Here’s some more process in the studio! I’m recording Humility again to be on the album. I was interested in recording it in a special space versus a traditional studio, so I was exploring what I was able to capture at Wesley. Love this chapel. Enjoy the video!
The first of January 2019. I have just got back home. In the last week I’ve played music in St. Louis, Marietta, and Atlanta, making some incredible memories doing what I love with people I’m falling more in love with. My entire back hurts from sitting in a car, driving, playing guitar, and jumping around like a crazy person last night with Family and Friends. But, with that,I feel so incredibly blessed. I am sitting even now, remembering to be deeply grateful for this amazing life and these special opportunities that I hope I will always perceive as gifts.
I wanted to share a few thoughts as we head into 2019. It is almost impossible to escape reflection and dreaming on the new year, as the renewing of the calendar beckons an invitation into the possibility of change, second chances, and a renewal of our very lives. My mind has been exploding with hope for the future, despite all of the uncertainties and pains that, I realize now, will always be a part of living. As I have been reflecting and taking an honest look into my own life, I thought I would share this one idea that I desire to pursue as I continue growing and living. I thought that this might be a beneficial contribution to the focussing in on forward movement, goal setting, and resolution that confronts us every Jan 1. And here it is.
I am coming to terms with my own deep brokenness. I am absolutely wounded. There are things that I simply cannot do. I limp through my life, and I always have. There are things about myself that I can’t look at. There are so many things that I wish were better. I have thoughts and desires that scare me - the kind that might make you scoot a few feet down the pew away from me at church on Sunday. And for so much of my life I’ve been running away from the mess I have created out of my life. I’ve been trying to shove all of the deep pain I experience into a closet somewhere, hoping that it might die on its own. But when you live a life constantly on the run or in hiding, you become numb to it all, and then you forget who you are. But somewhere in the recent weeks, my legs gave out. I couldn’t run anymore. It was like I had tried to run so far from who I really was that I found myself all alone, without any idea of how I got there or how I’d get back. And this is the revelation of the band-aid.
If we are not intentional in our lives about facing pain, sitting in it, accepting it, and surrendering it, we will develop a lifestyle that will cling to the nearest possible fix, no matter how cheap, temporary, or damaging the fix is. We’ll cling for dear life to illusions of freedom and anyone or anything who might ease the pain of our inner worlds. We start taping band-aids over the giant wounds we all have in our souls. And as we continue to replace the band-aids over our lives, the true injury only deepens, and before we know it, our lives cease to function as they were designed to. As I come to a clearing in my own woods, I am able to identity my own band-aids that I’ve been using to mask the deep pain that I have. I will busy myself to all ends, from sun up to the moment my head hits my pillow, avoiding all silence and solitude - knowing that in those moments I will need to wrestle with my loneliness and many insecurities. That’s also why sometimes I drink my way to a different version of myself, because he’s a little more free, funnier, and happier on the surface. That’s why I look at Instagram and criticize people for trying too hard or not trying hard enough. It’s all because I’m afraid to take an honest look at myself. It’s much easier to live in denial. But, I feel like there came a point in my life where the pain of pushing everything under the rug became greater than the pain that was deep inside. The shame of secrets and the shame of being one person in one room and different person in another - it all caught up to me. The truth had to find it’s way to the surface.
As I reflect on what I’m going through and think ahead to what kind of life I want to live, I have decided to renew my commitment. I’ve made a promise to myself to square up to the reality of who I am - all that is good, and all that is ugly. I no longer get to look at some things about myself and ignore the parts that I don’t like, because I know no more than ever that things don’t just fix themselves. I’m learning to love it all and have grace for it all. It’s weird, the more I’ve come to accept who I really am, the more I love myself, and the more powerful I feel over my vices. Grace is the most powerful asset I have.
And as I’ve processed, I’ve begun to identify my band-aids and peel them off. Not in the slow, careful way - but in a fashion that screams, “just get it over with.” This has looked like some hard conversations, goodbyes, new habits, and a lot of patience. It’s been silence - observing the beauty outside my window instead of watching Netflix, or driving without music, appreciating the sky or just the feeling of movement of the car. It’s been relationship - spending time with people and enjoying it for what it is, not needing every relationship to produce some sort of utility. It’s been taking a crap and leaving my phone in the living room and just being a normal, human being, who craps in silence without needing to be constantly distracted from my own life. Now, when I hear someone say something that makes me feel insecure or jealous, I take time with it after and seek the truth, not bullying myself for having those feelings in the first place. It looks like opening up space in my life to commune with God, hear His voice, listen. Like, really listen, as if my life depended on it. And I believe now that it does.
I’m identifying and exposing my wounds - ones that were left by my family, my failures, and my own dumb decisions. I’ve stopped hiding and trying to find the temporary fixes to my pain. And in the first moments of the wounds being exposed, the pain is tremendous. It’s uncomfortable, it’s shameful, as you are naked. But as I’ve continued to walk in that way, the wounds have slowly begun to heal. Truly heal, from the inside out. I feel like I have a second chance, yet again, to decide who I really want to be at the end of the day. I feel like a new creation. I feel the beauty in all of life and feel hope deep inside of me. The thesis is: God cannot heal what is kept in the dark. This is more true for me than it ever has been. So, going forward - may I live with a heart wide open with nothing to hide, no matter what it is. There is so much comfort knowing that each and every one of us is truly screwed up from the core, but what keeps me going is remembering the great journey, and that there is hope for a runaway like me. Hope for a joyful ending, a fruitful and worthwhile life, the possibility to change and grow, and the complete redemption of all that I have destroyed.
Here’s to the future, without band-aids.
Hey everyone! I wanted to check in quickly, give an update on how the album is coming, and share some photos! I just came back from a beautiful trip to Portland and California. I was so happy to be reunited with old friends and family. Out there, I filmed a couple of videos of the new songs in some really special places with some really special people. It’s taking so much self control to not leak any photos, but man it was so perfect.
This week’s mission has been to work on my songs “Whenever You Want” and “Changes” at my friend Andrew Ratcliffe’s place. Andrew is opening a recording school in Athens and has become one of my closest friends and mentors in town. He’s really opened my eyes to the power of community within music and has challenged me to grow more open-handed with my life. Andrew has been instrumental in the making of this recording, allowing me to play with some amazing gear and providing some state-of-the-art tools that I get to use and house in the home studio.
On Sunday, I joined forces with Andrew once again, along with Tom Ryan (Panda), to track the rhythm sections for the two songs. We met up at Andrew’s place and discussed arrangements, sounds, and drum parts. I wanted “Whenever A Waste” to be a force, combining electric guitars, electric basses and acoustic instruments with some synth basses and drum loops. What I’ve got is pretty cool, I think. Or maybe its too crazy. Im in the process of reducing the arrangement down to the most important parts. For “Changes,” I’m thinking its going to come out pretty straight forward, influenced a lot by The Head and the Heart and The Lumineers type sounds with acoustic guitars and bent out pianos. I’m excited about how these are coming out. Panda laid some incredible bass parts under all the songs that really anchored them.
Here are some more photos from our session!
Extra Credit: It’s short and sweet today cause it’s 6:30, I’ve been working all day, and all I want to do right now is go play basketball. So I’m going over to the gym of ages (YMCA) to get this bread. But the thing I’m wrestling with and realizing more is the power of charing and creating a community. There’s so much in me that is adverse to giving away to others - whether its my resources, time or efforts. It’s so I protect myself from being used. But I’m slowly learning, and I’ve been learning this my whole life, the joy of weaving my life with those around me. I want to learn the joy of giving freely, I want to make room for family to happen. And it goes against all of my fears and my knee-jerk protection modes. But, the more I think about it, the more I really come to realize that nothing is my own doing. I’ve earned nothing, I don’t deserve the many blessings I have, and I’ve never been my own provider. With this mindset, I am free to give and give generously. I am walking head first into this because I believe it’s the better way to live… burns and all. So the extra is incredibly simple - give it all away.
