Dream Records artist Jonathan Thulin, was kind enough to answer some email questions by Christian Music Zine’s Joshua Andre! Below are his responses:
Q1: How did you sign to Dream Records? Can you tell us about the heart behind The White Room and how the themes differ from Anatomy of a Heartflow?
I met Dave Hanley when I came to visit The Dream Center about 3 years ago and after I joined Press Play we discussed me joining as a solo artist as well and the rest is history. In the past few years I had been dealing with a lot of doubt and reevaluating my walk with God as well as someone else very close to me. I had come to the place where I had to deal with my hurt from the past and challenge my future. This cd is me figuring out and understanding how to be a real Christian and truly understanding what Jesus did was so much more than I could ever imagine. “The Anatomy of a Heartflow” is still an album I relate to tremendously, I wrote those songs dealing with a lot of the same things I’m dealing with now. I used those songs to encourage myself and others going through rough patches…it was smooth around the edges. “The White Room” is very gritty and to the point. I go through issues of hypocrisy in the church, confusion in where I stand as a person and a Christian and the destruction of myself through sin. It is very honest. Through all the pain however, there has to come an understanding of redemption and hope, and when I was at the bottom of my life I began to see God’s grace in a much bigger light. I hope people can relate and then make a decision to make the change in their life necessary to have a healthy and upright way of looking at their faith.
Q2: For those of you who haven’t heard your sound, how would you describe it? In my opinion you sound similar vocally to Steven Curtis Chapman, and musically similar to David Crowder*Band… How is it being from Sweden, and making albums in the U.S?
Well I do love Steven Curtis Chapman. I have a very different sound considering I grew up listening to Black Gospel. My music isn’t gospel at all (genre wise) but I have a soulful voice. The music I don’t know what to compare it to, “The Anatomy…” was very Christian contemporary but this new one is a mix of epic, orchestral, electronic music with a soulful voice on top haha. I think I worked well with Charmaine because she has the same kind of epic electronic vibe in her music, which I love! I love Sweden, my home land. My wife is also from there and my whole family. So the Swedish culture has been very evident in my life even though I have been majority in the U.S. English will always be the language that I speak artistically in. So naturally I LOVE making an album here.
Q3: Can you give us a behind the song background of your lead single “Dead Come To Life”? How did that song come about?
Well, this is a song that me and Charmaine wrote together and the idea came from the story in Ezekiel where the Lord tells Ezekiel to speak to the dry bones. God refers to them as the people of Israel and that they are dried up and without hope and that when he speaks breath into them they will come to life and know that he is Lord. I think just reading that story in general you tend to relate to yourself. For me I felt dry and without hope and sometimes we forget what God we serve. He is the ONLY one who can make the dead come to life and not just physically but spiritually and mentally as well.
Q4: You’ve worked with guest vocalists Charmaine and Rachael Lampa on this album. What is it like working with them? Are there any artists/writers/producers you would like to work with in the future?
The great thing about working with Charmaine and Rachael is that I already had personal relationships with them before the recording. They have both spoken into my life in so many ways that it was so natural to write and sing with them. Me and Charmaine have the same kind of creative eye and I respect her tremendously for her unbelievable attention to detail and well roundedness creatively…she is one of the great talents in this industry and it was beyond an honor. Rachael is the MOST loving person I have ever met and there is nobody more fun and down to earth to work with. We wrote “Bombs Away” together and it was so great to write with someone who understood the feeling that I was trying to convey. It is a dark song but Rachael added such a brilliance to it. Vocally singing with both of them is a dream and I wanna do it over and over again, good thing I am on tour with Charmaine I also sang with a third band Elden on the song “Soon” and that was really special to me because the band consists of my brother and sister in law. I have sung with them for so long and actually creating a beautiful sound together like this was tremendous. I LOVED the artists that lent their talents to this!!
Q5: Can you tell us about your favourite songs on this album? Were there any songs that were difficult to write?
