Voices Of The Underground Pt.13


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?
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?
Read Pt.12: What Is The Hardest Part About Being A Musician Today?

The issue that we are discussing today is, in all honesty, what made me want to do this series.  In my life, I have noticed that music is very powerful in people’s lives. The people who make this music will sometimes become unknowing role models for the people listening to them. As we have seen many times in recent history, music artists get blamed for a lot that is wrong with our country.  As we talk about Christian music though, the seeming responsibility to “practice what you preach”  becomes much more intense. Is this right though? The people that are making this music are just that, people, so do we put too much pressure on them?  Or, is the job of making art that inspires people supposed to carry more weight than that?

What is an artist’s responsibility (if any) to it’s listeners?

domicballi Dominic Balli (independent Reggae/hip-hop artist)
Dominic Balli
Well, without the listeners, nobody sells records, if you don’t sell records then you don’t play shows, if you don’t play shows then you’re not much of an artist your just a guy who plays the guitar who now has a whole lot of debt from your last record. The record that no listeners ever listened to. SOOOO… I think every artist should try his best to connect with his fans in every way he can. Some artist are just naturally better at this than others. Some artist are really good at hard and really bad at relationships. Don’t trip on them for that. That’s what makes them who they are.
As far as putting out an album every other year or touring certain cities frequently or writing a type of music because the people like it… that’s up for discussion. There’s a saying at the Church where I lead worship, “We want to be a call driven Church, not a need driven Church.” The same applies, the people will always be crying out for this or that. Sometimes it’s good stuff, sometimes it’s dumb stuff, but at the end of the day you’ve got to know what you’re called to do. How you’re supposed to write, perform, tour, record, etc… No fan can tell you that.

mahoganyjones Mahogany Jones(independent hip-hop artist)
Mahogany Jones
To give the people themselves, to be transparent, to be honest, to make music that will inspire greatness and provide a real source of liberation.

hylandjonJon (lead singer/guitarist for independent pop/rock band Hyland)
Oh man, integrity. Not just about what a musician does onstage or what songs they are writing, but how they are offstage. I’m getting so sick of C bands that are into drugs, sex and rock and roll. It’s killing me to see these bands kill their witness by just living haphazardly… I think an artist’s responsibility in the Christian industry is to simply walk the walk and talk the talk. Your music and ability to connect with people will grow or self destruct depending…

sethinfrontendervence Seth (singer for independent hard rock band Endeverance)
I would say the artist responsibility is to be real and not just make music that has no meaning…Also I believe that you are nothing without the listener. I would say you live your life as a musician for the listener everything you do every note that is sang or played ever is for the listener…As a musician you need to create a connection that makes the listener apart of everything on the record, on the stage, and off the stage…

runkidrundavidoneinhatDavid (lead singer/guitarist for Tooth & Nail pop/rock band Run Kid Run)
Run Kid Run
I don’t think artist have responsibility to listeners the band makes art that we hope the listener will enjoy and be encouraged, inspired by. If they don’t like the band or the actions they won’t support and that’s their decision.

ourproclamationfrankieinstrips1Frankie (vocalist for Infantry Records hardcore band Our Proclamation)
Our Proclamation
That would depend on the definition of the word “artist”.
An artist has no responsibility to their listeners. It’s supposed to be self expression. That’s what makes it art. A performer, on the other hand, has to deliver what the audience wants to hear. There’s a fine line between the two.

brookewaggner Brooke Waggoner(solo indie/pop artist on SlowMoon Music)
Brooke Waggoner
Don’t waste their time. Create a world for them to enter and feel comfortable. But challenge. Always challenge!

bryanblondstreakabandon Bryan (bass player for Forefront Records pop/rock band Abandon) Abandon
To be your fan’s best friend. We love our fans and wouldn’t be anywhere without their support. So it’s an artist’s responsibility to deliver an amazing live performance, be true to who they say they are in interviews and on the album, and spend time with their listeners as much as possible.

echocastbandwb8David (singer for independent nu-metal band Echocast)
Maybe I’m from a different school of thought, but I personally don’t feel that an artist has a “responsibility” to its listeners… Its just music, I think the “listeners” will listen to what they enjoy and might like 1 record an artist puts out and not like the next one… I think a true artist’s “responsibility” is to continue to make music that they themselves believe in and not to conform to what they think people might want to hear…

xcess Xcess (solo Darkside records hip-hop/industrial artist)
An artist’s responsibility to its listeners depends on what the artist is going for. I tend to be a little more unapologetic with whatever it is I do because it’s what I want to do so bringing the kind of integrity I do is a my main focus in that regard. I’m not here to write catchy tunes anyone will like. Ultimately the artists responsibility is honesty complete with a passion for their are doing. Unless its to write a catchy single, then you gotta worry about topping that last wonderful dance number that will show up on a NOW collection at some point. Maybe they’ll get lucky and Weird Al will do a parody.

daveleftpoorlybuitparachute Dave (half of Holdfast Records electro-house duo Poorly Built Parachute)
Poorly Built Parachute
To be 100% honest and try to be as original and revolutionary as possible. If you are only trying to sound like everyone else and just want to tour and meet chicks… you’ve lost the point.

amycourts Amy Courts (independent pop/folk artist)
Amy Courts
I don’t know that I have any responsibility to my listeners other than to do what I do – which is apparently what they love – to the best of my ability with as much honesty and authenticity as I can offer. I can’t be what everyone expects less I become nothing of myself. So I write what I write and stay as true to my calling and passion – true to God, in the end – as is humanly possible, and those who are meant to hear will hear and be moved. And I will give them the best of myself, with excellence.

the_welcome_wagon_-_0938-cVito(half of Asthamic Kitty indie/folk band The Welcome Wagon)
The Welcome Wagon
We think of our chief responsibility as a band is to serve Jesus Christ. We want to please him, and we like to sing about him. But in so doing, I think—I hope!—that makes us somewhat accountable to our listeners. We believe every person in the world, Christian or not, is made in the image of God. Thus we are called to honor and respect them, to love them. We hope we are doing that through our music.

dirt DIRT(underground hip-hop artist and founder of Shadow Of The Locust)
I have always found myself frustrated with anyone who thinks an artist does not have any responsibility to his/her listeners. If you hold that opinion then make music for yourself, play it to yourself, buy your own CD and keep it to yourself. Music should motivate. We all have to decide what messages we really want to convey through our art, but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t motivate someone from one place to another, then what good was all our effort.
Sometimes people need to hate something… and music can make that happen.
Sometimes people need to realize something…. and music can make that happen.
Sometimes people need to be in love with something, fear something, grapple with something, revolt against something, embrace something… and music can make that happen.

Only two more weeks left in our series, come back next week!


  1. [...] Voices Of The Underground-Christian Music Artists-What … [...]

  2. [...] Affect Your Music? Read Pt.12: What Is The Hardest Part About Being A Musician Today? Read Pt.t13: What Responsibility (if any) Does An Artist Have To It’s Listener? Read Pt.14: Where Do You See The Music Industry [...]

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