Last week I got to travel some and met up with my best bud Bobby in Portland. He was kind enough to sing this song with me in the coffee shop that Bess (Bobby’s wife) works at. It was such a special time to hang and reconnect and play some music together. No fancy mics or anything, just for fun. Hope yall like it!
OK! Got to record with some of my favorite musicians in the world! Here are a couple of recap videos from studio time in Knoxville working on the new record with Will Reagan and Brandon Hampton. Love these guys, and had such a great time. Special thanks to Gray Hauser for making these videos!
The following is an account of the previous two days spent tracking in Knoxville with Will Reagan and Brandon Hampton - as best as I can remember. We worked on two of the new songs that are going to be on the album, one being “My Time Will Come” and the other “Never A Waste,” the title track of the record. I am still trying to process everything that transpired in those two days in eastern Tennessee, as I feel the depth and worth of what the experience was cannot be contained in words - much less written. I am trying desperately to remember and document each moment of the trip, because I think, and can only guess, that these two days will live on in my life forever as one of the most critical moments in my history. No pressure, haha. So here, the account:
Gray and I leave Athens around 6pm on the evening of Wednesday, 11/28. I am extremely caffeinated because the heater in our house is broken so I’ve spent the better part of the day hopping around to different coffee shops in town, where I buy a drink at each place because I feel bad using the WIFI without ordering anything. I have two coffees and a hot chocolate - and that amount of hot excited drink goes a long way for my bamboo-shoot build. I play Fortnite at Gray’s house before we leave because quite frankly, I miss having it. But I’m thankful the temptation doesn’t live in my own living room anymore. I get so much more done now! I get killed really fast because I’m more garbage now than I ever have been. After the five second silence and deep passing anger that takes place after each and every Fortnite failure, we hit the road. I’m so glad Gray is on this trip. He is one of the most special people I know, and is truly a salty man in the biblical sense. He brings flavor to any place he is in. Gray is joining us this weekend to film some footage of the studio process and how these songs grow and take shape.
Gray and I stop at Upbeet in Atlanta for the most coveted Aloha Bowl, and then we pick up Abe Choi. Abe Choi is about 2,000 years old in our estimation, but looks about 27. I met Abe in Nashville through Common Hymnal, and I’m so glad to have someone in that group so close by. Abe is interested in life itself, and everything it contains, and while he works in software (I think?) he values art and the creative process so much and sees life in a beautiful way - it’s contagious and inspiring. Abe is along for the ride, just to support and hang out and shed knowledge about literally any interesting thing that has ever happened or is currently happening.
We roll into Knoxville around 11PM and meet Will at the apartment where we will be staying. The plumbing is broke so we decide to stay at Will’s house in his basement. The crew meets up with Brandon at our guilty pleasure, the Jig & Reel in downtown Knoxville, which boasts “one of” the largest selections of Scotch in the world. We catch up, grab some grub, and head to Wills house to get a good night’s rest - for the next day, we begin recording.
DAY 1: MY TIME WILL COME
We wake up and head to the studio. Will was kind enough to have the new studio ready to record for these could songs. It’s impossible to express how much of an honor it was to be the first artist to record in the new studio. It was beautiful. magical. impossible to understand the meaning of. Going into this weekend, I was so nervous. I even felt self-conscious around Will and Brandon, like I was being super careful of what to say or do. Nervous energy. I think it’s because I respect their work so much and feel so honored that they would even agree to work with me and I put a lot of pressure on myself to not let them down. I felt like a kid in high school trying to make the jump from JV to Varsity.
One thing that I realized immediately was that the pace was going to be different. One of the appeals of working with another producer, for me, was to be able to be submerged in someone else’s creative process - to get out of my own pathways and ruts and to be challenged. Something that I appreciated was how Will took his time and allowed his curiosity to guide him in the recording. It’s easy to get wrapped up in efficiency and to ignore the pull to wander and explore, and that’s something that I was challenged to do by observing him. After all, making music is a creative and organic process, so it’s ok to go a little slower and try a bunch of things that don’t work. We would spend hours moving microphones, trying different settings, moving rooms, trying different guitars, and manipulating sounds - all to learn, explore and experience the expression in the music. We would create, mix, and track along the way as if each step of the process would grow and inspire the next idea. I enjoyed working this way and it challenged to me shift some of my own approach to producing.
We begin recording “My Time Will Come.” After determining the tempo and direction, we decide that a live performance of the song would communicate best, as it has a lot of feeling. So I perform the song live singing and playing at the same time. Will uses some incredible vintage microphones to record it, including a Neumann U67 and a RCA 44. The room sounds killer and acted, in this particular case, as a reverb that we were able to tuck under everything. Then, Brandon laid done some incredible lead acoustic parts and tracked the hook of the song, which is a repeated riff that loops over the chord changes that I do on the original guitar. We played with pitching sounds up and down, throwing guitar lines into funky plugins and delays, and in the end had a really textural and unique sounding guitar line. I can’t share too many of the chef’s secrets here, but man was it saucy. The song took an incredible shape that our collaboration was able to pull out of it. Will, Brandon, and my vision joined to make something none of us could have made on our own. Will and I ended up layering some background vocals to create a makeshift choir that helped lift and push the chorus along. We worked through lunch and ended up going to Barley’s to snag a plate of their legendary chicken fingers, officially dubbed “fingies.” I bypassed the fingies and shared a delicious pizza with Gray. But man… did those fingies look both delicious and deadly in every sense of the word. We return to the studio after eating Fingies and continue to layer and explore. We are all zonked by the end of day 1 and return to the house and are in bed before midnight.
DAY 2: NEVER A WASTE
In my experience, no longer how many days of recording there are in a row… start times and general urgency to work always diminishes at an exponential rate as a session goes on. So, even though we were only recording for 2 days, the second day was the last and therefore we acted the same as a group of artists might act at the end of a 5 day recording. Will asks me what time we should get going and I shrug, “10?” So, we get a great nights sleep and head to breakfast at my favorite spot, Olli Bea’s, which serves up some delicious breakfast. I don’t think we even got to the studio until noon. I loved the pace though. It was refreshing to just enjoy relationship and enjoy sluggin’ along and easing into create-mode.
On the second day, we took a crack at “Never A Waste,” the title track to the album. The challenges of this song turned out to be its length and its dynamics. I was so used to playing it with just me and the guitar that I tried to filled every space in the arrangement with playing. But what I feel like I was able to grow in was the ability to restrain and leave more space. To not overplay and to let some moments rest and breathe. Just as with the first song, we spent a good chunk of time dissecting the song and finding the right tempo, feel, and arrangement. I had an idea of adding some sort of heart beat kick drum sound, which Will suggested we create by softly tapping the bridge of the guitar. It was so cool, I love when that happens. We were able to record and manipulate me hitting the guitar and create a sound that sounded like a pulsing drum beat. We later recorded Brandon and myself slapping our knees to create a backbeat. So, that’s how the percussion was created. After a few hours of layering and tracking some acoustic guitars, Brandon laid down an incredible harmonic acoustic guitar line. I was amazed at how Will interpreted certain sounds and was able to manipulate and morph audio into something completely different. We ended up reversing certain guitar chords and forming them into a swirling, evolving pad that helped lift and lower certain parts of the song. I was so inspired. Things are coming along.
After a late afternoon hot Tamale lunch and an additional coffee break, we return to the studio for the last leg. I don’t know where time went in that space because before we knew it, it was almost 9 oclock. The last thing we did was the main vocal. The performance of a vocal can make or break how it feels. When music moves us, it’s not cause it’s perfect, it’s because it’s real. The reason songs take you to a certain place is due to its humanness and its communication. All music is, in essence, is communication. So, I’m learning, that the more vulnerable and myself I can be, the more that people will be able to connect with what I’m trying to say. It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. I think with music, especially in today’s day, there is a tendency to make things too perfect. We have the technology to correct, autotune, fatten, and virtually eliminate all mistakes and dynamics, but when we do that, we kill the humanness of the music. Something I was stretched in when singing “Never A Waste” was to let go and sing with my heart, not worrying about singing perfectly. Will was able to pull so much out of me and give me a runway to be myself and dig deep into what was inside me. I am so excited about how the song is sounding. I can’t wait to continues working on it!
