Blog: Song By Song: Galactus Jack - Universal

Aug 16 2016

British DJ Galactus Jack has just released his new album 'Universal'. The EDM artist has written this special guest blog for LTTM introducing the album and giving an insight into each song.

UNIVERSAL is a bit of a concept record in the sense that it is designed to reveal something of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the music and lyrics, the liner notes, and during the live performances of the tracks. The key passage of scripture that the album was built around is Romans 10:9-15. Salvation is available for all who openly declare that Jesus is Lord, who believe that God raised him from the dead. But this is a message that we don’t simply receive and believe, we must to also take it to the world so that all will know.

Here’s a little breakdown and behind the scenes insight for each track...

1. Eternal

This was one of the last tracks produced for the record, and it came about when I placed Initiate at the start of the record, and yet I didn’t want the album to just open with a beat, which that track does. I wanted to set the scene for the album a little bit, and so Eternal is a simple intro track that sets up the next 30 mins of listening. Thematically the track was inspired by the idea of Gods eternal existence, from which everything was then created.

2. Initiate

There were two objectives with this track. First, to write a song with a huge drop that would go off big time in the live shows! Second, to create a mid section that represented the house and euphoric end of the spectrum of my music and shows. I’m all about light and shade, I love the heavy stuff and I’m not afraid to go full on with it, but I love to temper it with the lighter, more euphoric, and even poppier end of things. Initiate has been closing my shows for the last few months and it plays great every time. I love how the euphoric mid section seems to enable people to worship with a real sense of joy, before returning back to the full on madness of the final drop. Thematically this track is about God initiating relationship with us, what will our response be? Hopefully we will dance in celebration and acceptance of his gift of life!

3. Captured feat. Lucy Spearman

This song evolved a lot. I had a demo version that I’d been playing out for about a year and it was good, but it wasn’t quite doing what I wanted it to do. I left it alone for quite a while and when I revisited it on the home stretch of finishing the album (working with the supremely talented Tim Gosden) I decided to keep the general chords but start again with everything else. Initially the song had quite a sustained melody, with a lot of reverb all over the synths which made it all feel a bit sluggish, so we reigned all that in to get a punchier, poppier sound, which brought the drop to life and gave it that big summer sound I was hoping for.

Lyrically I built the song around the gospel, starting with the central hook of being ‘captured’ by Gods love and reverse engineering it from there to tell the story that on some level every human experiences. We start with rebellion against God which hurts us, but God calls us back to himself, he gives us life in his (and by his) love, from which we can then go and be the light of the world. Obviously many have not yet heard the call to come home, so this song will hopefully play a small role in helping people realise that they don’t need to live in brokenness, God is calling you home. Lucy Speakman from the band Brightline came in and really brought the lyrics to life, giving it some proper Welsh oomph in the pre-chorus build to the drop! I’m really glad we managed to get her amazing vocals on the record, and you should check out the Brighline album Life In Full Motion to hear more of her brilliance.

4. Antidote feat. Crown Freedom

Around 18 months ago I sat down on my sofa with my laptop, sometime around 9pm, ready to play around with an idea for a song that was going to be used on a charity album. 12 hours later I realised I had been working non-stop through the night, and the first version of Antidote was the fruit of that all nighter! When I came to put UNIVERSAL together I thought I could rework the track and add some more musicality to it, as well as a hype vocal that would bring some extra energy and a clear message. Crown Freedom (Marv) from Vital Signs came into the studio a couple of times and brought with him the middle section rap bars you hear in the track, and a bunch of hype stuff that we used to craft some structure around that middle. Conceptually it is a rich theme, the world is poisoned by darkness, but the King of the universe is the antidote to that poison - you don’t have to stand alone, there is life in Him. Marv did a great job of capturing the theme in his bars, which will be no surprise to anyone who has heard the Vital Signs record Starving Hearts which is on point!

5. #SQUAD [Galactus Jack vs Geek Boy]

I had a demo for a track that was half cool, but just wasn’t quite working. I sent it to my mate, the phenomenally talented producer Geek Boy, and asked him to see if he could make it work. He did, bringing an extra level of sparkle and power to the track in pretty much every area! We then jumped into the studio together to take the collaboration to completion, including drafting in another of our mates, Sola Ayodeji, who recorded the vocal sample you hear and suggested the idea of utilising the word SQUAD! This is a straight up party track, something for the church (the real SQUAD!) to use to party together in celebration of who God is.

6. Captured feat. Lucy West

This track came together really quickly in the end. Once the track was written I knew that I wanted another big, summer pop vocal like we had on Captured. Working with Lucy West (Vienna/LZ7/BlushUK) was brilliant, she’s the perfect vocalist to have in the studio, full of ideas and particularly amazing at ad-libs, giving me take after take of gold to work with. Like Captured, I wanted the lyrics to have a mini-narrative to them, and Lucy, Tim and I had a lot of fun playing around with ideas, but I really wanted to keep it quite simple. The story here is about submission to God, living a holy life and choosing to run the race for heaven - to both represent God in this world, and to finish the race well and receive our eternal prize (1 Cor 9:24-27)!

7. Existence

There is life for all who choose to make Jesus lord of their life. Everyone who has breath in their lungs exists, but only those who know Jesus Christ truly live (John 10:10). This big room track is the counter point to the final track Life. Musically I think this is one of the most interesting on the album, and everyone loves a good synth arp right? The drop here is pretty fun and it has been generating a great response at the shows. I like having some tracks that are just music, I think some people connect better when they are not being force fed words and ideas.

8. Life feat. Jonathan Ogden

If you haven’t checked out the band Rivers & Robots you really need to. Jonathan and his bandmates are making some of the most interesting and authentic Jesus focused music out there at the mo. I really wanted to get Jonathan on the record as I knew his voice would be perfect for the vibe I was after, but I also really wanted to work with him on the lyrics too. The collaboration almost didn’t happen though as both our schedules were pretty jammed and it was a real challenge to get us in a room together. Eventually we managed to find 4 hours one morning - very late in the process - during which we wrote the lyrics and vocal melody together, and then recorded all the vocals! That’s a pretty fast turnaround!

I love this song because it’s different to everything else on the record in terms of tempo, vibe and structure. The lyrics speak to the main concern of the album - we are created for more than existence; life, identity and destiny are found in relationship with God. The trance climax to the song was a bit of a gamble because it’s stylistically quite different to the more electro sound of the rest of the album, but I just really liked the idea. You can’t be too worried about genre boundaries, if it works it works, and I think the escalation at the end is unexpected and satisfying. The closing lines of the song are in many ways the most important on the album. As the last line is sung, I want listeners to ask themselves what they are living for? Do you want more than existence? Do you want life?

It is waiting for you in relationship with Jesus, for all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. This is the UNIVERSAL Gospel: For All People, In All Situations, At All Times.

Galactus Jack

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