A Bigger Box

It’s been quite a while since I have posted, and its been quite a year so far. Do you remember my very first article? It was called “Excuses, Excuses” and can be found here: http://www.linescratchers.com/?p=1113 Well, I stopped making excuses and I’ve jumped into this crazy business full time.

It’s been an interesting year as I’ve started my business (2 businesses actually) and have worked with a number of artists and projects, both in and out of the LDS world. This year, my “flagship” project was (for the first time) something that was not just influenced by my beliefs and values, but that was openly promoting a religiously themed message. Working on it has been enlightening and educational as I have begun to better understand the “typical” LDS Market for music. This project was one that was close to my heart, as it was a personal project done with my teenage daughters. Together, we wrote and produced an album of fun, energetic, and uplifting music geared for young adults and teens, and based it on the values and principles promoted by the Young Women’s theme. This was their first serious project. The music has a great spirit about it, and a positive message. It’s well done, and we’ve received fantastic feedback overall on it. I am not shy about putting in a plug – you can check it out at www.ofpreciousvalue.com – but my point in this article is not just to promote this, I am trying to make a point, and looking for some feedback.

My point – we don’t fit in “the box”. Most of us on this website don’t quite fit in “the” box, and that’s why we are here. We don’t quite fit the stereotype of an “LDS Musician” and yet there are many in the world who are slow to accept us if they are aware we are LDS. Hence, the “linescratchers box”. Well, I’m not even sure my most recent LDS project (Of Precious Value) fits in the Linescratchers box…. it’s sort of in no mans land. With a blatent religious message and obvious religious target market, its on the fringe at best of what would fall under the classic definition of a Linescratchers musician. And, with music that is much more a blend of modern pop and guitar driven rock, delivered in a fresh and energetic way, it struggles to fit into the “traditional” LDS music box in spite of having a direct and blatent LDS message.

The music I’ve made may never make it into a “Sabbath Sounds” type of broadcast, and at the same time it’s probably not the right choice of albums to review and feature on Linescratchers. And you know what? I’m fine with that! I’m not here to try to fit into a pre-defined box, I’m here to help make a BIGGER BOX! I hope all of us share that same artistic drive and passion. The LDS market is a tough one to crack. If you don’t fit in or have the right connections, its even tougher. But we need to work together to make a bigger box. We need to support each other and work together to expand the box to include great music that is being overlooked. With going back into music full time, I am reminded how many AMAZING musicians there are who will really never be heard outside of their circle of friends and family.

How do we make more room for them? How do we make a bigger box? Shouldn’t the “LDS Music Box” include not only traditional and contemporary musicians but also include a lot of secular music that is just…well….Good? Free of profanity and questionable subject matter, music that simply celebrates and speaks of the ups and downs and experiences of life? Shouldn’t the “Linescratchers Box” include not only those who are LDS and make secular music, but also include those who are bold in challenging the status quo for LDS spiritual music ? (while staying appropriate of course!)

I am asking for your help making a bigger box. I have a lot of ideas running through my head. I know a lot of LDS youth and young adults and very few of them are listening to LDS music or LDS artists. Some LDS bands and artists are popping up thank goodness, but they are a drop in the bucket on the ipod playlists of our youth. Really?? Do we not have amazing talent among us, both for religious and secular music? How do we reach these people who are ripe to accept us if we can connect with them? One thing I’ve noticed is that the overwhelming majority of broadcasts of LDS music (real or online) are more “Sabbath Sounds” oriented. There are some that are broadcasting, podcasting, or streaming more contemporary music and even secular music, but I haven’t found many. Kudos to Steve Larson at LDS Music Today who has included a very diverse range of music in his regular podcasts. We need more of that.

With all this in mind – I’m asking for your input. What can we do? I’m considering a lot of things. One is I’m thinking of starting a 24/7 online radio station that will play a wide range of good music – LDS Music, Secular music, New Artists, Contemporary Christian Music, etc – with a focus on lesser known artists, interviews, themed shows (ideas: Best New Artists Hour, Linescratchers Royalty Hour, Genre specific shows, and more). I’d initially probably start with 1-2 daily shows and some rebroadcasts of those shows and then work up to having a full 24/7 schedule of good content. I’ve also considered doing an annual compilation CD of LDS artists that don’t fit inside the box (for example, did you know that there are some really amazing LDS artists doing country music? Whether you like the style or not – we need to hear more of this diversity within the LDS market!. There are many ideas I’m thinking of as I try to figure out how to help good musicians – LDS Spiritual, LDS Secular, and other just plain good artists – find a voice, and an audience.

Help me make a bigger box. We get a lot more done when we work together. i encourage you to leave your suggestions and feedback.

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A Bigger Box

Blurring the Lines

Linescratchers is known as “the site for LDS musicians who don’t make LDS music” , but… with all due respect for that motto, perhaps a better motto should be “the site for LDS musicians who don’t make TYPICAL LDS music.”

Recently, our own fearless leader and visionary founder,  Arthur Hatton, proved this with his own album release of spiritually influenced music that certainly doesn’t sound anything like the “typical” LDS music.   He has blurred the lines.

