The One21 Interviews Tre9

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Tre9 is this amazing dude out of Houston TX. He is a hip-hop artist, promoter, manager,and founder of both Much Luvv Records, and DASOUTH.com. At SXSW, he was responsible for the event that brought Kaboose, Braille, and Lecrae to Austin. We were lucky to get a few minutes with him. This is one of those interviews were I didn’t have to ask a lot of questions, Tre9 is a passionate dude!  In the midst of his excitement, he talks about some really serious issues in the Christian music scene, and in fact his interview in part inspired a new way for us at The One21 to approach the music we are putting on this site (read The Many Facets Of Christian Music). Even if you arn’t into hip-hop, I’m sure you will love this interview.

This is Tre9‘s video for his song “Rise To The Top”

You can buy Tre9‘s music digitally on Tre9 and Amazon MP3

You can also buy his CDs on Amazon:
Marooned
The Farmer

The One21 Interviews Rootbeer

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So we have talked about Rootbeer a lot on this site. Rootbeer is the musical collaboration of Flynn Adam and Pigeon John. The two are not strangers though, they both started in the quirky hip-hop mega-group LA Symphony. That group has split off into many different factions, Cook & Uno, Poems, both John and Adam have pretty solid solo careers, but the latest and most visible is Rootbeer. The duo just released their Pink Limousine EP, a cool collection of fun and bouncy songs, and have been working really hard to get the word out.  We talked about that, how they got started, and their thoughts on faith and music.

Note: I (Ian) have been listening to both of these guys for a long time. I was a little nervous, so the beginning of the interview starts off a little awkwardly. Give it a few questions, because we fell into a great groove after a bit and even more sips from our coffee cups.

Here are the boys in Rootbeer with the title track from their debut EP

and for fun, here is both Pigeon John and Flynn Adam (doing the beats) WAY BACK in the first video from LA Symphony (younger versions of Cook & Uno, Poems, and Joey The Jerk also in the clip)

You can get Rootbeer’s EP digitally on Rootbeer and Amazon MP3

The One21 Interviews Dignan

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Pt.2

Dignan are a progressive indie rock band from McAllen TX. They play a darker breed of the type of music you come to expect of bands like Anathallo and mewithoutYou.  There the mood never distracts from their pure talent though. We got a chance to catch their SXSW show and were really impressed by their quiet but commanding stage show. You can read our report from that show, and then you can watch the videos above as we talked with the band about how they got started, their faith, and every now and again got to dodge the the cars trying to run us over. We hope you enjoy as much as we did.

here is the band playing “Tangeled Woods” live in 2008

You can get Dignan‘s music on Dignan

The Many Facets Of Christian Music

Ever since we started The One21, we have been learning a lot. From the vast amount of  new talent we come across, to the trends in music and entertainment we have been able to identify, this company has allowed us to learn new things daily about the world of music we love so much.  We have tried to share those trends with you, and explore what the digital age of music has done for the underground music movement. We have attempted to expand the knowledge of the music out there being made by believers.  We have tried endlessly on this site to change the perception of what most people think when they hear the term “Christian music”, and bring you a whole new world of music that exists outside of the mainstream Christian industry.

It is in that last idea that we have run into the most trouble.  We feel that this website and the database of music we are building is our calling, our ministry to you, the person reading this.  We feel that we have a responsibility to give you as much information about the artists we talk about so that you can make the most informed decision on what music you allow in to your life and those around you. On the other hand, we also feel that we have a responsibility to artists we talk about. We don’t want to force any artist to label themselves as something they don’t want to labeled as.  The choices that an artists make in their career are their own, and it be irresponsible for us to (forcefully) change those decisions ( we REALLY want Kate Minor to come back to music, and I REALLY want Damien Rice to become a believer).  So how do we talk to people about music that is made by believers without forcing those artists to be pigeon-holed into a scene they want to exist outside of.

This struggle was put center stage recently as we attended SXSW. A band that we have featured on this site (I’m not going to tell you who it is, don’t ask), had a very strong reaction to us wanting to interview them and talk about it on the site. They told Chuck “well we are Christians, but we defiantly don’t make Christian music”, and were still debating this issue when I walked past them ten minutes later. Some of the members seemed upset that since we were a site that covered Christian music, that talking to us would change the perception of their band in the general public. However, all the research we had done on the band not only revealed that they were believers, but the majority of their lyrics centered around the dark picture the church paints of Christ versus what He truly is. We felt a little awkward because in a way we had tried to make them something they didn’t want to be, which is their call, not ours. The outcome is that they didn’t talk to us, even when Chuck attended their show a few nights later.

