Cover image: The Soorleys, Photographer: gem speeden.
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Parachute Summer 13/14
My Story – Mark de Jong
The Story and the Song – Greg Burson
Storytellers – Sy Rogers
No Such Thing as Christian Music - Michael Gungor
The New Storytellers
The Engine Room
Parachute 2014 Profile – Kye Kye
Parachute 2014 Profile – John Mark McMillan
Parachute Summer 13/14
“If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen... a great lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting – only the deeply personal and familiar.” John Steinbeck
“Whoever tells the best story, shapes the culture.” Erwin McManus
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need the most in the world.” Philip Pullman
Parachute Summer 13/14
he older we get, the more we start to see life as a giant story. We start to grasp that we are part of a much bigger generational tale, one that gives us our roots and heritage, shapes who we are and gives us a strange sense of comfort - almost as if we can fall back into it like a big, old, soft duvet. We somehow have an urgency to find our “home base” to pin our existence on, to feel part of something much bigger than ourselves, and to unravel a bit of how we internally tick. Stories have a way of connecting us all. Through someone being brave enough to voice theirs, we become part of their story and learn that we’re not the only ones going through a bewildering life experience. Our humanity is a fragile and vulnerable thing. One of the biggest gifts you can ever give someone is a little glimpse into your world and your heart…how? By telling your story. So welcome to the Story Book edition. Crammed full of stories from all over the place – from festival punters, from a senior pastor or two, from our artists and a whole heap more. We hope you are encouraged and inspired and perhaps think of how and to whom you can share your own story. It might just change someone’s world. Chris de Jong
parachute STORIES From the urban myth to the infomercial testimony, a story is a potent thing. It reminds us that we are one thread in a massive context. Every year weâ€™re lucky enough to hear your stories about how Parachute Festival affected you or how a song saved your life. These words are like lifeblood. They remind us of a greater context. We want to share some of these stories with you; they are the reason we do what we do.
ne year I needed a ride to Parachute Festival. I wanted to go up on the Friday night and come back early Sunday morning, so I could go to work Monday. So, I got a ride with a guy called Trevor who I had known all my life but not really been friends with. I was nervous about spending three hours in a car with a guy that I didn’t really know. It turns out I didn’t have anything to worry about. Trev was great to talk to. What stood out most for me was that he knew what he liked and didn’t. Over the weekend we saw a bit of each other and he was easy to talk to. We left after the main act on Sunday night and we still found things to talk about, even though it was late. I climbed into bed at 3am; as my head hit the pillow I asked God if I could marry someone like Trevor. Three year later I did and we are about to celebrate our first anniversary. It’s amazing how God brings people together, if I didn’t need that ride I probably wouldn’t have got to talk to Trev and our relationship would be very different.”
e love so many different genres and so to find such a variety every single Parachute Festival means that we never get bored, and never go home without seeing something we love. Skillet, Manafest, Hillsong, Chris Tomlin, Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, Ruby Frost, Strahan, Rapture Ruckus, Parachute Band - the list goes on and on. What Parachute has birthed in my children, is an understanding that a lyric makes all the difference! My son has developed a strong taste for screamo. I confess I don’t mind a bit myself. Parachute has changed our musical culture, in that, regardless of our taste in musical genre, there are now artists out there who will support our Christian beliefs. The lyric and heart of a song is so important, and to know and understand that the heart of an artist is turned towards God’s heart, allows me the confidence as a parent to know that this music may also be used to turn the hearts of us and many others to God also.”
" ’ve been struggling with depression and many other things for about 3-4 years now. Often I just don’t get the motivation to leave the house, do anything, or talk to anyone, but I’ve gone to Parachute for the past two years, with a push from my youth group and family. Well, this year, when I was hanging out with a few of my friends that I’d bumped into, this amazing guy (about my age) came up to me and started talking to us as if he knew us. It was fantastic. He was saying how he had asked God to bless him with a word that had some sort of meaning.. .and from then on he couldn’t get the word ‘headache’ out of his head. For some reason he came up to us and asked if it meant anything to us. I sat there thinking - what the hell is he on about?! Then I started thinking about how amazing it was that he confided in God to bless him with the word but also to just go up to strangers and talk to them about it. I get headaches constantly, so regularly that it almost feels odd not having one. So I explained that to him and he looked me right in the eye and said “May I pray for you?” He then sat there for a good ten minutes praying for me, and it meant the world to me. After that he sat with me and my friends for well over an hour and just chatted with us. Then him and I walked back to the Palladium and we spoke about depression, anxiety and so much stuff and how we’d both been through it, and struggled. It was not only inspiring and admirable that he had had such an amazing ‘God Moment’, but also that he had come through so much and had such strong faith. I thanked him so many times. He was such a blessing. I wish I could thank him again, because he really does still give me a little boost of hope. I still feel so guilty. In my moment of being so overwhelmed by his faith and strength, I never asked his name. I don’t know if he remembers me, but I know I’ll never forget him.”
