By: Rhema 99.7
Aodhan King from Young & Free talks about the new album All Of My Best Friends, including the themes and heart behind the album.
With everything going on, how exciting is it to be able to get some new music out?
It’s so exciting. I feel like this week has felt like a lifetime to get to. January, we recorded this live. And so, yeah, super exciting. I think music in this time has been such a comfort. We’re seeing my favourite artists put music out, actually so exciting. And so I hope it’s the same for other people who are listening.
Is there something bittersweet, though, about listening to a live recording, knowing that it’s probably going to be a little while before you can have that same experience again?
Yes, definitely. It’s strange. It almost feels wrong, doesn’t it? Like when you see photos of these, huge live gatherings and stuff from, you know, from what feels like a lifetime ago. It’s so strange, but, yeah, it’s bittersweet. I just hope that, I feel like through that song, a lot of the energy of that environment is captured. I hope that feeling of being with people, it’s still what give us the feeling. But I’m not sure, it’s a strange feeling. That’s for sure.
What was your heart for your new album?
I think when we made this record, this was definitely purpose for these live environments, these corporate settings. We wrote this record probably in the three months leading up to January, which is when we do our annual summer camp, which is the highlight of our youth ministries year. We know it’s a week where we get away with your friends or in the presence of God.
It’s a crazy time. It’s also the time where these bushfires are going on, which were horrible. But so we weren’t actually able to go away to where we usually go to these tents and camp away. We actually had the summer camp at our Hillsong building in Sydney.
When we were writing the record, we were definitely thinking about the live setting. And we’re thinking about how can we write songs that are going to compel people into presence of God, compel people into moments of fun and joy. I think that’s the kind of the record that we wrote was so much focused on that experience. It does seem like a lifetime ago. But that was pretty much the purpose of this record.
The time that you were writing in was in some ways different to now, but yet the message is still as relevant, if not more relevant. Are you kind of amazed sometimes at how God will plant a song in you that you don’t even realise the impact it’s going to have?
Yeah, 100%. I think a lot of the songs at the time felt right. But now in the time that room, which we never could have predicted, they feel even more right. I think thematically and what we’re saying, definitely right now feels more poignant than ever. And I do think that is God. I believe that these songs are meant to come out now and for this time.
There’s a song on the record called World Outside Your Window. And with everybody being locked up inside your house, it’s very easy to forget that you’ve actually got people with you. And when you sit in your house, there’s actually this world outside of your window, outside your house. And there’s people that we are called to do life with and called to reach out to. That song at the time was a song completely about evangelism and it still is. Singing that song now, in this time, it’s crazy. We never could have predicted what those words would be saying in this time. That’s only God.
All Of My Best Friends was the first song we heard from your new album. I have to say, a very different sounding song to what we’re used to from you guys. In fact, I’d almost say it’s more of an anthem than it is necessarily straight up praise and worship. Was that intentional to be a bit different on this song?
That song kind of lived in a Dropbox when we were making the album Fall Out of the Box. And it was a song that we had written and we weren’t sure how this is going to fit. The first 3 months of making the album. We didn’t even consider it. We all just love the song, but we didn’t consider it working. And then I think we got to a point where we like actually, you know what, like maybe this song is something that we need and is different sonically for sure. But the lyrics were what really stood out.
And I remember we were like,
well, you know what? We have youth group every Friday night. Why don’t we just try it one of the Fridays and just see how it resonates with the kids and resonate with the people there.
The song kind of went mental, it was crazy. I think we sang it for like 30 minutes straight and not us. But the youth group did. Everybody in the congregation just kept singing the chorus over and over again. We couldn’t get them to stop. And, you know, at that point, they were like, okay, maybe that’s the message of this song is actually really important for the time. I think that’s when making Young & Free records, it has to be really flexible, because often we definitely always allow, like the youth group and the kids to kind of dictate where we’re going to go. You know, we definitely feel a responsibility to lead and to lead what we’re talking about in the conversation. But the same time, if the kids want to sing something, if the youth want to sing something, they’re going to sing it. And so this is a song that they kind of grabbed onto.
How important is it to make sure that your youth are connecting with it? Like, have you ever written a song you’ve thought, this is a brilliant song, but then it just hasn’t, for whatever reason, actually connected with the youth ministry.
Yeah, all the time. We find that our youth group at Hillsong and around the world are often the best producers in some ways because they’re able to tell us what’s important. So many times we’ve written songs that we felt were great or that we felt were going to work and they didn’t. We have to listen to what’s resonating and what’s not. And I guess it’s part of the journey and part of the process for us definitely when choosing a song, especially on this record, which was the live record, and an album that we actually wanted to be by our youth, for our youth. That was an important part of the process in picking songs.
Do you think we’ll ever see a project that’s kind of “Hillsong Young and Free – the songs that didn’t make it”, or maybe a collection called out of the box?
I hope so. Yeah. I mean, who knows? I mean, I’d be interested to go back through some of those Dropbox links, the ones that never made it…
We often come into a record with probably 50 to 60 songs. We have so many writers and so many talented people within our band and within our youth ministry, that often like that is the hardest part – is combing through the songs and picking the ones that feel right. A lot of the time we do come back, I know for sure there’ll be songs that didn’t make this record that we’ll relook at when it comes to the next album. And if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s definitely a hard part of the process, but a fun one for sure.
Is that a hard thing to sometimes have to put your pride aside? And, you know, maybe there’s a song you’re wanting to champion, but yeah, everyone else is kind of going, no, I’m not sure this is going to make the cut. Like, is that a hard thing sometimes for your pride?
Yeah, I think definitely it is. At the end of the day, that’s the whole reason Young & Free exists, and the whole reason we write these songs is to glorify God and to point people to Jesus. And if the songs are not doing that in a way that’s needed or they don’t feel like you are connecting with them, then actually there’s no point. And so the pride part, it’s a hard part to kind of get over. But once you’ve figured out how to deal with that, I think. And I think all of us have. And it helps being in a band of people that you love and believe in and are your friends, because that part of the process actually isn’t something we get hung up on. I know for a lot of people, that can be for sure.
Is there a particular track that’s your personal favourite from the album?
That’s the hardest question. I feel like that question always gets me. The last couple of weeks, the one that’s been resonating with me is probably been Uncomplicated… You know, things seem more complicated than usual and chaotic and unsure. There’s a lot of uncertainty about the future. And I think one of the things that’s been so incredible for me to remember is just that God’s love and presence and entering into His presence is not a complicated task. It’s something that’s easy and simple and we don’t need to strive. For me that’s been an awesome reminder in this time, that no matter how crazy things seem, the love of God is simple. And that’s all we need.
Article supplied with thanks to Rhema 99.7.
Feature image: Hillsong Young & Free | Source: Hillsong Young & Free Facebook