Husband and wife duo DRAKEFORD, from Chattanooga, Tennessee, talk us through each song on their independent album 'The Venture'
With the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album 'Anchors Aweigh' and their appearances at such events as the Big Church Day Out, Chattanooga-based husband and wife duo Drakeford are building up an ever-increasing following. Now Drake and Lucy-Jayne Lanier offer a song-by-song rundown of the tracks on their 'The Venture' album.
"Ready Or Not"
A couple of years ago we found ourselves at a crossroads. We had some big decisions to make that could potentially change a lot of things for us. We were getting quite anxious and overwhelmed with the various possibilities and not wanting to make a wrong move. So we rented a cabin in the mountains for two days just to get away and pray about God's plans for us and to hopefully get a clear direction. During those couple of days, we never got a clear "Go here" or "Do this" but we did get a sense to just keep doing what we're doing and that God would reveal his plans in the right time. So at that prayer retreat we started writing this song, from God's perspective to us. . . "On your marks, restart your engines, these big decisions aren't meant to slow you down." Those were the first lines that came and we knew we just had to keep running the race of life and trusting God in every twist and turn along the way.
"Stronger Than One"
A few years back, we were asked by New Hope Baptist Church (a church in Metro Atlanta) to write a Christmas song for their massive annual Christmas production. Excitedly, we talked to them about what they were envisioning for this song, and it turned out they didn't actually want it to be about Christmas! They wanted a song about unity. . . the US presidential election had just happened and Facebook was a war zone of division so we felt like unity was probably a good thing to write about. We wrote and sang this song for the nine performances of their production and by the end of the week we really had a connection with it, and many people seemed deeply touched by it. So we decided to keep playing the song outside of Christmas time and it quickly became a favourite. It was an easy decision to put it on the album.
This song has been a special one for us from the get go. In early 2016, Drake had started writing a song that was quickly becoming a favourite of ours. It was all about not knowing what tomorrow holds, but pressing on anyway. The song was half way finished when we heard that our very close friend David Francisco had been in an awful accident. He had been riding his bike and was hit by a distracted driver in Nashville. We had just seen him a couple days before at our album release concert in Chattanooga, now suddenly he's been in a life-changing accident. All we knew was that he had a very bad spinal injury and may never walk again. I just remember crying such deep sorrow in our apartment and feeling so confused how this could happen. Right then and there, Drake started writing the final verse to this song, "It's crazy how a moment, can change a person's life/And all at once your confidence is thrown under the knife/Yeah, our wounds may never heal, and our weaknesses may thrive/But the tragedy just helps us see we're blessed to be alive."
A few days later we drove up to Nashville to see him in hospital and
played him the unfinished song and in his chair, legs paralyzed, the
always positive David grabbed a guitar and said, "You should play this
chord instead!" and showed Drake a unique guitar chord to play in the
song. He is amazing, and his redemptive story is incredibly powerful.
. . He is miraculously walking again and rocking at life (you've
probably seen him on American Idol and/or The Ellen Show!). The
Seattle part of the song comes in to play because we decided to start
doing music more full time when we were in the beautiful state of
Washington a few months after David's accident. We had just been at an
incredible Independent Artist Retreat put on by our good friends in
Centricity Music and after that retreat we decided to just go for it
as musicians. They had given us invaluable lessons and business tools
to equip us and we were ready to try it for ourselves. So this song
was almost done, but in Seattle we finished the second verse and
completed the song.
We started writing this song the day after getting back from a summer tour that had us away from home for two months. We got back home late at night and we were starving but there was no food in the house, and our mailbox was completely overflowing. On top of that, "unpacking" our suitcases was actually just throwing the clothes onto the floor because what's the point of fully unpacking if you'll be leaving again in a few days?? We started laughing at our strange lifestyle and this song just kind of flowed out. It's a hard lifestyle to have, especially when you crave some sort of routine and normalcy, and we miss our friends and community so much, but in the end we feel that this is a season God has us in right now and so we will enjoy it, even amidst all the quirks.
This song is one of our favourite tracks. About a year ago, a video popped up on Drake's FB page that really triggered something in him. In the video, a white American man approaches the chief of a Native American tribe, takes a knee before him, and basically apologizes on behalf of white colonials for the inhumane ways in which they treated the Natives hundreds of years ago. It connected with Drake on a deeper level because he had just been reading in the Old Testament where Israel had decided to come back to the Lord, and in doing so they all prayed in unity, "Forgive us for the sins of our fathers!" A song instantly started taking form. It begins a little bit more personal to our situation, but progresses to raise the point that if we approach these topics in our history from a humble stance of acknowledgment/apology rather than a defensive/justifying one, perhaps the peace and unity of the kingdom of God would be a more wide spread thing. Just a thought.
"Creation To Salvation"
Drake wrote this song while living in Istanbul, Turkey, which was about five years ago. I remember him playing the song to me (we were dating at that point) and it instantly became my favourite. It was so different style-wise to what we normally write, but it was powerful and packed full of truth. It actually took about six months to finish. Every time he played it for me I got goosebumps.
