Interview: Aaron Shust

Dec 08 2011

Worship leader Aaron Shust released his fourth album 'This Is What We Believe' back in the summer. The five-time Dove Award winning artist chatted to LTTM all about his new album, what it means to be a worship leader, and how he writes songs.

Tell us a little bit about your latest album 'This Is What We Believe' and what the inspiration behind it was?

This album is so simple and streamlined in my mind. It describes what I believe about the Person whom I chose to trust with absolutely everything. 90% of the album was written during the season that my 2 year old boy was spending 4 months in the PICU at a Children's Hospital. God extended such a confidence in His plan to my wife and I during that time, that writing an honest album about our doubts was not an option. We trusted in God's sovereignty and power (which still makes Him worthy, not us) so the topic of this entire album became Him. Describe Him. Write about Him. His attributes, His characteristics, His worth. And to make sure I wasn't offering my opinions of Him, I filled the lyrics with Scripture, then tried to make the songs as congregational as I could.

Which is your favourite track on the new album and why?

Your Majesty is my favorite, it was born in the most pure way in my opinion. It was fabricated, I hadn't decided to write a song about something, I didn't sit down with another writer and try to write a great song. I sat down in my living room, picked up my guitar and started to play and sing the first verse. It was a simple stream of consciousness as I sang. I was satisfied with that first verse for about six months before I decided that I should do the work to finish the song so that it could have a purpose beyond my personal worship time.

This Is What We BelieveWhat's your song writing process?

I usually have a concept, theme or angle that strikes me as curious or unique. That's the most important thing to me, the topic. Then for me, I want to create songs that are easily sung so that congregations or youth groups or concert crowds can join in and sing along. Frankly, I think that's difficult to do, to create simple yet catchy melodies and rhythms that support a lyric that is clear and thought provoking. Having a co-writer is very helpful: they can force you to think outside of your normal patterns of thought. Then you can adopt the best parts of their approaches as your own!

If you could work with any song writer, who would it be and why?

Bono. No one else can combine a thought provoking lyric with a catchy melody like him.

How did you first get involved in making music?

My mom put me on stage when I was 3 at church one Sunday night to sing "Give Them All To Jesus"

Who are your musical influences?

U2, Thomas Newman and Hanz Zimmer Soundtracks, Coldplay, Harry Connick Jr., Dean Martin, Luciano Pavarotti, Buena Vista Social Club, that makes you smile I guess.

In your opinion, what makes the perfect worship song?

One that clearly magnifies Jesus Christ as God in some capacity, stirs the emotions musically and allow me to sing along relatively quickly.

What advice would you give to any aspiring worship leaders or songwriters out there?

One of our main goals is to allow our congregations to worship. So it's not always about picking the latest and greatest songs, or showcase our own. We need to play the songs that are going to allow our people to enter in to worship.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?

Great question! I'd want to keep my spirits up, so nothing too appropriate, but sad, like Home by Marc Broussard. I would play Ain't That A Kick In The Head by Dean Martin. It's fun, happy and my 5 year old's favorite song. It makes me smile when I hear it.

What does the next year hold for Aaron Shust?

Beside touring and changing diapers again...I guess it's time to start writing some songs again!

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