It all started when…

The Topography Concept [4/26]

"Topography - a detailed description or representation on a map of the natural and artificial features of an area."

I had to take wilderness courses multiple times in previous jobs. One as a forestry tech (wildland firefighter) and one as an infantryman (U.S. Army national guard). Both courses I remember being completely taken by the beauty of topographic maps. Standing at the edge of a cliff one could see out for miles and still have no idea what terrain existed between them and where they needed to go. A topo map solves that problem. All you need to know is your current position and you can instantly find the safest rout to your destination. I always used to imagine though, at some point in history an individual had to walk out into the unknown to chart that territory. Sure, we have aircraft now that make this job much easier but the first topographic map was made in the 19th century. This album was a battle on multiple fronts. First, I had a feeling I knew what would sell and I honestly wrote quite a few of those songs. I have nothing against the music business. In fact, a lot of my dreams come in line with it but there was something else burning in my chest that kept pulling me in a direction that scared me because I thought it would prolong my journey towards "public success" as a songwriter. Please know that I am not trying to sound entitled here. I am not saying I have what it takes to write hits and I just ignored it to be 'authentic'. What I am saying is that I stood at a giant Y in the road before committing to a specific sound with this project. One road lead to songs that I knew would be easier to listen to and digest especially within the Church. The other road had a greater chance of calling the listener into uncharted territory. I wrestled with this constantly until we broke ground on the album in North Carolina. Even then I still didn't have a clear landing pad. I just sort of trusted what was most naturally coming out of me. What I didn't want this record to be was shallow. I wanted to look at this project more as an art installation. Something I burn all of my fuel on and unapologetically give to the world. This being my first "BLM" record I knew if this project was anything but completely me I would exist in an industry with a mask on for the rest of my career. If I could say anything to brand new songwriters out there I would simply say, make sure your first record is the most 'you' you can make it. Building from a foundation that isn't a direct representation of the things you love will lead to a life of slavery and comparison. What is this record a map of? It is a topographic map of me. As narcissistic as that sounds, I knew there was no possible way I could create one for anyone else. My belief was that If I started creating a map of myself, maybe others would experience that my findings shed light on things that existed within them as well. Rather than trying to build an alluring ocean I knew nothing about, I wanted to dig a well beneath me. My dream is that this method of art inspires others to create from this foundation. The questions, the answers, the heights and the depths are all tied together in a beautiful package that Jesus is begging to be invited into. I do believe that this is one key to reaching the world. There is so much beauty in mystery. If we remove that from our expression we are missing out on an incredible opportunity. God has always thrived in darkness. He isn't scared of it. We shouldn't be either. Somewhere within you there are two things. A wilderness and a means to document. This is an incredibly sacred space that you have access to 100% of the time. I challenge you to go take a walk and ask God to help you begin the journey inward. I have not a single regret of embarking on this journey. You have something engrained in you that the world desperately needs. You have a choice to hold it in if you wish. I highly recommend not doing that. I need it, they need it and you need it. We all win when we encounter individuals that have the courage to truly exist.