Q&A with John Burland on Into the World
What inspired you to write this album?
With most of my albums, the starting point is always to look at where there is a need for a specific song or piece. Through my conversations with teachers, catechists and friends inMinistry, I would often ask them, “Is there a particular song or type of song you are looking for in your Ministry?” As a result, I identified a need for a contemporary Christian Graduation song and a wedding song, as well as songs for the Beatitudes and the Magnificat.I was also asked for songs to support prayer and to celebrate the Holy Spirit
How would you describe the style?
I would best describe the style as a contemporary praise and worship style with a pop feel.
Tell us about the title and what does it mean to you?
All of us are called to go ‘Into theWorld’ and be the light of Christ to, and for others. Our Paths as we navigate this journey are filled with many challenges and ups and downs. It is not an easy journey to be true and faithful witnesses to the message of the Gospel. Many of the songs on this collection speak to my own journey but also share a commonality with the journey of others.
What is your usual song writing process?
Very early each morning I go for a long walk. For me, this is when many of my ideas for melodies and lyrics come to me and take initial shape. Then once I’m back home, I record a demo on my iPhone and then I keep coming back to them so they can be developed further.Once a song is in a basic shape, I record a rough demo of what I have done so far and sitwith that for several weeks, continually coming back to tweak and shape words and melodies.
Over the last five years, in working with some other songwriters my process has grown and developed. I have learnt from others and had the blessing of working with the talents of others. This I have found to be a joyful and inspiring process as they each bring something different to the song writing process, whether it is a melody, lyrics, or a complete song.Working with others is an incredibly uplifting and creative process.
Why did you record the album in Nashville?
The album was recorded at Yackland studio in Nashville with producer Stephen Leiweke .Stephen produced my All Are Welcome Here and ARISE albums and through his guidance he has helped me to grow as a songwriter, artist, and musician.His production and team of musicians is incredible, and he invests totally in your project to make it the very best it can be.I also like the intensive, collaborative and focused approach Stephen facilitates at his studio. You work together as a team, you stay in the studio complex, and you live and breathe your album as it goes from a basic demo to a world-class produced collection of songs.
What is the recording process in Nashville?
I love being in the studio and watching a song develop, so for me this process is always very exciting. The first days in the studio are spent in pre-production where you define tempos, keys and arrangements. Once this is done for each song, a scratch vocal is recorded as a guide. Pre-production takes approximately two or three hours per song. The next days are spent tracking-recording drums, bass, piano and guitars for each song. This is an exciting process as the incredibly talented Nashville musicians start bringing your songs to life. Oncethis is completed, additional guitar and keyboard parts are added before it’s time for lead vocals and backing vocals. Once all parts are recorded, I then walk away and come back weeks later and listen to the mixes carefully crafted by Stephen. These are tweaked and discussed and once finalised, the songs are sent for mastering for the final polish. Only then can you really say the album is “in the can!”
What are your favourite songs from the collection?
There are several songs of a personal nature like Lord Shine Your Light on Me Today and Father Let Me Know You. However, You Are the One is a very special song for my family and I. It was written for eldest daughter Daniela’s wedding and I had the great privilege of being able to sing it at the ceremony for Daniela and her husband. You can watch a video of me singing at her wedding here.
How would you hope the songs from Into the World are used?
Like any composer, you hope that people find comfort in the songs you write or can celebrate and reflect inspired by the music. I hope that these songs are a support to others as they journey in faith through the good times and the many challenges in life. Ultimately,as a Christian composer, these songs are to praise and celebrate the incredibly loving and merciful God that we all share.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given?
Always believe in yourself and surround yourself with people of immense talent who will help you grow and give you honest and open feedback.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working with Phil Anquetil and Stephen on a contemporary praise and worship kids album which will be out in early 2024.