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" n 2009 I was anorexic, shy and unconfident and I had just lost my sister to cancer. It was on the Saturday when my life started to change. I came to Parachute Festival for the whole day with my best friend, not knowing what was going to happen. I really enjoyed the Family Force 5 concert that night and when I met the guys at the autograph session, frontman Soul Glow smiled and winked at me. It was so awesome - it was like Jesus was saying to me “It’s ok, you are awesome”. Ever since then I’ve gotten a lot better. I’ve gone from being shy and unconfident to outgoing and confident. When I saw the Family Force 5 guys at the Parachute Festival 2013 ‘Meet and Greet’, I told them about the changes in my life and they thought it was awesome. I would like to say to others out there if you are struggling with anything reach out to Jesus and find a band that will speak His hope and love into your life and see the changes start to happen.”
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Family Force 5
" was always bullied, had no friends and had a warped perception of a father. I had a plan; to go to Parachute Festival, then commit suicide straight afterwards where no-one would find me. I felt that worthless. I had previously attempted suicide but didn’t get anywhere with it, but at Parachute 2012 my life was transformed. I found God, in a way I never had. I felt His love and also felt the love of other people at the Festival. The whole feel of Parachute and how caring people are is just insane. It’s like nothing I have ever experienced before. After being radically touched by God, I decided to not end my life, and instead, to push on and follow my dreams that God had put into my heart a long time ago, but so many people had shut down. I moved to Auckland alone (still 16) where I knew no-one, got a place and started to turn my life around. In the last year I cannot begin to explain to you how much my life has changed. I used to be depressed, alone and broken. Now I am the happiest person ever. I have worked in a lot of media shows, become the presenter of a small documentary, made some amazing friends and become involved with an amazing church. I just got home from Parachute 2013 and again, my life has been changed, things shifted and my passion for God grew. Sometimes I think we forget the real meaning behind Parachute. We go for the music, to hang out with friends and just for a plain good time. But at the end of the day, we are all here because of one thing: God. If we let Him, He can turn Parachute from a normal music festival to a life-changing encounter - He did it for me and I could never go back to where I was that day before Parachute two years ago.”
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enjoyed performing at the festival. It was unreal to me - that people a day ahead in time, on the other side of the world know some random Albuquerquean hardcore kid’s poems. There is no way I can take credit for that. Truly, ours is a God who loves to give good gifts to his children. I hope that my poems are as good a gift to those of you who listen to them, as you are to me. One of the most special experiences I had was with a Maori person after my performance on the festival’s White Elephant stage, where we exchanged a salutation of sorts known as the hongi. This exchange looks something like an “angel” or “eskimo” kiss, where two people close their eyes, touch noses and foreheads in a close embrace, and then exchange the “ha” or “breath of life”. It is a deeply traditional and sacred act - a sign of respect and intimacy. For me, in completing the act with this man, I was no longer considered a visitor, but one of the people of the land. As I have researched a bit on it since, it seems that the longer you hold this embrace, the higher the esteem that is shown. Frankly, I feel a little insecure about that now, because I was so confused when we did it that I think we held the position for a millisecond before I moved away and asked, “Was that right?” So, maybe I’m considered a part of the land. The guy that invited me into this honored embrace was an amazing poet. He performed a short piece for me just before I had to leave, and he had to be one of the fastest-flowing linguists I’ve ever heard. Perhaps this will not have been my first and last time in New Zealand, and I will have the honor of sharing in the hongi with him again, now that I have a deeper respect and understanding of it. At any rate, thank you. Thank you Parachute Festival. Thank you Kiwi Culture, thank you Maoris, thank you to everyone who made my wife and me feel welcome in your country. Thank you for inviting us in the first place. It was humbling to have attended such a wonderful event. Lastly, thank you to the group of young men who found me just left of the Palladium after the hardcore showcase, prayed for me and encouraged me. Perhaps someday, I will be able to express what that meant to me, and the way Jesus used you to give me hope for the wrestlings that have been happening in my heart. Those prayers were providential and I believe that God planned them for a purpose larger than you knew. Levi the Poet
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7. dangerous, but powerful utensil of Christianity – ‘the stage’. Fleur, my younger sister, and I got our festival underway by watching Sleeping Giant, an American band signed with a new and radicalised Christian music label ‘Come and Live’. ‘Come and Live’ bands are committed wholly and sincerely to being “like Christ” in character and musicianship alike. The vocalist had an incredibly humble approach and a ferocious honesty that disarmed even a cynic like me. The frontman referred to his horrific experience of being sexually abused as a young child. Weighty topics like this, if ever broached from ‘stage’, are unfortunately often used to create a triumphilistic excuse for God’s lack of action: “It’s ok because God saved me!”
