Interview: Elim Sound

Mar 22 2018

Ahead of the release of their new album 'One' LTTM spoke with the Elim Sound team to find out more about what they have in store with their latest worship music, described as their "most collaborative release to date".

Tell us a little bit about the new Elim Sound album 'One' and what the inspiration behind it is?

This year Elim’s theme is ‘One movement - One mission’. This inspired the title of the album. This album is our most collaborative yet and we are in the process of looking at what does Elim’s worship globally look like. Looking at how we can learn from other nations and help and resource each other. It’s really exciting for us, we are seeing some amazing things happen in our global family. This project feels like it’s at the beginning of a new season. Our desire is to be One movement with one mission across the globe.

This album is our most collaborative yet, it includes 13 lead vocalists and 19 writers.

Which is your favourite track on the album and why?

Currently it’s ‘Still God’ - this was the most worked on song on the project. We had about 80% written in a session in Malvern and then it took lots of back and fourth on the lyrics. The song was written by Lucy-Rose Garnish a young songwriter based in Birmingham, Mark Stone a pastor at our Halifax church and myself. We also had a little bit of help from Darren Mulligan (We Are Messengers).

It’s an honest song about pain, hurt and anxiety. It started off with Lucy-Rose sharing about a recent time of serious anxiety and how she’d never experienced anything like that before. Mark and I could relate to that in our own lives and the lives of others we know. The song starts with an honest, psalm like question. ‘When will this morning break? this darkness seems to have no dawn’

The heartbeat of ‘Still God’ is that even when our faith is torn, we are hurting, we are experiencing pain, God is still God and there is always hope. He holds on to us in every circumstance.

There are a lot of writers and collaborators on this album, tell us a bit about them and how you ensure the music all fits together when so many people are involved.

Our Core team are regularly writing, but for this album we wanted to include more songwriters from our local churches. We started that off by having two writing retreats, one at our headquarters in Malvern and one in London. These kickstarted a number of the songs that made the final 15. In the end we had about 90 ideas from 28 writers. We used a feedback process to select the final songs. Almost everyone involved in the project is part of the Elim family. This album sees some new writers for us including Chris and Abby Eaton, Mark Stone, Lucy-Rose Garnish, Suzanne Hanna and Fiona Crow. We also brought in some new voices on the project, including Alex Davis (Cardiff), Shell Perris (Malvern) and Nathan Jess (Portadown, Ireland). We have a song co-written with Matt Redman too.

Production for an album like this can be tricky. We used the same band throughout, so hopefully that gives it some consistency. We have mixed up a number of sounds and vibes. There are a number of sparse tracks and some with full production.

What makes this album stand out from the other worship albums out at the moment?

There is so much great music out there at the moment. Our focus has been to write songs from our movement for our movement. I believe this album has a real collaborative feel. Musically it hits a number of styles and what set’s this album apart from our previous releases is that it contains a number of ‘ministry’ songs and ‘struggle’ songs. A number of the writers went through some tough situations and that came out in the songwriting process. Yet in the midst of personal trials and brokenness, there is always hope. I think it’s Elim Sound’s most mature album yet and that even though it has a number of voices it feels like one complete work. With the evolution of the way people consume and listen to music with playlists and single tracks I think there could be something for everyone in the local church on this album, we’ll see.

If listeners were to take just one message from these songs - what would you hope it would be?

I think each one of our Core team would say something different. For me its that there is still hope. Even in the toughest moments of our lives, the pain we face, our struggles with health, anxiety, the daily life, there is always hope. God is with us.

When can people see Elim Sound performing these songs live over the next few months?

Our team are at Spring Harvest (Minehead week 1) which is really exciting for us and then we have our National Conference in Harrogate in May. We’ve got a few other events in the summer including Rivercamp. Hopefully a number of these songs will spread across the movement.

How do you think worship music has changed over the past few years?

I think worship music is the best its ever been. Its exciting to see so many great songs and resources available. Production levels are really high now and I think people are innovating and creating great music. We have a great variety of sounds and flavours too. Our team have really noticed that people really want to grow and develop in worship and music, our School Of Worship has been really popular.

Which other albums have really impacted you recently?

I’m loving the Elevation Worship projects. The Elevation Collective is fantastic, blending styles so well. A couple of worship songs that have really impacted me the last few months are ‘Reckless Love’ the bridge almost brings me to tears each time I sing it and I really love ‘So Will I’ that is an amazing song that I’ve really connected with.

How would you define success in your career as a worship group?

One thing we remind ourselves often is to remember why we do what we do. To serve God, the church and people. We are so thankful we get to do what we do and to have the opportunity to help grow and develop worship leaders is a huge privilege. If we can help and inspire others to grow, develop and worship, then we’ll have achieved our goal.

What does the next year hold for Elim Sound?

We are starting an exciting adventure looking at Elim’s global sound and worship, partnering with our Missions department, looking at how we can learn from the different nations and how we can resource, encourage and inspire each other. We’re starting to form ideas for that and have a global leaders gathering in May after our National Conference.

We have 42 students involved in our 2 School Of Worship’s, which is the most yet, they are from all over the UK, we love seeing individuals grow and develop. We’re looking forward to serving at a number of conferences and events.

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