|Matt Redman interview
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Date: 8 July, 2011
Surefish music columnist George Luke talks to worship leader, writer and singer Matt Redman.
Matt Redman is based in Brighton, England, and is part of St Peters, a new church planted out of Holy Trinity Brompton in London.
Previously he was part of Passion City Church in Atlanta, USA with pastors Louie and Shelley Giglio.
Matt has been leading worship full-time since the age of 20 and this journey has taken him to countries such as South Africa, Japan, India, Australia, Germany, Uganda, Croatia and the Czech Republic.
How did this new album come together?
We'd been living in Atlanta for two years and helped start the Passion church out there. It was a great adventure.
We're still good friends with Passion and do a lot of stuff with them. They were doing their first 'worship collective' – a training weekend for worship leaders – and so we got talking.
We had been thinking of doing a live album, and we thought that this would be the perfect time to do it: a room full of worship leaders, singers and pastors – it's like having a room full of singing 100-watt light bulbs!
Everyone was so eager to sing and worship. The sound engineer commented that this was one of the few times he'd ever heard a congregation sing in harmony! It was just a great environment to record the songs in. we absolutely had a blast, and it was just wonderful.
It was a special weekend. It's hard to explain. It went well, way beyond the songs and the recording; even a conference. It just became the people of God, in the presence of God, pouring out the praises of God. You can't beat that; it's just a wonderful dynamic.
You're on record as saying that most worship songs “aren't for blokes. ”When I first heard the opening track on this new album (“We Are the Free"), I thought it sounded like a football chant! Was that it an attempt to inject some 'blokeyness' into worship?
I didn't consciously do that. But if it came across as that, then I'm glad you spotted it!
I was interviewed by John Buckeridge for Premier TV a couple of years back, and I made some comments about worship not being very masculine.
I just think we need to be careful in the Church, that we think about man as well when we lead worship and write songs – just in the way we talk to God, even. I think it's important that we're biblical and relevant and at least think through these things.
So it's quite funny, because I guess people feel quite strongly about this subject. The video got 100,000 views on YouTube – and some very strong comments!
Some were disgusted with my thoughts; others saying, “Yes – it's nice to hear someone saying this.” I don't even claim to have all the answers, but I just know we have to ask these questions. We have to think about these things.
Some people talk about the church being “over-mothered and under-fathered. ”Maybe there's a case for that, and we have to think through that –particularly when we're struggling to reach males in so many demographics in terms of church attendance.
We've got to think about how we make it a welcoming place for guys, and a place where they feel that they can be themselves in their expression of their worship and their approach towards God.
What would you say you've gained the most from your time living in America?
I think one of the main things I gained was just relationships. I've got a lot of great friends there; a lot of great song-writing relationships happened; that's definitely one thing.
One other thing I got from living in the USA is this. They say English people are reserved. And sometimes I think we're even reserved in our thinking. We can be scared to dream big.
Particularly for me – I have to guard against being a grumpy old man. I need more optimism – and something about the American “We can do this thing ” mindset. Just look at the history of how the nation was established; it seems to be in their DNA. When you mix that with a Kingdom of God mindset, that is actually very powerful.
That's a big theme for me at the moment. I've been reading Psalm 18 a lot – in fact, some of the songs on the album are based on that: a song called 'Fires' and one called 'We Can Change the World'.
It's a psalm that's bleeding with optimism and confidence. And it's not an empty self-help-book attempt to stir something up within yourself; it's a confidence that comes from God.
The Psalmist is saying in Psalm 18 that with my God I can scale a wall; I can advance against a troop; my God enables me to go on to the heights. There's something about that bright thinking that I love. And I would like to have it in my own heart. Hopefully it'll come across in these songs.
I've also written a book called Mirrorball. It's out this summer too, and that's what a lot of the book is about: living boldly and shining brightly for the glory of God.
What does Mirrorball mean?
Well, if you read the book, all will be revealed. Chapter one is a story about living with confidence. We are all little mirrorballs, in a way.
And the biggest part of the equation with a mirrorball isn't how big or impressive it is; the biggest part of the equation is how powerful the light shining on it is.
It's the same in our Christian walk. You might think you haven't got much to give; you might compare yourself to others and think, 'What am I?' but if you do that, you've lost sight of the most important part of the equation: the power of Jesus, shining in and through you. You can't rule yourself out.
What's been appealing to you musically of late?
There are some great new Christian acts at the moment; I'm loving the Rend Collective; their whole approach is really nice and I love the vocal thing that they do. I got to see them live for the first time recently, at an event in Belfast. They're very inspiring, creative and impressive.
There's also a new Canadian band called City Harmonic. Again, I'm really loving them; there's just a freshness about what they do.
I'm also enjoying Brooke Fraser's new CD; I got to see her live in Atlanta. She's a phenomenal vocalist, but a great songwriter too. She's been getting played a lot on Radio 2 – good for her.
I love it when you find people like that. She's out there, doing her thing in the music world – but then she's also writing brilliant songs like 'Hosanna' and 'Dessert Song' for the Church to sing as well; they're on the Hillsong recording. I love it when you get people like that.
Matt Redman's new album, 10,000 Reasons, is out from 11 July.