A valuable part of North Point Music Ministries, worship artist Seth Condrey releases his new studio album ‘Keeps on Changing’ on August 27th, produced by artist Phillip LaRue and featuring co-writes with Phillip and lead singer of Tenth Avenue North, Mike Donehey. I recently had the opportunity of having an email interview with Seth, discussing the album and what each of the songs mean to him. Below are the questions and answers.
Question 1: With a great number of worship movements around the world currently, from Hillsong and Passion to Jesus Culture, many listeners may be forgiven if they didn’t know about North Point Ministries, the worship movement that you belong to. Can to let us know how you became involved with the ministry, and whether your influence as a worship leader at North Point inspired the recording process of Keeps of Changing.
I first got involved with North Point because they needed a Spanish worship leader, and I happened to sing a little in Spanish. :) They launched a trial Spanish service in 2008, and that lasted eight months. After that, I was invited to lead a song at a Global Night of Worship at Buckhead Church, one of North Point’s 5 campuses, and for the next five years I led there almost every Sunday. This record is really a collaboration of experiences I have had over the past five years. It’s my story as a husband, father, and most definitely a follower and worshipper of Jesus. I’ve grown and changed in the context of my family and the North Point community and would definitely say that both have greatly influenced and inspired this record.
Question 2: You have been a part of North Point Music and their music ministry to youth and young people for quite some time, also recording some tracks from their live albums during the past. How has the recording process differed when comparing live and studio recordings, as well as recording as a collective group compared with just recording and making an album for yourself.
I love being around people. I’m an extrovert and am pretty energized by being in the same room with lots of people–especially when we’re singing at the top of our lungs to make great the name of Jesus! So the live stuff for me is just full on full! Both experiences have their benefits, but for me, capturing something heavenly with a bunch of other people in the room is just so cool. And I’m glad we have the technology and expertise to be able to do it.
Question 3: Your upcoming album Keeps on Changing is your first English album since More Than I See in 2009. How has your preparation for recording and writing for this new album differed in comparison to albums released previously? What is the main theme from your forthcoming album, and what do you think listeners can take away from it when they listen to these songs on your CD and when they come to North Point Church?
The biggest difference between this album and the previous one is the way I see myself as a songwriter. I feel like for the first time I was able to beat some of my fear and insecurity as a writer. I came into this process with two main goals: 1) To help people know and experience Christ 2) To help lead people to worship Him. There a few different themes throughout the record, but if I had to pick one message I’m trying to communicate it would be that Jesus is the only one worth following.
Question 4: You have worked with many singer-songwriter artists on this album, from Phillip LaRue, Ed Cash, Mike Donehey and Seth Mosley. How was it working with each of these gifted men as you created songs to place on this album? Is there anything that each of your fellow co-writers spoke about in your writing sessions that you incorporated in the lyrics of songs on Keeps on Changing? Anything that was spoken about in writing and recording sessions that have influenced your own walk with Christ lately?
The songwriting process for this album was an absolute blast. As with any songwriting session, there are hills to climb and almost always a struggle for a lyric or idea. But I really enjoyed the guys I was able to work with on this album. There were definitely great conversations had about life and real stuff that we were going through. And a lot, if not all, of those conversations influenced the lyrics on this album. When Phillip and I got together with Mike D, the song “Love Like Fire” was born out of our initial conversation that day. It was about all the junk in our lives and how our hearts get darkened sometimes by pride, fear, lust, etc., but how God doesn’t leave us that way. In His grace, He consumes it all and refines us day after day. Sometimes who we want to be is just a faint desire, but God’s all-consuming love comes to our rescue.
Question 5: ‘Speechless’ is the first radio single to be released from the album (and is also the first track on it too). It is a pop driven song which reminds me of how we stand in awe and wonder as we marvel at Jesus’s sacrifice that leaves us with no words that would even compare to our gratefulness and thankfulness we have for our King. What does ‘Speechless’ mean to you, and what would you want listeners to take away from the song when they hear it?
Exactly that. To recognize what Jesus has done for us and to stand in awe and worship of Him.
Question 6: It must be a great thing to be on North Point Music, a label that houses other worship artists like Eddie Kirkland, Todd Fields and Casey Darnell. Are there any artists within the North Point label (or outside of it) that you admire, or that you’d like to tour/write and record with someday if given the chance?
