Webb & McCracken Inteview 08/12/2012A discernible chemistry which is readily apparent 

Thursday, July 12, 2012, Lifest Christian Festival, Oshkosh, WI: Wisconsin's mid-morning July heat poured through the open doorways of a barn in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin County Fairgrounds, site of the 2012 Lifest Christian Festival. The crowd of nearly 300 slowly dispersed for cooler climes following an 'Artist Talkback' session with Derek Webb. The hour long open Q&A session had covered portions of the artist's career, faith, and art in an event which successfully brought the audience into the heart and soul of the artist.

Following the session, Derek and his wife, Sandra McCracken, shared thoughts on their art prior to preparing for their concerts the same evening.

Question:  Together, you have a discernible chemistry which is readily apparent on both the Ampersand and TN EPs. As a duo you complement each other well in both harmony and composition. Will we be hearing more of the Webb / McCracken duo in the future?

Sandra:  We love our opportunities to work together whenever possible. We both have so much on our plates as individual artists that we haven't focused on working specifically as a duo.

Derek:  As individual performers, each of us has such particular intentions for what we want to do, the stakes are high (when you produce your own recordings as both do). The EPs are fun and have an easy flow. We have a unique opportunity to create our own records as time allows. We have our own studio, it is like our sandbox. We go out there and dream up things to do.

Q:  On both EPs you've included covers (ex. Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound Of Silence," Bob Dylan's "If Not For You," Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time") and new material. What do you find appealing in performing covers?

D:  (As an example), the genius of Simon & Garfunkel. The lyrics appeal to and have great meaning to such a wide audience.

Q:  Each of you has been busy with new projects. What can you share about these projects?

S:  I just finished a Children's record. I collaborated with 3 friends on a record of children's songs, made for young children but in a way that would be enjoyable for adults. The songs are folky and charming, not micro-polished, and are based on Sally Lloyd-Jones work. She wrote the Jesus Story Book Bible and Baby's Hug-a-Bible for children. The songs were written for her poetry. The album's title is Rain for Roots: Big Stories for Little Ones.

I'm also working on a new solo record that may be out by the end of this year, early next year. I've gotten a little bit into it. It will have really sparse recordings, with horns, vocals, something really lush. These are not pop songs, they are really unfiltered. I am excited about making that.

D:  We're also envisioning another project of song's we sang as youth, like church camp. We need a fresh batch of this type of song. Nothing has been produced in some time to fit this genre with classically good melody to put scripture to. As parents, we want to put this message in children's hearts with song. It is not just what you are being taught. Not just another hero. This is to come back to the simple truth. I'm cautious about children's music, but it is a great place to enter into to have both young and old appreciate the message and music for the quality of the art and young kids can make the songs their own.

Q:  Derek, what can you share of your new solo effort?

D:  CTRL, my latest solo effort, will be released in September of this year. Sola-Mi (Derek's new band with Latifah Phillips and Josh Moore) is my latest project, we will be touring in September in support of CTRL. Latifah's band, Page CXVI, will be opening for CTRL and Sola-Mi will perform music during the same tour. I won't say too much in regard to CTRL. One of the advantages of my career is having the element of surprise, so we're not saying too much about the new record other than the release date.

S:  And that it's really good!

D:  Between the Sola-Mi and CTRL projects, this has been the culmination of nearly 2 years of work for me. But I've been working conceptually on these projects for many years.

Q:  Do you see a different direction in CTRL. Musically, Stockholm Syndrome offered a totally different direction from your previous works, but fed into Feedback and later into Sola-Mi. In these projects there is use of fuzz and heavy sampling ala Euro-Pop, will you  continue along these lines or change up completely to an acoustic driven work.

D:  What I can tell you is that I have a tendency to always move forward, I'm always looking forward. I don't look left, I don't look right. Even if I bring elements of my previous works, I tend to bring them back into my work in a way I haven't done before. Everything will be new, I'm always moving into the future. Everything for me is a progression into evolution, so when I make records and I get restless again in a year I bring some of the stuff I've done in the past with me like elements of Feedback and Stockholm, but I try to make every record like my debut record.

Q:  You push the edge of your art further with your efforts with  new and different offerings.  Recently you've pooled music with paintings, photography, and video, combining your efforts with other artists on the same theme. What's coming in your future, perhaps a Derek Webb Cirque du Soleil offering?

D:  (Sandra laughs) I wouldn't have the budget to do something like that!  With me it is always, moving past my barriers (i.e. budget) with creativity.

S:  The tour will be pretty awesome!

D:  The tour that is coming up before the end of 2012 is really ambitious. It is something you haven't seen before. This is the most ambitious I have ever been in presenting something live. Normally I travel solo and acoustic or perhaps with a few musicians. Everything has to be something I can afford. My career, being what it is, we have to do a lot with a little. I've had ideas of connecting music with film in a way I have not done before, with animation as an example, but I have not had the budget to do that. But, I feel my career has been the result of my leaning into my limitations (budget, solo career, focused audience) and creative things happening more because of what I'm not  able to do than what I am able to do. I'm more limited than I am gifted, so when I hit my limitations, be them my limited financial situation or gifts, my creative solution to those problems will be the art that I actually make.

NOTE: As of September 4, 2012 the planned CTRL tour has been postponed to early 2013.  An acoustic tour will support CTRL until that time - tour information.



Scott S. Mertens

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