[ IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW ]
We are proud to present an exclusive in-depth interview with Matt Redman courtesy of Link FM Christian Radio in South Africa. Their Programme Manager, Tony K., conducted this interview when Matt was down there for the Soul Survivor worship conference. Read on to find out all about Matt, his worship, and some of his favorite music!
TONY: Good morning, Matt. Is it good to be back in South Africa?
MATT: Very good! Yeah, it is about the sixth time we've been here now and I love it.
TONY: Matt, tell us what is the "heart" of worship?
MATT: I guess it is a lot of different things to a lot of people. It is best summed up in Ephesians 5 verse 10 where it says, "Find out what pleases the Lord." That is really our quest for life you know, to find out what pleases the Lord. If you're talking about music, you want to bring an offering that is going to please Him and obviously He is not worried about the music, what style it is or if you're playing in time and stuff. What the Lord is really interested in is the integrity of our offering - does it mean something, are you living it out in your life and are you pouring out your heart through it or are you just singing the songs? When you pour out your heart with the music and you back it up with your life that is probably the heart of worship.
TONY: What are some of the key elements that help to ensure that the focus is on God and not on you when you are leading worship?
MATT: Umm, it is a funny old thing! It is trying to be visible enough to lead, like having a voice and the mix and all that stuff, but not so visible that you yourself become the focus. I think that is the tension for the worship leader. If you're not visible at all in terms of your voice is not turned up or you're not given strong lead, then actually people can't follow and you get confusion. If you become too visible and dominant, then you take the focus away sometimes so its about trying to find that good balance and that tension.
TONY: Do you see yourself as a musical artist or as a worshiper?
MATT: Definitely as a worshipperI wouldn't call myself an artist at all. It is a funny thing actually because it seems that there is this whole culture that has developed in some of the Christian world where there are these sort of big artists and trying to turn worship leaders into artists and that. In the end we have to remember, "Guys, this is all about Jesus", and what we're trying to do is write some stuff and sing some stuff that is going to lead people to Him, meet with Him and worship Him, you know that's where it ends. Then the tension comes when you put a CD of songs out, because then, "What is that all about?". Well, really it is to get songs out and it is to give people a way they can worship - you know in the car at home or whereever they listen to it - but then why have your picture on the front? So it is like a weird thing, we haven't got it right yet I'm sure. So, if there are any worship leaders listening struggling with that tension, try to really get to grips with it and say, "God what is the right way to do this?" You see we don't want to be building people up, we want to be lifting Jesus up.
TONY: How many songs have you written so far? Do you have an idea?
MATT: Maybe 75 or so. I'm not sure, I'm really not sure. Its probably around 50 - 75, but I'm not sure.
TONY: Do you have a favourite?
MATT: Umm, I suppose at different times you find different ones that you can really meet with the Lord or say, "Hey this is really meaning something to me". There is a song I wrote about a year ago called "O Sacred King". I've sang it quite a lot this year actually and it has just been hitting me again, this whole mystery. The mystery that God would want to meet with us, it is an absolute mystery.
TONY: What sort of artists Christian or not have had an effect on your style?
MATT: I think musically umm, I listen to a lot both actually. I'm into the worship as well as some of the secular stuff. It is interesting as somebody who is trying to write music to expose your self to stuff. Listen to all sorts of different music and then learn from it, you know? Like why is it working and trying to learn the craft in a sense. A lot of people wouldn't know this from the stuff I write, but I really like some good pop music, like eh...
TONY: Spice Girls!
MATT: Yeah, Spice Girls and Britney Spears all that stuff, you know. I just find that really good pop music is brilliant. I also enjoy some good R&B like TLC, Eternal and Lauren Hill. That is probably my favourite album in the last couple of years. The Lauren Hill one umm ... The Miseducation of Lauren Hill, because it is really fresh and creative and there some really spiritual things in there, you know!