My own recent album release, a pet project that was long overdue, also blurred the lines – not so much in a spiritual sense as Arthur did, and not by directly speaking or preaching of gospel doctrines, but with most lyrics clearly drawing on themes and values that are expressly taught and encouraged as part of LDS teachings, certainly my own project was “in the world but not of the world”.   In fact, I’m working on a new project now that will push this concept more than I have ever done before, but that is a story for another day.

As Linescratchers has recently moved into a new chapter of leadership and direction, I have reflected on the meaning and value of the site as we move forward, and frankly, I think that the blurring of lines is a good thing.  How does one define when music is or is not “church related” music?  While I certainly create categories in my mind, it is ultimately impossible for me to completely separate “church” and “secular” music in my own original works. Why? Because as a believer and a follower, it is impossible for my belief system to not impact my creative works.

My understanding is that this site was created somewhat out of frustration that it seemed that anyone who claimed to be both LDS and a musician was instantly stereotyped into a very narrow box. There has been for some the perception that being LDS and living/working/creating outside of that box would lead to being ostracized.  In all fairness, neither of these perceptions translate 100% into reality across the board, but as an LDS musician, I certainly have seen and experienced this to some degree at some time or another.  The linescratchers mission has been to help bring awareness to LDS musicians who don’t fit that box, but whose work is still a worthy art.

So, has the linescratchers mission been watered down, become outdated, or forgotten?  I say absolutely not!  I think it is great to see more acceptance of LDS musicians making music that contains spiritual themes, but doesn’t quite fit the perception of what LDS music is “supposed” to sound like.  I think that it is great to see the blurring of the lines – remember, we aren’t talking about blurring the lines between right and wrong or good and evil. We are talking about blurring the lines between what is considered secular music and what is considered church music. If we are diluting the church message with secular music – that is the equivalent perhaps of mingling the philosophies of men with scripture, and is not a good thing.  But if we are enhancing secular music to include more spiritual and value driven content, that is a wonderful thing indeed. And, if we are tastefully expanding the available options of styles of spiritual music, that is also a wonderful thing.  We are taking a good thing, and making it better by expanding it.

God gave us talents, and he intends for us to use them.  I challenge LDS musicians to not be afraid to blur the lines in the right way.  Don’t be afraid to wear your faith like a badge of honor, and let little messages, spiritual moments, and a strong value system creep into your “secular” music.  Music that is raw, real, and honest connects better with listeners anyway, and little in life is more personal, and real than someones deeply held beliefs.

I will continue to make music that is not intended to be spiritual or church oriented but upon close examination, it will be hard to overlook the beliefs and the lifestyle that influence who I am and how I create.  Yes, blurring the lines is a good thing. I am both a secular AND and religious artist – I’m proud of it, and in doing so I will help to continue to fulfill the mission of linescratchers in my own little way.

 

Matt Mylroie is now a full time music professional, operating under the name of Driftwood Tide Music. You can learn more at http://www.driftwoodtidemusic.com

 

 

 

Blurring the Lines

A Grateful Departure

Hi everyone, it’s Arthur Hatton here.  It has been around three and a half years since I created Linescratchers, and as many of you may have noticed, our productive output has decreased over the last year or so.  This is directly attributable to the fact that I’ve had my first kid (he’s one year old now), and started graduate school.  Those two things have really taken away my energy to micro-manage things and make time in my schedule to talk with artists, listen to new music, and go to concerts.  Our fundraiser was an attempt at providing the incentive necessary to take Linescratchers to the next level, but it was not successful enough to really meet our minimum goals to do so (though we will have plenty of money for web hosting bills for the indefinite future).  I have given this decision a lot of thought and have decided that, in order to make room in my life for graduate school and research, being a father, and new blogging interests, I’m regretfully going to have to step down as the in-charge person at Linescratchers.

This was not an easy decision to make.  In a lot of ways I feel like I’m giving up a baby for adoption.  However, I also know that I’m a perfectionist, and I get very dissatisfied with myself if I do things half-way.  Either I do them right or I don’t do them at all.

However, I also did not want to just shut Linescratchers down.  So we have worked out a new system whereby contributors will still post articles, interviews, and reviews, without me telling them what to do.  On our Staff page I will compile a list of active contributors along with the styles of music they specialize in.  If there are any new artists who wish to be featured on Linescratchers, you can contact the contributors directly.  Expect lots of great new content over the next months (and hopefully years).  Don’t go away!  It’s just that I won’t be directly involved anymore.

One thing I just want to say here is that, in my mind, I consider Linescratchers an unqualified, total success.  When I created Linescratchers, I had reasons for doing it, and goals that I wanted to achieve.  Some of them were more abstract, like that I wanted to create a safe place for LDS artists to be able to really express themselves.  Some were more concrete – I wanted to interview Alan Sparhawk.  Along the way I’ve met some amazing artists, writers, fans, and people, and seen some amazing musicians live.  I was even able to create a couple dozen podcasts, some of which were great interviews of some amazing musicians.  I love Linescratchers and I really hope that it continues long years into the future.

