Interview with Nathan Jess
Nathan has just released his new album ‘Phoenix’. We caught up with him to find out how he got involved in musical worship and to tell us about his new album.
Tell us about yourself?
I live in Portadown, Northern Ireland and I am married to a very beautiful girl called Katie. I didn’t grow up in Elim, but Katie did so I married into it. I’m a blow in. We love our church here though and enjoy serving there where we can. We have no kids yet but I’m really pushing for a puppy right now!
How did you get involved in leading musical worship?
I started leading worship the same way I imagine quite a few people do - in our school SU group I was one of the people who could play the 3 or 4 chords required on a guitar to lead us. At this time in my life, I was more used to playing with my friends at school in our humble attempts at being the next teenage rock band sensation but I found a love for leading people in worship at this age as well. I wouldn’t have imagined then, the journey it would bring me on.
Tell us about your journey up till now
So whilst I had realised a love to both write and play original music with my friends and lead congregational worship I had never imagined they could be one in the same. When I eventually started to write and use songs I had written myself as I led worship I feel I stepped into my calling in God and have pursued it ever since.
I find it so amazing and humbling to hone your craft and work on and develop these personal songs, to then give them to God and see how He can carry them so much further and use them in such greater ways than I ever could. To not only be loved so immensely by God but to see how He chooses to use us is an incredible thing.
As I have been on this journey it has seen me leave my own little country and get to join Gods church all over the world and have the privilege of seeing those people interact with their Heavenly Father across cultures and borders. I love what I get to do!
You have a new album ‘Phoenix’ out soon, we’d love to hear about it
It has been nearly 4 years since my last worship album came out (having released a Christmas CD in between), so I am all the more excited about seeing these songs I’ve been working on with some great people and friends minister to people and draw them nearer to the Lord.
Some of the songs show a theme emerge of a faithful God whose power reigns throughout every season and vulnerability of our human lives, and that being the same God that heals desolate and fallen nations and renews relationships. Other songs echo this as they speak of His power and call for our hearts to be awakened. As I tried to hone in on some of these lyrics to find a title for the record, it was actually my wife who thought why not call it Phoenix. The idea of the phoenix pointing to how our lives have been rescued and now rise from the ruins and soar!
You’ve travelled quite a bit the last few years. What has been your favourite place and why?
I have got to travel to a lot of really fun places and get to do some really fun stuff across North America, Europe and Africa too. I think some of the most surreal and pinch yourself moments are playing in foreign speaking countries and feeling so diverse yet so connected as you hear voices sing the same together in different languages. There is something really powerful about that.
What one piece of advice or wisdom would you give someone who is looking to pursue their musical dreams?
The one piece of advice I would give is that if you feel God has placed you in it and calling you to go after it, then don’t give up! When I started out, I took every gig I was offered and as things grew there were many knock backs. When you have such a passion for it these can hurt and at certain times it was more than enough for me to think I’m just going to quit this and get a proper job. However, through these times we draw on the strength of God and form a character and I’m glad of these experiences they taught me. So, don’t give up!
What does 2017 in-store?
I’m looking forward to touring this new record and taking these songs out there. I will be back in North America once the record is out travelling there and then after the summer festival season we’re hoping to bring a Phoenix Tour across UK/Europe - so look out for that!
Phoenix out now
More about Nathan Jess
Questions: What new album have you discovered recently? What music are you listening to? Leave a comment below.