Here’s my extra credit. It’s incredibly difficult for me to even understand, much less communicate. But how I view November 29 and 30th of 2018 can be best be described as the slow convergence of deep tectonic plates, that have been in motion since the beginning of time, going in a specific direction, destined to meet and shift our landscape from the inside out. The coincidences are far too specific to ignore. There is a plan that has been set in motion for my whole life and just when I began to believe I was drifting aimlessly in the dark, God opened and door and reminded be of his incredible intentionality.Plates began to meet and form something. The extra credit is this: the present always feels normal, shallow, and stagnant. We are unable to see beneath the surface in our every day lives. Our perspective is limited by our humanness and unbelief. But, our history will reveal the depth of what God was doing beyond what we could see in our small moments. I don’t know why its designed this way, or what this means exactly, but I think my response is simply to live in faithfulness. We are tempted to live in fantasy about our lives, like it should be marvelous and speculator and shiny - but everything in history that we perceive as a “big” moment was actually someone’s everyday, simple, life. We do not know the extent of our influence every day - good or bad. We do not understand the tectonic movement of our lives - how things converge inches at a time in a specific direction. But history will reveal our faithfulness. Will our plates converge to form mountains or valleys? Will how we lives our lives in the most minute areas compound to create a marvelous landscape or a sunken hole? How are we holding our days?
History will reveal the authenticity, love, and care that we plant in the Earth every day.
Do you care for the life that you’ve been given? Do you live on purpose or on accident?
Do you believe that things are happening for a reason? Are you persevering? Are you hoping?
Are you faithful in the dark?
History will tell us later on.
10:14PM as I write this. I have just finished a long but fulfilling Sunday. This morning, was able to reunite at Athens Church with some of my old friends. I have missed those people and that place so much. It’s amazing how time away from a place will fill your heart with gratitude for it. Straight from there filled in running sound for some other friends in the evening, and now taking some time to prepare for the week, reflect on my present, and catch you guys up on what’s going down with my life and my music.
So, for those of you who may have missed the last post, I have officially started working on my next album. It’s going to be called “Never A Waste,” and is going to contain nine songs I’ve been working on over the last year. A couple are actually older! I think I’ve dug to a new depth in myself and in my art. These are the most vulnerable group of songs I think I’ve ever created, though its pretty jarring to think that they might live forever in someone’s car or earphones, it’s still absolutely amazing to me that I get to share my heart in recordings.
I’ve been a demo fiend. I have enjoyed working in the new home studio. The energy, the light and the space are beautiful and inspiring. I am finding it easy to get into my rhythm here. I’ll make a tea, or get a good coffee and get lost in the process. Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent hours exploring sounds, finding new expressions, and playing things I’m not so used to - trying to find new voices. It’s all so fun. And though the hours are long and making music can often be a tedious and frustrating process - I always have to remind myself to have fun and that it is, when you think about it, actually really a gift. That’s something I’ve had to fight for as I’ve begun doing music full time… to remember that music was first my love, then my job. It’s easy to forget the love part when it’s hard or you’re tired of listening to/making/editing music. But anyway, the songs are shaping up beautifully. I’ll burn demos to a CD and just drive around town, thinking of different parts or sounds in my head. Then I’ll try to create those same feelings later, then just build slowly from there.
One thing I’ve wanted to do this time around was to collaborate with artists who have inspired me and those who I want to emulate in my creativity. My last record, “From My Window To Yours” was created completely in cave-Huang…and while that was a good process at that time, has made me really miss the joy of creating with others. My involvement in Common Hymnal and Lion’s Den has shown me so much of the value of working together and inviting people into the creative process. It’s all about family and relationship.
This past year, some amazing pathways have opened up in my life - that I cannot be more thankful for. I feel so lucky. Later this week, I’ll be going to Knoxville to record with Will Reagan and Brandon Hampton, who have been musical heroes of mine since my first year in college, almost seven years ago. The recordings and the culture they have modeled have been life-changing for me, truly. I remember listening to one of United Pursuit’s first records my freshman year at UGA and saying to my friend in the car, “It’s like the Holy Spirit is coming right out of the speakers!” And their music has always been this way - pushing the envelope in the most honest way, somehow breaking through to some new ways to express their faith, journey, and relationship with God. Their records have always been a guide for my creative and spiritual journey… and this week we’re going to work on some of my songs together at Will’s new studio. I am actually so nervous, but in a way I am nervous before something deeply important is about to take place - I feel like a very surreal dream is coming true right before my eyes. I’ve been such a student of theirs for so long, and to be to able to create with them is such a dream come true. I want to soak it all up and revel in the moment. I’m taking my friends Abe and Gray as sidekicks, it’s going to be such a great time with friends from all over. I will be tracking in Knoxville on Thursday and Friday, working on my song “My Time Will Come” and perhaps another tune if time permits. I am so excited to learn from both Brandon and Will, but am also excited to leave town and be immersed in a completely different place. It’s like getting to create from a completely clean slate. I’m going into the session with a much looser idea than I am comfortable with. I typically demo the living boogers out of a song so when I show up to the studio there’s nothing left to work on - nervous habit I guess! But this time, I’ver purposefully left a lot of room for Will and Brandon’s approach, as they might here these songs in a really unique way. I am excited to see how all of our minds collaborate together to create a mixture of vision, perspective and sound. So, definitely more new to come form this! I’ll probably post some photos later and some instagram stories along the way.
extra credit: Here’s my extra credit. The nuggets hidden at the end of these posts for the brave, focuessed and scholarly readers. This is just how I’m viewing things, often unrelated to music, more related to humans and God, what I’m learning along the way. And here it is. To stay proud is the path of least resistance and little fruit. To stay humble is the path of great resistance and a beautiful harvest. You feel this more and more as you get older. It’s easy to get stuck in your ways - how you think about how the world works, or how people work, how you work, what you think is right, what you think is worthwhile. It is so important to remember that just because we’re used to a certain pattern, way of thinking, or habit, doesn’t make it right. Every time I get hurt by a circumstance, encounter, or person, I feel like my life hardens a little bit. It’s like lava that used to flow freely and passionately turns a little more black and stagnant, not wanting to move again. It’s how I cope with situations and pain that I could never predict or control. I close doors. I turn off the wonder. I turn off the feelings. I stop forgiving. I stop inviting. I turn off my heart. As I experience more life, which, in its very nature, is full of loose ends, pain, and confusion, I feel the hardness compounding against the child inside of me. It happens in tiny ways over a lifetime. It expresses itself in distrust, an unwillingness to listen, and a denial of the things around me. It’s way less painful for me to sleepwalk. It’s way less painful to pay attention. It’s way less painful to shove my issues and challenges under the rug. Did you know rugs can take many different shapes? Alcohol, busy-ness, drugs, ministry, passivity, amazon.com. And this ties to my main realization. Pride is the wide path. Humility is the narrow. Everyone around you feels it, it’s in our DNA - to protect ourselves at all costs - and that means never being wrong. So, what do we do when we have a realization that we have closed off so many doors to possibility, learning and humility that we’ve found ourselves in a 2ft by 2ft room alone in the dark? This is what I’ve concluded for myself. Do the opposite of what you feel. It’s an incredible challenge, but I think it’s very important. Go to the places that you don’t want to go to, talk to the people that you don’t feel like you have time for, and make a space to be uncomfortable. Get outside of your own self and your own problems. Look around you. It’s how we stay young, and it’s how we stay humble. I listen for the whisper that is deep in my heart - to do the hard thing, to take the extra time, to truly listen to someone else and identify with someone or something outside of myself. It’s incredible what happens in our hearts when we choose, especially when we don’t “feel it,” to live outwardly and to be attentive to needs that are not our own.. To be teachable and to be malleable. It’s important to remember that living a whole and worthwhile life is difficult, but always worth it. My advice to the burnt out, bitter, and hardened is this: take a good look at the things you hate doing, and maybe force yourself to do them. If you’re a millennial American, this contradicts your core, because chances are you’ve been raised in an environment that tells you that you only have to do the things you want to do. But, we need to remember the value of doing the difficult things and fighting the path of least resistance. The things that make you the most uncomfortable might hold the key to breaking through to a new found freedom and love in your life. For me, these things include: putting down the guitar to have a real conversation with a friend, going to church and not criticizing every thing that they do, asking God what He still wants to teach me when I feel like I know everything, helping someone who can’t give anything back to me, helping someone who is using me, championing a brother I’m jealous of, praying for my family, asking the world around me what it needs from me and not what it can give me. All these things are goldmines that will release new life around me, if I am willing to wake up to them. I just have to choose to dig deep, to break through the hardness that has built up in my life. I need to remain teachable, open-handed, open-hearted - humble. Humility can be defined in a question: are you willing? Are you willing to be wrong, are you willing to say sorry, are you will to express your gratitude, are you willing to see others as a gift, are you willing to see your whole life as gift, are you willing to share, are you will to take the lowest seat. Are you willing?