“Pegged down in the dirt between the teeth of God’s White smile… I am the ghastly missing tooth…”
hese were the words I penned a year ago to sum up the internal experience of Parachute 2012, participating as an ex-Christian. Naturally, during 2012 Parachute, I did have a lot of fun. It’s the single annual event that my younger sister and I can share beyond the borders of her difficult existence; bound down by intestinal failure, hospitalisation and chronic unrelenting pain. But personally, in 2012 I left Parachute feeling unwanted and unwelcome by the Christian community en masse, because of my election of non-Christian beliefs. Parachute 2013, in my opinion, marked a radical and beautiful change in the agenda of persecution that previously dominated the atmosphere of collective Christian events.
This man made it about those in the crowd who may have had similar experiences. In contrast to what I expected, in an exasperated yell, he exclaimed. “If you have been abused, you need to know that God had nothing to do with it...it is NOT ok.”
When I previously did some theological training, I encountered endless debates with students about the state of Christian music – more precisely, its addiction to emulating pop culture in order to capture new and impressionable teens, or to vice believers into their chosen walk. These debates were usually centered on the parachurch pandemic – gorgeous faces, generic and unnervingly romanticised lyrics and E minor chords played over guiltinflicting tithe messages. For so long that ‘stage’ and the powerful influence it has had over the Christian community has been the bane of my life. Why? It’s dangerous.
For far too long the hook of “God’s in control of EVERY-THING has confused and burned victims of horror. This man radically challenged the hegemonic world view, and I imagine for some victims present it would have been a healing release. He also touched the controversial issue of miraculous healing. This is a dangerous topic to fall on my ears as I take my sister’s chronic illness so seriously, that if someone tries to screw with her reality, I get vicious. But he did well.
The music is offering nothing that non-Christian artists aren’t already doing and, most importantly, it reflects nothing of the life and death of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. But, let me assure you, the stirrings of discontent and promise of change are beginning to make their way to that
By his own admission of living with a wife who is chronically ill, he offered up a prayer asking for healing….which is not out of the ordinary except that within his language was a powerful discontent and rage against the existence of
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action by individuals living by compassion in these groups. Breathing Still made their way to the stage. Perhaps one of the most absorbing live performances I’ve seen in years but what makes this band unique is the individual members’ dedication to living like Jesus. The band’s vocalist has literally saved the life of a younger man recently by offering him an escape route from a desperate and tormented situation on the other side of the country. It has been a costly financial action for him as well as a significant investment of time, conversation and care. He has provided a means for this young man to escape and invited him into community to be safe and free. He still rejects any praise, claiming none of his efforts as cost, only doing what he believes anybody else would do. From my perspective, it is the Gospel and, as terrifying as it is for me to admit, what this musician is doing makes it incredibly real.
sickness. He was lamenting, protesting to God on behalf of the sick. And while a miracle may not have happened in that moment for my young sister, the joy that permeated her whole body was quite honestly enough to satisfy both her and I. This vocalist prayed with feeling – not pity! He prayed as one bewildered by his own and others’ plights – alongside them. Following this act was a risky move by Parachute, the metalcore band, Oh, Sleeper. The band was a welcome surprise to me; Oh, Sleeper is not a Christian band. In fact, only the vocalist is a professing Christian. During their performance the frontman delivered a provocative statement: “If you know someone who is searching for God, let them search! Respect their search and value it like your own faith”. As a person who falls into the oddity of one who is “searching” I felt honored. I felt welcome.
Of course, these artists are “underground”. Ignored by most for reasons I entirely understand. I avoided going to the mainstream acts of the festival. So I cannot speak on the topic regarding the whole Parachute body. But oddly enough, some 2000 years ago a Jew began an ‘underground’ community, with the estranged, outcast and overlooked. Perhaps what I’ve seen this year in the hardcore/metalcore music community is not so dissimilar from the very seeds of change which eventually became the most influential religion/faith/philosophy in our history.
