When Kane Adams was 14, he says he discovered the two biggest loves of his life: God and music. And since then, he's been running hard after both, growing as both a disciple and a songwriter for the corporate church.
Now, after more than 10 years, Adams is releasing his first collection of songs, the Close EP--a culmination of his experiences, growth and stories of his life with Christ.
His music--given 4/5 stars in the official NRT review and said to be "acoustic worship that feels well-produced but also laid-back"--is the latest strong contribution from a New Zealand artist at a time when Kiwis are making serious inroads into the global Christian music scene.
I threw some questions at Adams to get an insight into his background, his focus, his songwriting style, and his homeland.
Tell us how you got started in music! At what point did you know you wanted to do this more seriously?
I started my musical journey when I picked up the family guitar in the living room at the age of 14. I instantly fell in love with music! A year later, I took a crack at writing some original songs. I was always so interested at how a song can have the power to draw emotion and influence the listener in a powerful way.
Throughout my high-school and college years, I continued writing and recording at home. I originally trained to become a high-school teacher, but when I felt that teaching wasn't for me, I knew deep down that I needed to pursue music. I prayed to God for an opportunity to open in music (as I knew that jobs in music can be few and far between). About a week later, a job position opened up at my church for a full-time musician and writer, and to cut a long story short, I've been working as a musician and producer full-time for the past three years. God is good!
You've been involved with the local church for a long time. What have been your roles in churches throughout the years (and now?), and how have those shaped you as an artist?
I joined the worship team as a guitarist at City Impact Church here in Auckland, New Zealand back in 2009. Being a part of the worship team taught me musical theory, how to lead a team and how to musically direct a service. In 2013, I did an internship at the church where I learned how to record, produce and orchestrate music. I've been writing songs for the church for the past six years and I'm so incredibly grateful for the opportunities the church have given me to hone my craft. There's no way I could've made this EP without the knowledge and experience I gained from serving in the local church!
Talk more about that. How have your experiences in the local church affected the way you write songs?
When writing songs for the local church, I've learned the importance to ensure songs remain singable or congregational. Sometimes the only time a congregation member hears the song is during the service, so it's important that they are able to sing the song the first time they hear it, so rather than focusing on singing the song right, they can focus on worship. Learning to write congregational songs has helped me to remain disciplined when writing my personal songs; some of the most powerful songs are the most simple.
What's your songwriting process?
I'm a big believer in a "quick download." Normally the skeleton of a great song can come very quickly to me, then I spend the time crafting it into something meaningful and polished. I find that if I'm spending a lot of time pushing and striving to get the skeleton of a song, it's never going to progress. I always like to create a semi-polished melody first, then sit down and match the lyrics to the melody. Both are as important as each other; the lyrics move the heart but the melody moves the soul.
For those who've never heard you, describe Kane Adams' sound.
That can be a difficult question to answer! I suppose my musical influences have helped shape my sound. Influences include: Phil Wickham, Coldplay, John Mayer, Chris Tomlin, Bethel Music and Crowded House. I always like to think of music as art. I'm not a fan of albums that go from song to song with no overall theme or relevance. An album is an opportunity to tell a story, so I guess when listening to my music, you'll hear my stories!
So what are the stories of your debut project, the Close EP? What are you hoping they'll communicate?
The whole theme of Close EP that I want to communicate is the closeness of God (hence the title, Close). He's not a distant being, but a father and friend that can be known intimately. My goal is for people to listen to the EP and start a conversation with God. People may not know what to say to God, so they can use the lyrics of these songs as a guideline in their prayers. Starting the EP with Maker of the Heavens and Glorious acts as a beacon to lead people into His presence, then songs like "Almighty", "Dependency" and "Love on the Knees" act as the listener's response once they experience His presence.
What's the spiritual climate like in New Zealand?
New Zealand has always been a country founded on Christian principles. I'm so proud of our national anthem titled "God Defend New Zealand." I believe New Zealand has played a massive part in the revival of Christianity around the world. (Both Brian and Bobbie Houston of Hillsong and Phil Pringle of C3 are New Zealanders), but like most countries in the world, there is opposition. For example, just over a decade ago, our country was declared a "secular nation" by the government. However, we have some incredible churches here in New Zealand, and I strongly believe God will use this little country to do incredible things. After all, our country's nickname for almost a century has been "God's Own."
You're involved in film, too? What's your connection to "Broken"? How does that all fit into what you're doing artistically?
"Broken" is a film produced by City Impact Church and I had the honor of writing the music for the trailer of the film, as well as writing songs that feature in the film and during the credits. It's been an amazing experience and has allowed me to explore different styles of writing and orchestrating (particularly film composition for the trailer).
What's something unexpected about you?
I have a fascination with birds. Ever since I was a kid, I loved learning about New Zealand native birds. Also, when I was younger, I won a few competitions dancing like Michael Jackson. Those were the days.
What are some of the God-given dreams you have for music?
To be honest, my heart is just to worship God. I love a quote written by John Wesley: "Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn." My heart is to write music that will allow people to experience the wonder it is to know God personally. If I can achieve that, then I'm happy!
What's next for you, and how can people be praying?
I'm building a studio at home and I'm really looking forward to starting an album next year. The best thing to pray is for revelation--as people listen to the music, let them become inspired in seeking God further for who He is, not just for what He can do.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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