Jonathan Thulin and Charmaine have been embarking on an Australia Tour, visiting living rooms of individuals over the country and playing acoustic sets. My house with around 30-40 friends was the first venue Jonathan and Charmaine went to on the 5th January 2014. I had the privilege of interviewing both Jonathan and Charmaine as they spoke about The White Room and Love Reality, and what they hoped would happen on their Australian Tour in January. Check out the transcript of the interview, as well as the video of the corresponding parts below.
Interview Questions with Jonathan Thulin:
Jon: Hello everyone. Welcome to my house. I’m here with Jonathan Thulin. He is doing acoustic shows around Australia. And tonight’s the first night, and it’s gonna be at my house, so, I’m gonna interview Jonathan Thulin right now. So thanks Jonathan Thulin…
Jonathan: It’s actually Tu-leene, I know that’s weird, but, it’s Swedish, so, nice to meet you guys.
Jon: How are you enjoying Sydney at the moment?
Jonathan: I’m loving Sydney. I went for the first time into town, last night and I got to see Darling Harbour, and walk around. But I haven’t seen as much yet. I haven’t seen a kangaroo, which I want to see, or a koala, cause that’s the cliché thing to see in Australia, so… But I’ve been driving on the left side of the road, it’s been lots of adventures so far, but I’m excited for the next three weeks to be here.
Jon: For those who are not familiar with your music and who are unsure whether want to listen to your music, can you share to them, what your target audience is, and what your musical genre, and what you want your music to say in today’s society?
Jonathan: Absolutely! I’d say that my music is, epic pop I think I would call it. I’ve always loved cinema, and I’ve loved movies since I was very little. So I’ve kind of like mixing that into my music, for it to be very big, epic and orchestral. And, I mean, what I want to say with my music, I just want people to be listening to it, and be able to relate and just understand the things I’ve been through in my life, and may be able to find something they’ve been through as well and get through it because of the music.
Jon: Yeah, sounds good. Alright. Now, let’s talk about your latest album, The White Room. That was released in 2012 with hits like ‘Dead Come to Life’, ‘Bombs Away’ and I really like ‘Coat of Arms’. Is that a hit in America?
Jonathan: No, we only have one hit. (laughs)
Jon: You’re also re-releasing the album with a few remixes and a new song ‘Architecture’. What does this album, both the standard edition and the extended edition, what does it mean to you personally and what do you want listeners to hear and experience when they listen to your album?
Jonathan: Sure. It was the first that I’ve ever made that was very, very personal and I think a lot of the times, when I had written before, I’ve always tried to have a very positive outlook about everything in life, in general, and just be worshipful, and that’s awesome. But for this album I had gone through several years of just really difficult times in my life and I wanted for the first time just to be able to completely share those things. Whether it was about a relationship, or whether it was about my relationship with God, anything I had gone through. And, it’s very personal to me, there are some songs on there that are very, very vulnerable, like ‘Torches’ for example. All I can hope is that people will listen to it and just be able to relate to being in the hard times sometimes.
Jon: Alright, cool. And, you’re also one-third of Press Play…
Jon: Press Play are one of the first artists to be signed to DREAM Records, you’re also signed to DREAM Records as well. How has it been, seeing the Lord work through you, both as a solo artist, and as part of Press Play?
Jonathan: When I first joined Press Play, well actually, when I first joined the label, they told me I needed to pick a music style and it was really hard for me to choose because I really like the upbeat poppy stuff, but I also wanted to do my own introspective thing, so it’s so great to be in both because with Press Play, I can do the jump up and down, fun music, and then with my other stuff, I can be more personal. So it’s been amazing. With Press Play, we’ve done a lot of conferences and done a lot of things when we’ve been able to meet a lot of kids and a lot of people. Just being a ministry in general is so rewarding ‘cause you get to meet people right where they’re at. And that’s what’s so cool about this living room tour, just getting to come into people’s houses and just meet them where they’re at, that’s so awesome.