Let willingness grow. Let pride diminish.
Thank you for reading.
Saturday night. I’ve just spent the day with my mom, which was so needed. We got Korean food and went to the mall and got sunglasses. Family time well spent.
I would like to be diligent in processing this next record more in writing. I have found that these little process entries are fascinating to read back later. You realize how much you learned along the way and exactly how much I don’t know in this very moment. The emotions, head space, and thoughts I have right now, though they feel like 100% reality, may be completely different in just a short amount of time. Writing helps to freeze these things in place and allows them to live on. And it helps me remember more about this awesome process. I’ve been disciplining myself to keep a journal and to give myself a daily outlet to the things I’m wrestling with deep inside. I’ve found that something mysterious is released when I do that. It really does help. It gives me a voice, even if it’s to no one. Weirdly, I feel heard. I can’t believe I haven’t always done this.
This is the first place you’ll hear. I’m officially going to call the album “Never A Waste.” I decided to abandon my attempt at completing “From My Window To Yours” as a two part project and allow Pt. 1 to live on solo. I thought that the second set of songs would come along congruently with Pt. 1, but it just wasn’t the case. Too much has happened in unexpected ways since April of last year, and can I say that I’m surprised? Life has so many twists and turns. How can we possibly know what is to come?
A song came through to me last week that I think pushed this entire project into motion. Never A Waste. What an idea… that no matter what we go through, the risk, the vulnerability, the chances we take, the failures we find ourselves in… none of if, if you want to believe it, is ever a waste. All that we have left is a choice to believe. I was writing a description of this album, just trying to get a grasp on what I wanted it to be, and I wrote,
“I sing about my faith, my longing, my confusions, my confessions, my failure, broken relationships, and the loss of beloved peoples and times - and hope to be able to tie all of these loose ends up in a loose bow, even if for a moment.”
I kind of liked that - tying loose ends into a bow. I don’t know how to do it any other way other than this. By even starting this album, I’m trusting a promise that all of this happening in my life is for a reason - that no piece of furniture will be left out of the frame in the end. Even the weird ugly paintings that you got at goodwill for no good reason. Even those. Or should I say, especially those. They complete the picture.
In this stage, I’m scheduling my recording days and release times. I am aiming for my birthday March 25 of 2019, because hey why not. I am really hoping to press this album to vinyl, finally, something I’ve always wanted to do. I think this one is going to make it to the wax.
As always, thank you for reading my words. I am terrified and ready to make another record.
Friends. It has been quite a while since an update. I have had a wonderful and restful Friday afternoon off with some friends, coffee and a little bit of rain, so I thought I would catch yall up on what’s been going on in my life in the recent months. So here are some words and some film photos to paint the picture.
Life is non-stop, but I am loving it so much. Since making the transition into full time music in August, I feel like I have been able to pour myself fully into my craft and passion. I have been growing leaps and bounds as a producer, engineer, and artist and truly feel like I’m in the right moment at the right time. Things are folding beautifully. Not easily, but beautifully.
The studio is running full steam ahead! In October and November, I have been working with a couple artists, helping to create their projects. Currently, I am working on an EP for my friends Garcia Free (David and Jenevia Garcia) and have recently wrapped up an incredible Christmas album created by one of my new favorite people Rawls Grimsley. In addition, I’ve been creating some singles with Sarah Howe, Jameson Tank and next week, The Tuten Brothers. I have dreamed that the creative space at Bloom Sounds would foster something much deeper than just music. I want it to be a place where people come to be inspired, challenged and healed. I want it to feel like we’re creating something eternal - sharing passions, dreams, and life - while also creating music that means something to us. I had no idea that God was going to provide this space, and even more. Through music, I feel like in the recent months I have made life-long friendships and have had experiences I’ll never forget. The studio has been filled with laughter, sweat and tears and these times has left behind some of the most amazing moments I’ve ever known. Shoutout to Will, who literally took a Greyhound bus to Athens multiple times just to be a part of Bloom Sounds. Will has been such a student of the process. I’ve never met someone eager to learn, serve and grow in his gifts. I really think God crossed our paths. I can’t even count the hours we’ve spent this month together - plugging in mics, wrapping cables, making food, grabbing coffee, mixing songs, figuring out arrangements, freaking out in good ways, freaking out in bad ways… thankful for it.
I have also been working with my best friends on a worship project called “Lions Den.” We have recorded our first EP, “King Of Every Season” and are actually currently releasing it. We actually recorded the whole album live in our living room in Athens. To be honest, it was a miracle it all worked out. We’ve released two tracks up until this date, and will be releasing our full length album on November 16th. I believe in this group so much, and it’s so not just about talent. This is a group of honest friends who want to make music to honor and love God. They are some of the best people I’ve ever known. I am so excited about the future of our little group, and can’t wait everyone to hear what we’ve been creating. We’ll actually be having an EP release worship night at the North Campus Chapel on UGA’s campus on Nov. 15, so come on out to that if you are around. Also, listen to our music on Spotify here!
I always put the more secretive stuff last because I am convinced that very few people read this far. And if you have, that either means you slightly care, OR you are really bored wherever you are at. As I finish up these other projects, I am exciting to officially say out loud that I will be starting the second release of my Andrew Blooms project. I have all the songs written, mostly, and feel like it is time to get to work! So after Thanksgiving, I will be taking a couple months to begin the next phase. I think the songs in this second half are something special, as a lot of them are anthems in my own life write now… songs that I needed to write for myself. I am, at my core both a Christian and an incredibly flawed human, and I think that this album is going to capture so much of that paradox. I have a hunch this tension, between what is and what is supposed to be, is shared quietly among us all. So, let’s strap in.
Thanks for reading. Until next time.
It has been an incredible release week… It has been so cool to hear some feedback from some of you about what this song has meant and how it is speaking into your life. This is my dream come true to know that a little thing I tried to make might have an impact in a few lives around me. Thank you for allowing me the privilege.
For those interested in going one level deeper, I thought I might share the process behind writing and producing this track. If you have been to any of the shows this tour, you may have heard some of this thought process, but for any who have not been able to make a show or hear the song live, I thought I’d give a little insight here! First half is for all the listeners. Second half for those who want to know even more about the production itself.
THE Writing of Humility.
Sometimes you labor over a song for years, and sometimes the song writes itself. Humility was started and finished over the course of a few hours. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I, needing to process and take inventory of my own worries and doubts, went to a local chapel at our Wesley foundation to play the piano. This place, over the years, has been one of the most important places for me to meet with God. I have changed so much over my last 6 years in Athens, yet I still feel the same special way every time I am in there. I have had so many meaningful moments on that piano bench.
