With Jonathan Thulin’s latest studio album, Science Fiction, just a few short weeks from finally releasing, Jesusfreakhideout.com’s Christopher Smith caught up with the pop artist to discuss the new album, the songs on it, what inspires him creatively, and what scriptures have been speaking to him most lately…
This interview took place on: 2/27/15.
- JFH (Christopher Smith): You just finished up a tour with Rapture Ruckus in New Zealand and Australia. Can you tell us about that experience?
Jonathan Thulin: Being in New Zealand and Australia was amazing! The Raptures are some of my greatest friends, so spending time with them is always lovely. People there loved the music and that was a great encouragement. It was a beautiful time in my life!
- JFH (Christopher): I read that you directed the upcoming music video for “Volcano.” What can you tell us about the video? Is directing music videos something you would like to do more of?
Jonathan: YES! My passion for films many times trumps my passion for music. It was such a cool experience and I think everyone is happy with the result. It is in a short film format, has some visual effects and has Zach from OBB in it. We are stoked to share it. I will definitely be doing it more often, and not just music videos but film as well.
- JFH (Christopher): What is your fondest music related memory growing up in a musical family?
Jonathan: Just getting to travel. Not only was I singing but I was getting to see the world. I think this is why I am such a travel fanatic now. Any chance I get to see the world, I take.
- JFH (Christopher): There is significant change between The White Room and Science Fiction. To me, The White Room felt more dramatic while this one seems more accessible and fun-loving. Can you describe the evolution between these two albums.
Jonathan: I think, as people, our thought processes evolve. During The White Room, I had gone through so much and was still in the midst of figuring so much stuff out and I think it showed in my music. With Science Fiction, it definitely still has its moments of drama, but I wanted to challenge myself musically and try out some different things stylistically. I worked with awesome writers, Charmaine included, who really got what I was going for. It turned into a fantastic experience. Now comes the scary part where people actually listen to it.
- JFH (Christopher): Almost all the songs on Science Fiction revolve around a distinct metaphor, whether it be a parable, fable, what-have-you. Was that intentional? Can you describe one or two inspirations for these metaphors?
Jonathan: I am a massive fan of all things Science Fiction. So the subject matter of the songs were definitely intentional. As a writer, I wanted to challenge myself by putting all my feelings about God, myself, my issues into the format of these subject matters. I have found that when you are forced to keep within a theme lyrically it makes the truth come alive in a completely different and new way. “Jekyll and Hyde” deals with double nature, “Cry Wolf” deals with people who lie to get ahead, “Six Feet Under” deals with addiction and “Mockingbird” deals with always feeling like imitations as people and, in my case, as an artist. There is a lot of thought put behind these songs, hopefully people will relate and resonate.
- JFH (Christopher): After a few listens, I realized that “The Ruins” is based on the parable Jesus told about the wise man who built his house on the rock. Does that passage from Matthew 7:24-27 have a special significance to you? Can you tell us about writing that song?
Jonathan: Me and Charmaine wrote this song together; it was a very special moment because I had been toying with this idea for a long time and we sat down and finished it within an hour. I find that songs that are founded on passion don’t take very long to complete. I have dealt with so much as a person and I love this particular song because it’s a great description of the heart of God. Love didn’t come find me when I had built a perfect structure for everyone to see, Love came in the destruction and the rubble. I think the passage in Matthew has so much validity and application to real life in it. When we build our house on the rock…it will not fall. If we build our lives on the knowledge of God rather than the pursuit of the feeling that’s associated with God…we will have built a strong foundation.
- JFH (Christopher): Which song on Science Fiction is the most personally significant to you?
Jonathan: Probably “Six Feet Under.” I wrote this at one of the lowest points in my life. Dealing with so many different problems including addiction in my life. I felt like I was drowning and felt like it was an impossibility to ever see the light of day again. There is a lyric in the song that says “I know, with you I’m alive.” When I wrote that, it was more of a hope than a knowledge. But now that God has restored me in some of these areas, that statement has become truer than ever.
- JFH (Christopher): I noticed that a handful of songs have your brother David listed as a contributing songwriter. What was his involvement in this project?
Jonathan: He made all the tracks and mixed the whole project. He is such a genius musically, even if he doesn’t see it himself. Usually, the song writing process in the studio starts with him building a track and then we write on top of it.
- JFH (Christopher): Talk a little bit about collaborating with the artists featured on your album.
Jonathan: As you probably noticed, I am a huge fan of collaboration. It is one of my favorite things to do! I enjoyed working with all of these artists separately. They are all fantastic people and all brought their own passion and flare to the songs. I will definitely collaborate again and again and again.
- JFH (Christopher): I particularly liked the song “Mockingbird.” The way that you, Kevin Max and Emily Fertig work off each other is really impressive. What is the story behind that song?
Jonathan: I’m so glad you liked it. The three of us wrote this at Kevin’s house. It was one of my favorite writing experiences cause it was so interactive…I would write a line, Kevin would jump in with a line and then Emily would come up with a melody line. I love writing that way. The song is based on living in a world where we are always told to be imitations of other people instead of being ourselves. As an artist, this was a subject that hit home for me. It’s hard when you are always told “If only you could be a Chris Tomlin” or “You need to write an ‘I Can Only Imagine.'” I always had the hardest time feeling like I was saying something true to me when I was trying to emulate someone else’s journey. That can sometimes be the bane of this industry. But I want to be my own original Mockingbird and may have to choose to be who I am artistically over massive success as a copy of someone else.
- JFH (Christopher): If you had an unlimited budget and free creative reins for a music video, what song would you do and what might it look like?
Jonathan: Oh man, I would do a full movie with a music video for every song interconnected. It would have amazing visual effects, full orchestra score. I’m getting excited.
- JFH (Christopher): Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support in making Science Fiction?
Jonathan: My family, the support emotionally and financially for this album has been so important. Couldn’t have done it without them.
- JFH (Christopher): What scripture have you been reading lately? What has God been teaching you through it?
Jonathan: One that has been resonating with me is Proverbs 16:9, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” It’s so incredible to know that we have to take the step and plan what direction we wanna go but that God will direct our steps to safety.
- JFH (Christopher): Any closing thoughts?
Jonathan: I hope more than anything that people will enjoy this new album. But not only musically. I hope people will relate to the issues and thoughts I have had and hopefully make a choice toward love and hope.
- JFH (Christopher): Thanks again for your time!
Jonathan: My pleasure!
Jonathan Thulin’s latest album, Science Fiction is available now wherever music is sold!