Artist Interview: Martin Farrell

I had the privilege of recording a song written by the talented Martin Farrell called “Heartbeats.” Martin is a fellow student in my Revival Group and also the first person I recorded after coming back from Taiwan, kickstarting my recently new music production journey (which I mentioned in this post).

Take a listen to Martin’s song “Heartbeats”:

Vocals/Guitar – Martin
Backing Vocals – Brennan Ohlman
Producer – Melody

We had recorded Martin’s guitars and vocals when Brennan came up with the great idea of adding drum loops to the song–which completely took it the next level. I am proud of this track, because I feel like it’s super different from anything else that I have ever produced before. (Plus, this was my first time ever recording acoustic guitar.)

Below is an interview I conducted with Martin. I’ve decided to start a blogging series called “Artist Interviews” since I’ve been producing a lot more songs by other people. It’s a great way for me to keep a record of the projects I’ve been working on in this season, as well as it being a great opportunity just to LISTEN and LEARN from these amazingly talented people–hearing their dreams, inspirations and processes. By posting them here on my blog, my hope that many more of us are inspired to DREAM and CREATE and discover amazing things with the Lord!

Artist Interview

Martin Farrell | Singer-Songwriter


What is your dream?

I don’t know 100% yet, but one of my primary goals is bridging that gap between secular and sacred. I don’t know if I want to do worship music or secular music, but then I think, there shouldn’t be a difference, which is why for this last song you couldn’t really tell if it was worship or secular. So I guess my goal is more to start influencing music in the sense where we start building bridges.

Were there any artists previously that inspired you in this way, who had done similar things?

Yes, Switchfoot is a good example. I love them, but at the same time I feel like they haven’t 100% embraced it. They are very “you don’t know if they’re Christian or secular,” but I feel like they almost lost a little bit of the power, because it’s so in-between. I want to do that but not lose the power.

How do you think you’ll do that?

For me, it’s like, I won’t compromise any of my core values, if I go into the music industry. Because I still want to bring the Holy Spirit and the power of the Gospel.

In terms of core values, like you mentioned Holy Spirit and the Gospel—what would you say are the core values that you want your music to have?

I think for some people, worship music can sometimes be so disconnected form what people are going through and reality, which is not a bad thing. But sometimes I feel like you almost have to be in church to listen to worship music, and then sometimes people listen to worship music and that’s what gets them saved. So I’m very in favor of both.

It’s something I’ve been exploring. I would even say it’s the gap between worship and secular, like how can we start creating worship music that doesn’t just sound like worship music? Because I almost feel like it’s become its own genre. But I feel like I want it to start growing into other areas of music.

So like different genres of worship music?

I don’t want it to be a genre, I guess. Worship music isn’t just a genre. I don’t know specifically what I want to get into. I just want to start pushing it out of its box.

So let’s talk about this song. What is the song about and what inspired you to write it?

For me the biggest thing was, I was trying to write a song without using “Christianese.”

What’s an example of “Christianese”?

I guess if you use the name “Jesus,” which I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Or using the word “worship.” Because there are just certain words when you listen to a song and you’re just like, “That’s really worship music,” just because you’re using words from the Bible or using the Bible to build the song, which isn’t a bad thing.

For me, I just thought, “Hey, let’s write a song that could go both ways. Is it a worship song or is it secular?” in a sense. Not where there’s a question but where you could apply it to either situation.

I wrote this song based on my first encounter with God. And it’s a song that you could use in either context.

Would you like to talk about that first encounter with God? Was that when you first met Jesus?

No, it was years later. It’s just the topic I used, because I grew up in a Christian home, and so I was very familiar with head knowledge about the Bible and Jesus. But I think there’s something that happens when you actually encounter the Person of Jesus that just changes you and you’re like “Now, my heart is in this. Not just my head, but my heart is actually in this.”

Totally. I was raised in a Christian life for most of my life too, so I know that is very hard to get from that place to personal encounter. So how was that transition for you? How did you experience Him as a Person?

I think for me, there was one night. It was during a worship set, and I was standing in the back, and there were these people crying in the front and I thought, “I don’t think I’ve ever cried during worship. This is uncomfortable for me. But there’s something that they’re encountering that I haven’t yet experienced.”

I think it is very easy, especially when you grow up in the church, to want to put your best foot forward. But instead it’s actually about putting your worst forward and getting His best in return. And that’s just something that I hadn’t experienced before.

Anything else you want to say?

I think something that came out of actually having to record for 3.5 hours is this topic; we talk a lot about loving your voice. And it’s really easy if you just sing every now and then, but if you have to listen to you sing and it’s being played back to you for 3.5 hours, you start to get super critical, and I’m like, “Oh there’s actually another level I can grow to in this area.” Because I know I love my voice, but after 3.5 hours I’m like “I’m done. I’m done hearing my voice.”

You notice the flaws in your voice more than anyone else. People can tell you, “Your voice is amazing,” but I’m like “But this, this and this…”

And then, I think it was actually when you sent me the finished song, I was like, this sounds amazing. So, it was kind of cool to go through that process where I actually enjoyed my voice at the end.

So that’s really surprising to me that you’re critical of your own voice. How did you get from begin self-critical to accepting yourself? And also when you released the song and getting people’s feedback, how did that make you feel?

I think it was great seeing people’s feedback, but I’ve been singing long enough that people’s feedback isn’t going to change the way I feel about my voice. You never get enough feedback to where you’re like, “Okay, I get it. My voice sounds amazing.” Because you can get all the feedback in the world, but if you still don’t like your own voice, you’re always going to be able to pick out the flaws.

So I think it was when I was started actually being like, “No my voice is actually amazing. Even if it’s not perfect, I’m getting better.” I think you need to start loving what you have already.

For a while, everyone would tell me, “You have a unique voice.” And I’m like “What kind of compliment is that.” But the more I get to know the music industry, the more I realize, “Oh, you actually do need a unique voice, to stand out and be successful.” I think that’s when I started loving that I have a voice that sounds different. Yeah, I might not be able to hit the notes that some people are able to hit, but it’s about learning to love your voice for the range you have. You can always grow your range, but it’s actually okay not to be able to sing super high.

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