Interview: Willamette Music

Jan 10 2022

Willamette Music, a group from the Portland area of Oregon, have released a song called 'A Thousand Songs'. It's a track that worship leaders around the world will find a perfect fit in the run up to the Easter season. Louder Than The Music caught up with Jeff Jansen and Matthew Ferrer from Willamette Music to find out more about their music.

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about Willamette Music and how you all got involved in making music?

We are a group of singers, songwriters, and musicians from the Portland area, passionate about connecting with our local community and telling the stories of the church in and through worship.

Tell us about your single 'A Thousand Songs' and what the inspiration behind it was?

JJ: I was in a conversation with another pastor after a long day of songwriting. We were trying to come up with something new to say, a fresh take on scripture, a catchy hook, or an original thought. It dawned on me that God does not need my fancy words or my creativity. He wants me, my praise, and my adoration. I remembered the story of the seraphim in Revelation chapter 4 who proclaimed:

“Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.”

Maybe this is enough. Maybe God never tires of His people delighting in Him. Maybe simple words that have been sung for thousands of years matter, and are enough; just keep singing.

Do you have any plans to release more music in the new year?

Yes! We’ve been regularly writing and recording over the past six months and look forward to sharing new music in 2022. We’ve long held the goal to release a new single every forty days and we are looking forward to beginning that release schedule this year.

What message would you like people to take from your music?

That God deserves all glory, honor, and praise. We hope that every song that we write points first to Jesus. That the words both please Him, and inspire us into deeper relationship with Him and each other. Whether corporately singing, shouting in our cars, or listening alone, we hope that you take one step closer in your relationship with Jesus.

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

An honest, musical pursuit of God. We are a community of worshipers, songwriters, pastors, and musicians that love Jesus, love His church, and believe that music is a gift from the church for the church. Styles change, trends come and go, but we hope to continually honor God with the songs we write. Our influences range from other worship writers, to poets, to authors; from rock, to indie, to pop.

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

JJ: Max Martin. His ability to cross genres, write constant and brilliant storytelling, and place melody upon the lips of millions is amazing. He is credited with over twenty five number 1 songs. Within the church I would have to say Chris Rice. Chris has a way of putting into words the mystery of God and creation in a playful and insightful way unlike any other.

MF: I would say my bucket list would include Ben Fielding. He has written song after song that has so often given words to my worship. To so consistently and faithfully serve the Church by songwriting inspires me to continue to write songs that point myself and others to Jesus.

How would you define success in your career as an artist?

That God would be pleased by worship, with what we create, with what we taught, and with how we loved His people. Before we are musicians, we are followers of Jesus. Whether our songs are sung by thousands, by hundreds, or by one, may we write, sing, and produce out of our love for God and His church.

What is your favorite album of all time?

JJ: Speaking For Yourself by Imogen Heap. I love it for its complexity and intricate arrangements. I’m unable to dissect it, so I’m able to just enjoy it.

MF: I would say Native by OneRepublic. The record is a masterclass in pop songwriting. I’m inspired every time I listen to it.

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

JJ: Bohemian Rhapsody. I mean, it’s like 100 songs all crammed into one and still somehow brilliant. Plus Freddie Mercury can sing!

MF: Given the circumstances, my choice would be “It Would Be You” by Ben Rector. Upbeat, situationally appropriate, and a groove. I’m putting it on repeat ’til that battery’s all gone!

What does the next year hold for you?

Writing more songs as we continue to serve our local church community!

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