Interview: Elim Sound

May 11 2015

The UK's Elim Sound have just released a new album celebrating a centenary of Elim's rich musical heritage. LTTM spoke to some of the worship leaders involved in this unique project to bring new life to much loved Elim Hymns and write inspirational brand new songs.

Tell us a little bit about the new album 'Elim 100'?

Elim Sound isn’t a band, it serves as the musical worship department for The Elim Pentecostal Church and is led by a Core Team that includes; Sam Blake, Stephen Gibson, Joel Pridmore and Ian Yates.

The Elim Movement is 100 years old this year. The movement was started in 1915 by George Jeffreys and 100 years on we are still seeing God do amazing things. With this year being our centenary we thought it would be a great opportunity to release an album celebrating the past and looking forward in expectancy for the future. The album brings together 5 much loved Elim hymns, 9 new songs and a rousing version of Jared Anderson’s ‘The Great I Am’.

100We brought together 10 Elim worship leaders for the project and had a great team of musicians and a choir of 40 added to the mix. The project has taken over 18 months to complete. Starting off with the song writing for the new songs and then the pre-production, recording process and mixing. We are so pleased with the finished album.

We hope that there’s something for everyone on Elim 100 and I guess the 2 book ends are the folk, Mumford inspired version of ‘Power In the Blood’ and then modern dance vibe of ‘Higher’ which is sung by a young worship leader Tim Williams. Again we worked with the amazing Trevor Michael who mixed and co-produced the album with Ian (Yates). Other highlights are the song ‘No Longer I’ which was co-written with Matt Redman and will be on his new album and ‘The Best Is Yet To Come’ which has been described as the centenary anthem.

Which is your favourite track on the album and why?

Stephen: ‘Have Thine Own Way’ I like the purity of Fiona's vocal on the track and I’m drawn in by the honesty of the lyrics. Written in 1902, Adelaide Pollard was discouraged because she couldn't raise enough funds to go to Africa as a missionary. God spoke to her in a prayer meeting and she wrote the hymn as response of surrender.

Joel: ‘God Every Moment’ because it was born out of a special shared time of worship and represents a real decision to worship God through very difficult circumstances.

Ian: At the moment ‘Have thine Own Way’ - This has ended up being a beautiful track. It was also a great collaboration between, Jon Goode (Cardiff), Stephen Gibson (Core Team), and myself, we then had singer Fiona Crow (Edinburgh) who made into her own and then Trevor Michael mixed it so well. I think the vibe and feel of this track is really special and it feels like the old and new coming together which sums up the whole project. I also love ‘No Longer I’ I think this a special song and has already resonated with many.

Sam: I love ‘I Will Give Thanks’ mainly because I got to record it with a great friend and worship leader, Noel Robinson. It was a song that remained unfinished for several years, originally started for our first album, but is sounding great now!

Was it hard looking back over 100 years and picking 15 tracks?

Originally the idea was a 2 CD project. 10 songs looking back and 10 songs looking forward. This changed then to 10 looking forward and 5 looking back. Stephen (Gibson) worked hard to get a good list of classic songs and we also asked pastors to send in their favourite songs throughout Elim’s history. We had about 10 top ideas and these 5 came out best from the demos. I think the 5 hymns will be loved by many within our movement. We had around 40 new songs / ideas and we got them down to 9. We added ‘The Great I Am’ as this has resonated with many in our movement over the last few years at conferences and events. Sam (Blake) has a great arrangement and it felt that it worked for this project.

How did you decide which tracks to change musically?

We decided to keep the words and melodies the same for the 5 hymns. Musically we wanted to give the songs a modern, organic twist, yet keep true to the original song. We also wanted to keep the overall sound of the project similar. Interestingly we ended up choosing 3 of the new songs that felt quite hymn like which was also really nice in helping the overall sound remain similar. I think one fun special hymn is ‘Power In The Blood’ this fun version has generated a great response so far.

How do you think the style of song writing has changed in 100 years?

Historically a lot of the church songs of the past were structured differently to how we sing now. A lot of songs were made up of multiple verses were as now we have songs with multiple arrangements, with tags, bridges, chorus etc. I think in the past we had some great songs of substance, sometimes we choose vibe and feel maybe over the content. I think there has to be room for both. Songs that last throughout generations and the songs that serve for season.

What can we expect from Elim musically in the next 100 years?

Stephen: More contemporary sounds alongside reinterpretation of our musical heritage and a continuing development of songwriters from across the Elim movement.

Joel: I’d like to think Elim Sound will be able to engage creatively with the rapidly changing flavours and genres of contemporary music in a way that maintains the truth and substance we have always sought to express in our songs.

Sam: Wow, that is a big question. I’m not sure about musically, but prophetically my hope is that musicians would reconnect with the source of their musical gifting and allow God to inspire them. I hope that will mean a relevant and contemporary sound that is vibrant in creativity and demonstrating a wide variety of styles and blends.

Ian: I’d love to see songs written that inspire and impact lives. Also musical worship that is authentic, prophetic and excellent.

What is your favourite album of all time?

Ian: ‘Live and in the Can’ by Delirious, just remember the songs impacting my life so much at the time.

Stephen: I have always loved The Messiah since I first heard it live as a boy! It's a genius work by Handel and every part is Scripture put to music.

Joel: 'Death in life' by 'No other Name' - it was my dad's band!!!

Sam: I find these questions so difficult as I go through seasons - Handel's Messiah - Soulful Celebration really impacted me in my teens as it combined Classical and Gospel so many amazing artist and a great sound... probably a bit dated now, but definitely influenced me to look at a fusion of styles which has been mega helpful in so many situations!

What advice would you give to any aspiring young bands/artists out there?

Go for it, pursue your dreams, be led by the Spirit, get great people around you. Remember why you do what you do and keep the main thing the main thing.

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?

Stephen: Rather Be (Clean Bandit) or Waves (Mr Probz)

Ian: At the moment it would be ‘Abba’ by Jonathan Helser, love this song.

Joel: 'He's Always Been Faithful' by Sara Groves.

Sam: Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber - at 10mins 30 sec it would finish off the battery, suitably fitting to being stuck on an island and I love this track.

What does the next year hold for Elim Sound?

We have our national leadership conference this month and a Conference with Bill Johnson the week after. We have a number of summer events and then Elim has 6 Centenary gatherings around the nation. Elim Sound is a lot more than writing songs and producing albums. We run a school of worship as well as regional gatherings and networks. The heartbeat behind the songs and albums is that the songs are written by the movement, for the movement, this project is for our Elim family to celebrate Elim’s Centenary through song and we hope that the songs connect with many.

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