“Humility,” in essence is a song with two cries. Trust and repentance. During the time I wrote it, I was battling the loss of many anchors in my life. Quitting jobs, losing close friends, embarking on a brand new tour… It felt like someone took a puzzle and threw all the pieces up in the air. And I, trying frantically to piece it back together, began to worry about my future. I wondered if I would be provided for. I questioned God’s hand on my life. I was so afraid. These doubts spun in my mind and soul, throwing me off balance and causing me to distrust God and myself. But I began to think that day, about humans and about nature… I thought about how capable humans were - able to create cities, make art, design technology, build civilizations and cultures. I thought about how man ruled the Earth, how we were able to understand and conquer our planet, creating amazing things from it. And then, I thought of nature and how nature trumps mankind in this one thing - its ability to be. No tree has ever doubted its purpose, and no river has ever doubted its path, and no mountain has ever complained of its geography. We, as humans, are so powerful… we are masters of our land, architects and pioneers of the unknown… but one thing we have yet to conquer is the ability to live without striving. This comparison was such a massive revelation for me personally that the words just flowed onto the page. It was a prayer that I needed for myself.
I say that this song is a cry for both trust and repentance. For me, it was coming back to God with the realization that I, too, am a part of a grand design. That, just like the trees and the oceans, rivers and mountains, I am in the right place at the right time. It was me saying to the Lord, “If you take care of all this beauty around me, you will surely take care of me. I have no need to worry.” When things get difficult in my life I like to stray. The natural reaction of my spirit when I get disappointed is to find the next best thing. When God doesn’t feel real, I run to substitutes. The writing of this song was my admittance of my wandering and doubt, and a prayer for God to teach me the simple trust that all of nature seems to embody. God, let me grow in my trust for you.
Here are the lyrics to the song if you would like. Next… the nerdy stuff.
THE MAKING of Humility.
This is the part where we get to nerd out about how the song was made. And I would like to share, for any who are interested, my technical and philosophical process behind the production.
I have the privilege of being a able to work at a studio in Athens that houses thousands of dollars worth of pro audio equipment. Often times, you can get lost in the choices. Which pre amp? Which mic? Which compressor? We have mics that are worth thousands of dollars each. I’ve done sessions where we’ve had complicated mic setups and an insane amount of channels recording. Part of me though, as a producer, has wondered sometimes what can be done with what I have at home. Will anyone really notice? What can I make with the setup I already have? There’s a trap for the creatives that causes us to think that the thing stopping creativity is the lack of better equipment… When creativity, in its definition, is doing something with what you have.
I recorded the piano through the computer and the vocal while playing the MIDI keyboard. The song was actually originally just going to be piano and voice. But behold, as one my favorite bands Dawes would call it, the tone-quest began. The only digitally native sound is the piano. The rest are analog signals! The bass and the droning heart-pump notes are created by the amazing MOOG SubPhatty. The pads and swirling noises are experiments in the JUNO-106. I LOVE synthesizers. The guitar tracks are two separate takes of a Jazzmaster panned left and right through some pedals straight into the computer! No amp or amp models were used on those. My friend Shelby Frank, was over with some friends one evening after I tracked the main parts of the song, and we ended up spontaneously tracking her beautiful BGV part on the verses and choruses. In the last chorus, there is a octave pitched lead vocal, and a bunch of Shelby’s that have been doubled, duplicated, spread and reverbed out. That’s what that little army of cherubs is.
The production happened quickly. The energy of the song seemed to form itself. What I had to keep myself from doing was overthinking and overproducing the song. I have a tendency to jam 100 sounds into something to try to make it more complex, when sometimes a simple sound will do! I gave myself a deadline to send to mastering and stuck to it. I think there were only three mix edits for this song. I just wanted to let go of it and let it be. In producing world, I’m figuring out that the feeling is often far more important than all the technical perfects, and sometimes the spontaneous, less thought-out parts of the recording process make something special. I am so happy about how Humility came out and it has been such an exciting and encouraging release. Thank you all for reading and listening, I hope something was beneficial for you!
Special thanks to Shelby Frank for singing on the track and Joel Haedstat for mastering my song. Yall did an incredible job!
Until next time everyone!
Photography by Gilbert Nanlohy
Gosh guys. I am back. Getting back into the swing of things, just before embarking yet again on another leg of the tour. As I may have mentioned before, I took a week off from the shows to be a part of the recording of Common Hymnal’s first batch of songs. It was a one of the most special weeks of my life, and I wanted to share some of it with you.
Common Hymnal, in essence, is a collective of creatives who are bought into the idea that my brother’s voice matters more than my own. It is a group of people who are bringing their gifts to the table and laying them down there before God in hopes that the sum of our gifts might be used by God to be more meaningful and significant than we could ever think or imagine alone. I don’t know how many there were in total. Maybe forty of us, living in community. Sharing meals, sharing ideas, sharing time, and creating together. We lived on a property in the hills of Franklin, TN just outside of Nashville… and on this property we rehearsed, ate, slept, partied, and recorded a crap ton of songs. It was like summer camp for creative adults. Heaven basically. One of my favorite things about the experience was its hilarious sketchiness… The house looked like a house from the future that was also stuck in the past. It was straight from the movie Ex-Machina, where I would not be surprised if there were robots in the closets. We could only flush the toilet when we pooped because there were so many of us there that we would have easily destroyed the septic system. Everyone brought one plate to use the whole week. The house ran out of water. I am convinced at some moments, there was more whiskey available than water. No cell signal. We had a bat living in the house with us. Chaos. New age spirit posters on the wall. I split my sleeping hours between a hidden bed in the loft of the living room and a reading nook in the main hallway in a sleeping bag I stole from the other house (sorry to whoever that was).
The recording and rehearsal process was a puzzle with 40 moving pieces. Two bands, with interchanging musicians and lead singers. All designed so that everyone in the family could share in some capacity. This week, I played electric guitar in “Band 2” and also got to hop in on the most epic drum circle to ever be created. We worked hard… rehearsing songs from the morning until dinner, then performing those songs in the evening. Days would typically last between 10 and 12 hours. I got REALLY used to playing the guitar :).
It’s hard to put into words exactly what this week meant to me. I think I’m still in some form of shock/exhaustion. But these are some of the main things I am thankful for and have learned from being a part of this amazing project.
Sharing is inefficient. The whole heartbeat of our group is that every voice matters. Every player matters and every opinion is valuable in the expression of the whole truth. But what we were able to experience is that sharing and creating a space for everyone is inefficient. It takes more time. It takes more thought. It takes more sacrifice. It takes humility. In a culture that idolizes productivity, efficiency, and “something to show for your efforts,” the model of the priesthood of believers and the equal value of every voice is challenging. But the beauty is… you find family in the slowness. You begin to realize that without relationship, the things you can create don’t mean too much. I am addicted to productivity. I feel like my life isn’t worth as much if I don’t make stuff and show it to people. But during this week of recording, I was so able to sit back, enjoy the clumsiness and slowness of weaving 40 dreams together, and I ended up loving being able to be and serve in whatever capacity I could. I no longer had to be a part of every production, play a main role in the what was going on, or be the center of attention… but I just was able to cheer on the whole project and whoever was taking the lead at that point in time. And while everything took 3 times as long as it normally would… its clumsiness was beautiful because I felt like we all connected over it.
God will heal our wounds. We recorded dozens of the most beautiful, truthful, and life-giving songs. Our songs cover topics like sexual abuse, racial reconciliation, alcohol, and a Jesus that might not exist to give us everything we’ve ever wanted. A, non-American-dream Jesus, if you will. I am about this. There is a gap in the culture of our current Christianity that I, and probably you, experience - where there is this whole void of silence… Like we’re all hiding something. For those involved in our current Christian culture, we could probably vocalize a lot of things… yes God is healer, yes God is justice, yes God speaks to the broken… these are things we have heard our whole lives… but there is a silence in the specificity. From my perspective, the church teaches a Catch-22. God loves you were you are vs. you ought to be better. Don’t get drunk, but here is no framework for the why. Don’t have sex before marriage, but here are no examples of people who have struggled and overcome. God is represented in the nations, but your church is only white people. We love everyone, but don’t be gay. Here’s where you ought to be, but here are no examples of process to get there. I’ve always heard of God as the rescuer, but in my churches everyone pretends like they don’t need to be rescued. Our perfection is our currency… what we have to offer. I have felt this my whole life, and what results is the deep haunting feeling, “I Am Alone.” We sang one song this week that, somehow, shifted my whole world. The chorus rings, “When we stop loving on our own terms, God will heal our wounds. When we stop loving on our own terms, grace will lead us home.” What an exchange. Love God’s way…without pretense, without prejudice, and what you will find is that your land begins to be healed. The soil opens up and something beautiful can grow there. I’ve loved on my own terms in most areas of my life up until now. And I’m working on it. But that song changed my heart and humbled me. Would I be willing, would we all be willing, to have hearts of joyful repentance…that God’s way is the better way. The Common Hymnal songs are bravely specific. I think they are going to change a lot of lives.
