Out of the Dust's music is best described as redemptive indie pop. Although the husband and wife duo has been making music together for some time, this year's self-titled album Out of the Dust sees Chris and Stephanie Teague stepping out to share their story and their ministry in a new way.
The thread of restoration and redemption that runs from the duo's chosen name through each song is no coincidence: it's a reality the Teagues have lived. I had the chance to talk to them about that journey and learn more about how they operate as a musical team and a ministry.
Kick this off by introducing yourselves-- your names, where you're from and how you got started playing music?
Chris: I'm Chris Teague and this is my wife Stephanie Teague, and we're both from Nashville, which is a bit rare these days-- we both grew up here, born and raised. We have been doing music in some capacity for fifteen years now. I've done solo stuff that never really amounted to much, led worship in multiple ways, but our duo Out of the Dust never really took shape until after Stephanie and I's marriage was restored.
We were divorced for a time, and God did something incredible in our lives and restored our marriage, and that's when things just seemed to click. We felt like it was a calling, to share what He's done and to share our story. The story is a platform for the music, and the music is a platform for the story. We just started writing and took one step after the other, just being obedient. The Lord has always put ground underneath our feet with every step that we take, so we made it here not blindly, but by faith and trust.
Stephanie: Yeah, it wasn't a path we thought we would end up on. I was involved in music through band, so I did band all through school. I played flute and piccolo but never really did anything with singing until Chris and I met when we were seniors in high school and we started leading worship together for a college group and for our youth group at church. I never saw myself as a performer or somebody to be in the front; I enjoyed singing harmony and kind of being in the background. To be where we are today is just such a huge God-thing and something that we definitely feel called to.
So the name Out of the Dust was born out of that story, something you guys latched onto after you saw God redeem your lives powerfully?
Chris: The name Out of the Dust comes a little bit out of the Bible, from a little bit of borrowing, and a lot of our story. When I left Stephanie and the church, our marriage was done, and I don't think either of us thought in any capacity that we would be back together again, even if I were to find the Lord again while we were apart--neither of us really had any hope. We went forward and didn't look back. But God had other plans, and coming out of that dust and ash if you will, He breathed new life into our lives and into our story. So that's kind of where the name comes from. Out of the nothingness that was, He made something new and beautiful.
I would imagine that theme weaves its way through most of the songs on the album?
Stephanie: So with the record, obviously things that you've been through and your experiences come out in songwriting and in your music. That restoration, God taking something hopeless and making it something beautiful, is definitely a theme on our record. I think it comes out in our songs, and the struggles do as well. When we set out to write this record, we wanted to show both sides. We wanted to show the restoration and the end point, but also the struggle leading up to that, because that's such a huge part of going through those experiences. Another big thing we talk about is hope in the midst of those trials, in that period where you may not know what's going to happen. You may not hear God's audible answer to a prayer, but you know that He is still there and He has a purpose.
So that's the lyrical side of things. Musically, what has inspired you guys? What other artists and genres have influenced your sound?
Chris: Since I was a kid, I grew up listening to pop acts like Michael W. Smith, and as I got older it was always singer/songwriter stuff--John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw. Then as we got into college, it was a lot more folky and it got a lot more esoteric, weird nooks and crannies and corners, alternative rock.
As we sat down to do this record, we wanted it to be accessible, and we wanted to make it impactful to as many people as possible, but also not water down the styles that have shaped us into who we are. It's definitely a pop record I would say, but it's adult contemporary too, and it's folky, and it's got some electronic elements in there. We kind of tried to make a mix of everything.
For both of you, what ended up being your favorite songs?
Chris: Honestly at this stage, it's probably the song called "Your Will." It's not the single and it probably never will be a single, but it's near and dear to us. This isn't a critique to contemporary Christian music at all, but it seems like there's usually an acknowledgement of hardship, but then there's an immediate turn to the answer. I think sometimes we just need to be sat with. We sit with our friends when they're going through a hard time. We don't just give them those token phrases. We sit with them and we cry with them, and that song "Your Will" is sitting with the feelings of not knowing where God is but trusting that He still is there.
