(Interview) Jonathan Ogden on Creating Concept Albums

I love music. I enjoy listening to albums on Spotify. I like exploring playlists. But I love more is listening an album of an artist or band from the first track down to the last. Reminds me of those days of buying and listening to cassette tapes. More than that, I want to catch the vision of the artist or band for that specific album. Themed or concept album has one message in the strings of songs that it include. That’s what I want to discover and savor it as a music lover. As a believer, I want to see biblical message it want to convey.

In this interview, Jonathan Ogden talks about concept albums, his process of creating a project and how to maintain these project gospel centered. I hope you as an artist or listener will get some great takeaways on our conversation.

Is there an advantage (or disadvantage) for an artist in creating a concept album?

A concept album is definitely a different kind of project compared to a regular album. There’s a little more restriction in terms of what you’re going to create, and making sure that it all relates to the concept. But equally, those kind of restrictions can bring about a lot more creativity sometimes!

What’s your process of creating a concept album or EP? Does it differ from every albums or EP?

I usually just start to write songs and not worry about where they belong. And once I have a few that I’m really happy with then I’ll start to figure out where they belong. Should it be an album, an EP, a single? Is there a theme to these songs? The Seasons Project started because I was writing a lot of songs that I liked but I didn’t know how to make them all fit together because the genres were so different. So I decided to make 4 EPs each in a different genre, and ‘seasons’ just felt like a natural fit. Equally with Twenty Four, it came because I was already making a lot of beats and would often listen to them while travelling to different countries and experiencing all different times of day. By coming up with a concept it actually gave some structure and purpose to what I was creating which helped me to come up with more ideas and know what I was working towards.

Among the albums you have made what’s your favorite? Which one did you enjoyed doing?

I think Twenty Four was one of the most fun albums to make. I’ve wanted to make a project like that for a while and it was such a simple process but so fun just to bring everything together and explore what each hour of the day felt like.

How do you maintain the gospel as the center of a themed album rather than the creativeness of project?

I think the more I’ve been making music, the more I start to recognize God’s hand in each part of the process and to realize that we can bring Him glory in so many ways. There are times when we might want to be very direct and sing directly about the gospel, and there are other times when it might just be a beautiful instrumental, and something about the music itself points to The Creator. Sometimes Jesus would tell parables and not explain them. I think sometimes we try and make our art so direct and obvious that we don’t leave space for subtlety and for God to speak through it and use it in different ways. Part of the process of Twenty Four was learning to recognize God’s presence in every part of my day, and not just the obvious moments.

Please tell us your new single, One Day and the upcoming album? When will it be out? Will be it be a concept album too?

One Day is a song about looking ahead to the return of Jesus. It’s going to be the running theme throughout this project. It’s probably going to be the first solo album I’ve done that isn’t a concept project like Twenty Four. This one is more of a standard album with standalone tracks. It’s unusual because this time around I’m releasing songs as I write them rather than waiting to finish the whole album and then releasing the singles. But I do know that the theme of looking ahead to the return of Jesus and the restoration of all things will be a core theme to this project. 

Any message to your Filipino fans and also Christian artist who wants to work on a concept album?

I love the Philippines! One of my favorite places in the world!

My encouragement would be simply to create from a place of joy and keep your heart and purpose pure. That we play and create firstly for the glory of God, and He enjoys when we do that for Him. It’s also important not to compare ourselves to other artists and feel like we should look or sound like anyone else. There are songs that only you can write and the more we learn to be comfortable in our own skin and create what flows naturally from our hearts, the more that will translate and that genuine expression will be felt by others. If that’s a concept album, then great! But it doesn’t need to be. If the thought of making something very conceptual brings you joy and excitement then I think follow it!

Thank you Jonathan! So guys to catch up to the latest on Jonathan Ogden, listen or buy his albums and follow him on social media, go to his website.

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