TONY: Yeah, at the Grammy Awards when she won 5 awards she got up to say her thank you speech and then she said, "I just want to read to you from Psalm 91..." So at least she gives glory to God.
MATT: I saw her in another awards ceremony - she has been winning a few hasn't she? She said, "I just want to say to young people everywhere that it is not a burden to love God, it is the best thing you can do". I thought, "Well, I don't quite know where she is at, but that is a good enough message for me!"
TONY: Where did your relationship with Martin Smith start?
MATT: I've known him for a while actually. He use to come to some of the events that started in England called New Wine, he was engineering, producing and mixing the live album. Then he ended up producing my first two albums. So we've spent a lot of time together in the recording studios so he has just been a good friend, a good support. delirious? are great guys.
TONY: So many artists are recording worship albums, names that spring to mind are the ska band The Insyderz, also Carman and Cheri Keaggy to name a few. There is also a worship label in America called 40, it is owned by Toby Mckeehan of dc Talk and Bill Gaither. Why do you think this is?
MATT: I hope it is because they really just have a heart for worship. I hope they have seen something in it and they have seen that it is the most beautiful thing that they can with their music, because it is. You know that is the best thing that you can do with your music is bring it to God as a worship offering, there are a lot of other good things that you can do with music, but that has to be the best. Sometimes the cynical part of me hopes that it is not just because worship is big at the moment and so ... do you know what I mean? It will be a sad thing if it is just because worship is the in thing, but hopefully it is not, we are not all, you know.
TONY: One thing I've noticed from your music is the common thread of intimacy with God. Is this what you try to get across?
MATT: Yeah, more that anything. I feel like God has opened up this door of intimate friendship with Him and He has opened up this door to closeness. Even though He is holy, He has made a way where we can come before Him. That is a privilege and the mystery of the universe, but you don't want to go over board, we still got to remember He is the King of kings, He is the God of everything. When you remember that this intimacy stuff is even more wonderful. You think, "Wow, you know, how can this be?" So that is a thread that runs through a lot of what we're doing at Soul Survivor. It is a really biblical thing, the word most used in the new testament for the word "worship" is the Greek word "proscenia," which means to come forward to kiss. You think, "Wow that is unbelievable - how can that be about God? It was used in that culture for when a hound would lick it's masters hand." So, you got the picture of reverence and also of closeness, and I think that is mirrored all over the Bible.
TONY: With all the broken homes that there are all over the world, a lot of people have difficulty relating to God as a father as they never had a good example of a father figure in their lives. What advice do you have for them?
MATT: Yeah. Choose to trust God. Often because of the way you've been treated by people you won't trust God. Loads of people been abused and broken in different ways, but if you choose to trust Him, then He will see you through. In the Psalms it says, "The Lord is close to the broken hearted" it also says, "He is a father to the fatherless". I've found that out in my own life. Lots of stuff happened, you know, with fathers and that. In all of this, God has really drawn close to me and helped me through that. As with Joseph, he was made fruitful in the land of his suffering. You've got a choice - you can choose to trust God from what you know of Him or you can say, "Oh, forget God He doesn't care about me." From what you know of God, choose to trust Him.
TONY: Matt, what is the question you get asked most often?
MATT: Umm, mmm I don't know really! Things like, well it's not really a question, but, "I didn't know you were so short".
TONY: Matt if you could be a colour, what colour would you be and why?
MATT: Umm, maybe I would be grey, because I'm really quite a boring sort of bloke, you know, when you get to know me.
TONY: What does Matt Redman do when he is just at home and not writing songs?
MATT: I'm the sort of bloke who would rather watch T.V. for a couple of hours than go out. Sometimes I just need a bit of space, you know. I have a bit of T.V. addiction which I'm trying to work on currently.
MATT: I love it!
TONY: With what I been told, you started out with a weak voice and you weren't the best of guitarists, is that true?