The Pebble’s Ripple. As I drove back from Nashville, I stopped in Atlanta for a caffeine injection and to slow down and internalize what the heck just happened. I was at a lost of words for the whole experience. The only word that I could accurately describe my experience was, “Lucky.” I do not exaggerate when I say that every person that is part of the project is a hero to me. Seriously. In music, in curiosity, in passion, in their faith journey, in their weakness and strength. Each person is a hero. I felt like I was able to study the greats and learn from them. I was able to be with the hidden treasures of the whole world. I learned so much. I was transformed. I was inspired. I was humbled. Lucky.
I think about the things that were deposited and the potential that this week had for the whole world. And that’s not hyperbole. The DNA of the whole thing is, “my voice is nothing without the person standing to the left and to the right of me.” What is the potential for forty of us learning, in the core of our being, that our most powerful asset is not our talent, gifts, or platform? But our willingness to serve. How would the world change if forty people truly began to understand, “this story is not about me.” How powerful would it be for forty people to truly understand that their brothers’ victories were more significant than their own? If you win, we all win. If you lose, we all lose. This is family.
Common Hymnal, as I see it, is a collective of the unseen, pitiful, and burnt out. It’s a collection of the hungry and the thirsty… the people on the fringes that have scratched their heads at the current state of the blind, consumer, hobby-Jesus culture. It’s a bunch of worship leaders who want to know what worship actually is beyond platform, fame and notoriety. Common Hymnal is a table that stretches beyond the horizon, with more seats than the eye can see. It’s a group in which each person’s voice and story adds another piece to the puzzle, and each person’s personality and experience adds another stroke to the painting. We need every color to be seen. We need every voice to be heard.
In my spirit’s eye I perceive that, last week, a pebble was dropped in a sleeping pond. Would we be awakened to what matters and what lasts. Would we begin again on God’s terms, that He might heal our wounds and do what He does best: make something beautiful out of nothing.
This week we travelled down to Jacksonville, FL and then up to Statesboro, GA for our 6th and 7th shows of the tour. Unfortunately, Carly could not join us in Jacksonville but made up for it when she knocked it out of the park in Statesboro. This was a great time for many reasons, but one was that our friends Drew and Cole got to come along for the ride. We left Athens around 7AM Wednesday morning and were at the beach by 3. Even our short time at the beach was so life-giving. We threw the frisbee, swam and went 'whale' watching. The beach was hard, flat, and massive, so we were able to run and throw long tosses like it was a football field.
I am reading the daily devotional version of "Emotionally Healthy Spiritually," a book written by Peter Scazzero that has been a game changer for my spiritual journey. Something that this book has challenged me to do is spend 2 minutes of silence before God before doing anything else in my day. I tried this on the beach while the boys were swimming and realized just how little time I make for God. Two minutes felt like an eternity... It's so easy to fill our lives with stuff, even stuff for God, and not even make time to listen, reflect and be open to how He is moving. I have made a practice of sitting on my porch first thing in the morning for 2 minutes before driving off to do whatever errands or tasks are in that day. Something about this quick acknowledgement centers my spirit and brings me peace. I hope to keep it up.
The show in Jacksonville that night was sweet. It was awesome to see where Zac is from and to meet his folks and family. They are wonderful people. I told Zac, that I thought it was his best show yet. He was in it. At first when we walked in, everyone was either studying, reading or playing some kind of board game. But by the the end of the night, folks were listening. It is so encouraging to meet people for the first time and feel like they are connecting to your story.
After the show we got some beers and played basketball at the beach. It was one of the most fun times I can remember.
The next morning we drive two and a half hours north to play Statesboro to one of my favorite communities I've ever met. It was full of life, God and goodness. Phil Klayman, the owner encouraged us after our sets to continue sharing our stories. I have caught a little road cold, but I went for it anyway. My throat feels like fire. We say our goodbyes and make the trek back to Athens to pull in around 1:30AM. I stayed up to about 3 writing, reflecting. After these things its hard to sleep for me. I feel so alive and want to capture everything I'm experiencing.
We are taking a break next week. I am currently en route to Nashville to be a part of a project called Common Hymnal... a cross-cultural, multi-facetted, underground worship movement that is seeking to present the gospel, truth, and a real-life Jesus. A Jesus who cares about race, abuse, equality, and justice. I am totally on board with this. I'll be in Nashville making this record all week.
Extra Credit: I'm gonna start dropping the extra credits at the end. Little nuggets of what I am learning each week as we continue on the adventure of playing music to anyone we can. My extra credit for this week is this: First love. When you first love something, you love that thing. In this case, for me it was music. It was God. music to express a first love for God and who He was becoming to me. Along the way, I have wavered. I began to love the extremities. I fell in love with what music could do for me. How it could make me be perceived a certain way. How it made me special. How it made me worthy of other people's love. How, maybe if I was good enough at it, people would sit around in their homes and talk about me. I began to love what worship could do for me: Knowing so-and-so, writing with such-and-such, leading with who-and-who, playing at where-and-where, leading x number of people, being called "anointed." These things have been my identity at times. I have felt like, if I couldn't play music or lead worship, then I added no value to the world. But something so beautiful is happening that I realized this week as we continued to play our shows. As I have gotten up to play, I find that as each show goes on, I care less and less about who is in the room. I have stopped counting the people coming in the door. I have stopped anxiously staring at my watch wondering when people are going to show up. I haven't cared about being applauded or being seen as special, desirable, or other-worldly-talented... I've just. played. and I love it in a way I never have before. Somehow, some way... music has been surgically removed from my identity. Separate. I don't know exactly when it happened...but I feel like God turned the light on and revealed the things that mattered. It's just something I like to do and the vehicle I feel like God has given me to send some good down into the Earth. So now, I've found I close my eyes and play for myself. Not in the self-glorifying way, but in a way that is just thankful and proud of every little show - each show being a tiny victory flag planted over my own story. It's the deep reward. It's my first love. I love music again. and while I always have, I got off track. Which I'm leaning is ok. I love music again because it no longer can give me what I need. It is free to be what it is - a means to expression and life. A mere vehicle for my life, not my life itself. Pursue the deep reward. Do things for God and do things for the sake of Love being re-centered in our lives. Do your thing, don't become your thing and be content in the deep reward.
Love - Andrew
Tour continues on. I am back in Athens for two quick days. Taking the morning to work just a little bit on tour promotion stuff, but more importantly letting my mind stop spinning. I feel like that's all it has been doing. Spinning along. On the road you get a lot of time to think, to reflect, and to have absolutely nothing to do. More on this in a second.
On Saturday, as we were pulling in to Atlanta, our trailer broke. More accurately, I broke the trailer... As we were pulling up to our venue in midtown, it fell completely off the truck. What we came to find was that the tongue on the trailer had been completely bent after I tried to turn it around and hit a curb at the wrong angle. After trying to hammer it for a little while, with no success, we were stuck. For a moment you get this sinking feeling, "wow this is it." We have no way of getting our stuff out of here, we're screwed. It's funny looking back on this now, but in the moment that was such a loud voice in my head. "You messed this up... if only you were more careful... if only you had planned better..." all of this racing through my mind. I am so thankful to have Zac and Carly on my team. Not once did I ever feel like they blamed me, but rather, what was a problem for me became a problem for all of us. That's family. What's yours is mine. God sent some angels in the form of Tommy, Mike and Matt (Tommy's neighbors). It would take a second to explain on here, but they were literally in the right spot at the right time, and helped us to move the trailer and put us into contact with people who might be able to help us. We push the trailer up the hill and play the show in Atlanta, a beautiful night atop a roof with a view of trees and the Atlanta skyline.
