On his recent solo album 'Holy Freaks', British singer Chip Kendall continues the rock/dance sounds that made his former group thebandwithnoname so popular with crowds all around the world. LTTM chatted with Chip to find out what he's been up to since the band ended and what inspired his new album.
Many people will know you from your time in thebandwithnoname, but can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?
I've been writing songs since I was 12. I'll never forget sitting down at my little keyboard and writing for the first time. Looking back, it wasn't that great of a song. But the important thing was that it came from my heart. And I still remember finishing the song and bowing my head to pray. I thanked Jesus for the gift of songwriting, and I promised him right then and there that I would always use this gift for Him.
I made my first album when I was 16, with a lot of help from my Uncle Paul. It was called 'Show Me Who I Am'. Then I made another album with my sister the following year. This time we enlisted the help of some proper producers. That was fun. After that, I wrote a few songs for my dad's album then went off to Bible College in California. While I was there, I met my beautiful wife Helen (who was from England) and when we got married, it made sense for us to live in the UK. It wasn't long before we got connected to Innervation, the ministry behind thebandwithnoname. Strangely, I didn't write hardly anything during my time in TBWNN. It was only towards the end that I started doing some co-writes and God kinda 'un-stopped the well' I guess.
When TBWNN finished, I released an EP called 'K is for Kendall'. We tried to go in a lot of different directions (musically) at once, but to be honest, that's just what I was writing at the time. That's what was coming out of me as life squeezed me, and I wanted to give people my best. I still do!
Tell us a little bit about your new album 'Holy Freaks' and what the inspiration behind it was?
We learned a lot making the EP and I really felt the go ahead from the Lord to make a full album. It's always a bit of a risk with these things, but it's been said that genuine faith is spelled R-I-S-K. So we took the plunge! With 'Holy Freaks' I've actually returned to some of the sounds that made TBWNN so much fun, and kept a lot of the same themes from our old songs like 'Misfit' and 'Tell Me Something I Don't Know Already'. The concept actually comes from the Bible, that as Believers we are in the world but not of it. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a 'peculiar' people. I love that word. Basically, we're called to be Holy Freaks, showing off the fact that we've come from darkness to Light.
Which is your favourite track on the album and why?
It keeps changing! At the moment, I'm loving the little movie intro to Solve it on the Dance Floor. It still makes me laugh. My friend Doug made it, using some effects he's got. But on a more serious note, the last song 'Underground Army (album version)' literally made me cry when I heard it in it's (almost) completed form for the first time. I was on the train, it was very embarrassing! But right then and there, I began to write what became the long prophetic rant that happens at the end of the song. Trust me, it would have been longer if we'd had more time to make the track!
What's your song writing process?
Usually I prefer to co-write. So once I get the time carved out with some very talented friends of mine, we'll sit down and go through all the little 30 second sound-bite song ideas I've got stored on my phone at the time, and take it from there. So many songs never get finished, but the really good ones do. And the really, really good ones might even make it onto a recording.
If you could work with any song writer, who would it be and why?
Do they have to be alive right now? I'd have loved to co-write with Michael Jackson, what a legend. I heard once that whenever he was in a writing session and heard something he really liked, he'd start to dance around the room. I'm exactly the same!
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
It's a mixture of rock and pop, dance and dub-step. We tried to put songs on there that I could perform, both with a full band and on my own with a DJ. That's more tricky than it sounds. But I think we pulled it off alright. Some of the references we looked at during the making of the album were Foo Fighters, Pendulum, Jay-Z, Eminem and of course some good ol' TBWNN.
How would you define success in your career as a singer?
Hearing Jesus say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.' That's it. Nuff said.
What advice would you give to any aspiring singers or bands out there?
I get emails and FB messages from them all the time! Here's what I wrote for someone recently, who's just started writing songs:
Hey, congratulations. Welcome to a whole new world of beauty, creativity and (at times) STRESS!
First thing is to give it to Jesus. He gets credit for everything you write. So tell him!
Second thing, write from the heart. If you're passionate about what you're singing about then chances are your listeners will also find something to relate to. Don't just write something that you think sounds like a famous person wrote it. It's probably already been said a thousand times. What is unique about you?
Third, find someone you trust to play / sing your songs to first before you 'reveal' it to the rest of the world. Tell them to be honest, and then don't get offended if what they say isn't what you wanted to hear. Writing songs is like riding a bike.. the more you do it, the better you get, at times you will fall off, but just dust yourself off and get back on doing what you love.
Fifth, try co-writing with other people. It's fun! I actually write most of my songs this way now. You'll both find that you have different strengths, maximize on that. Let them do what they're good at and you do what you're good at.
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?
'Eye on It' - title track to Tobymac's new album. Loving that right now.
What does the next year hold for Chip Kendall?
Selling millions of copies of 'Holy Freaks' of course. (=
I'm working at Cross Rhythms one day a week on a project called MYvoice, helping young people to share their faith stories through social media.
I'm also taking my music into high schools, just like I did with TBWNN, but this time I take a DJ and a scientist with me. We talk about faith vs science and do experiments and Q&A sessions. It's awesome. More info at testoffaith.com/schools
And finally, hopefully a lot of gigs. We've been promised a slot at Big Church Day Out in the spring. I'm also considering doing a church/youth group tour, maybe even just me on my own. I've had so much great feedback recently, especially in terms of the ministry that goes on in people's hearts. One girl told me that after her failed attempt at suicide, she was in the hospital feeling very depressed. Her Mom brought my CD in, and she told me that my music 'saved her life'. Those kind of stories are not easily forgotten, and I'm very encouraged and excited to see what God does in the coming year.
Find out more at ChipKendall.com