Independent Colorado based acoustic worship sister duo The Sonflowerz release their new 2013 EP, Love Walked In, on September 10th. With their album funded through kickstarter, their vision to see the younger generation, especially teenage girls, become empowered with the gospel of Christ is certainly apparent in every song they write and sing. Recently I had an opportunity to do an email interview with both Elissa Leander Tipps and Becca Leander Nicholson, the two sisters that form one of my favourite worship duos (alongside All Sons and Daughters). In the interview we discussed about their vision for the EP, what songs have spoken to them throughout the years, and how they spend their time when they’re not touring or recording.
Question 1: The Sonflowerz have been writing and recording music for over 10 years. For those who do not know you guys as a band, how do you think you can describe yourselves as a band in a sentence or two? Personally, you have a great acoustic-pop sound, with musical and harmonious leanings towards other similar styled artists like Point of Grace, BarlowGirl, Kari Jobe and Meredith Andrews!
We are a sister duo who loves to create music that inspires people to worship God. When we play live you can find us rockin’ the acoustic guitar and piano. And sometimes we rock a little harder when our husbands travel with us to back us up on drums and electric! –Elissa
Question 2: Love Walked In is your first EP/album full of new material since By Faith in 2011. What have you learned throughout the two years since your album that you have tried to incorporate into the process of recording and producing songs for your forthcoming album? Personally, even though this album is an EP, it rivals By Faith in every way (which is saying a lot, considering By Faith was one of my favourite worship albums of 2011!).
“Love Walked In” is a project that happened by accident! When we booked studio time it was simply to re-record old songs. But God surprised us, like he usually does. We ended up writing a handful of fresh songs while we were in the studio. The songs came about so naturally and have a unique sound from anything we’ve ever done! -Elissa
Question 3: How has your musical journey been throughout all the years being The Sonflowerz since you started the band in the late 1990s? What has God been teaching you (personally and as a duo) that you have learnt throughout your musical career that you have proactively incorporated into these songs on Love Walked In? If there was one thing that listeners can take away from the album, what would it be?
If only you could have met me when we first started out. I was a shy, hesitant girl in high school. I didn’t know how to write songs, or even how to play guitar. It just shows what God can do when you surrender it all to him. Everything has changed since we started. Now I’m teaching guitar and voice lessons when I’m home. Becca and I co-wrote some of our very best songs for this new project, which we were able to co-produce with Michael Rossback (Gungor, New Life Worship, Paul Baloche, Jared Anderson) –Elissa
If there’s one thing God has taught me through our journey and especially through “Love Walked In” it would be how to let go. How to serve God without striving, and how faith is way to walking out your calling faithfully. Creativity comes from Him, songs come from Him, and every good thing comes from Him. It’s not in our own strength and that’s the key to it all. –Elissa
Listen to the song “Love Walked In” and then listen to “Speechless” and finally sit down to worship with “Offering My Life”. The one thing I hope people can take away from “Love Walked In” is an experience with God. -Elissa
Question 4: In my opinion, Love Walked In, both the song and the album, speak about being free from the lies we have been told by society and shaking off the past to embrace love and every facet that comes from God our healer and provider. What does this EP mean to both of you? Personally, I think these songs are some of your best yet!
You got it! This EP is very distinct from our previous albums, and yet, speaks from the same depth of relationship with Jesus. Everything is pointing to Him as our Source for life. -Elissa
Question 5: You’ve also recorded a music video for ‘Love Walked In’, in which you feature snippets of it in the song story (black and white too, which is a great contrast). How was it filming the video? Is there an estimated time when it’ll debut on social media sites? (a video has been long overdue from you guys since ‘Legacy’, another one of my favourite songs and videos from you both!).
The music video was my absolute favorite experience ever! We filmed it in my house and my husband directed and edited the whole thing. What could be better than that? We had our whole family in the shoot with all of our friends. The band members who recorded on the album are also in the video playing live. We tell the story of “Love Walked In” and the transformation is visible. It is available to watch right now on our YouTube channel (youtube.com/thesonflowerz)! –Elissa
Question 6: You both have had quite a journey musically since your first album You Remain in 2002. What has God been teaching you about Himself on the road as you travel and perform your songs of encouragement, both from Love Walked In and from albums gone by that have been life-defining for you? Is there any song that you have sung on your travels (can be either from the upcoming Love Walked In or from previous albums) that God still ministers to you with?