Jon: Yeah, cool. So what are some of the best parts of your ministry and what are some of the challenging aspects of your music life that you feel that others can relate to?
Jonathan: Man, I mean, being a musician is incredibly rewarding because… and the biggest part about ministry, the reason I’m doing ministry is for people, because I really, truly have a deep love for people, and I love being able to… and whether, whatever ministry you decide to do, whether that’s singing, or whether that’s being an artist, or whatever that is, I think that ministry is something that…just bringing love to people is my favourite thing. And, there’s a lot of challenges obviously, I think it’s hard for a person that maybe isn’t a musician to understand the difficulties of being a musician, but, we travel a lot, we’re gone a lot, it’s very difficult to find just a solid ground honestly. I have to find that in God because…I never stay in the same place very long and now that I’ve been married for five years, which is great, because my wife is the complete opposite of me, she is very well-grounded, and keeps me well-grounded and everything. And so she has been the greatest help for me, for me to be able to settle down in my life because, I’ve always, since I was five years old just been, go, go, go with everything. And once I settle down, I’m like ‘I need to get to the next place’. And so, those are the challenges, just finding time just to really be still.
Jon: Like I said before, you are about to embark on this acoustic house concert journey around Australia. How do you feel about the setting as a concert, you know, people’s houses, interacting with the fans, and playing the acoustic set, you know the atmosphere? How does it compare with being on the stage?
Jonathan: Well, being on the stage, I think, I mean, it’s always fun, and it’s fantastic, but the great thing about being in someone’s home is that you truly get to meet people, and you get to talk to them. Cause when you’re doing…you’re on the stage, a lot of the times, even though I like to go out and speak to people, you kind of, there’s still this separation of artist and audience. And I feel like when you come into someone’s house, they feel comfortable, and they can maybe be themselves a little bit more and talk about themselves. And for me it’s…I don’t want anyone to think that I’m more important than they are, because I’m on a stage. And so, I think that when I come into a house like this, and I’m right there with the person, one on one, I can more effectively minister and hopefully that person can even minister back to me.
Jon: Yeah, cool… Alright. It must be very good to share a record label with artists like Bread of Stone, Satellites and Sirens, Hannah Rose, Evan Craft, Warr Acres and Silverline. Are there any bands or any artists within your label (or outside your label) that you admire, or that you’d like to tour with or write with someday if given the opportunity or the chance to do that?
Jonathan: The great thing about the Christian music industry is that a lot of the people on my label, and a lot of the people in the Christian industry, a lot of us know each other and we’re very supportive of each other and I love what everybody else is doing. It’s so awesome to hear, people like, you know, on the radio and hear the music that they’re doing. So I mean, if I got to choose people to write with, I would just write with anybody. I mean, Brooke Fraser, from Hillsong would probably be… if I could write with her, that’ll probably be awesome. She’s a fantastic writer.
Jon: Just a few more questions to go. What has God been teaching you on the road as you travel and perform your songs? Is there a song that you have sung on your travels that God still ministers to you with today?
Jonathan: I mean, I think the biggest lesson that I really had to learn, I think what I said earlier is just, to be still. My mind races a lot, and I have a lot of creative thoughts, and a lot of things going on all the time. Sometimes it’s so important to just be still and listen to God and hear what He has to say. Cause I think that when you’re caught up in ministry sometimes, and you’re caught up in, just the idealised version of a ministry, and when I really taken that time to listen to God, it’s made my ministry more effective. And my song ‘I Am Nothing’, whenever I sing that song, it’s something that’s very important to me and I wrote that song, really when I had rediscovered God again. And, so that means a lot to me, that song, every lyric, whenever I sing it, it feels very important to me.
Jon: So, what is next for you in the year of 2014? A new album? A remix album? A worship album? These are all question marks, by the way. Are there any tour plans for this year, both within the U.S. and around the world?
