Kerrie Roberts, formally of Provident Label Group and now an indie artist, released her new EP ‘My Heart’s Lifted’ via her website and live shows on September 9th 2014. Full of new pop songs, including her single ‘Come Back to Life’, I had the privilege of interviewing Kerrie via email, as we discussed the EP, what she hopes listeners will experience when hearing the new songs, as well as her thoughts about being on a label compared to making music independently. Check out the interview below.
1. You have released a few albums so far, your debut album in 2010, Once Upon a Time EP in 2011, Time for the Show in 2013 and the newest Come Back To Life EP earlier this year. I have really enjoyed all your songs from your discography, with songs like “Middle of It All”, “Outcast”, “Saviour To Me”, “No Matter What” and your recent song “Come Back to Life” some of my favourites. With a continued pop/inspirational musical presence on your forthcoming EP, how has been the production of your new batch of songs? What has stayed the same and what has changed when comparing your new EP and Time for the Show?
The new EP is called “My Heart’s Lifted,” and it’s definitely still very pop. I love pop music, and I always have. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever do another style! I grew up singing church music but I studied jazz vocal and now I’m recording pop music, so I love all different styles, but coming up, I don’t really know what the style will be, we shall see.
2. For those who may not have listened to your style of music before, who do you say you sound similar to, so that you can convince listeners to hear your music? Who in the music industry do you think you sound like- vocal and music wise (so as to give listeners a better idea of the style of music you are akin to writing, recording and performing)? For me, I reckon your music is similar to artists like Natalie Grant, Bethany Dillon or Avalon.
I am horrible at making comparisons and picking favourites. So if I were to describe my style, I would just say that it’s a soulful pop with big vocals.
3. What can you hope listeners can hear and experience when they listen to your new EP? If there is one take home message from listening to these 5 tracks, what would you like listeners to gain?
The title of this EP is “My Heart’s Lifted” so I definitely want them to be encouraged. I kind of look at all my projects like an emotional roller coaster that mirrors life. The ride for this EP starts with joy, praise and freedom. Then you’re moved into a more reflective and serious moments, and then once again ending on a very thankful and happy note. I hope that listeners are challenged by the truths in the songs, and that they’re also affected emotionally.
4. You were on Reunion Records back in 2010, but now you are independent. What has been your favourite highlight of being on a label, and your favourite highlight of being an independent artist? What has God been teaching you previously when you were on Reunion Records, and currently when you are indie, about Himself and yourself?
Goodness; that is a really big question! I loved my experience of starting out on a label. I had a lot of learning experiences, and I’m really, really thankful for that time. I’m also really, really happy as an independent artist. This past year has been one of the happiest years of my life. I’ve loved my experiences on the road and the freedom of creation, and all of that. I think that one of the benefits of being an independent artist is that you have the freedom to pursue every idea that you have, BUT that’s also a challenge. It’s actually not a good idea to go after every idea that you have. A label does a good job in bringing balance to that, but they can also slow everything down too. So I think there is both goods and bads to both situations.
I would say that God is always continuously teaching me. That it’s actually not about music, it’s about life, it’s about loving Him, and that is way more important than having a deal or not having a deal, or anything else that I happen to be doing.
5. The EP, though only 5 tracks, contain some of the best songs you have created, even on par with songs like “Beautiful For Me”, “No Matter What” and “Finally Home”. The first single, “Come Back to Life”, is especially poignant, as we are reminded and encouraged to come back to God regardless of our own situations. What has the song meant to you as you were recording it? Has “Come Back to Life” (or any other on the new EP) 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 any of your albums you’ve done, or your upcoming one)?
The first single, “Come Back to Life” came about because of specific situations. Friends I loved were losing loved ones to suicide, and their worlds were being rocked.
I feel like suicide is something that we don’t talk about very much, and I wanted to start speaking truth into that situation. “Come Back to Life” is very much based on the verse in Romans 8, where it says the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us now. I want to tell people that are in that dark place, that ‘you’re not alone’, and that there is a power that can bring them back to life.