If you are interested in what I’m doing nowadays, you might have noticed that I was recently interviewed about an album I just released, Odes.  I have also started a personal blog that I have been using to record my thoughts about my personal musical journey and other random things, and if you’re interested in following me there, I promise to try and entertain you as best as I can.  If you want to follow me in my music, you can find me at my Facebook fan page or on Reverbnation.  I am also involved with a psychology of religion blog called The Value of Saintliness, related to my graduate studies.

The thing I want to express most here is my gratitude.  I am so thankful to each of you – each contributor, each artist that really believed in us, each fan who follows us, each listener of the podcast, every family member that offered support, and every person that donated to the fundraiser.  You’ve all made this wonderful site possible and I wish I could just shake your hands individually.

You’ll still see me lurking around Linescratchers, and hopefully posting every now and then, and I will still be happy to answer questions or press inquiries about the site, I just won’t be pulling the puppet strings anymore.  To get in touch with me personally, please email me at arthur@linescratchers.com.

A Grateful Departure

Why LDS musicians? Or, Learning to Live with Dissonance

I have been asked on numerous occasions why Linescratchers features LDS musicians. One of the earliest forms of this question came from extremely early on in Linescratchers history – before I even published my first post. I had sent out a bajillion emails to various and sundry musicians to try and find active Mormons who were musicians. One of the random folks I sent an email to wrote back and said something along the lines of (I don’t have the email anymore): “I have some friends you should interview! They’re not Mormon though. But they totally deserve a little publicity!”

And I responded to them by saying, “Well, that’s awesome and everything, but really the point of this website is to feature Mormons only.

And they responded by saying, in effect, “That’s pretty unfair and judgmental that you would only feature Mormons, there are lots of good musicians out there who need publicity who aren’t Mormons. You shouldn’t judge them just because they’re not Mormons.”

And I responded by saying, in effect, “…”

It seemed obvious in my head that I would be accomplishing something very specific and important by only featuring LDS musicians. I was completely caught off-guard by the idea that this was judgmental and unfair, and I didn’t have much of a response to that. Now over the years, I think I’ve refined my message a bit, but in a lot of ways the response I got that day has stuck with me. I have asked myself more than once, “Why LDS musicians? What’s the point?” Continue reading “Why LDS musicians? Or, Learning to Live with Dissonance”

Why LDS musicians? Or, Learning to Live with Dissonance

Arthur Hatton: Reflections on three years of Linescratchers

This is me.  My name is Arthur Hatton.

I’m posing with my newest toy – I’ve worked at a guitar shop since 2006 but have only now been able to take home a beautiful, prized possession:  a Martin SWDGT with a Fishman pickup that I installed.  I’m standing next to a painting that I did recently that was inspired by a song by John Wesley (the one who plays for Porcupine Tree) that I have decided to put on the cover of the album I’m currently recording.

I am scheduling this post to go up on June 28th, 2011, which is exactly three years and a day after the very first post of Linescratchers went up.  I have told a little bit of my story to my contributors, and one of them mentioned that it might be interesting and useful to tell the story so far to our readership.  Some of you have only recently discovered Linescratchers.  Just a few of you – and you know who you are – have been with me since the very beginning.  Our contributor Charles has eloquently explained why keeping records is important, so in that spirit, I’d like to tell you the story of Linescratchers from the beginning, complete with the controversial and the embarrassing details that make these things bearable to read.  Hopefully it will give you an idea of what Linescratchers is for, why I started it, and where I want it to go in the future.  Please forgive the long exposition on myself, but it should give you some context. Continue reading “Arthur Hatton: Reflections on three years of Linescratchers”

Arthur Hatton: Reflections on three years of Linescratchers

Musical Bucket List: Rapture edition

Dear Sinners,

Thanks to a calculated mathematician (or mathemagician, your choice), we have all been made aware… the Rapture is nigh.

We at Linescratchers pride ourselves on valuing music above most anything else in life. This being the case… and life as we know it about to end at 6:00 PM tonight, we thought we’d share some final thoughts with you about two items you may refer to as our “musical bucket list”.

Which concert would we wish to see (past, present, or fictional), and which album we feel it imperative that we listen to one last time before we meet our fiery grave.

Please read our list and then append yours as a comment! It’s been a pleasure knowing you all and at about 6:00 PM tonight… it may be in your best interest to wear a helmet if you’re still indoors. Continue reading “Musical Bucket List: Rapture edition”

Musical Bucket List: Rapture edition

Mormons Mormons Mormons, We Haven’t Got a Clue: Guide to LDS references in Non-LDS Music, part IV

What’s going on here? Click the song title to hear the song. This is part 4 in a 4 part series of posts about non-LDS musicians who refer to the LDS church in song. Click here for part 1, here for part 2,  and here for part 3. Continue reading “Mormons Mormons Mormons, We Haven’t Got a Clue: Guide to LDS references in Non-LDS Music, part IV”

Mormons Mormons Mormons, We Haven’t Got a Clue: Guide to LDS references in Non-LDS Music, part IV