Jonathan: Yeah, there’s, I mean, 2014 is gonna be a lot of different things. I am releasing a new album next fall, which I’m working on. I’m doing two new music videos soon, and as soon as I get back to America after this tour, I jump onto my first headlining tour with Shine Bright Baby and Loftland, and then March, I hop on a tour with Satellites and Sirens, and then just do all the festivals in the summer and heading to Sweden, and then hopefully coming back here at some point, so there’s a lot of things. I’m excited about 2014.
Jon: Alright, cool. And just the last question, how can the fans of your music connect to you? You’ve got facebook, you’ve got twitter…
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s…I’m still working on my website, but there is facebook, there is twitter, there’s instragram, those are the best, I mean, I’m on there constantly, so if somebody needs to get a hold of me, that’s the best way.
Jon: That’s all for your part.
Interview Questions with Charmaine:
Jon: Hello, now I’m interviewing Charmaine. Let me just say that I really love your music, and your pop/electronic/worship kind of style that you have on Love Reality. How is it being back in Australia, your home country?
Charmaine: Oh my goodness, I love it, there are no words. I’ve been in the States for about 13 years now and I first came because I got signed when I was like 17 and back when that was a big deal and I toured with Ms Rebecca St. James for like, seven years. And I’ve been everywhere because of that, like, other countries, all over Europe, and I’m not saying this to brag or anything, I’m saying this to brag about my country. There is no place like Australia, I can officially say that. Although, Tokyo is amazing. But apart from that, there’s no place like Australia.
Jon: Alright, cool. So for someone who doesn’t know about your music, or what type of music you write and perform, can you a little bit about what you want your music to say?
Charmaine: Yeah, I mean, sonically, for the Love Reality album, I just did what I liked to hear myself. So it’s a bit of everything, it’s very, kind of a world sort of sound. It’s obviously very dance/electronic, but of course, heavy strings on it as well. But, electronic strings as well, I mean, all sorts of things so I really don’t know how to put my finger on it and say ‘this is what it is’ but, sonically, it’s pretty much pop, just big pop, but, you know, what I want is for people to, I want people to see God through it, so hopefully that comes through.
Jon: Yeah, it does. So if people were to listen to your music, who would you say you sound similar to in the music industry? For me I would say that your style is similar to Natalie Grant, Rachael Lampa and Rebecca St. James.
Charmaine: Oh wow, well then, that’s what it is. I have no idea. I just like my favourite bands. I grew up with dc Talk, I grew up with Crystal Lewis, Jaci Velasquez in the early days, and, but then I love Coldplay and I love a lot of the pop artists that are out there right now so whatever I like is what I put into my music so, it’s a bunch of stuff. But that’s great, Rachael Lampa.
Jon: I love your latest radio single ‘Love Somebody’, and its pop nature. I love the ingeniousness of the actual song title- it just say’s ‘love somebody’, not love your parents, or love your friends, or love those you like and hate the rest. So from what I think the theme of the song is, ‘Love Somebody’ is a call to remind people to love our God and our fellow friends and family, and sometimes even those people we aren’t necessarily that friendly to us. And so I think it’s a call to set aside differences, and set aside preconceived ideas and just love without inhibition. What do you think the song means to you personally, and what do you hope for listeners to get from the song when they hear it?
Charmaine: Man, ok, so the song is all about how God has loved me, how I was that desert, that I was without dreams, without hope, I was kind of barren in that aspect. In my life, in my spiritual life, that because He loved me and changed everything about me, and in turn, that’s the sort of love that I have to give others too, that I want to give others, because I’ve been loved in such a way. You know so, yeah, and I love how you said that, that was awesome. I’m so glad, because I haven’t really, I haven’t really given an explanation of that song so…
Jon: So you can use my explanation…
Charmaine: I may have to copy some bits…
Jon: And every time that you say, you know, this is what I think the song is, you can just paraphrase me, and I’ll be like, ‘yeah, that’s my explanation’. So yeah… cool. So alright, this is a very deep question so… With only one album released so far, I think what my question is, and the questions of your followers on twitter and fans on facebook- is there going to be a new album in 2014 from you (or at least some more new music)? You don’t have to answer that question if you don’t want to.
