Dream Records pop/rock/CCM/EDM artist Jonathan Thulin releases his brand new album Science Fiction on March 17th! Full of heartfelt, poignant, emotional and impacting pop/dance and remix type anthems, as well as ballads, this album is one of the most personal and honest albums of 2015! I had the privilege of interviewing Jonathan via email recently, about the new album. We discussed the album, which songs mean the most to him, what he hopes listeners will experience when hearing the new songs, as well as his goals and dreams for the year ahead. Check out the interview below.
- First of all, for those of you who do not know your story or your testimony, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you signed to Dream Records? What has God been teaching you throughout your 3 albums you have recorded on the label?
I moved with my family from Sweden when I was younger. We were a singing family so most of my childhood consisted of traveling around the world doing ministry with my family. Went through a lot of things when the ministry ended. Realizing that I had lived completely off of my parents’ faith, I stopped believing in God completely. His love is what brought me back to a true understanding of him. His love is why I am out singing about Him today. I got signed almost 4 years ago…. God has taught me a lot, especially about trusting him. Through some incredibly difficult times I’ve had to trust that he knows me despite what anyone else labels me as. It has felt like pushing through thousands of thorn bushes at times but eventually God brings you to the other side and all of the thorns that have scarred you and held you back fall off and are left in the past. Then you are able to move forward and get ready for the next set of thorn bushes.
- Being originally from Sweden, how was the transition of making albums with your family, to solo in the U.S?
I think the transition happened pretty naturally. I was used to performing and singing. The biggest transition was finding my voice. “What do I believe?” not “What am I supposed to believe?” I am trying to write music that I actually mean. I am not always in a state of constant gratitude or constant awe. I have gritty moments of doubt and pain and I think it’s as important to show those sides as is it to show the victories and good times. Christian faith is very different in Sweden, much less cultural than it is here. So it took a little getting used to.
- It’s been 2 and a half years since The White Room, how has your song writing matured and God spoken to you during this time, and how have the changes in your life been reflected in your new music on Science Fiction?
Oh man, has it been that long? So much has happened in my life the last 2 and a half years. I think my songwriting has matured because I invited a lot of other writers into my sacred writing place, which was hard to do. The result, however, has been incredible. I have found a little bit of a new sound and have touched on subjects that I have been thinking about a lot. This album was recorded over the span of a year, and it touches on lots of different issues. Good and Bad. The biggest thing God has shown me during this time is just how important authenticity is. “Authenticity” these days has become pretty planned and unauthentic. Being a complete mess is a reality and something that we should definitely talk about, but we shouldn’t lose the need for God and the longing for him. Authenticity to me is being real about where you are and also accepting where other people are in their walk with God. Not implementing our journey on others but rather sharing our journey in hopes that it will help someone figure out theirs. Be authentic in your love for God and love for others and its crazy how uncomplicated things become.
- There are plenty of guest vocalists on the album (Moriah Peters, Kevin Max, Shine Bright Baby, Derek Minor, Rapture Ruckus, Group 1 Crew and Royal Tailor); how did these collaborations arise? Describe to us how it was working with all of these talented songwriters and artists, and what has God taught you through that co-writing and co-singing process?
These are all my friends that I have met throughout my touring. My favorite thing in the world is to write songs with friends 🙂 All of these artists have their own journey and their own writing style. It was an honor to get to see into their world for a little moment in time. Collaboration is one of my favorite things in the world. I think it is a strong statement against who the big industry machine wants us to be. Competitive and self-preserving. In my opinion, all of us as artists are in this together and we are all going through similar struggles in our pursuit of trying to bring love to the world. What greater way to reach more people than to stand alongside each other and proclaim love and freedom in new and creative ways.
- The debut single “Compass” is a bit different from anything you’ve done- instead of something epic and anthemic like “Dead Come To Life” or “Bombs Away”, it’s more pop, rap and EDM, which is interesting. Lyrically I think the song speaks about seeking after the One who points us to our true purpose- Jesus points us to Himself; what does the song mean to you and what do you think listeners will gain from it? Love the rap from Manwell by the way!
Yes, it is definitely a different direction but I love it. Wrote majority of this song with my friend Charmaine, who you know from Dead Come to Life, and my brother David who produced this whole record. I have been fascinated with space and the depths of the universe since I was little. It was very interesting to view our pursuit of God in space terminology. It also made being lost seem a lot scarier and bigger than it usually would. Admitting we are lost is hard to do, but it’s good to know that we have constant, Jesus, whose love always points us home if we let it. I hope listeners will have fun listening to this and not be afraid to dance if they want to. It’s humbling to admit that you need help, so hopefully people will take steps to find their way out of the wilderness they may find themselves in. Yes, Manny has been a good buddy for a while, and we have been wanting to collaborate for a while. He killed it.
- Which song on the new album means the most to you? What was your favourite song to record? Can you tell us how these 12 songs came to be?