Now I can use that song to take every opportunity I have, whenever I am out performing, to be able to speak to that subject, and tell them, ‘hey, you don’t have to stay where you are, and I’m not saying you have to fix it all right now, but you do need to take a step, you need to open your mouth, you need to ask for help, and you need to hear the truth- that there is a power that can bring you out of the darkness’.
6. What has been the overall highlight of the whole process of making the new EP? Were there any difficult songs to write, sing or even record, either because they were based on personal experiences of yourself or others? What has God used to speak to you more- the songs that were easiest to write or the hardest?
I feel like writing is a puzzle. Some puzzles you sit down to put together and it comes very quickly, and others are more difficult. It’s this cool experience, because you don’t know what the picture is exactly that you’re putting together, but you get a feeling when you know it’s right. There are songs that I wrote on the record with people that I’ve written with forever, Stephanie Lewis, Rusty Varenkamp, some new writers that weren’t on the other two albums- Joshua Silverberg, Kipp Williams, Josh Bronlewee, all just super, super talents. And I’m really, really thankful, they make the process easy.
I can’t really say there were any songs that were particularly difficult. It was an absolute delight to work on this. And while some subjects might be difficult, I don’t find singing or talking about them difficult, I find that a privilege. I want to speak into different situations, and I’m very hopeful that these songs will help people.
7. Who do you look up to in the music industry (CCM, or mainstream), either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from? If anyone reading this interview is wanting 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?
I’m gonna just say that I really love Steven Curtis Chapman. I’ve met him a couple of times. I was able to hear him this past year at a festival in South Dakota I believe. He’s just awesome. I remember listening to him as a little girl, having all his CDs. I would sit at the piano and play my own rendition of “King of the Jungle.” He is just a shining example of someone who has used their success for good, has not been changed by their success, and truly puts their faith in their family first, and who has stayed true in their faith through tragedy and the hardships of life, which is amazing to see.
If I were to give advice to anyone wanting to be in the music industry, I would just say, keep doing what you’re doing. It’s more important that you do what you do, than it is that someone in the industry puts their stamp of approval on it. Your passion is the most important thing, so just to be passionate and persistent. I think that’s the best advice I can give.
8. Which artist in the music industry (Christian or mainstream) do you most admire currently? Which artist has influenced your music the most?
I always say that someone who’s influenced my music for sure is just my family. I grew up singing with my mom and my sister and my brother and even my dad. And of course my dad’s sermons have influenced more than one of the songs that I’ve written. So I would say, my music is very, very influenced by my family.
9. Which of your new songs are you the most excited for in terms of playing it live at concerts? For me, I reckon songs like “The Broken Ones”, “Come Back to Life” and “Love Like You” would be great live!
I love singing all of them, and I’m actually already performing them live. The new EP is available on my website and at shows. The single, “My Heart’s Lifted” will be out digitally in Oct and the entire EP will be available digitally and worldwide in December, which is super exciting. I think that right now, “Come Back to Life” is definitely hard-hitting and impactful. The subject matter is something that’s really close to a lot of people’s hearts. And it’s been really exciting to see how it’s affecting people, but all of them have been a lot of fun.
10. Your song “Rescue Me” was chosen for the theme song for the first season of ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Have you seen the show, and how was it knowing that your song was placed in TV adverts around the country prior (and during) the first season way back in 2011? What has been the impact of “Rescue Me” in both the CCM and mainstream industry, considering that because of OUAT, “Rescue Me” is quite possibly your most well-known song?
Yeah, I have seen Once Upon a Time. I haven’t followed it too closely, but I did watch it, and actually, I don’t have cable, I watch all my shows online. But at one point, I was able to see the Once Upon a Time promo on DirectTV when I was at somebody else’s house, with my song playing in the background, and that was super exciting. And actually, “Rescue Me” was really, really big in Australia, but not so much in the U.S. So it’s definitely not my most well-known song here.
11. Has there ever been a song that you have sung in concerts that you didn’t think would have the impact that it currently does? Or has there been a song where you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t? What has God shown you through both/either circumstance?
