Integrity Music announces the signing of Seattle-based band Citizens as they release their unique project, The Joy of Being (Phone Demos), today. The band set out to make a record of songs for the church to sing, without music and production overcoming the lyrics. To accomplish this goal, Citizens recorded this project on iPhones acoustically in an empty church. The Joy of Being (Phone Demos) features a collection of songs with lyric, melody and basic instrumentation that anyone could connect with and lead. As worship is moving from the sanctuary to the living room in this quarantine season, songs of substance and simple arrangements are more and more vital.
"We wanted to make something that disrupted the norms of modern church music, specifically all the fanfare we (talking to ourselves here too) have put around production," shares Zach Bolen of Citizens. "So we went in and recorded it on iPhones acoustically and called it a day on the production. All that for one big reason, we wanted to give the listener a coloring book to be filled in how they would choose. Rather than make all the creative decisions for how these songs would exist in the church, we wanted to make a record that left room for people to imagine and create a sound that best represents each church and the people that are being led. At the end of the day, the lyric is what drives church songs, not the music."
Citizens wanted to get back to the middle ground themselves with this album. They wanted to find contentment in the absence of production and the honesty of an unrefined voice lifted up in praise to God.
"Our job is to faithfully write the best possible songs we can for the church," continues Bolen. "This record is for the listener. Not just the worship leader or even the Christian. It’s for the world to hear, to believe, to worship. These songs are to be used in whatever way the listener wants."
Citizens will be following up the Phone Demos' release with their own musical interpretations of the songs in September with the studio release of The Joy of Being. For a copy of one of the Phone Demos' videos, you can text Citizens' Zach Bolen directly at 206-488-9089, and you can send back your own phone arrangement of the song.