The song “The Ruins” is probably the song that has meant the most to me. Another song me and Charmaine wrote together. When I was buried in rubble and was nearly destroyed in myself, Love Himself came and picked me up. I found love in the ruins, not after I had fixed everything in my life. This song came from my realization that this is the heart of God. He is after our pursuit not our perfection. His beauty and love broke me and is still breaking me every day. My favorite part of the song is a hymn we wrote as a bridge to this song. “Oh, to build this house upon thy rock and it will never fall, it will never fall.” Moriah connected with this subject matter as well and it was such an honor to get to sing this song with her.
- How would you describe you musical sound as well as your lyrics, for those of you who are not familiar with your music and singing style? Personally I think you sound similar to Steven Curtis Chapman, Warr Acres and Crowder vocally, musically and lyrically!
It’s electronic, it’s epic, it’s like a film score at times. Lots of strings elements. My lyrics are very well thought through and usually you have to listen a few times to fully understand what I’m saying in its entirety. I like listening to challenging lyrics so I think that’s why I write them. I do love me some Steven Curtis. “Saddle up your horses”!!!!
- Both musically and lyrically, how does the debut album capture the experiences of you throughout the last few years of your musical journey? As you move into your next step in your Christian music career, is there anything you hold onto that God has spoken into your life?
I have tried to capture my walk as purely as possible. I had a lot of fun making this record and honestly my greatest want is for people to walk away inspired musically and lyrically. I want to keep clinging to God. Throughout all of the difficulties, his love is my constant. I want his love to flow through me and onto other people. I wanna love as unconditionally as I possibly can as a human. I hope with all my heart that my music comes across as my love letter to God and to people of all walks of life.
- Are there any artists/writers/producers you would like to collaborate and compose music with in the future (not including the 7 you collaborated with on this record)? Who were your favourite artists you admired and looked up to musically in your earlier years, and is there any artist or band that you admire within the music industry currently, as a fellow artist, a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from?
You know a lot of my close friends are artists and I am so blessed to have a lot of people I can call and talk to when I need help and advice. The boys from OBB are some of my closest friends, Charmaine, Manny, Shine Bright Baby are all people I do life with. Dc Talk was my jam growing up and having met all three of those awesome guys has been a highlight for me. Getting to work with Kevin made me nearly pee myself of excitement. If i got t write with anyone in the world, it would be Max Martin. He is also Swedish, so that helps. I would like to collaborate with anyone that I connect with. I admire everyone at Reach Records, Tedashii, Andy Mineo, Lecrae…They are making incredible music and has set the bar high! And Tedashii especially is a good hang.
- Has there been a recent song that has been ministering to people on the road, and what are some of the encouraging stories you have heard from the impact of your songs on this upcoming album?
A lot of people love “The Ruins” and “6 Feet Under”. I honestly hear so many amazing stories that I can’t even count anymore. It’s such a great encouragement to hear people’s hearts and to know that your songs have touched them in some way.
- If anyone reading this interview wants to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice- how would you succeed in the industry with your values intact?
Get ready for an incredibly hard road. It needs to be your full on passion if you are gonna pursue it. It’s full of people that don’t have your best interest at heart and full of disappointment. But if you can look past it you find something beautiful to hold on to, and that is the gifting God has given you. No one can take that away from you. Keeping your values intact is up to you, you cannot blame the industry for taking away your values. You will see that it’s a big world, and that after experiencing a bit more of it your values may change a bit. Keep Love and Jesus in the center and you will be fine.
- Which artist on the current roster of Dream Label Group do you admire and would love to tour with one day? How about from other labels?
It’s so hard, cause I’m friends with most people haha. I’ll tour with anyone, cause I love touring with friends.
- You are also in Press Play, can you tell us about what your plans are for 2015 for the band, as well as for yourself as a solo artist, and personally in your walk with God?
Well actually, almost a year ago I decided to step away from being in Press Play. I was with them for 3 years and it was a great experience but I’m excited to move forward in my solo career and see what God has for me here. But I have very fond memories of my time with Press Play.
- Is there anything in your life that places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and why you chose music as a career and ministry?
You realize how small you are. I feel so blessed to be doing what I’m doing but its a big world with lots of incredible and talented people. I am just so glad I get to be in a huge pool of these phenomenal talents. I’m here for a short while, but while I’m here I’m gonna live to the fullest. Hab 1:5 “Look at the nations and be amazed, For I am about to do something in your day that you wouldn’t believe even if you were told”…Love this verse!!
- Is there anything else that you would like to add that hasn’t been covered in this interview yet? Any parting words, and encouragements that will impact the readers of this interview, either from your own life or from others around you? How can fans stay connected with you via social media?
Social Media is the best way yes! I’m just so thankful that anyone is listening to my music. I hope I can continue to make music for many years to come!
Be sure to check out Jonathan Thulin’s new album Science Fiction in stores in 3 weeks time! Also, check out the Dream Records youtube page here, as well as the official audio slide of “Compass” from the new album, featuring Manwell Reyes from Group 1 Crew!