My biggest surprise for an impactful song is definitely “No Matter What”. I think, for one, it was my first single. I had no idea how radio worked, or even really what being on the road was like, so that whole thing was a surprise. The thing I’m most thankful for about that song being so impactful is one- that it has made an impact, but two- that it came from a really real place; that it was from a sermon that my father preached. It was a song that I had written, started writing years before I ever had a deal, so it came from this very true place to me subject wise. I’m just thankful that it has had that big of an impact. I feel like another song that’s really important to me is “Keep Breathing”, and I wish that it really would have done well on radio, but on the other hand it does have a very big impact live and online, and all that.
I would say, what God shows you through any circumstance, is just “calm down”. It’s really not about the charts. It’s about you having open hands, and living in submission to Him. And once you can really get into that place, there’s a lot of peace in that.
12. For anyone who is reading this interview and is feeling discouraged or down, either because of something in their life currently or something spoken over them, what can you say to them?
If someone’s down because of something that’s been spoken over them, I want to remind them that those are lies, and that they’re not defined by human being’s lies, but they’re defined rather by the truth of God. And that the truth of God is that they’re made in the image of Him, that they’re loved by Him, that they can be redeemed by Him if they would accept Jesus Christ, and that they can be new creatures. And if they’re discouraged by life circumstances, that once again, they’re not alone, and that they are seen. In Psalm 139, it says that there is nowhere we can go from God’s presence. That they could call out to Him and He will answer. And I’d also encourage them to not do it alone.
Get involved in your church, reach out to your pastor, reach out to your friend, find someone who will be there so support you, because we’re called to act as a body of Christ and not just by ourselves, and we should not try to go through anything, happy or sad, on our own.
13. You have been in the music industry for a few years. What keeps you grounded and 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 the motivation behind it all?
My family keeps me grounded. I have an awesome relationship with my mom and dad. I have an older brother and sister, they’re married, they have kids, I have an awesome husband, we’ve been married for almost two years, and, they are my life.
There is a famous quote, and I don’t even know who she’s quoting, but it’s something that my mother says, and she just always says, ‘there’s two things that matter, one- that you love God, two- that you love the people that you should love’. And I think it all just comes down to that.
14. What do you do in your downtime- any music that is on your iTunes playlist currently? Any TV shows you are currently binge-watching?
My hugest passion beyond music, family and faith is FOOD! I’m constantly learning more about nutrition and cooking delicious food. I so want to spread the news that people can change their lives by the way they eat!
I really love to journal. I love to dance around. I call them dance breaks. And I put on music really loud. I’m not a great dancer at all, but I am obsessed with dancing, and love watching it, so I love to do that. I love to just hang out with the people that I love. I travel a lot, so when I have time to just hang out, I love doing that. And as far as shows, for whatever reason, I love watching reality TV competitions. I love So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With the Stars, and Masterchef, even though some of the stuff they cook is really gross. And I absolutely love, love, love American Ninja Warrior. It makes me want to be a rock climber. So I’m actually just someone who wants to dance, and rock climb.
15. Any parting words, encouragements or anything else you want to share to listeners of your music that you haven’t discussed in this interview yet?
Thank you so much for these questions. I guess what I would say is that I’m very excited about this new music. I really do hope that it is an encouragement to people. The response so far has been awesome. Everyone can go on my website and learn more about the music and read reviews.
I’m still very, very hopeful that eventually I’ll be able to come to Australia and meet my people there. It’s kinda strange to call them fans, they’re more like friends that I just haven’t met yet.
But I’m truly thankful for what I do, I don’t take it for granted. I’m taking it a day at a time. I guess that’s what I would say to everyone else. Take it a day at a time. Each day has enough worry for its own. I believe that’s a verse in Matthew. So God bless you. Thank You!
Be sure to check out Kerrie Robert’s new EP My Heart’s Lifted in stores and at digital outlets in December, and on her website now! Also, check out Kerrie’s youtube page here, as well as her music video below!