A simple worship song that brings me back to a place of experiencing God in worship is “My Adoration”. Wherever we are playing that song, I’m reminded of God’s love and it draws me again to worship. -Becca
Question 7: Love Walked In is the first album you have funded through kickstarter. Tell us about that process. Along with the album, you are also writing your first girls devotional book, as well as providing funds for your ‘Made To Shine’ tour. What are the differences and similarities between writing a book and writing music? What do you hope to accomplish on your tour later on this year?
We were able to create the new album and fund it before we began the Kickstarter! The main purpose of our Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign is to give our friends and fans a chance to purchase the new album before it releases – while funding our first book and launching young women’s ministry through the Sonflowerz. We have until August 20th 2013 to meet our goal – it’s a process that takes a lot of faith and hard work! –Elissa
Writing a book is so much fun very different from writing songs. We’re writing to girls from 12 – 18 years old. The language has to be so much more exciting in a book. You can get away with saying things in a song that sound funny on a page. We have worked with an amazing editor over the last year who has really sharpened our writing. I can’t wait to share the Made To Shine Devotional with you! –Elissa
With the launch of our Made To Shine girls nights we hope to see awesome impact in the lives of girls across the country for Christ. That girls would discover their true identity as daughters of God who are MADE to be His light in the world. We can’t shine unless we know who we are and how GREAT our God is! –Elissa
Question 8: Is there any particular artist (band or individual singer, Christian or mainstream) that has influenced the process of writing and recording for Love Walked In, or even influenced your style of singing and performing over the years? Are there any bands/artists you currently admire, or that you’d like to tour/write and record with someday if given the chance?
Musical influences appear in our recordings as we are listening to lots of music while we are writing and recording. It happens without us knowing it, I think. I’ve been enjoying the latest Hillsong albums, Zion and Glorious Ruins, and All Sons & Daughters. I love finding new worship music, and right now I’m really into Rend Collective. They have such a fresh sound. -Becca
Question 9: Have there been any songs that were difficult to write (for any reason) on Love Walked In or any other album in the past? 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 the road relating to how a song of yours impacted their life somehow?
On our latest project, we narrowed it down to our favourite 5 songs and began to finish writing them before we got into the studio. Sometimes we didn’t have a bridge written until we started recording. Our producer, along with the two of us, came up with several ideas on the spot, and many of them stuck! It’s always a learning experience for me, and I really enjoyed how each song came together in its own time. –Becca
A few times after playing “Legacy”, we will talk to someone who had been contemplating missions work, and decided to pursue God’s calling for them after hearing the song. It’s been amazing to see that! -Becca
Question 10: Any bible verse that is your current favourite right now, that you think would encourage listeners of your music (or readers of this interview) that may feel like they are far from God at this current moment? Also to young musical artists wanting to break into the music industry, 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?
Jeremiah 31:3 is one of my favourites. God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself”. God is drawing us all to Himself and leaving the evidence everywhere! Sometimes it’s a matter of opening our eyes to see it. -Becca
Just like any pursuit in life, seeking God first is essential. If you know God is leading you towards music, it will make the bumps in the road easier to handle. Start by serving in your local church wherever there is a need, and ask a pastor or worship leader for advice! –Becca
Question 11: Is there anything that you two love to do during your down-time? Maybe watch a TV show, listen to some new music or watch a movie or two?
Being outdoors is so calming to me. I try to hike as often as I can, and if it’s snowing (which it does often in Colorado!) then we’ll find a good movie or pick up a series like Downton Abbey (my favourite). -Becca
Question 12: Is there anything you’d like to add that hasn’t been discussed in this interview yet?
It’s fun connecting with people through online communities! Find us on Twitter (@Sonflowerz), facebook, and Kickstarter… facebook.com/SonflowerzOfficial and bit.ly/SonflowerzKickstart
Be sure to check out this sister duo’s new album coming in a few days. Til then, check out the music video of the title track, as well as the song story behind it.