is credited within the Christian community as being one of the first high-profile composers of faith-based electronic dance music--if not the first. The U.K. DJ's 2002 global debut, Exodus
, caught people inside and outside Christian music by surprise as it introduced high-quality, club-ready beats that carried significant spiritual overtones.
With each release since then, Hunter has continued to push the envelope creatively and philosophically, and now one of Christian music's pioneers is looking to pioneer again with new material--but this time, in the form of an innovative new app--called Presence (Get on iTunes
| Get on Google Play
The Presence app isn't just a mechanism for sharing Hunter's newest project--although that's there--but rather an overarching platform for making time and space to experience God in the midst of a busy world.
Hunter recently talked about the new app, this groundbreaking approach to music and ministry, and his vision to foster a community of creatives dedicated to furthering the pursuit of God.
Your last album released in 2013. What have you been doing the last three years? Catch us up!
The last few years for me have been quite a journey, in addition to my normal work with DJ-ing concerts around the world, remixing for other artists such as TFK and Gungor, working on films' scores and music for Microsoft, I have been working on the Presence Project.
You're back with new music--but so much more. The Presence app is a new frontier for you. Tell us how you came up with this idea.
Some years ago I asked myself the question, "If I was to do a project specifically aimed at the church, what would it look like?" That got me thinking about how I personally spend time with God, reflecting and praying. For me, I love different art forms to inspire my devotional times. I always have music on; I love looking at art and reading poetry to make me think. So with that in mind, I decided I wanted to create a devotional using the arts to inspire reflection and prayer.
I also love technology, but so much of the time technology can rob us of time and keep us busy. So why not flip that around and make an app that gives us the opportunity to spend time with God in his presence? The vision for the Presence App was planted and I started to work on the content, so I would compose music to inspiring verses that I had read in the Bible and then I started to work with different poets and film producers such as BK from Los Angeles.
How did you go about making it a reality? Who has come alongside you?
Well it's not that cheap to make an app, so I knew I needed a partner. The search lasted about five years! In that time I carried on making the content and asking favors. I'd finished all the content about a year ago, so to stop me getting itchy feet I started to create a live session--which I now tour--and also started the Presence Stream, which is a 20-minute live session from my studio where people can login and watch. I'm seeing people tune in from all over the world.
It wasn't until the end of 2015 that I found a partner. The Lancaster Foundation heard about what I was up to and they loved the idea, vision and the fact that it's pioneering. The best thing as well is that we decided it would be great to give the app away for free, which includes 10 chapters (my new album) and a further 12 free chapters to come. Madness!
Who is this app geared towards? Christians? Seekers? What do you pray it will do for them?
Well my initial intentions was specifically for the Church, but since presenting the Presence App, Stream and Live it seems very accessible for anybody who loves to take time out reflecting and meditating. It's great to know that every element of art within the project has been birthed out of the Scriptures. My heart and aim of the Presence App is that people experience God's presence while they go about their normal lives, snatching time on the Presence App to focus on God.
How has this process been different for you versus a standard album release? More fun? More challenging?
It's certainly been more challenging and a lot more consuming because you're creating a model that isn't really out there. It's great producing the music, working with BK the film director and the poets such as Chris Matthews. And then you have to ask the questions about how we present this in the form of a devotional and an app, and how it will work. The developer based here in the UK - Redemption Media have been great, really got the vision behind the Presence Project and helped me flesh out all those questions and I think we've come up with a great version 1 of the Presence App.
Your new music is included as part of the app. Talk about how you're rolling out your new music in the midst of this.
So when you download the app, it comes with five chapters unlocked and ready to use. Once you sign up, you unlock a further five chapters and the "My Elements" section of the Presence App. In "My Elements," you will find my new album. Then, starting in June you will get a free chapter every month that includes a new track from me, film, poetry and photos inspired by that month's Bible verse.
The first 10 chapters are live, and you're planning to launch another each month. For how long? Is this the way Andy Hunter will be releasing new music from now on?
Well I'm going to release another 12 chapters and see where we are, but I'm also looking to start to build a community of users called "Presence Creatives." These are users who are artists interested in creating art for the app to be used in some of the new chapters. Eventually it will be great to see the app develop into a place where artists from all over the world can express their worship through their art and have an outlet with the Presence App.
The Presence App will morph into a devotional that isn't just about Andy Hunter, but a place where the Presence Creatives can have an outlet and also that the community of users are using the app for what it is intended for--and that is to spend time with God.
Anything else we should know about the app, or your current artistic endeavors?
It's all about the Presence Project at the moment, which has three areas that I am focusing on: The Presence App, Presence Live--I lead through a live version of the app, playing my music alongside the films and poetry--and thirdly, Presence Stream. The stream happens monthly where I lead through a 20-minute session from my studio playing current and forthcoming Presence material, and the dates for these sessions are in the Presence App.
Download the Presence App on iTunes and Google Play.