Attractive Spirit (DnB tune)

So it was 2010 at our annual youth event and a bunch of us had been out on an estate in Birmingham on the top deck of one of our buses making music with local youth, the result being a whole crew of them turning up at our evening event and being impacted with the gospel. We were buzzing and I remember being quite taken aback on my way out the tent that night by a few words from a guy who I’d just met that day and who’d been alongside me in winning these lads. He said quite simply “Nayf you know what an evangelist is? Just an attractive spirit”!

It seemed so obvious and simple and exciting! Of course it’s somebody with a free spirit.. confident, released, loving, happy, that connects effortlessly and often without words with another’s humanity. So, “attractive spirit”. Here was a soundbite that captured the essence of a dynamic I dreamt of seeing released in the church again. We clearly needed to gather people like this to work together in a much more intentional way! For a start this had to become a song! I began writing shortly after this experience and recorded the initial inspiration, ie the chorus and basic dnb backing idea first-off. I wasn’t familiar with making this genre but clearly this track needed the energy and excitement of those beats.

However for whatever reason, at this point the track was shelved and I didn’t return to it for another couple of years by which time we’d launched our new evangelism initiative Jesus Army Action and momentum had increased in the church. Perhaps now was more it’s time. Anyway a couple of months ago I sat down again with fellow producer and partner in crime Jonny Haynes, we dug the track out again and in a flurry of creativity wrote the verse and experimented with ideas for the ending.

We were now looking ahead to a launch at our ‘outward facing’ Jesus Army themed event in Birmingham a few weeks hence and though there was then the obligatory rush to finish production a few days beforehand, the track was made ready and available for live use. The event itself came on the back of more JAA activity, resulting in more people being reached and coming to the event and the time was ripe for release.

We look forward now to this track and others like it being used going forwards to awaken kindred spirits into mission and adventure for the gospel.

’20-teens’ Here we come!

Touch The Flame – Music Video With A Message

Good art is more than technical brilliance. Good art is creative; it inspires something beyond itself. Good art is purposeful, it inspires. But art at it’s best is even deeper than that; it speaks from the heart and to the heart. And when art speaks from the heart of The Creator it’s prophetic.

Piano and pianist music video

There’s a prophetic message from God that’s been circulating around my church (the Jesus Fellowship) recently. It’s about how we need to completely walk away from relying on our own traditions and ways of doing things, living life dry of the power of the Holy Spirit. God wants to set us on fire again for us to live conspicuously connected to and charged by Him, driven by a passion, not dragged along by duty. One key scripture that bears this message for us is 2 Chronicles 7:14-15, which is read out at the start of the video later in this post.

Out of this message came a song titled ‘Touch The Flame’, with a chorus that asks the longing question “what if we turned to you again?” It seemed to strike a chord at a couple of our events so it was decided that it would be made into the month’s official studio produced Jesus Fellowship track, particularly considering it’s timeliness and topical relevancy.

Accoustic guitar and cello

Taking inspiration from an an impromptu live lounge music session the song’s author, Nathan, decided to record the song with a grand piano and asked Carole and Gav to play the cello and acoustic guitar for it. Maybe also taking inspiration from The Piano Guys he asked me to film it to give the vital message a bit more exposure to the church with a shareable music video. Not that I’m claiming to have achieved anything close to the production values of The Piano Guys’ video team, but it’s good to aspire!

Here it is:

I’ve never made a music video before. This project was particularly challenging considering the fact that I was filming the official recording of the track rather than something acted afterwards.

After dinner at our kind host’s house we spent a whole evening recording seven or eight full runs of the song to get the best take we could. We used two cameras, one handheld for closeups and medium shots, the other tripod mounted for medium and wide shots. I was aware that whatever take we used in the end I’d need the closeups of the musicians from the chosen take- I couldn’t get away with syncing too many clips of closeups from unused takes. This meant I ended up taking the same closeup shots all evening.

Crowding around mixing desks producing the music video

Chris temporarily set his desks up in our host’s utility room for the evening. Setting up for hundreds of events teaches you how to travel light and make good use of space.

Editing started with the lengthy and boring process of labeling and splitting all 3 hours and 20 minutes of source footage. With that over I used the roaming camera’s footage as a base for the video, synching it with the mixed track using the live audio captured by the camera’s mic. Then with a broad vision of how I wanted the video to progress between musicians and shots I set about adding in clips from other takes of the song. As the trio weren’t using any kind of metronome each take was at a slightly different speed so some clips had to be slowed down to odd rates like 98.1% of their original speed. It was tough to find enough suitable clips to fit in time with the recorded track and keep the flow going with cuts in suitable places. I’d better not tell you too much about the clips that still aren’t in time as that would spoil it for you!

All three musicians in the music video

Thank you Jayne Elliott, Hannah Chappell, Emmaline Hart and mum for lending all the candles. Thank you Caroline West for lending us your house and putting up with our late noisyness, and thanks to Lionel for his sterling reading of scripture.

All in all, I’m happy with how it all came together.

Lastly, you can buy the album or just the Touch The Flame track from iTunes or listen here:

An Introduction to the Jesus Army video

The Jesus Army recently had a website redesign, which gave it a fresh and vibrant look. As video is a great way to communicate we created a short informative video to help people that come across our website and know nothing about our church discover who we are.

The music track above was a remix of an old classic – “Come and See Jesus Brotherhood”, and was created in Ableton. Each of the 5 sections had their own animated title and you can see them in the video below:
[responsive_vimeo http://vimeo.com/55818222 ]

A still from video recorded on a Canon 5D Mk II with F1.2 50mm lens, at ACC 2012.

A still from video recorded on a DSLR (Canon 5D Mk II) with F1.2 50mm lens, at ACC 2012.

Teamwork was an essential part of making this vid – Nathan, Johnny, and Chris were involved in the music and recording, James wrote the voice-over for Jake to read, Aidan animated the website sections, Gideon turned pictures into moving works of art, Viv captured a dancing crowd for the youth section, and I simply pieced it together. I always enjoy working with people and playing to their strengths, as it makes for a great final product.