I honestly admire them all. The three artists you mentioned are all dear friends of mine, and I’m so excited and honored to be able to tour with any of those guys. I’d even pay money to hang out with them. All three of them have taught me and encouraged me and have been a vital part of helping me become who I am today.
Question 7: Were there any songs on the album that were difficult to write (for any reason)? Has there ever been a case where the difficult songs to write, record and perform each night the also the songs that have become the catalyst used by God to speak to you through your daily life and walk with Christ? Any encouraging stories from your church at North Point relating to how a song of yours impacted their life somehow?
There’s one song that I wrestled with for quite a while. It’s called “You Love My Soul.” I started writing it after my mother-in-law died in 2010. Her passing was unexpected, and for the first time I really started thinking a lot about death and “the end.” I watched her struggle with alcoholism and emotional weight all the way until she left us, and it was a tragic day for our family. But through it, God showed me that He loved her. At her funeral, I realized that it was not “the end” of Lillian Torres but that Jesus was “the end” of the pain and struggle that this life had brought her. She had believed in Him, and He had rescued her. I hope people feel and receive the hope and life that Jesus offers us when they hear this song. C.S. Lewis said “We are not bodies with a soul, but rather, souls with a body.”
Question 8: I love the album cover- even though it’s simple, it speaks volumes, reminding myself of times where it’s just me waiting on the Lord and how it can sometimes feel like I’m in a vast empty space wondering where and when the Lord will show me something that’ll lift my spirits. Was the album cover intentional to be that way? What was the process in choosing the album cover design?
It was pretty simple. Besides it capturing the mood and idea of waiting and changing, we surveyed people in the office, and that was the verdict. I really like the way it turned out though.
Question 9: You have been in worship music ministry for quite some time. What keeps you all 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 it all?
I’ve tried over the past year or two to keep a few key things a part of my “staying grounded:” 1) my wife 2) my mentor and 3) my church.
Question 10: Looking ahead towards your next album, are there any tweaks or things you think you’d change (or stay the same) with regards to the recording process?
I’d love to work with Phillip again. Maybe the next go around it’d be cool to record in Central America. And I think I’d like to spend more time with the songs before recording them. So I guess I better get to writing them :)
Question 11: How is the rest of 2013 for you? Are there any tour plans for the remainder of the year, whether it is inside the U.S. or around the world?
I have a few dates on the calendar. But for the most part, I’ll be in Costa Rica planting a new church.
Question 12: For those who are reading this interview that may feel like they are currently far from God’s grace, worried or anxious about their life circumstances, what advice can you give them? Also to young musical artists wanting to break into the music industry (or into worship music), is there any advice that you can give as to how to succeed in the industry yet also keep your beliefs, values and integrity intact?
I know that I’ve felt far from God’s grace before. And it may be safe to say that most, if not all of us, deal with worry and anxiety along with a host of other crippling emotions and struggles. But I also know that our heavenly Father loves us with the most powerful love known to man. A love that can free the most anxious of hearts. For me, it has come down to an issue of trust. Prov. 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” There are still days when I want to control the outcome of things. There will always be circumstances that provoke anxiety and fear. Certainly Jesus knew and understood that. He said “fear not,” “don’t be afraid” quite a bit. So I think it comes down to trusting His voice, His words to us…”Don’t be afraid.” And that’s daily.
I’d say that would be the foundation to the second part of the question. Build your faith, values, etc. on someone like Jesus, and you are already focusing on the eternal. Music comes and goes, truth doesn’t. Build your life on truth…on Christ…and trust Him every step of the way.
Question 13: What do you do in your down-time (if you do have any between shows etc…)? Listen to any good music or watch any good TV shows lately?
I like to hang out with my wife and kids. I have three little disciples: Titus, Jonas and Lilia. My wife, Jessica, and I are working on being best friends for life and raising our kids to love God. So most of my down time goes to them. All sorts of movies, shows and music get thrown into that mix, such as “Wild Kratts,” “Curious George,” and old seasons of “24.”
Be sure to check out Seth’s new album releasing both digitally and physically next week. You can also stream his album in full on the North Point Music website.