Me and a friend asked a couple of Filipino fans to send in their questions for Rivers and Robots frontman and solo artist, Jonathan Ogden over Facebook. Ogden with his band produced albums that combine acoustic and electronics that breathes a combination of indie rock and dream pop. Their latest album Discovery is a testament of this music endeavor. As a solo artist, he takes a different route creating the Seasons Project which has 4 EP’s, his latest Songs from Home and a full length album Twenty-Four. Combining his soothing vocals and electronic beats, his songs carries you to contemplate while chilling out. Be it on his band or a solo artist, he shares God’s goodness and His Word’s encouragements while uplift listeners.
As a fan, I (with my family) had an opportunity to watch Rivers and Robots concert in Manila and got a CD of Discovery signed by two members of the band. As a blogger, I recently include writing and interviewing bands and artist I like. It’s such a privilege to interview Jonathan about concept album on my blog and send fan questions for him to answer to be an article for this website.
So here’s Jonathan Ogden with 10 burning questions from his fans in the Philippines.
How did you become a Christian?
I grew up in a Christian household. My dad was a pastor at my church, a small family church here in Manchester. I remember asking my parents about Jesus when I was 4 years old and praying a prayer that night. I think that’s the moment I became a Christian, and from then on it’s been a wonderful journey of getting to know God more.
Do you play music at church?
I do! Again, it’s a small church, so I either lead worship on my own from piano or I play with some of the young people from our church. It’s very simple!
How do you take care of your voice?
I haven’t really trained my voice professionally but when I’m on tour I try and make sure to get enough rest, stay hydrated, and to warm up before I sing live. Especially when you’re playing a lot of nights on the run it can be a challenge. I’ve also learnt to find a comfortable range for my voice over the years and so I write songs in a more enjoyable key these days. Some of my early songs were a real stretch for me!
What books influence you as a Christian?
I have read a lot of C.S Lewis books which really inspire me. I also loved Knowledge of the Holy by A.W Tozer. That one spends a chapter at a time looking at a different attribute of God and I had to read it really slowly because I would need weeks at a time just to process everything I was reading. It really expanded my understanding of who God was and how awesome He is.
What are your musical influences?
I listen to all kinds of music, partly influenced by my family who are all very musical. My dad used to play a lot of music with great harmonies, like The Everly Brothers and Paul Simon. One of my older brothers was a worship leader and also played jazz piano, and another was a DJ, so I really appreciate a wide variety of genres. I’ve always appreciated artists like Sufjan Stevens or Toro Y Moi, who can reinvent their sound with every album and yet still have a consistent feel. I want to keep pushing and exploring new musical ideas that way. I also grew up listening to some UK worship leaders like Matt Redman and the band Delirious.
How do you, as a member of band and you as a solo artist, determine God’s will for making decisions in your music journey?
I always like to try and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life and spend time listening, through prayer and reading the Bible. I’m not the kind of person that makes big long-term plans but to take each day as it comes. My journey as an artist has been a lot of just keeping things simple, doing what I do, and prayerfully considering opportunities and invitations that come my way.
You said anime has been an influence in you. So what’s your favorite anime?
I’ve been watching anime since I was a kid – probably since seeing Pokemon. But I do enjoy a lot of the series and movies that come along. I love the movies by Studio Ghibli, such as Whisper of the Heart, The Wind Rises. And also the movies by Makoto Shinkai, like Your Name and Weathering With You. There’s something really beautiful about the pace of those movies, a real appreciation of beauty, space and silence that I don’t see in many other animated movies.
Do you plan on spending the rest of your life doing music related ministry? Or are there any other ministry plans you have in mind in the future?
I think music will always play a part in my life in some way, but it might look different over time. I’ve been doing a lot more writing and music production these days than I used to, and I’m really enjoying that.
I do also love to explore the whole topic of faith and art. And I’d love to continue exploring that perhaps through workshops, gathering creatives together, and seeing more communities coming together with a shared goal and creating beautiful things for the glory of God.
SAVED Radio and Becca Music extend their greetings and also, are you open for collabs with a Filipino fan?
I love all the team at Saved Radio and Becca Music. We had such a great time getting to play a concert in Manila a couple of years ago!
In terms of collaboration, I’m very specific with who I collaborate with. It’s usually people I already know or have a connection with that I also think will be a great combo musically. So I can’t make any promises! Haha!
I think this is the mother of all questions for you. Do you plan to return with Rivers and Robots and make new music?
I think we’ll be on a break for the foreseeable future, but I always want to leave that option open. We’re all spread around in different places now. But it would be great to make music together again one day!
Interview by Nitoy Gonzalez
For more info about Jonathan Ogden, click here.