original music?

Tamar: Staying in the scriptures and prayer is vital to the inspiration process for us. We love to pray the Psalms. There’s some good stuff in there! There’s so much emotion and imagery - but it all points back to a faithful God. Our lives are extremely busy, and we value rest.

We value quiet time with God. But we’ve also learned that He will speak in the chaos. His voice will penetrate the noise of this life. Some of our most memorable moments of inspiration came when we were tired, frustrated, and battling doubt.

MDCVictorious

CMB: Can you tell us a little about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?

Tifani: We love our local church! Often times, our congregation is the first to hear and sing our original songs. Many of our songs have become anthems at our church. We draw inspiration from the messages and weekly interactions with our church family. Some of our biggest supporters are from our congregation. Aaron and Tamar serve as worship directors and I assist them as a worship leader. It’s been a really cool experience that has helped us grow as musicians and leaders.

CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online?

Tamar: Thanks for having us! People can check us out at www.moderndaycure.com where they can join our mailing list. We really like to stay connected with our fans and supporters.

Modern Dy Cure Links:

Strong God Video

[vimeo 88830381 w=800]

   

CMB Spotlight #10 : Dobsy

dobsy Today's CMB-ite spotlight is Colorado based singer/songwriter Dobsy. This is awesome. Let's just dive right in....

CMB: How did you get started in music?

Dobsy: I started taking piano lessons when I was Middle School, I believe it was… I really did not like piano lessons, ha! It was hard for me to read music and when it came to playing, I would watch my teacher play the songs and memorize the songs and play them mostly from memory (they were pretty easy songs starting out anyways).

Since I wasn't enjoying lessons, they didn't last long. Then my family moved when I was in high school and the new youth group at my church was very into their music. Someone found out that I kinda knew how to play piano, so they put me up on stage! I started out just playing one note at a time, upgraded to two notes, one in each octave and over time learned from there!

Eventually I got a Mac and learned Garageband and learned a little bit of guitar as well.

CMB: Who would be your top three non-musical influences?

Dobsy: Definitely the Lord has kept me inspired, has challenged me and showed me favor beyond belief. I would be nowhere without the Lord. Secondly would be my close friends. I couldn't ask for more genuine people in my life that are truly inspiring. Lastly, I'm recently married to my wonderful wife, and even though it can be hard to be married to a musician, she's been super encouraging. She leaves me notes and is constantly praying for my calling and my dreams to come true. I married a good one for sure!

CMB: How about your top three musical ones?

Dobsy: Let's see… First off would have to be Hillsong United. When I was put on the stage in the youth group I mentioned earlier, 90% of the songs we would play would be from Hillsong. Since I was learning how to play while playing these songs, they definitely shaped how I think about music from the foundation. Second would be my good friend Aaron Strumpel. We've been playing music together for quite a while now. He's super creative and is always there to help out and critique, which has been awesome. We also recently release a little collaboration EP under the name King Cub Sing.

Check it out here.

Last would be Ryan Lott, aka Son Lux. I met him briefly once, but he's a friend of several friends. His music and sounds are super inspiring and every time he releases something new, I'm blown away.

CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?

Dobsy: I work mostly on software, but I get pretty much all my inspiration and chord progressions from the piano. After finding something I like, I move over to the computer. From there I start with a sound or a drum beat. I make a loop, usually 4-8 bars and just keep looping and building off of it. After I get a group of loops that I like, I'll arrange them into a song, add parts where it needs more, mess with filters and all that kind of stuff.

In my first EP, its all instrumental, but I'm currently working on a full length where I'm experimenting with adding vocals and it's been working out really well. But it's usually after I create the music, I'll just play the song on repeat, or move back to the piano and sing around to find a vocal melody and then add lyrics. I work a little different than most people, but I really enjoy creating the atmosphere/soundscape first, and then adding vocals.

dobsy_silver_epCMB: Let’s talk about your latest release, Silver EP. Where did it all start and what's next on the horizon?

Dobsy: Silver EP was released a year ago (early 2013) and came from a place of seeking wisdom from the Lord. At the time I was studying through the beginning of Proverbs and wanted to create a musical expression of some things the Lord was showing me. The scripture behind the EP is Proverbs 2:3-5, "If you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; Then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God."

I had been creating music for a long time, so releasing Silver EP was very exciting and made me a little nervous to see if anyone would like it, haha! I've had a lot of great responses, and am super excited to be working on a new full length that will take things to another level. It's crazy how much you can grow and learn in a year... I'm hoping to have the full length done by mid-late summer this year and will be putting together a Kickstarter in the upcoming months to help fund creating a project I'm really proud of. I have a few songs getting close and am working with some incredibly talented friends, including Chris from CMB-ite spotlight #1!

Chris is awesome, check out his stuff if you haven't already!

CMB: As a self-produced artist, what recording software do you use? Can you tell us a little bit about your studio?

Dobsy: Of course! I started out using Garageband, moved to Logic, and in late 2012 purchased Ableton Live. I've been loving Ableton and use it exclusively at this point. I've been working on my home studio a lot lately and it's been exciting to research new gear and have finally got to a point where I can pretty much accomplish anything I need to.

My setup includes a Macbook Pro, I've got a Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6 for an interface, KRK Rokit 6 monitors, I use Sennheiser HD 380 Pros for headphones, and I'm a big Akai fan. I use the Akai MPK 49 and APC-40 as far as controllers go. I also have a Wurlitzer console piano. I use a Rode NT1-A condenser mic and am planning on getting a Shure SM 57 soon, hopefully!