Later that same week, Chuck presented our pastor with a signed copy of a CD, from one of the hip-hop artists we interviewed, for his ten year old son who is really into hip-hop at the moment.  Our pastor thanked Chuck, but said that he needed to listen to it before his son could have it.  That seemed strange to me for a moment, but then he explained that another Christian hip-hop artist had frequently used the word “hell” (in the correct context by the way), a word that shocked and offended his young children who had been told NOT to say that word. It occurred to me that a lot of people can’t just listen to ANY artist who says that they are a Christian, even with ideologies that match up, subject matter is still an issue.

So on one side, we have believers who are making music, but do not want to be part of the Christian music world, and on the other side, we have people who need help with finding the right artist that helps them live their faith.  On the one hand we know of a lot of Christian artist who hardly ever talk directly about their faith in their music, and on the other we have a responsibility to present music that lines up with the ideologies that exist in Christianity. The dichotomy bothered me all week until we met with Tre9, a Houston hip-hop artist and founder of DaSouth.com, who spoke in our interview with him about hip hop artists being relevant to the audience that they are trying to reach.

79975“You’ve got to know as an artist who you are going to target your message to. Obviously if you want to disciple Christians then you need to make music relevant to them. Which would be music: quoting scriptures, having heavy spiritual content; but if you want to reach people that don’t have church knowledge and maybe don’t even read their Bible then you need to bring it down to their level. So, that may require you to do music that shares your life story more often, and maybe closes with the fact that you found fulfillment in Christ, but you’re not so heavily focused on making sure you get a scripture in there. Throw a Jesus here; throw a God, a Holy Spirit there. Throw the word redemption. You know sanctification; these words that the world doesn’t understand. You want to make music that is relevant to where they are at mentally and even spiritually.

When I say relevant, you’ve got groups like P.O.D. who are way into the world, but are making relevant music to their audience, and look at them, they are global. They have penetrated a market that they couldn’t penetrate when they were labeled a Christian artist. I think that’s good. A lot of people think they are sell outs because they don’t preach the gospel in their music, but for me I feel that this world needs Godly principles, they need the Bible interpenetrated in today’s language so that it’s relevant. So, if P.O.D. makes a song about ‘I feel so alive’, but they don’t say it’s because of Jesus; I think that person will eventually become a follower of P.O.D.; listening to their music, going to their website, researching and finding out “Hey, these guys are Christians. So that’s what they mean by ‘I feel so alive’.” So they don’t have to put it into a song for me. Now, a lot of people would disagree with that but, we need wholesome music. We need songs that deal with drugs, and the dangers of drugs; songs that deal with abstinence. These songs don’t have to say anything about God.  God is in that, God wants people to live an abstinent life, God wants people to avoid drugs. So, I’m ok with making music that is relevant to that market or that particular group of people. Going into public schools we can’t do Christian music, especially during school hours. You can’t just go in there preaching about Jesus. So, if you are going to make music relevant to a school; if it’s an elementary school, then you need to write some stuff elementary level. Junior high, High school…so that’s what I mean by relevant.”

I was blown away. This was a concept that had always been in the back of my mind, but I had never heard put into words.  I also realized that this line of thinking could be applied to all music, not just the world of hip-hop.  As I thought about it more, I became aware that this was how the whole scope of the Christian music scene fit together, even the artists that wanted to exists outside the borders of what is traditionally thought of as Christian music.  This is how we can talk about really good music that is being made by believers, but not really overtly spiritually, and then turn around and talk about worship music in the same breathe.  It is because in “Christian music” there are different forms of it, but all of them are written from a world-view of Christ.