MATT: Er, probably Mike (Pilavachi, pastor of Soul Survivor) told you that! That is true, you know, and I'm still trying to work on it. I just try to surround myself with people who can do these things and then I look all right. I think for every worship leader there is a balance again, because excellence isn't the balance. The Bible only tells us once to play skilfully and that is in Psalm 33 verse 3. So obviously we are meant to do that, but a lot of people have made excellence the priority. You hear of these schools of excellence, in one sense that's okay, but only if it is outweighed with the heart and the integrity of the offering. Do you know what I mean? It is much better to spend time working on your heart - the other stuff is easy. Anyone can learn a few chords on the guitar.
TONY: Would that be your advice to people who are starting out where maybe you started?
MATT: Yeah definitely, some of the best lessons I've learnt have been looking at the life of king David. You look at this guy and he is just a shepherd boy minding his own business and he ends up defeating Goliath just because he loves God and loves to honour God's name. He believes God can help Him do it, which is a bit more that anyone else in the army - you know what armies are like, you get some right huge geysers in it and even then they won't go fight him. Then you get this little squirt called David who goes and does it. You know what happens straight after he defeated Goliath? He went back to the fields. He had already at that time been told he would be king, he was anointed by Samuel. He could've thought, "Well I'm going to king, everybody knows me and they all singing these songs about me." But he didn't - he just went back to the fields. That is the best lesson for any worship leader. Even if you know God has called you to do it, don't try to make it happen yourself. Don't manipulate it; God will do it in His timing. Then in David's life, you see him trying to maintain that heart that he had as a small shepherd boy. Now and again he loses it, then he repents big time. There are a lot of lessons in there.
TONY: Is he your favourite bible character?
MATT: Apart from Jesus obviously yeah! I got a lot out of David's life, you know, and also out of his songs, I even knick his lyrics now and again!
TONY: What is your favourite food?
MATT: Umm, McDonald's. I like the synthetic taste. You get the same the world over, it always tastes the same, I love it!
TONY: What is your favourite place?
MATT: McDonald's Restaurant!
TONY: You sound like Mike (Pilavachi)!
MATT: No, no, not really, I think this is one of my favourite places. The weather, the people - you know its good. I like it here. I do like my home though in Watford, sometimes if you've been on a long trip, it is good to get back.
TONY: Do you have a favourite animal?
MATT: Yeah, Mike Pilavachi!
TONY: Yes, we'll leave it there! What is your favourite verse?
MATT: Can give you a couple? I think one of them is John 15 verse 15 because it is easy to remember to start with! It is where Jesus says to His disciples "I now call you friends no longer servants but friends." That's an amazing one, eh? Another one that has stirred me is a similar theme in a way, Psalm 25 verse 14. It says, "The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him." That is something that has always touched me, this whole friendship and the fear thing. God is holy and yet he will call you to an intimate friendship with Him, and in the worship we're trying to pursue that.
TONY: Do you have a favourite movie?
MATT: Maybe Dances With Wolves or JFK one of the Kevin Costner ones.
TONY: Matt, tell us what was your most embarrassing moment?
MATT: I've had a few really! One was when I started to lead worship - this is probably the most embarrassing. I was leading this huge church in a place called Halifax. They had never had a worship band in their church before, so they were really trusting us to be careful. I decided to do this song you know "God is good, we sing and shout it, God is good..." so that is the first non organ they ever had in their church. It wasn't really going down too well, I was getting some evil stares from some of the old ladies. I was upsetting a few people, but I didn't really realise this and then I just went for it and started to go faster and faster getting to this big frenzy and then right at the end of it we ended it like this (sings), "God is good we know it's true lay loo lay doo lay doo doo doo" and I went HEY!!! But I was the only one who said hey and it was this huge building and so it echoed went "Hey hey hey hey" around the building for about 10 seconds! Funnily enough, we never got invited back there!
TONY: Matt, thanks a lot for your time and it has been great talking to you.
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