On Saturday we call a handful of trailer repair services and find one that can repair the trailer in the same day. We get the trailer towed down to Jonesboro and spend the afternoon there. We eat Mexican. Between waiting, driving, calling, and driving some more, the whole ordeal lasted about 5 hours. We were dead tired in the middle of it, and it felt like a giant wrestling match in my spirit. "Do not get discouraged. Trust God. You are in the right place. Love. Continue in humility." This was the reminder in my head as I continued to worry and as I looked at the situation that had no guaranteed success. But you know what is amazing... We were able to get the trailer towed 40 minutes south of Atlanta, fixed, loaded back up in Atlanta, and hauled to our next show 30 minutes north of Atlanta... and the show continued on with no hiccup. It was actually one of the most beautiful shows I've ever played. I was filled with so much thankfulness. I felt like nothing could get in the way of the dream. I felt like my spirit, our spirit, conquered that day.
As difficult as that situation was, I think it was the most important thing to happen on our journey so far. Something in the atmosphere changed. Somewhere in me... I trust God even more. My faith grew. I am covered. I am taken care of. I realize I actually loved the story and the people more than a cookie cutter, according to the plan, situation. And I am sure, as time continues, it will be more laughable that we even despaired about that happening... but what a great lesson and experience. God came through in every way. He sent people to help us. People who were kind and supportive. Even everyone at the trailer shop seemed to care. Personally, He surrounded me with two friends who have my back and didn't once blame me for anything. Also, before we hit the road a friend gave me $200 for anything that might come up on the road. The repair of the trailer costed $189. God gave us a way to be back up and running at the show on time and even early enough to get one of my favorite deserts, affogato, in Roswell. It is hard to deny God's amazing plan... He took care of us.
And to top it all off. As we were loading into the show in Roswell, I found this waiting for me on the stage.
One of my best friends and mentors left this for me. I didn't even have to read it. It just healed me, it encouraged me, it reminded me of all of us connected together who are walking together, praying together, pursuing life and God together. I am still amazed and feel the wind on my back that this gestured breathed.
Extra Credit: I am truly impressed that any human has read this far down. We hardly read things that take more than five minutes these days. Here are some extra thoughts that I have had that might encourage you. No lesson, just process and maybe some revelation. I realize: It's not good to be alone. Alone physically, alone in your head, alone in your pursuits, alone in your dreams. It's just not good. I'm not made to do things without others. I struggle with this because I live in the illusion that I can do things better, faster, and cleaner without the help of others. But a loneliness haunts me when I live there. I am so thankful for this tour. While I am busy, the lifestyle has forced me to slow down, has forced me to be in community, and has ultimately reminded me the beauty of sharing life with those around me. It has been an especially hard couple of weeks emotionally, and I am trapped so much of the time in my own worry. I live in false realities that haven't even happened yet. The word for that is conspiracy... But, the beauty of people is that they can pull you out of those places if you will let them. The power of God is that He gives us a different way to live, if we will trust Him. I also am learning that I am not meant for broken connection. Actually, everything I do is for connection. Connection with God, with my purpose and with those around me. In my brokenness I run from connection because it is naked and uncomfortable. I want you to think that I'm perfect and I know that the closer you get the less perfect I become. I have a habit of cutting people off cold in my mind the moment they get too close for comfort... to break the connection because it doesn't seem or feel perfect. But, when connection breaks, it rips my soul. It's against my design. My prayer has been a softening of my heart and a trust in those that are around me and a desire to preserve connection at all costs. My prayer has been for courage to let others into my heart and to fight to know theirs. The share my life without regret. To ask for help. To give. To be myself, warts and all. My prayer has been for love. My prayer has been the ability to forgive myself and my own life for being messed up. My heart cries out to know and be known. And you know what, as I have lifted the astronomical expectations from myself and from others to be God, I feel a peace drape over my heart like a blanket. It is okay. You are okay. We are loved. We are on the same team. Let us connect. Share your life with me. and I'll share mine with you. Let's break the broken bread.
We have officially begun! I took some time off today after a crazy week, drove to Greenville, enjoying some coffee and reflecting on the tour so far, and life in general. Thursday night, we were able to gather all of our hometown friends to kick off the tour in Athens. It is really amazing to see all your friends out there who are just supporting your dream... It's hard to describe in words the appreciation I have for each of you, who chose to come out and support, though the show went to 1 in the morning yall still showed up! I would be a fool to ever believe that no one had my back.
Last night, in Monroe, a different kind of show. But what I am realizing more and more, the reward of getting out there and taking a chance. We had now idea who was going to show up, or who would be into it, but we filled up that coffee shop! After the show, I had some amazing conversations of testimonies of my music and even my journey through pursuing forgiveness and wholeness in other areas of my life, namely - my time with my dad. Again... a surreal feeling that these humble little nights are actually making an impact in real human lives. I and reminded to always remember that the way of my God is from the bottom up, not the other way... Meaning, that all I am to do is to serve the moment God has placed in front of me, instead of focussing on what isn't and wishing I had more. It's really easy to do that in our lives and miss the beautiful thing that has been placed in your lap. Thankfulness is key.
We got back home and I stayed up late after Carly had left, and my roommates had gone to bed... full of energy, excitement and hope for the rest of the shows. The dream continues to swirl colorfully in my head. I feel, for a moment, that I am doing exactly what I am supposed to do. And though there is a deep feeling of "I have no Idea what I'm doing," I simultaneously believe deeply, "I have some idea of why I'm doing." And that, I have come to find, is the more important question.
The rest of the show dates can be found here! If you have enjoyed it, please tell your friends in these areas to check out the show. Thank you for everyone who has come out!
Also... new shirts came in last week. Pretty hot fire.
I found this picture from the first day we met to talk about this tour. It brings me a lot of joy... knowing that it started with a talk over coffee. And now it's... actually happening.
It's the morning of the first show of tour. I have just gotten some new photographs taken of the new studio, coming soon. And I am taking some time before starting the rest of the day to just reflect on what is about to happen, and all the things that have led me to this place.
I think that before important moments in life, there tends to be a surge of both excitement and fear... something in our souls to indicate - "hey, this means something." Over the last few days, I have been experiencing some deep anxiety not only about the tour, but about my life on a deep level. I have contemplated the failure of the tour thoroughly, played out everything that could go wrong in my mind, and had multiple internal freak outs. I imagine my chewed up music career...me being a washed up failure twenty years down the road. It's crazy how a little seed of doubt can spiral into such crazy thoughts.
Carly, Zac and myself have been working tirelessly over the last few months to piece together this humble, totally DIY, house show style tour... and tonight it becomes a reality. I reflect on this moment and am still overwhelmed by my thoughts of what "ifs" and "isn't." What if it flops? What if no one comes? What if all my tires bust on my car? What if what if what if... But I pause to remember what "is." I do have a tour booked. I do get to do it with my friends. I do have an adventure waiting for me. I will learn. I will grow. I will do it. It is a great gift. I am praying to be filled with thankfulness.
I remember that, in the end, I play for reasons I can count on one hand. To show off God. To give my friends a voices. To serve as a blessing to each community. To chase the dream. To learn how to be a human being.
I am sticking to the motto - run towards the turbulence. Run towards the fear. I am not ready. I am not certain. I am not fearless. But in some ways these feelings are comforting because they indicate that I am plunging into the unknown. And treasures, in their very nature, are hidden to be discovered.
Here we go.
Hey guys, thought I'd drop some words down here on the blog to keep everyone in the loop on what has been going on and what's on the horizon. I'm currently waiting for my laundry to finish drying at my friend's house.
