Five Questions with... Danny O'Callaghan
Since it's release in summer of 2016, we've been enjoying 'Son of My Father', the debut EP from Danny O'Callaghan so much that we couldn't help but get in touch to find out more about the record, his views on worship music and what he has planned for the future.
1. Danny, you’re part of the core team of people who make David’s Tent (worship gathering) happen each year and your role specifically is as worship director; you’ve been doing this and similar roles for a number of years so how come it’s only now that you’ve released your own debut project?
Danny: I've been wanting to release a project for the last 10 years. There’s been a number of projects I’ve been involved in, different worship projects and different bands but never wanted to rush into throwing out a solo project. Worship projects are one thing we aren’t short of - there’s a lot out there. It might even be an argument to say we're saturated with the next worship/singer songwriter record. With this in mind, if i was going to consider throwing my art into the pile I wanted to produce a project with deep meaning, for it to carry a message, and that takes time. I'm still right at the beginning of that journey articulating what that message is. Now that I’ve completed the process I often find myself wishing I’d worded things different, amended things. I know it’s cliche for artist’s to say it, but it truly is a journey.
2. I’ve seen you talk about feeling a need for more authenticity in worship and this being a real key vision of yours, practically how does this change the way you approach and then share your music?
Danny: For me worship is a fascinating concept. The best way I can picture worship is more of a daily walk than a moment. I'm learning that worship isn’t always just in those euphoric congregational moments, and not always the mountain top moments of life. I believe worship resides right in the middle of struggles, challenges, and celebrations. I hope that’s where the majority of our "worship music" is written from. I desire for songs that not only carry strong theology and directs our gaze upon one central theme. But songs that speak deeply from the heart. Songs of struggles, songs of despair, songs of ecstasy, that throw open the wide range of human emotion the way God intended us to be. Ultimately I long for songs to connect with people in a deep and honest way! My opinion is we've created a box of what we call "congregational worship songs" and that can easily become the benchmark for our art. But I don’t believe a success of a song should be always be judged on how many people can sing it. I read the psalms and I see a much larger lens in which David expresses his heart to the Lord. So my hope is that we'd continue excelling in the ‘corporate’ worship songs and have more space to utilise the intimate deep emotive tunes as well. With this project I wanted to dive deeper into art of songwriting, to stretch my own craft, with no limits, and no responsibility to make the songs congregational. I wrote songs about my journey, what the father is revealing to me. The next project may be a lot more congregational but I felt I needed to get this record out of me. Still it’d only the beginning!
3. If you could see that desire for authentic worship that you talk of spread out into churches across the nation and even further, what do you think that would look like for the local church?
Danny: I’d hope it would look to be a lot more honest. I'd hope that authentic worship wouldn't just be measured in how loud we can sing, or the way we make the flags twirl but deep meaningful connection with our father God. So practically in a church context perhaps utilising songs that aren't so "congregational" as a time of response. Songs that allow moments of reflection. Songs that express the diversity that we see in our churches world over. I think the major thing with facilitating authentic worship has to be time. Without allowing time for the spirit to do his work we’re just cracking through a bunch of songs. I believe that time is an essential part of dialogue and dialogue is an essential element to engaging in worship.
4. The production quality of ‘Son of my Father’ is absolutely awesome and sounds like nothing I’ve heard come from the UK Christian scene, what was the process of recording it like?
Danny: Really challenging but an incredible journey! The production is down to my good friend Elijah Mosely who's worked on John Mark McMillan, Jonathan & Melissa Helser's records. It required me to be in the US and two trips for them to come here. One trip was for pre production and the other was the tracking - a two week intense trip. Elijah is used to working in the world’s top studios, so it was fun putting him in a organic studio environment again. It was an incredible privilege to work with him on this project. It was sometimes tough to navigate where I wanted to go creatively, and it required a large amount of trust between me and Elijah. But I trusted Elijah and I’m incredibly happy with what came out! Relationship is key within any artist and producer relationship and I scored with an exceptional one!
5. What’s next for you as an artist and what do we have to look forward to?
Danny: I’m hoping to release a bunch of videos this year. It’s going to tell more of the story of my heart and the Son Of My Father EP. But I also want to try and record another EP at the end of the year. I feel like I wanna do another EP before going for the first album. Also I’m going to be playing in some more of the UK Christian festivals this summer which I love as well.
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