In the end, I propose that all music, written from a foundation of hope and faith, that God can use to touch people’s hearts, can be divided into three categories:

The Spiritual- this is music that is made by believers, and is mainly intended for believers.  This music uses language and subjects that believers understand, and is made mainly for the purpose of worship, education, and encouragement. This music will use a lot of direct Biblical scripture, or discuss the literal concepts within the Bible. The gospel message is OBVIOUS to anyone. This music is meant to celebrate and discuss God and His teachings. This is were the majority of worship music will exist, as well as artist who talk about heavy Biblical truths.
Examples:
The Ambassador
Becoming The Archetype
Third Day
Derek Webb
Jason Upton
Shane and Shane
Enter The Worship Circle
Toby Mac
For Today
Dirt

The Message- the music in this category is evangelical in nature. It is made by believers for everyone. While it deals with strong Biblical truths, the music is made to appeal to both believers and non-believers alike.  The messages are meant to talk about address the need for Christ and the struggles that people go through before the come to know Him, and the relationship that exists afterward. Sometimes the message is obvious, sometimes it isn’t.  Most artists talk about their faith not only through their lyrics, but also from the stages that they play from (be it a church or a bar stage). This category is a musical response to the great commission.
Examples:
Switchfoot
Lecrae
August Burns Red
P.O.D.
SuperChick
Kaboose
A Plea For Purging
mewithoutYou
Project 86
Joy Whitlock

The Light- this is the category that collects all the Christians who are out their making music, but are not necessarily talking about anything that is directly Biblical. This is just music made by believers. Most of the time, the songs have a indirect message pertaining to the artists faith. The artists in this category are not trying to speak to their beliefs, but are simply trying to make music , and their faith shines through from time to time.  The artists in this category most times exist completely outside of the Christian music radar, some of them you will know, but most you have never heard of. What is important to note is that while the music in this category is not overtly faith-based, it is music that is written from a heart changed by Christ, and can be used as a catalyst  people’s life.
Examples:
Rootbeer
Anathallo
Brooke Waggoner
Paramore
Bob Dylan
Cold War Kids
Thrice
Danielson
Bodies Of Water
Buddy Miller

On our site, we are going to begin using these categories to define our artists better. You will begin to see them on our “Christian Artists To Know”, and as we build our database of artists, the categories will also be incorporated.

The idea behind these categories to allow all the many ways that music is made by believers to be viewed as a unified music scene. For the artists that sing honestly about thier life  and for the worship leader in the church, God uses all this music to touch people’s hearts.

The One21 Interviews Lecrae

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Lecrae is a hip-hop artist on Reach Records. he has been doing music for a while now, but it was 2008′s release, Rebel,  that has elevated this young emcee to one of the biggest names in Christ-centered hip-hop.  With straight up party, west coast hip-hop, Lecrae has brings a quality level to the game that is rarely seen in both the secular and Christian scenes.  We were able to sit down with Lecrae before his show at SXSW, and he was able to share his heart and his story in a very cool way. One warning, we ran out of tape towards the last question, but don’t worry because we still were rolling with our audio. Stay till the end, Lecrae has some great stuff to say.

Here is the music video for Lecrae‘s song, “Dont Waste Your Life”

You can get Lecrae‘s music digitally on Lecrae or AmazonMP3

You can also can his CDs on Amazon:
Real Talk
After the Music Stops
Rebel

The One21 Interviews Brooke Waggoner

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If you have been reading this site at all over the last few months, you know that we love Brooke Waggoner.  We featured a profile on Brooke awhile back, and ever since we have been keeping up with her. Brooke has also been one of our most consistent faces for the Voices Of The Underground series we have every Thursday on the site. She has met critical acclaim for her debut full length, Heal For The Honey, an intelligent blend of mellow piano pop with a progressive indie mentality, and according to our interview, she already has a new CD ready to go. We got together with Brooke right before her show at SXSW, which was the tail end of her tour at the time.  She was great to talk to, and then went on to play a killer show that night ( read our review of Brooke Waggoner’s SXSW 09 show). Brooke is already back out on tour with Paper Route and Copeland, so be sure to check her out when she hits your town.

Here is Brooke’s video for the title track off of Heal For The Honey

You can buy Brooke Waggoner‘s digitally on AmazonMP3 and Brooke Waggoner

You can also get her CDs on Amazon:
Fresh Pair of Eyes
Heal for the Honey

The One21 Interviews Kaboose

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Kaboose is a hip-hop artist on Syntax Records. His latest album, Excuse Me, was released last year and is the highest selling album for the label. He deserves it, his songs are diverse and creative, dealing with serious subjects but never losing his caring and intelligent personality in the midst of serious hand-banging hip-hop party tracks. Despite his success, the Native American emcee is a humble and warm character, full of excitement and passion. He took the stage on our last day at SXSW 09, and sat down to talk to us afterwords.  In the video above Kaboose gives some incite on how he got started, what he loves about his job, and just shares his heart. Enjoy!