Charmaine: (laughs) Well I thought this was going to be a much more difficult question to answer. There will be at least an EP.
Charmaine: So at least four songs coming out, and I’ll be working with my producer, who produced Love Reality, we’re working on new stuff together, but I can’t say when the full album will be released just yet, cause it’s just up in the air right now. It’s still in the oven cooking.
Jon: So where can fans connect with you on facebook, twitter…
Charmaine: Oh, definitely Instagram is the way to go, charmainemusic, but facebook as well, cause I usually handle most of my facebook stuff. So if you want to say hello, you can send me a message.
Interview Questions for both Jonathan Thulin and Charmaine:
Jon: Alright, so that you once again for being in our place. And first and foremost, I just want to congratulate you both on the huge success of ‘Dead Come to Life’, both in America and around the world. Did you two ever expect this song was to become as popular, powerful and impacting as it has been, when you first wrote and recorded it? Like did you think that it would blow up into this massive huge…
Charmaine: Not at all
Jonathan: We literally just wrote it in like 20 minutes, and we were like, ‘that’s cool’ (laughs).
Jon: So, if you both can share one thing the Lord has ministered to you through the song, what would it be? If there’s one thing that God has shown you through ‘Dead Come to Life’, and what he’s still shown to you now, if there’s something that you want to share to the big world out there…
Jonathan: Well, I mean, I think the great thing about, just God in general, it’s that, I mean, it kinda came from the story of Ezekiel. Where God told him to speak to the dry bones, and I think the great thing about God is that, not only can He literally make the dead come to life, but everything that’s dead within you, and everything that, like what Charmaine said earlier, His love changes everything, and it makes everything come to life. For me, going through all the different things in my life, this song in general has just meant a lot to me because, that’s just who God is to me, and everything that’s dead on the inside has come to life because of Him.
Charmaine: I very much agree with that. I don’t think we had any sort of like huge spiritual epiphany when we were writing the song, so I really think that, I don’t know, in spite of ourselves, that the Holy Spirit was using us. Because it really has spoken to people’s lives of just the clear cut difference that God makes in your life. And you realise that coming to know Him and walking with Him is real life. And you look back on what it was before and it’s, you equate it to something that doesn’t live. If anything, it takes away from life to the point of death. So yeah, I mean, it’s been a surprise even how I guess, deep the message has been cause we wrote it quickly, it wasn’t a lot of fundamental thoughts going into it, except that we really believe that the Holy Spirit was guiding us from the get-go.
Jon: That’s actually one of my favourite songs for the year (2013) so, yeah. So next question, what keeps you both grounded and places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and the motivation behind your music?
Jonathan: I mean, for me what keeps me grounded, and the great thing is, I just actually just moved to Nashville, and in Nashville, there’s so many different people doing music. And it’s, my whole life I’ve always been in a city or in a situation where not many people understand what I’m doing and so it’s been a very lonely road. I think that the greatest thing is having all these people that are also doing ministry and that are in music, and that’s helped me a tremendous bit, to understand that I’m not alone, number one. And to have people and friends in my life that can be honest and tell me what’s going on and can tell me, maybe this needs to change. And to have that, those real friends that can really help you through different situations, they’ve kept me grounded through my life.
Charmaine: My family. My parents, they moved to the States when I first moved. And they have been like, the greatest support, the greatest kind of… they keep pulling me up, telling me to look at my life in, you know, from a birdseye view kind of thing. And to see things puts everything into perspective. Cause this industry is very rough and it’s very unpredictable. And to be in full-time ministry isn’t always the easiest thing. You know, sometimes you are literally going from one to another to survive. And all that sort of stuff. But it’s our conviction in what we’re doing, and we really want people to see God because we know that through Him, everything can change for the better, you know. So I think that’s the inspiration that keeps us going, and our loved ones surrounding us, and telling us, ‘keep on going’.