It’s definitely hard to choose! I find myself resonating with “Coat of Arms” a lot because that song came out a place of wanting to know what I stood for and understanding what I believe in. I also love “Peeta” which is based on the Hunger Games character, I resonated very much with his sense of hope and thrive for the future in a really difficult situation. The hardest and most emotional song to write was “Torches.” Sometimes it feels like when we fail and fall the people around us don’t help us up but kick us when we are down. It is so easy to point our fingers at those around us dealing with something outwardly when we have so much going on inside of ourselves. I wanted to write it from the perspective of the leper…who has been cast out and rejected because of their malady. The bridge says “I did not choose my disease, please see the flower in the weeds.” It was so hard to write but so rewarding.
Q6: Can you tell us about the band you’re a part of, Press Play? How is that different from your solo records? What does the future hold for Press Play in 2012/2013?
I Love being in Press Play. When I first joined the label I was struggling with choosing what music style to do because i love so many and when I got to do my solo stuff and be in Press Play I was a happy camper. Press Play is very mainstream and fun. Co-writing the Press Play stuff was so much fun because I don’t get to explore that side of creativity a lot. Press Play is very light hearted, fun and encouraging and my own stuff challenges the mind and heart to think and dwell a lot more. Me, Dave and Nicole have very different singing voices but I think it blends really well and brings a unique sound to our music! We are ready for anything, I think Press Play has great things ahead and we are excited to see what those things are!
Q7: This coming year, what does touring look like for you? You’ve toured in many churches over the past few years, as well as shared the stage with Skillet, Leeland, TobyMac, Trip Lee and The Afters, to name a few. Are there any countries and places you are looking forward to visit in the near future? What should people expect from your live shows?
Charmaine and I are traveling full time together and we are doing a lot in the US but also potentially heading to Australia and also Sweden in December. We are heading back to Europe hopefully in March to visit the UK and also a lot of other countries in Europe. I am looking forward to Europe a lot and also Australia. What people should expect from the Love/War tour is lots of good music, Charmaine has incredible music and I think our two types of music fit very well together. I think people should expect to be challenged and walk away with not only a good show but also encouragement and hope.
Q8: What is the most important take home message for listeners of The White Room, and even your debut album? What is the most exciting thing you do every day that makes writing, recording and performing music satisfying?
No matter what you go through no matter how dark and bad things get. Know that there is a greater hope surrounding you. One of my greatest influences in songwriting is Brooke Fraser and in her song “Hosea’s Wife” she says “We are more than dust, that means something. We are more than just blood and emotions, inklings and notions, atoms on oceans” That sums it up for me. There is a much greater purpose and as soon as we understand the depth and beauty of the God we serve then we will have a different view of those around us and find even more ways to love.
Q9: Is there a favourite Bible verse that has inspired you that you may or may not have incorporated into your newest album; that you may want to share with us, and what it means to you?
Habakuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” There is a plan whether we understand it or not. We can see a light in the darkness because will keep his promised just as he did then.
Q10: Is there anything else that you’d like to add that we haven’t covered? What is God teaching you lately? What advice can you give to young songwriters looking for guidance?
The biggest thing that I am learning right now is how to love more. I have had a very closed and narrow mind, and I didn’t know until lately. You don’t have to be narrow minded to walk the narrow road. I want people to be able to relate to my music and to feel like no matter what they face, no matter how deep into the darkness they think they are there is always someone there to love them. I wanna be a part of a generation doesn’t just speak up for God but acts out the way Jesus did. Jesus loved and gave himself in every way possible to every type of person. I am going to love hard and show the world the Jesus they should know. I wanna step out of my comfort zone to be a light. LOVE is my keyword and not a cheap temporary love but one that lasts and penetrates into the very hearts of people into eternity. As a songwriter I have learned to speak what I know and what I feel. Don’t hold back, don’t try to put yourself inside of a box of what other song writers are doing. Be unique and speak honestly. People will always relate to honesty. Most of all, keep writing. The more you write the better you will get. Write down your thoughts and sooner or later music will start to fill you up and there will be no containing the song inside of you.
God bless you Jonathan! Have an awesome 2012 and 2013 with Jesus!
Jonathan Thulin’s sophomore album The White Room releases via Dream Records on iTunes, Amazon mp3, and other digital media outlets October 22nd 2012. Check out the single “Dead Come To Life (feat. Charmaine)” on iTunes!