Here is the video for Kaboose‘s favorite track off of Excuse Me, “Goin’ Outta Control”

As always you can get Kaboose‘s music digitally on Kaboose
You can also buy his CDs on Amazon:
Innersection
Excuse Me

Ian’s SXSW 09 Wrap-Up

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It is the Monday after the Saturday we finished covering SXSW 09 and all the Christian performers playing the fest.  I’m pretty sore from walking around so much, crouching for pictures, and pushing through crowds.  The strain was worth it though, we saw some great music, met some cool people, and were able to re focus and hone in on what we wanted The One21 to become.

We have been reporting all week from SXSW, but I thought it would be cool to go back through some of the great shows we saw and post some bigger pics.

The first show we saw ended up being one of the best. Anathallo played the Paste Magazine party at around noon on the first day of music, and it really sat the tone.  Big, soaring choruses, a ton of people on stage, and a whole bunch of instruments made their show a joyful explosion of energy and fun.

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Anathallo play hand bells at the Paste Magazine party at SXSW 09

Anathallo on piano at the Paste Magazine Party at SXSW 09

Anathallo on piano at the Paste Magazine Party at SXSW 09

Anathallo singing their heart out at the SXSW 09 Paste Party

Anathallo singing their heart out at the SXSW 09 Paste Party

The chaos of Anathallo at the SXSW09 Paste Magazine Party

The chaos of Anathallo at the SXSW09 Paste Magazine Party

Here is a video of that great show

Remember, you can always get Anathallo‘s music on Amazon and Anathallo

The next night we got see the lovely and talented Brooke Waggoner do her thing.  We were also fortunate enough to interview her before the show, so you can look out for that in the coming weeks.  She played with no percussion of any sort; it was just her voice, her piano, a cello, two violinists, and a friend singing back up vocals. Her music was soft and intricate, but the crowd that was there for her never wavered. For 45 minutes, she captivated the audience with her unique blend of indie style piano pop.  Brooke is a truly talented artist, and you never doubted it for a second watching her play.

Brooke Waggoner gives some joy at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner gives some joy at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner killing those piano keys at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner killing those piano keys at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner's string section making beautiful noise at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner's string section making beautiful noise at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner sings to us at SXSW 09

Brooke Waggoner sings to us at SXSW 09

Want to hear what I’m talking about? You can pick up Brooke Waggoner‘s music at Amazon and on Brooke Waggoner

The next morning we got to meet and watch the guys from hip-hop duo Rootbeer (aka Flynn Adam and Pigeon John) tear the stage up earlier in the day.  Their music is a lot of fun, and their show was high energy, giving them an appeal that you don’t find in a lot of today’s tuff guy rap scene.  The boys jumped and danced around the stage for a good twenty minutes, joked with the crowd, and told some stories.  I have said this about them before, but these dudes just put a smile on your face, you cant help but love them.  People were walking in off the street the entire set, and by the end of the show, the place was packed.

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) jumpin like chimpanzee at SXSW 09

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) jumpin like chimpanzee at SXSW 09

Pigeon John workin it out at SXSW 09

Pigeon John workin it out at SXSW 09

Flynn Adam doing his thing at SXSW 09

Flynn Adam doing his thing at SXSW 09

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) dancing for the crowd at SXSW 09

Rootbeer(Flynn Adam & Pigeon John) dancing for the crowd at SXSW 09

You can get Rootbeer‘s debut EP on Amazon and Rootbeer

That same night, Chuck and I made our way over to a little club called Spiro’s to catch a band we had been really excited about all year, Wovenhand.  Outside the door, Wovenhand‘s leader David Eugene Edwards was chatting up some friends and relaxing.  The man that was standing out side though was not the man that took his place on the stool right in front of me barely 20 minutes later. The man in front of me was a force, and voice of an angry and vengeful God that would some day come back to earth and take back what was His. For almost an hour, Wovenhand made my jaw drop to the flow in a scary display of power, passion, and revelation.  While their music was dark, I felt God’s presence over the show in the same way I had felt while watching mewithoutYou for the first time and Jason Upton several years before. If Jason‘s music is the heart of God, and mewithoutYou‘s is the mouth, then Wovenhand‘s music is the fist. The fist that swings the axe.