While recording our first album, we really wanted it to be on there but had no idea how to properly track a song like this. We were producing most of that album ourselves and just didn't have the know-how to bring it to life. When performing live, Drake would use a loop pedal to build the song (with beatboxing and several guitar parts) and that's how we wanted it to feel recorded: raw but also tactfully produced. So when we started recording this album with our friend Riley Friesen in Nashville we knew he'd have amazing ideas for this one, and we weren't wrong! He took our ideas for the beatboxing and multiple guitar tracks and just enhanced it with all his super cool producer tricks, which really frame what the lyrics are communicating well. We've been so overwhelmed and encouraged by the response to this song from people, that you all like it as much as we do, even though it's so different. When it comes to music and creativity in general, different is good. It's refreshing and exciting. When you have a team around you to take your vision and run with it until it's something beautiful, it's a huge blessing.
"Why" is a song I started writing a few weeks before Lucy-Jayne and I got married. It came out of feeling like in both my relationship with God AND my relationship with Lucy-Jayne, I wasn't quite deserving of the love I was receiving. Working on this song was my way of expressing to God how I felt. As God often does, He reminded me of something beautiful that I'd somehow forgotten: that we are the bride of Christ and in God's definition of marriage there are no back doors out, no matter what lies in our past. Nothing can separate us! My lovely bride believes the same and my response to both of these scenarios is, "You have vowed to love me still, and that's why I love you like I do."
"The Love Song"
Drake started writing this when we were still living overseas in Turkey. I remember him showing me a bit of this song as we walked the dusty streets of Kyrgyzstan one day and I LOVED it (obviously). It was just so true to our story - "I don't have it figured out, but babe you've gotta trust me/We could fly around the world and visit every city." We were quite the travellers. We were only in our early 20s but we had already been to so many different countries that most people have never even heard of! Travelling was and still is a part of our DNA.
"Beauty Of Your Grace"
This song is vulnerable and raw. We can't tell people that authenticity is our desire in our songs if we don't want to be vulnerable. So that's what this song is. . . it's a very personal song between us and God.
Drake started writing the first verse of this song in church one morning. He was feeling very dry spiritually and wrestling with some things in his faith and his life and felt like he had nothing left to give. It seemed hypocritical to raise his hands in worship since he felt his life wasn't reflective of worship. So he started writing a song. He sang me the first verse later that day and I fell in love with it. I had been feeling very similar in my relationship with God. So I started writing something to compliment his verse, but with words that were true to how I was feeling. As a Brit, I grew up learning to be polite, and a conflict avoider. Just smile, put on a brave face and get on with life without too much emotion. Recently, I had been finding myself smiling to people, even close friends and saying "I'm doing great!" hen asked. . . but I wasn't doing great. I was lonely. I was homesick for England. I was battling anxiety. I was having to be on stage every weekend in front of people to encourage them and speak hope and truth, but inside I was struggling. So it was a song of opening ourselves up, we had nothing left to give God. Nothing. But he meets us where we are, whether we're on the highest mountain or in the deepest valley. He reminds us that we are worthy of his love because of his son Jesus and THAT is the beauty of his grace.
It's a continual lesson for us, struggles and pain don't just go away overnight, but that vulnerability of opening up to God and telling him these things (that he already knows btw!) is so healing for our human hearts.
"Better With You"
"Better With You" is a song I wrote a year ago about Lucy-Jayne, and is probably my favourite one, musically (and our producer's), due to the amazing players that brought this song to life. Last March 2017, we celebrated our second anniversary by staying in a friend's cabin in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a few days. It was beautiful. We don't often get each other presents for anniversaries, maybe a sweet card, but we prefer experiences over gifts. Lucy-Jayne got me a really sweet card and I totally dropped the ball and didn't get her one back! Big no-no, guys! Of course, she was very gracious and didn't get offended at all, but I felt so bad that I decided to write her a song in return. It started out as kind of a joke, like "Oops, lemme quickly whip up a love song," but then I actually found some really cool chords, got a good groove and decided to finish it as an actual song. Lucy-Jayne sat outside on the back balcony for a couple of hours enjoying the view and reading a book and had no clue what I was doing so I wrote it, recorded a video and uploaded it to Facebook and tagged her in it all in about two hours. She watched it and LOVED it. I think I made up for my forgetfulness. We haven't changed a single thing about the song since that afternoon in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
About four years ago, Lucy-Jayne and I were moving back to the States (from the Near East) to plan our wedding. It had been three and a half years since I was last a resident of my homeland and in returning I discovered what it means to experience reverse culture shock. It's not something that you'd expect, like when you first move to a new place, but it hits just as hard. Reverse culture shock is good at opening the door for unhealthy bitterness and self-righteousness, BUT it also can open your eyes to things within your own culture that people are naturally conditioned to. This is the place that "Whitewash" came from. To be completely honest, when I first started writing the song, I was more on the bitter side of the spectrum so I actually set it down for about five months before picking it back up and completing it with a more self-inclusive attitude of "let's hold on to the hope of our promiser, cause it's by his righteousness that we are saved." I wanted to record this live for the album, to really capture the raw emotion and challenge that this song presents.