A big part of what I use is software plugins, so a few of the ones I use most are Native Instruments' Absynth, a new instrument from Output called REV, and there's a really cool (and inexpensive) Juno plugin called TAL-U-NO-LX that sounds great! I get really excited talking about gear, so hopefully I'm not boring everyone, haha! But that's what I've got as my home studio set up, and I highly recommend everything I mentioned for those who are looking into new gear.

CMB: What would be your biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?

Dobsy: Ask the Lord for inspiration and be yourself. Let the Lord work through you and allow Him to have your projects. It will always turn out better that way! And don't try to copy what you hear. It's definitely a great way to learn some tricks and tips, but you were created to be unique. And if you are striving for a sound that isn't the one you were created to make, music becomes work rather that worship.

CMB: Can you tell us a little about your local church community where you worship? How does that fit into your ministry as a recording artist?

Dobsy: Oh yes… I love my community so much. I attend Vinelife Church just outside of Boulder, CO. It's a spirit filled community with a passionate pursuit of His presence. I'm also part of the Resound Conference, which is a worship and creative arts conference held at Vinelife every year. I'm part of the worship team for both Vinelife and Resound and through being a part, I get to meet so many amazing, talented people that have similar life adventures. Being around such creative, talented and passionate people just overflows into the music I create and I wouldn't be half the musician I am now without my community.

CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online?

Dobsy: Thanks for providing a place for listeners to showcase more about themselves. It's great to have to opportunity to chat, get some exposure and hopefully be an inspiration and resource to help others on this same journey.

I just launched my new website, dobsymusic.com, so that's the one stop place to find out more and get links to music and everything. Also check my Facebook page, facebook.com/dobsymusic, for more quick updates and here's a link to my Silver EP from early 2013.

And for anyone reading, if you have any questions or anything at all, feel free to reach out and shoot me an email here or hop on my Facebook page and I'll help out as much as I can!

         

CMB-ite Spotlight #9 : Stephanie Boyd

1-Stephanie-12CMB: How did you get started in music? Stephanie Boyd: I have always walked around the house singing to myself. I have been drawn to the piano and singing for as long as I can remember.

As a teenager in New York I found an amazing vocal instructor and learned a lot about myself as I learned to control my breath and pitch. For years I sang other people’s songs and studied each one as a performer and a songwriter.

I had many great experiences where I felt God’s love and strength while singing. Then I started writing songs myself and loved the endless possibilities with each song.

I keep learning and working at it because I can’t imagine life without making music.

      CMB: What would be your top three musical influences?

Stephanie Boyd: I grew up listening to a wide range of music, from classical Bach to the Oak Ridge Boys, to Electric Light Orchestra, to the Cranberries and the Eagles and Whitney Houston. These days, I love the strong piano beat in music by Sara Bareilles, the electronic production of Owl City and the storytelling lyrics of Mindy Gledhill.

CMB: What would be your general process for writing a song from start to finish?

Stephanie Boyd: It starts with lots of thought and tuning into the world around me and my feelings to get a good idea of the kind of song I want to write. I listen to the radio in the car and scour the internet to find songs I love. Then play them on the piano by figuring out the basic chords. I mess around with different songs and lots of other ideas will come to me for melody and the general direction a song could take. For the soul of the song, the lyrics, it’s really random. I tend to get ideas anywhere I am, so I have a little notebook to write down interesting thoughts. Then I have to take some quiet time, buckle down and think through the actual words for the verses and chorus. For some people it seems so simple and fast! It’s not an easy process for me, but it’s rewarding.

CMB: Let’s talk about your new album, Touching Sky. Where did it all start?

Stephanie Boyd: The very first song my co-writer and I wrote together is called "It's okay to be Happy." I love the idea that we don't have to be perfect first and then be happy. One of my favorite lines is, "Arms open wide, we're touching sky. No matter that our feet are on the ground." It doesn't matter that we grounded with a real life with problems and mistakes. We can still close our eyes and touch the sky and feel heaven’s warmth even when life is chaos. Like mine half the time.

CMB: What would be your biggest piece of advice to us as a believer when writing and creating original music?

Stephanie Boyd: Great question! I believe God is supremely creative- He created the earth with all its beauty, He created our bodies, and the entire universe. He is the author of love and everything good. I feel that when I am trying to create something that reflects love and goodness that God will help me. I have definitely had moments of inspiration where ideas came to me from God. As a songwriter, I can write any kind of song I want. But I choose to make uplifting music. If I am going to spend my time and pour my heart into something, I want it to add to goodness in this world and bring people closer to God’s strength and joy.

CMB: Can you tell us a little about your local church community where you worship?

Stephanie Boyd: I attend a congregation with about 500 people. We sing and pray and hear the spoken word from people in our own congregation every week. Our services are filled with traditional hymns and not loud music because we believe that when we are peaceful and reverent, we can feel the Spirit of God. We listen to more upbeat music outside of our worship service. Everyone dresses up as a sign of respect to God. We have a lot of young families and activities for children. I attend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and feel very much at home there.

CMB: Thanks again for sharing your music with your fellow CMB-ites. Where should people go to find out more about you online?

Stephanie Boyd: My website is www.stephanieboydmusic.com where I blog about music, faith, and life. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

I love to get in touch with new friends and chat about music or anything else. Life is good! Come say hi!