Voices Of The Underground Pt.10

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Several weeks ago One21 Music posed fifteen questions to a number of music artists in the Christian music scene, ranging from the light-hearted to the deeply spiritual. We received many responses, some very helpful, and some…. not so much. Some of the answers were short and sweet, some were extensive and eloquent. Many expressed frustrations with the current landscape of the music industry, while others were hopeful for a future of uncertainty. We heard from guys who had been performing for years, and bands that are just now starting to get their names heard. From indie rock to hip-hop, from hardcore to worship, the Christian music scene spoke back to us. Realize that these answers are by the people making the music that you are listening to, and these are un-edited and real. The opinions expressed don’t always reflect ours, but we aren’t perfect, right?

Need to catch up?

Read Pt.1: What Do You Love About Music?
Read Pt.2: What Are Some Of Your Favorite Albums/CDs?
Read Pt.3: What Is The Best Thing About Making Music?
Read Pt.4: What Is Your Opinion Of The Music Industry?
Read Pt.5: What Impact Has The Digital Age Of Music Had On The Industry?
Read Pt.6: Who Is Jesus Christ To You?
Read Pt.7: What Is Christian Music?
Read Pt.8: What Is Your Opinion On The Christian Music Industry?
Read Pt.9: Do You Think The Christian Music Scene Is Still Important?

This week we are talking about how the world’s view on artist of faith has changed. In the nineties, the evolution of Christian music had put musicians who were Christians in a strange place. On one side, they could make music for the Christian music industry, but as we saw a few weeks ago, that career path presented s few pitfalls (read our artist’s opinions on the Christian music industry). The other choice was to venture out in to the mainstream market, and try to make their voice heard. The only problem was that the world did not view Christians as credible music artists.  The uphill battle that many Christian artists have faced has caused many to either quit all together, or to step up their game.  In 2009 though, with music being viewed differently than it was ten years ago, are Christians still feeling that same resistance?

Do you think that people are more receptive or against artists of faith today?

hylandjonJon (lead singer/guitarist for independent pop/rock band Hyland)
Hyland
It actually depends. I think that a lot of secular labels will kinda shrug off a lot of bands on Christian labels, but that doesn’t mean secular bands do that. I think the lack of respect comes from the lack of musical integrity, not the style of music. Too many ‘Christian musicians’ aren’t actually good at what they do, or their labels don’t really push them the right way, and so the secular scene kinda writes them off.

takeitbackdanielDaniel(guitarist for Facedown Records hardcore band Take It Back!)
Take It Back - Can't Fight Robots
I think with more and more Christian bands on mainstream radio, people are a lot more open to Christian bands, you have bands like Switchfoot and P.O.D., who are selling hundreds of thousands of albums, and people are like, “ok maybe this stuff isnt all bad”

sethinfrontendervence Seth (singer for independent hard rock band Endeverance)
Endeverance
I personally think it is a hindrance sometimes…I think you have these bands that could be heard by the masses but we single them out and they only get heard by youth groups and Churches…I mean why do we send our best artist just out to reach the church more…I think we need to send our best artist out to connect with the world not just our Churches…But I think people are open to music when it talk about faiths and talks about God…I don’t think they are judgmental, I just think they want more info when they here a song that has that kind of stuff in it…

xcess Xcess (solo Darkside records hip-hop/industrial artist)
From my experience it depends on the social trends and the scenes. Hardcore music has always been pretty open to Christian bands. Hip Hop as a whole has never judged us too much. I think the contemporary/pop markets are a little different because when kids want to hear about sex, love and parties you get Christian bands sharing a different message which may not be too palatable to radio fans.

mahoganyjones Mahogany Jones(independent hip-hop artist)
Mahogany Jones
I do believe that we need to know our lane. I think that there are some cases depending upon where God has fashioned a particular artist to minister that titling it “ Christian music” may be a hindrance, I think the music should speak for itself. Cause the people who need it may not be clamoring to get to the Gospel or Christian contemporary section at their local music shop, but groups like Third Day without having a label have been successful in reaching secular audiences. So we just have to be wise and know where we are called and how to best target where God has sent us.

the_welcome_wagon_-_0938-cVito (half of Asthamic Kitty indie/folk band The Welcome Wagon)
The Welcome Wagon
I have been pleasantly surprised at the reception our music has been given by what one might think of as the “secular” media. I can barely imagine a more blatantly religious, Christian record, and yet I’ve read many reviews that basically say, “I don’t believe anything they’re singing about, but I like it, it’s still good music.” Having said that, I wouldn’t begrudge anyone for rejecting our music on the basis of its overt focus on faith in Jesus.
Being a Christian musician may have been a hindrance for some folks, but at the same time there has always been examples of people of faith who have been received in secular circles as well, especially in Country music and R&B music. In both of those genres, there has usually been a fair amount of acceptance of the fact that people of faith can, and do, make great music. There’s this neat moment on Aretha Franklin’s classic gospel record, ‘Amazing Grace’, where her father says, “Some people ask when Aretha is coming back to the church—but she can’t go back to the church, because she never left.”