What a few weeks it has been. I moved into a new house, built the studio, led worship in Knoxville with some of my heroes, and performed and produced a worship album in the new space just last night. It has been go, go go and gift, gift, gift. After a quick rest this afternoon, I am going to begin setting my sights on the upcoming tour, where I will be traveling around the southeast, performing songs from the Andrew Blooms catalog with some of my really good friends. Honestly, it has been such a long time coming that it doesn't even feel like it's about to happen... if that makes sense. The amount of time and effort that has gone into these endeavors always surprise me, because from the outside it is difficult to see.
On Living - There is something I wrote on a friend of mine's blog the other day and it really stuck with me. Nathan said, "Being alive is worth everything." This idea has echoed deep inside me and has begun to shape so much of how I make decisions and what I value. What I have realized is that it is easy to become dormant in certain areas of our lives - to let our guards down, to compromise, to grow tired, to grow lazy. And while we are technically breathing and walking and living our day to day lives, some part of our hearts - or much of it- falls asleep. But... the process to becoming alive is simple, yet not easy. Just like life itself. To find life require death. It requires the dying off of old ways, old thinking patterns, old routines. It requires a commitment to adventure, exploration, shaking up the satus quo and most importantly... risk.
Someone told it to me this way: Imagine you were thrown naked out into the wilderness to survive. You would be alert. You would be ready to hunt. You'd be listening for streams. You would be paying attention. You would be curious. You would be afraid. And life would be your ultimate goal in everything you did.
I am in a process in my own life where I am at a crossroads between the easy life paved before me, or the unpaved road that will require risk, courage and a lot of the unknown. We know this as the road less traveled. I am currently figuring out a way to live my life where I am unapologetically committed to truly living. Not just breathing, not just working, not just walking around... But relishing each moment. I feel like it sounds cheesy... but I really do think about it. What is living really like? What is a full life? Is there a depth in our every day that makes each moment magnificent. Am I just not looking for it? Am I took afraid to look for it?
Our we committed enough to living what we openly invite the death of what isn't to be? Patterns, thoughts, knee jerk reactions, judgments, astronomical expectations of life and others. Might these be the things that must die to make way in the soil? Wouldn't it be worth it to be fully alert and fully alive? To be uncomfortable, to be awkward, to be unconventional, to let go of things that are dead anyway?
I don't know. Perhaps I am rambling. But I have noticed in myself recently: The more that I have been willing to let go, the more alive I have felt. I have felt more space for God to move, I have felt more openness to the spontaneous and unpredictable. I have felt more curious. I have felt more passionate. All through a mindset that is crying out, "whatever needs to die to make work for life... let it be so, and may I release it with humility." It is painful. It is scary. It's not safe. But aren't all these things worth it in exchange for feeling your own heart beat?
Super excited about this new vid! We got together last Friday and arranged a couple videos of some of the songs off the album. I love the people that were involved in making this video, and we had a blast doing it, White Tiget BBQ Lunch and coffee and all. I love the feels that we found when trying to "acousti-fy" the tunes and rearrange them for a more stripped down band. This was recorded live at Studio 1093 in Athens, GA. Hope you enjoy!
It is a happy Friday. I am taking this slow afternoon to sip on some espresso and revisit the blog. I have been pretty silent on here for the last few months. I think the process that I have been in has either had me too busy to write on this platform, or in some ways, too afraid. Either way, much of the deep work that was being done inside me was best kept offline. But, as as I face an exciting new chapter in life, I would really like to begin using the blog as an adventure log of sorts, as the future is as uncertain as ever. For the first time in my life, in this way, I am jumping into an unknown adventure I feel like the Lord has called me to.
As some of you may have seen, I am officially stepping down from my position as a worship director at Classic City Church and am transitioning into full time music. I will be pursuing my artistry as Andrew Blooms, as well as a career as a music producer that integrates faith, family and discipleship into my approach to creating records. As I reflect on this change, I realize that this is my dream come true. I remember laying on my bedroom floor at sixteen, wishing and hoping that one day I could write songs and be a musicians - and here I am, nine years later, taking a plunge into that vision. There are a few factors at play that made it the perfect time to do this, and because I believe in the power of vulnerability and truth, I wanted to share a little more in depth about some of the dynamics at play in hopes that it could help all of us process together situations that you might be trying to navigate in your own life. I am going to share my thoughts about the true purpose of the church, church leadership, how money should never be a reason to do or not do anything, and the revelation of family, community and worship and how these things relate to making music. This avenue is serving as my way of thinking out loud, and who knows how much of it is spot it. Take what you will!
I have been the worship director at Classic City Church for the last three years. This job has taught me more about myself and God than any other job I've had. I learned how to dig in, I learned to fight, I learned to show up when I wasn't feeling it, and I learned how to trust God. I learned how to lead a team and I felt like it was such a special opportunity to create a culture amongst a team of worshippers. It became a team of humble worshippers with no superstars and no divas. It was truly a team effort each and every Sunday. I was literally blown away over the years at the quality of people that came to use their gifts on the team. But over the years, as I led one or two services each week, I began to grow tired. My worship became so tied with work that it became difficult to receive during times of corporate worship. Responsibilities and checklists were always in the back of my mind, as it was my job to create the worship environment. Put simply, I missed being a part of the church. I had a moment sometime in March where I realized I had led worship on a weekly capacity for nearly 10 years, with no breaks. And after a while it becomes your identity and all you feel like you can bring to a community. Part of the reason I chose to step down was I felt like some of my spiritual life was suffering and being sacrificed for the sake of preserving an identity as the worship leader or musician. So, as I began to consider my position on the stage, I began to perceive that a "reset" was to take place - to deconstruct how I was approaching church and faith and strip my walk with Jesus back down to its core. After all, worship is simply an expression of a personal love for God. So, I am excited to come under my church, to be a volunteer, to pray for people, to sing with the congregation and to arrive at church at a Godly hour.
As each year passes, money gains more power. Its voice gets louder. Some friends are making a bunch, others not... but it feels like the world relentlessly imposes its expectations on life, even if un-welcomed. The pressure grows with each year. But, I want my life to be an adventure. I want my life to be marked by trust, fearlessness, and faithfulness to the things of God. And with quitting a job came the obvious question of "how will you live?" But as I have wrestled through this fear I continue to come back to this one saying I am choosing to live by now: "Money should never be why I choose to do or not do something." This is a truly radical thought. I paused after typing that and rested my finger on the backspace button because I had to make sure I believed it. But, I am exploring this philosophy. Maybe it works all backwards. What if, if you pursued what you truly were passionate about, money would follow? What if, by being obedient to the God dream deep inside, it would create a space, through faith, where God would provide everything I need? These are questions I am asking myself! I have no answer! But beneath my worry about how I will make money, is a deep calling to "keep going. faithfully, keep digging, and I will provide all you need."
This next year is the year of putting all my cards on the table. I am interested in songwriting, a community of song-writers, house church, worship as a way of life, and truly living as Godly community with the people around me in Athens. If you've made it this far, we're true internet friends. I'm currently in the process of pursuing a housing rental that would be a community space to put my studio and host gatherings for worship and songwriting to happen. I'm in the last stages of being approved to do this... It's a much much longer story than I'd like to put here... but I really believe this is God's leadership in my life for this next year. I would like to share more, but a few things need to fall into place first.
My next steps are my first tour, being announced next week. I can't wait to share this with you! Thanks for reading!
Been quite some time since I've written. Sometimes I feel like I have really nothing today say, at least in the public sense. Things are changing in a big way in my life, the details are to be shared soon. But I feel like, in some sense, I'm on the cusp of something extremely important in my life... beginning the process of becoming everything I was created to be. It's going to take risk, sacrifice, and hard work... but these things are all worth it to discover the purpose of my life. I want to risk big for a dream that I believe in, and it feels like the older I get the harder it is to take risks. I am fighting a river of expectation, comparison and fear of the unknown. The world gets bigger and I get smaller. But again, I am going to share with you all more specifically what this all means to put it into context. But in the mean time, I got some film photos back from the lab from the recent months. Here are a few!