Jon: Yeah, cool. Alright, so for those who are reading the transcript of this interview, or for those who are watching it on youtube, who could be feeling down or worried or anxious about their life circumstances or even their own future, what advice would you give to them? Here’s your time to look at the camera…
Charmaine: Hopefully you are, it’s much better to listen and look, than it is to read. Reading is boring, I take it back, no. I love reading. Do you like reading?
Jonathan: I do.
Charmaine: Oh good, really?
Jonathan: Yes, fantasy.
Charmaine: Oh, that’s right. I lived on the Narnia Chronicles, CS Lewis. I think this life is gonna be really, and it is, it’s like going to a beach, and you have wave after wave just hit you and I think that’s pretty much life. It’s unpredictable, and scary. And even in this Christian walk, it is not easy. Everyone has their struggles and their issues and their insecurities and problems with relationships, within yourself. But man, when I look at God, and I see everything that He is, it makes me believe that heaven has already begun now through Him. That there is actually hope. That this life doesn’t have to be, I guess, what we are afraid that it might be, that it can actually be more. That who He is, actually does bring life into our hearts and our situations. That His love can actually heal any heart, and any life, any character, whatever it is that you’re struggling with, so that’s why we do what we do, to share through music, through what we can, so that you know that, that there’s hope. There’s hope, whatever it is. There’s immense hope. And we hold onto it, on a daily basis. And we want you to as well.
Jonathan: Yeah, and I, me and my wife have obviously been doing a plan of reading the bible through the whole year and this morning, what I read was actually, about worrying. And you know, it says, ‘Look at the birds of the air and the creatures of the field and God takes care of them. Wouldn’t He take care of you, His most prized possession? Don’t worry about anything cause God’s got it. And even though it sounds like the most cliché answer and you hear it a million times, when you really think about it, God does love us. So immensely and so powerfully. More than we could ever imagine. And any worry that we have, cast them on the Lord because He will take care of you.
Jon: Cool. A couple more questions. Alright, so what do you guys do in your spare time if you’re not recording, or you’re not touring. Do you play any sports, do you watch any TV shows…
Jonathan: I’m so good at every sport, I’m just kidding, I’m terrible.
Charmaine: The nerdiest musicians ever. We’re not good at sports. We suck at that. And, I don’t know, I like watching movies, I like going to the beach cause I’m here at home. I got a season’s pass to Wet and Wild, and so I’ve been going there a lot with my cousins. So actually it’s holiday season, so anything holiday-ing…shopping, I dunno, lots of stuff.
Jonathan: Same, I love all those things. I just got my season pass to Wet and Wild as well… (everyone laughs) cause I love water parks. My favourite thing is just being with people and having fun, and just travelling with Charmaine for the last three years, and travelling with people like Rachael Lampa and all these different people, the best part about it is just having fun and laughing so, so much and making complete fools of ourselves, and that’s my favourite thing. Just being able to do ministry and be an adult, but also be able to be a little bit of a child. Always.
Jon: Cool. So is there anything else that you would like to add that hasn’t been covered in this interview yet? Any parting words, encouragements or even comforting pearls of wisdom that you want to share and hopefully readers can see?
Charmaine: I would like to say, ‘May the Force be with you’. And I’m sure you’d like to say something along those lines.
Jonathan: I’d like to say, ‘I am the living dead’ (laughs)
Charmaine: I thought you were going to say ‘May the odds be ever in your favour’
Jonathan: We love Jesus
Charmaine: Nah, we just hope that you’re fully encouraged, and you’re not alone in the stuff that you’re going through and if you really knew what was going on in our minds and in our hearts, you would realise that you’re not alone.
Jonathan: You’re really not.
Charmaine: And we have a bit God and we can trust Him and life is good and with Him its amazing. So may the Force be with you.
Jon: So once again thanks for this interview, we hope that you enjoy tonight and the rest of your time here.
Jonathan: It’ll be awesome, thank you, Jonathan.
Charmaine: Wonderful, thank you.
Be sure to check out both Love Reality and The White Room whenever you guys have a chance. Be on the lookout for Jonathan’s new album and Charmaine’s new EP both releasing in 2014.