Wovenhand sings to the crowd at SXSW 09

Wovenhand sings to the crowd at SXSW 09

Wovenhand makes the crowd see at SXSW 09

Wovenhand makes the crowd see at SXSW 09

Wovenhand keeps it heavy at SXSW 09

Wovenhand keeps it heavy at SXSW 09

The chaos of Wovenhand at SXSW 09

The chaos of Wovenhand at SXSW 09

Here is video from the actual show. I am kneeling right in front of Edwards if you can spot me

You can purchase Wovenhand‘s incredible music at Amazon and Wovenhand

Now, these were just some of my favorite’s that we covered. I saw some great stuff from Dignan, Seabird, Paper Route, Anberlin, Kaboose, Bosque Brown, and Braille.  The feeling that overwhelmed me at the end of SXSW is that there is a lot of great music out there. In this age of digital music and online CD stores, there is so much opportunity for discovery and experimentation when it comes to the music we listen to.  For me though, it gives me hope that there is a ton of great music, better than most, being made by artists who want to express thier faith in Christ, be it directly or indirectly.  When I became a believer over ten years ago, the perception was that Christians just didnt have the good bands or songs. After SXSW 09 though, I know that it not true, and in reality Christians are making some of the most original and satisfing music out there. For a music lover, it will sound like great music, for believers, it will sound like new way to express the God that lives inside of us.

SXSW 09 In The Daylight: Whole Lotta Hip-Hop

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Our last day at SXSW started around 1PM at The George Washington Carver Museum. There, we saw a collection of some of the best in Christian hip-hop. Lecrae, Kaboose, Braille, Tre9 and many more hit the tiny stage at a rapid fire pace to a very excited crowd. The problem was that even though we got there close to an hour before the show was supposed to start, the theater was already at capacity, and there were no signs of that ending before the emcees hit the stage.

By chance though, we ran into Tre9, a hip-hop artists himself, but also the creator of DASOUTH.COM, and also the organizer of the event. He quickly was able to help us and only took us back stage to watch the show, but introduced us to all the artists playing the event. Thanks alot man..

tre9

You can check out Tre9‘s music on Tre 9

I couldn’t get pictures because of where we were, but I will tell you that both Kaboose and Braille tore the stage up.

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Kaboose is a big lovable guy who just gushed on the crowd in between his lighthearted but extremely complex blend of hip-hop. He talked a lot about the meanings and thoughts behind his songs over his fifteen minute set, allowing the crowd to see his heart along with his talent.  Don’t hear me saying that his music is lite though, the tracks he played off his latest CD, Excuse Me, sounded like they were defiantly testing the theater’s speakers for capacity.  Kaboose is a SOLID hip-hop artist with a lot to give, and this show displayed that he loves giving it.

You can get Kaboose‘s music on Kaboose

A quick transition saw a white dude in a jumpsuit, carrying a helmet, wander on to the stage, and announce his name was Braille.

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Braille is one of those guys that you hope keeps making music because you know that there isn’t anybody quite like him.  He has this strange manner of speaking that makes him almost charming on stage.  His music is serious in nature, and he is obviously a talented guy, but it was the little things like talking about his family and asking the crowd to help him drive his imaginary moped that will stick with people after the show is long over.  He gave me one of his CDs,  a recent colab with fellow artist Symbolyc One called Cloud Nineteen, and if it as anything like his show, I know I am in for a treat.

You can get that album, and the rest of Braille‘s stuff on Braille

We spent the next hour interviewing Tre9, Lecrae, and Kaboose, and left, unfortunately, before we could watch the end of the show. We came back over to the Austin Convention Center, and no sooner had I begun to write this post, Rootbeer began to play in the next room!

rootbeer

If you read my post on the show we saw Friday, you know what to expect. Unlike the show at Troubadour, the boys seemed to be working the crowd a lot more. The place was pretty empty at the beginning, but by song two people were rushing to the front of the stage, dancing, and singing along. The boys did a great job, and the crowd was eating it up.

You can get Rootbeer‘s EP on Rootbeer

From here we are going to be hitting a few more late shows (including a solo Pigeon John), and then SXSW is done for us.  If you are up real late tonight, check us out, because will have our final update from SXSW 09.