Stephanie: Our single "All That I'm Made For" is a really special one to both of us. I think it was kind of unexpected when we were writing it, what it became. We love performing that one because it's like a flagship song for us. The lyrics of it really sum up our mission as artists and as believers, that we're not content just doing the day-to-day get up, go to work, come home, wake up... you know? We're not content with that everyday going after the American dream. That's a part of the society that we're in, and that's important, but we also know that God has created us for so much more. We love getting to sing it so often because it's a reminder to ourselves that we don't want to become calloused or jaded to the world. Our lives are meant for more.
When you guys are writing these songs, what does that creative process look like? Does one of you primarily carry the writing? Do you bounce things off each other?
Chris: Yes and yes. It works really well.
Stephanie: Which is funny because when we were married previously, it was completely opposite personality-wise. We struggled even just singing together in our first marriage. We didn't think our voices worked well, and it was just difficult when we would lead worship. But coming back around, somehow through God, it really works. It works in our favor when it comes to songwriting.
Chris: Stephanie is super detail-oriented and I am not at all, so when it comes to doing band stuff, she is the yin to my yang. It's weirdly the opposite when it comes to writing. Stephanie is really great at big-picture, the ten thousand foot view. We get down into the nitty gritty together, but what I love doing is crafting. It has to feel right.
So we'll talk about it, and I may have a guitar idea or something roughly melodic. We'll just do a bunch of ideas and brainstorm and talk about what it could be and what the verses could look like. Most of the time, I'll go out at night after the kids have gone to bed and just sit, not even with a guitar in my hand, but just go over the numbers in my head and try different lyrics out and move them around until it feels perfect.
Stephanie: We work until a certain point when it's just down to the nitty-gritty of the specific words, and Chris is so great at laboring over individual words. We're very purposeful in what we say, and we don't like to settle for something because it sounds good. It does have to sound good, but we want the meaning behind it to be exactly what we want it to say. Chris does a great job of that, poring over each word.
What are some of the goals you guys have over the next five years? Are there specific things you would like to see Out of the Dust accomplish?
Chris: For us, I think the way to "make it" is to have goals beyond the music and beyond success. I mean, we want to be successful.
Stephanie: Practically, we'd love to do this longterm and support our family. We have two kids. We'd love this to be our livelihood.
Chris: So touring and missional goals, I guess we're kind of making our way with some partnerships with different organizations. For us, it always seems to be the non-traditional path that ends up making the most sense. We would love to be on tour with some huge act or go to a city that we're not from and have a sold-out venue, but sort of the non-traditional path has been our house show tour that we do. We did 30+ dates last summer all across America, and that felt like a dream come true. We have some ideas of how to take that house show and maybe move it into churches and have marriage be a bigger focus. But yeah, our goal is just to keep doing it. We're in it for the long haul.
Stephanie: We're doing music, but it goes hand-in-hand with ministry for us. On the ministry side of it, we would love to see--maybe five years down the road--us partnering with some marriage conferences or some marriage ministries, some of these great ones that we've gotten resources from and that we love. Maybe even starting our own, a conference that we tour with. The sky's the limit when we're thinking about it. But definitely the ministry side is a huge part of it.
So to wrap this up, how can anyone who reads this be praying for you in this season of your ministry, both personally and as musicians?
Stephanie: I think personally, this world of music is such a world of unknown. We're continuing to take steps, and God is continuing to direct those steps, but for us as husband and wife, as parents of young kids, looking forward there are a lot of unknowns. We don't know what it will look like, how we're going to tour with our children, how we're going to provide for a family doing this. Just the prayer that God will continue to provide, that He will continue to open the doors and show us the steps that make sense for our family. We trust that He's called us to this and that He will provide, but continued prayer on the practical side of things as we navigate music and family and marriage.
Associate Editor Mary Nikkel’s love for writing, photography, videography and rock and roll have all been bound together by her love for Jesus, leading to her role with NRT. Her favorite things include theology and Greek language studies, her math grad student husband, obscure Nashville coffee shops, all things related to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien and pushing the boundaries enacted by societal norms. She blogs at Threads of Stars.
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