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Exclusive Interview with Samuel Lane

Exclusive Interview with Samuel Lane

By Ed Rotheram on March 29, 2013

Samuel Lane is one of Vineyard UK’s most prolific songwriters of the past few years. With songs such as “Beautiful” (used by Jesus Culture on their Your Love Never Fails release); and “Adore Him” (from Vineyard UK’s My Soul Yearns); Samuel’s songs really capture the heart of what Vineyard worship is all about: simple love songs to our Saviour. Samuel’s first studio album The Fire was released at the end of January and our guest interviewer, Ed Rotheram, had the opportunity to chat with him regarding the release, songwriting, and Vineyard worship.

Ed: Samuel, thank you for sharing with us. First up - the album was released at a Vineyard National Leaders’ Conference with a theme of Vision - with that in mind, could you explain some of the vision behind The Fire?

Samuel: Sure... I really just wanted The Fire to be a vehicle for people to connect with God. Whether that’s in the church, or at home listening to it on their own. It’s a collection of songs that have come from the overflow of my heart over the last couple of years. And I didn’t look to write with a particular vision in mind but for me the core themes are God’s presence, our response to Him, and our dependence on Him. And also the reality of a life walking in relationship with God.

Ed: There is a definite feeling of “togetherness” in this album, it flows well and is really easy to connect with. Did most of the songs start the way they ended up, or did some of this feel come out in the production?

Samuel: It was a really great experience in the studio with Bobby Hartry. One of our first conversations was just about the music we love and what my vision was for the overall sound of the project. And right away it was evident that we were pretty much right there on the same page.

There weren’t many surprises in the studio and generally it just felt like the vision was ‘coming into being’ as it were. I think that’s also one of Bobby’s strengths as a producer; the ability to make you sound like you… just better! He was very deliberate about making sure that I was happy with the way things were turning out. It really was an amazing experience and one I’m still so thankful to God for. God was all over it! A real blessing!

Ed: The album was recorded at your brother-in-law Darren Clarke’s studio in California (Darren & Samuel’s sister Jessie wrote “I Love Your Presence”, among others). Did this make it an easier process, given the underlying strength in the relationship?

Samuel: Actually, it wasn’t their studio. The week before, I tracked a vocal there, but The Fire was recorded in Bobby’s Cat Beach Studio in LA 4 hours south. As soon as I knew I was recording in LA I wanted to get them both involved. That’s when I asked them whether I could put their song ‘Your Love Endures’ on it also. It’s a really simple and beautiful little song. I interned under Darren for 3 months back when I was a teenager and they’ve always been a real encouragement to me. And  it just felt so right to have family on it.

I went out a week early to see them, finish off lyrics and get over the jet lag, etc. And they came down for a couple days and tracked a few parts for me. It was a real blessing. The whole recording felt like a family experience, it was a bit surreal. Bobby and Jen are great people and they really just shared their lives with us for those few weeks we had.

Ed: Many of the lyrics on The Fire reveal a deep intimacy with Jesus, with many gospel truths coming to the fore. Were there any specific places or themes in scripture that were speaking to you as you were writing the lyrics?

Samuel: Well, Psalm 23 was a big one, God’s presence and rest. A bit of that came out in ‘The Father’, another song called ‘Merciful’ has it all over it, but we ended up cutting that song in favour of Jeremy Riddles’s ‘Fall Afresh’ (I’m gonna have to record ‘Merciful’ sometime, it’s one of my favourites). There’s a lot of Bible in this album.

One of my songwriting disciplines once I know the vision or the direction of the song is to research that theme in the Bible and try to truly understand and get my head around it. I want to find the truths in it and get it right. You’ll find lots of little lines you recognize here and there.

Ed: The Vineyard church, as a whole, has been known for a long time for it’s passion and heart for worship. Could you describe how the values of Vineyard worship have shaped you, both as a leader and as a songwriter?

Samuel: Well, the three values are Intimacy, Integrity, and Accessibility. For me intimacy has been a life changer. The knowledge that God has made himself available to us, that we can know him truly as a friend, a father, a brother. That has shaped my life. I’ve always wanted to know Jesus as the disciples did, just in the every day. Yes, He is the almighty creator God… But He can also be our friend. You can’t tag intimacy as a ‘Jesus is my girlfriend’ thing. It’s not about that at all.

It’s been a real privilege to grow up within the Vineyard since I was 7, and integrity is just something that becomes part of you. For me you can’t have passion, without integrity. You can’t have relationship without integrity. You can’t have intimacy without integrity and you sure can’t have great songs without integrity. It’s such a key element. For me I have to keep myself honest in my songs otherwise you are singing a lie. And if you can’t sing it, you just can’t sing it.

For me integrity is not just about lyrics but also about music, and trying to find that balance between integrity and accessibility in the songs is sometimes a real challenge. So I’ve never really sort out to write congregational songs but I love to worship, and lead people into the presence of God and so a lot of my songs come out of that heart. Let the song be the song, don’t try and change it to be something it isn’t.

Ed: Finally, on a light-hearted note, I’ve got to ask: Bobby Hartry is credited in the sleeve notes as having played (among a ton of other instruments), an iPhone on this release. This is the first time I’ve seen this listed. Where does it appear and what is it doing?

Samuel: Yeah, there’s loads of great little touches. Jimmy [Cooke (Executive Producer)] and I had a lot of fun watching him in action. Bobby breaks out of the box all over the place. One particular part I saw was a Brian Eno app he had on his iPhone. He put an electric guitar humbucker into the soundhole of an old vintage acoustic and turned up the gain really high and then would use the sound of the iPhone which would vibrate the strings and then get picked up by the pickup and fed through various reverbs and delays into the guitar amp. Lots of little tricks like that.

He used an Ebow to bring the strings of his acoustic to the point of rattling against the guitar and recorded that, put a little keyboard through all his pedals, used an old wind-up toy monkey thing. A lot of that stuff found it’s way onto ‘the road’ but you can hear little touches of it all over the place, one example being the high pitched squeals on ‘Fiery Love’. There’s loads of depth, and a lot of interesting little layers in the tracks. It’s well worth listening to the CD on a decent pair of headphones to really get the full picture of what’s going on.

Ed: Samuel, thank you for your time and insights, it’s been a real pleasure and a load of fun talking with you!

You can pick up a copy of The Fire here. This album was released on Vineyard UK’s national record label - you can find out more about them here.

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