Tony Cummings spoke to praise and worship DJ and record producer ANDY HUNTER.
Probably more than any other artist in recent times Andy Hunter has done the most to change people's musical expectations when they hear the phrase "praise and worship". For Andy is neither a guitar-strumming follower of Graham Kendrick's musical path nor a purveyor of Soul Survivor-style rock gospel. Andy's chosen instrument is DJ decks while his Sparrow album 'Exodus' takes worship into the previously unheard clubland preserves of progressive house, trance and drum 'n' bass. I questioned the DJ come record producer about his music and his vision for worship.
TC: How would you describe the spiritual vision behind the 'Exodus' album?
AH: 'Exodus' is a journey into the presence of God; to hunger for God in a passionate way, craving that intimacy and hearing the spirit; to commit everything we are and to say we are going to run for and live our lives 100 per cent; to be movers and shakers for the cause of our love, wherever that leads us.even into the desert of our lives; and to ask questions and find answers of who we are and where we are going.
TC: To retailers who have not come across the name Andy Hunter before, can you give me a potted biography of your activities up to the recording of Exodus?
AH: One of the projects I was involved in up to the recording of 'Exodus' was the production team Hydro. We played at Cross Rhythms a few years ago now. I was also part of the collaboration Trip, who released an album called 'Cultural Shift' on Alliance. In addition to this, I was involved in church planting, DJing and doing lighting for dBa
TC: A lot of retailers still think of worship music as following one or two clearly defined musical paths (ie, the Spring Harvest path, the Soul Survivor path). You clearly want to take worship music somewhere else. How would you explain your strategy?
AH: I guess for me I love to worship God, and I love dance music. So the two are intertwined. I express myself through my style of music and find it very freeing, I guess I'm pushing the boundaries because it's not the norm, but I'm certainly not saying this is the new way to worship God. I guess I'm saying that God's creative and this should be reflected in his Church. There's room for lots of creativity in the Church from DJs, dancers, bands, artists, poets, preachers, etc.
TC: Was there an overall theme of philosophy behind 'Exodus'?
AH: For me the theme is about a journey with God, seeking to find what the calling is on our lives. Asking the question, what's our promised land and are we going to be committed to God to run for that calling, even if it means going into the desert? It was also about seeking an intimate relationship with God, to ask God as Moses did, to show us his glory.
TC: When anything new emerges in worship there is usually some kind of backlash from the established church groupings. It happened in the '60s and '70s with rock and roll. Aren't you facing a lot of resistance from Christians who have problems with dance music?
AH: I think it's just an ongoing thing that every so often something new comes in within the Church and people HATE change. It makes people uncomfortable and when people are uncomfortable, they lash out. It's like, 'Oh it's got to be wrong!' or 'It's got to be bad, it's got to be evil because it's making me feel uncomfortable.' That's happened all through history within Church. Even when the organ came in - there were these beautiful orchestras and choirs in church and then the organ came in and kind of kicked them out! People were up in arms saying, 'The organ is from the Devil!' Then obviously people became used to the organ and it was fine. Then as you say, rock music and guitars came in and these were of the Devil but the organ was fine. It's an ongoing kind of circle. And so here we have the same thing happening because it's dance music and it's something different. I don't want to be here and say, 'This is the next new thing! Let's kick out the guitars!' I would just hate for that to happen. I just want church to be flexible and wide because God's a creative God and Heaven's a big place. There's room for everybody and there's room for acceptance of everybody, with all kinds of likes. That's what I'm hoping that this is bringing. It's just another genre that people can relate to.
TC: We hear that your music has been used in several different films and TV programmes. What precisely were those uses and how did it all come about?
AH: The uses that 'Exodus' has had have been incredible and certainly an answer to prayer. The tracks have been used well over 20 times for different TV, film, games and adverts. Here are some: The Matrix Reloaded Trailer; Tomb Raider 2 Trailer; Italian Job - In the film; The Recruit Trailer; Alias TV Programme; The Matrix video game; SXX 3 Snowboarding Game. And the list doesn't stop there! All these uses came about through Nettwerk America record label, who have taken Exodus on for the mainstream market.
TC: There's been a lot of talk in the media recently about the "death of dance culture" with stories of many nightclubs closing, etc. How do you view the situation?
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