It's one thing to be moved by vertically oriented dance music that uplifts and excites; it's another when you find out that the artist behind it is making an impact in Asia.
High-energy pop/worship artist ANNETTE is sharing the passion and sounds coming out of Singapore as she unveils new project, All Our Achilles Heels.
I get super excited to talk to Christian artists making it happen in various corners of the world, so it was a blast to throw these questions at this musician, one of our recent Indie Artist Watch selections.
How'd you get started in music? What's your background?
I've always been surrounded by music growing up, but I think my passion really began with writing before music. Because I often think in images when I write, I started by adding illustrations to my writings. But when I taught myself to sing and play the guitar at age 12, I started to add music (I approach music very visually too). That was how it all began.
At what point did you realize you'd been called to making and sharing your own music? What is your calling, as best you can tell?
I grew up listening to a range of music, and I really liked that a couple of my favorite bands who are Christian, like Relient K and Switchfoot, were also well-loved by my non-believing friends. Something in me, for the love of these friends, told me that this is the kind of music the Lord will one day impress upon my heart. But I had no idea how, and what to write about.
One day, the Lord revealed to me that the way we decipher our purpose is to find out first "What skills and gifts has He given you?" Then second, "What breaks your heart as much as it breaks the Lord's?"
It took me a while to find out what the latter was. Then a few years ago there had been bad news in the local church scene, and churches fighting and condemning each other, and non-believers mocking the church because of the terrible impression it gave everyone. It was ugly, and it broke my heart.
In that same period, a Christian friend tried to debate with me over dinner about my church's theology. I didn't argue back, because the thing distracting me the most was that a few of our non-believing friends were at that same table. I almost imagined them thinking "if this is Christianity, no thanks."
I was indignant and heartbroken, and I felt that Jesus was so misunderstood. Our human failures and fights are often amplified so greatly that it obscures the grace and truth behind the faith. That was when I was truly assured of my calling, which is to dust off all these false impressions of who Jesus is, urge the church to stop condemning each other, and reveal the Jesus I know, who is perfect loving kindness.
You're from Singapore. What's the spiritual and musical climate like there? How has your music been received?
Singapore's doesn't have a state religion, and it strongly believes in racial and religious harmony. Christianity is the 3rd largest religion here, behind Buddhism and Islam, which fill about half the population. You could walk down a street with a Church, Temple and Mosque all adjacent to each other, and it would be really normal. I really like it, and I would say the spiritual climate is great.
Singapore's also a really young country, so the music scene is really new, but we've had a few great local artists emerge over the past few years. There isn't much of a Christian music scene, but I'm fine with it, because while my songs are inspired by faith, they are meant for secular listening and have been very well-received by people from all walks of life.
"All Our Achilles Heels" is a line from one of your songs. What was it about this particular line that stood out to you, enough to name your record this?
"All Our Achilles Heels" is part of a lyric from the EP's debut single, "Ready For A Savior," where the full line goes "Wonderboy or Man Of Steel, we all have our own Achilles Heels." I found that the phrase encapsulated the concept of the EP very well-- that sometimes we might think we're superhuman, but we're actually full of Achilles Heels.
The songs in the EP were birthed from my personal human experience, from trying to cope with anxiety, to trying to describe joy, and generally embracing our humanness. I truly believe that by coming to the end of ourselves and admitting to all our weaknesses, we can find strength, healing, forgiveness and an beautiful revelation of the grace of God.
Which songs have gotten the most response, either live or from what people have written or said to you?
I think the crowd favorites would be "None Good" and "All He Had." They're my favorites on the record too!
What's your writing process? How did you go about creating the record?
Sometimes I can get a song in my heart and finish writing it in an hour or so, just by sitting down with my guitar and notepad. Other times, I get stuck and shelve the song until I find the time is right to come back to it. The lyrics and melody usually come at the same time to me, but it often stems from a phrase, bible verse, or revelation that I'm meditating on.
Do you have a favorite moment on the album?
I think one of my favorite moments on the album is the bridge of "Remind Me." My producer Scott Cash actually helped to write that portion with me, and I felt that it added a really cool touch
What's your live show like? What are some things you want people to take away from it?
My last show was really fun. I had a mix of friends and family, as well as complete strangers come to a show. We had a great time despite there being sound issues and ended up having to do most of the songs spontaneously acoustic, or with a full band without in-ear monitors. But it was nice and intimate. Some things I wanted people to takeaway were perhaps a small sense of curiosity towards something greater, or that the songs might allow them to find comfort in their hearts, in their brokenness, and their weaknesses.
What's next for you, and how can people be praying for you?
I'm working on two more music videos for the record, for "None Good" and "All He Had," and I'm super excited to release them over the coming year.
I also currently work in secular entertainment as a comedy writer, director and actor, so the music I pursue is actually a project aside from my day job. It can get very busy, but I find that the place the Lord has positioned me in the world is exactly where He needs me to be right now. I'm really hoping to continue creating good work that glorifies Jesus, and find greater and greater opportunities for that to multiply.
I think people can pray that I will use my influence wisely for Jesus, and to continue having bigger and bigger faith in what the Lord can do. God has already far exceeded what I could ever ask of Him in my musical journey, and I'm really excited for where the Lord continues to take these songs He has placed in the heart of a tiny girl from a tiny country!
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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