runkidrundavidoneinhatDavid (lead singer/guitarist for Tooth & Nail pop/rock band Run Kid Run)
Run Kid Run
I think Christian music has come a long way I think people have been way more accepting of music that deals with faith…certain bands throughout the years have opened that door because I believe good music can relate believer or not.

brookewaggner Brooke Waggoner(solo indie/pop artist on SlowMoon Music)
Brooke Waggoner
It’s really up to the individual. It all comes down to the body of work. If it’s legit and can stand on it’s own and doesn’t fall directly into “formulas,” people and press will be into it. I sometimes feel Christians make it harder on themselves than it needs to be. But there are other areas where Christians have an extra responsibility to be very conscious of their image and content and perception. Don’t overthink it, though. Keep it genuine.

curtisblackhighvally Curtis(mandolist/singer for Centricity Records country band High Valley)
High Valley
Well, again, industry is all about being commercial. I know that if we had straight up “Christian” songs that sounded country, our music would be rejected by the world of secular country music and we would not be able to reach the listeners. So for us I believe that too much Christian content would be a hindrance but we are figuring out ways to work around it. I see other bands doing the same thing in other genres. But then you look at hit songs like “Jesus Take the Wheel” Why did everyone take that song so seriously? The content obviously wasn’t a hindrance in this case.

domicballi Dominic Balli (independent Reggae/hip-hop artist)
Dominic Balli
If you’re trying to make an impact in the mainstream music world, branding yourself as a “Christian Artist” can be a hindrance for sure. Why? Two reasons I think. 1) True or not, Christian music has been stereo typed as not being as good musically as mainstream music. 2) The way that most Christian artists write music, the world can’t relate to it. The don’t know what we’re talking about when we use words like, God is “Holy” or “Glory to the King”. So they just brush it off as “Church music”.
So I don’t think it’s a matter of being taken seriously or not, I just think that to most people in the mainstream, they just don’t understand it and if they do understand it, a lot of the song writing is about 10 years behind the mainstream, so they’re not that interested in it from a musical stand point either.

ourproclamationfrankieinstrips1Frankie (vocalist for Infantry Records hardcore band Our Proclamation)
Our Proclamation
In the genre we play, people normally judge the artist on their music, and not their message. Whether this is a good thing or not, you can judge, but for mainstream music I think being a Christian band is a lot harder than being secular. In fact, many Christian bands have gone secular throughout their careers in order to appeal to a broader audience.

christaylor Chris Taylor (BEC solo artist/song writer)
Chris Taylor
I feel people are more receptive because it’s hard to tell the difference in a lot of ways. Christ Jesus is the hindrance/stumbling block so more of him in any song will put people off or draw men to Himself. Our sin should hate Christ because he was and is sinless. So, songs that don’t long for the supremacy of Christ are multi-dimensional. Some folks will see glimpses of the Gospel in them and others will go for songs that don’t make them think of the harsh reality that we need a savior.

brandonsayyouwill Brandon (bass player for independent pop/rock band Say You Will)
Being a Christian artist today is so much easier in our scene. Churches are starting to do shows and they can afford to pay bands. If you are a Christian band you’ve got an awesome chance of doing it. Their are many people who abuse that sadly and say they are Christian for the perks.
Most people are really receptive to the Christian idea in our scene. I think that it’s more preference in most peoples eyes and they respect that. We as Christian artists should respect the fact that not everyone agrees with us. That’s happening and it just makes for awesome shows and an accepting audience.

dirt DIRT(underground hip-hop artist and founder of Shadow Of The Locust)
Dirt
I think there’s a lot more acceptance these days for Christ-centered musicians. However I think that there’s a lot more acceptance of EVERYTHING these days. The internet and global communications has made it so that so much that wasn’t is now accessible. That’s why I think, no matter how far you are taking the water into the desert, it is extremely important to CLEARLY define your faith.

Good stuff. Guys, we only have about 5 weeks left on this series, so check back with next week as we talk about if our artist consider themselves “Christian musicians”…

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  1. [...] Music Industry? Read Pt.9: Do You Think The Christian Music Scene Is Still Important? Read Pt.10: Do You Think People Are More Receptive Or Resistant to Artists Of Faith Today? Read Pt.11: Do You Consider Yourself A Christian Musician? In What Way Does It Affect Your Music? [...]

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