Clemency is a Christian indie-pop band made up of two brothers, Jason and Paul Watkins. The brothers began playing music together in high school, while living in Oklahoma. Since then, they have released three records: Vapors, Here We Go, and Together.
Another creative endeavor of theirs is making videos to go along with their songs. For a six-song collection, "You've Got the Fire," they made a series of mini-films. In this way, they are able to combine their passion for music-making with their love of film.
In this interview, I talked with Jason and Paul about their latest single "Let Me Hold You," life in quarantine, and life as a family band. We also discussed their creative influences and upcoming music we can look forward to.
As brothers, what are some challenges and benefits of being family in a band?
The biggest challenge for us has always been the greatest benefit as well. When you create with someone who is family, there is a freedom to take the gloves off, say what you really think, and disagree strongly without fearing that they are going to be done with you or walk away because you know they love you no matter what. With that freedom, sometimes we have to remember to be good to each other and treat each other with the same kindness and respect we give to others who are not family. At the same time, that freedom to challenge each other’s ideas, or disagree, or question, makes our music better.
What are some of your creative influences?
Our musical influences span the whole spectrum. We grew up in Oklahoma listening to country music on the radio: artists like Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, George Strait, Alan Jackson. Our dad also liked rock from the ’60s and '70s: artists like The Eagles, Credence Clearwater Revival, and Steve Miller Band.
We also listened to pop music--especially in the ’90s and early ’00s. Our mom loved gospel music and we listened to Contemporary Christian music in her car, so we always had that influence. She took us to see Michael W. Smith when we were kids which had a big impact on us. We’ve always loved bands like Coldplay and U2.
When we moved to Nashville to pursue music, we met our producer, Brent Milligan who steered us to a lot of indie music which we love. That list of artists has grown over the years: Death Cab for Cutie, Snow Patrol, The Killers, The War on Drugs, and Bon Iver. I feel like the indie-pop style of music is what comes out of us naturally.
Tell us about your latest single, “Let Me Hold You.”
“Let Me Hold You” was written in a season of witnessing dear friends experience terrible tragedy and agonizing loss. In those moments speaking with them as they went through unbelievable hardship, the only words that didn’t seem powerless were, “We love you.” Beyond that, the response that felt most appropriate was simply to mourn with them as they mourned and to cling to the hope that their baby girl, who they held as she slipped away from them, would soon be held in the everlasting arms of her Creator. And, we trust that He is holding her parents, too.
What’s been the best and worst parts of quarantine for you as an artist?
The best part has been all the time we have got to spend at home with our families. The worst part has been seeing people get sick and die in some cases. It’s also been hard to see friends lose their jobs.
We have several songs in the works. The plan is to release them all as singles. The next single we’ll be releasing is called, "Dare to Dream."
How can we be praying for you?
Please pray that the Lord would continue to bless us with songs to write; songs that his Spirit would move through as he draws people to himself.
Kevin McNeese started NRT in 2002 and has worked in the industry since 1999 in one form or another. He has been a fan of Christian music since 1991.
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