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.

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

Alan Sparhawk

Steve Garrington, Alan Sparhawk, and Mimi ParkerOver the last two decades, the centerpiece and poster children of faithful Latter-day Saints in the world of Rock music have arguably been Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of Minnesota Indie band Low. It’s hard to overestimate their influence on our culture and musicians. Living proof that the Church and a career in music aren’t mutually exclusive, Alan and Mimi have had their share of critical and fan acclaim, inspiring many Latter-day Saints, non-members, and even our very own Linescratchers itself.

Alan has more recently explored new sonic territory with The Black-Eyed Snakes and Retribution Gospel Choir. Alan was gracious enough to take time out of his schedule to be interviewed in this Linescratchers Exclusive, answering certain questions about being LDS in the music world for the first time.

Continue reading “Alan Sparhawk”

Alan Sparhawk

Cary Judd

Cary Judd

ROCK/POP

Most conversations about popular LDS musicians in the West nowadays seem to always land on Cary Judd.  Originally from Southern California but now living in the wilderness of Wyoming, Cary’s cerebral yet always accessible tunes satisfy the prog fan and pop fan alike.  His newest album is Goodnight Human, but to really experience Cary Judd, you need to see a live show.  For those deep in the Mission Field, he’s also released a live (free) downloadable album from his MySpace.  His website is www.caryjudd.com, and you might take notice that he’s worked with Linescratcher Scot Alexander from Dishwalla.

To find Cary Judd on iTunes, click here.

Continue reading “Cary Judd”

Cary Judd