It wasn’t just the American bands waving the flag, charging on into this new and liberated territory. Wellington act Declaration AD addressed the issue of mental illness head-on. The vocalist offered up his simple plea: “don’t give in to the part of you that wants to bring you harm” – he was evidently speaking from personal experience. Beautifully, he acknowledged the reality of being Christian and simultaneously struggling with an unwell state of mind. He didn’t reject the reality, or say ”Jesus will make it ok” he simply recognised the true struggle of being in faith and living with mental health issues. As somebody who lives with one of those minds, I felt once again honored. Him having Jesus, and me choosing not to, didn’t alienate the reality of possessing a destructive mind. It became a meeting point.
My deepest thanks and respect goes to those who are a part of that change. And my appreciation for giving hope and comfort to my younger sister through the beautiful and misunderstood art of heavy music. Words By Samuel Hennessy read more at www.samueljhennessy.wordpress.com
Is it all just words though? It’s very easy in the hype of a live performance to generate a cathartic monologue. However, the words are most definitely being put into
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MY STORY WORDS BY MARK de Jong
They say a good story is one that wakes you up every morning. We reckon the same can be said for any worthwhile cause. For 23 years we’ve told you the story of an event, unfolding from small rural farmland to the global stage. But the truth is, everything about Parachute Music has been driven by an idea that wakes us up every morning – that music can shift pop culture. We asked Parachute CEO Mark de Jong to tell us his story; one that woke him up and started Parachute’s journey.
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the most incredible and soulful group of musicians, and they took every single person in that auditorium on the ride of their life. As Andrae belted out his classics, ad-libbed like a poet and sweated his way through two hours of emotion and passion, my life changed. I knew right then that music was designed to lift us to a different world and that I would do whatever it took to be a part of this amazing dimension.
come from a family of Dutch immigrants who produced a rather impressive eight progeny. Music wasn’t a high priority for us growing up, although I do remember on the occasional Sunday afternoon Dad would sit and play our little electronic organ. In those days Dad was a baker working 12 hour days, he always seemed tired, he often seemed grumpy, so hearing him hesitantly and badly play a few hymns was kind of reassuring. During church services Mum loved to sing at the top of her voice, which meant I tried to sit at least three seats away!
Through my teens and twenties I played in lots of bands and never lost my love of or belief in music. However, I always had the strong sense that my parents, and particularly my Dad, just didn’t understand what I was doing or why I was doing it. I suspect they were tolerating this phase of my life, hoping I would get a real career before it was too late. I actually ached for my Dad to be proud of me and what I was up to, but he just didn’t seem to get it.
The first time I remember music having a major impact on me was at church. We attended Lower Hutt AOG church. Frank Houston was the pastor of a congregation of about 300 earnest and, at times, crazy Pentecostals. His son Brian was a few years older than me and had started playing drums in the evening services, I loved to sit at the front and watch Brian and the band belt out the songs. There was always a bit of drama. One time I remember our organist Ron Sangster getting so frustrated with the fact that Brian would play a rock beat for each and every song, that he jumped up from the organ in the middle of a song, snatched his drum sticks and hid them for the rest of the service. Ron was a bit of a legend amongst the older folks in the church as he was a key member of a local piano accordion band that was doing quite well in local RSA circles. I didn’t want to take sides, but I was clear in my own mind that drums were more interesting than the organ and piano accordion combined!
In my late 20s, I had the privilege of working with a small team to develop a NZ music festival called Mainstage just out of Otaki. It was a mammoth undertaking, hugely risky, but thankfully almost 3,000 people attended and it broke new ground for Christian musicians in NZ. My Dad, who was a real entrepreneur and so fascinated by the scale of the event, decided to come along for the weekend. I vividly remember standing with Dad late in the weekend and looking over the thousands of people milling around the food area. He said in his rough Dutch accent ‘This music is far too loud for me. I wouldn’t come to a place like this for the music, but I can see the impact it is having on all these young people, this is amazing’. He told me that he was proud of me. That meant so much.
Like many young boys I had always loved the drums and after taking a staring role on the kit for our Sunday School graduation, I started to wonder if I should look into music more.
Dad went on to attend every festival I organised up until the time he passed away a few years ago. He became my biggest supporter. He never really liked the music, but he caught a glimpse of how music can impact people and he wanted to be part of that. He passed away early morning of Tuesday 27 January 2009, just one day after Parachute Festival that year. My last words to him as lay in a semicoma in an Auckland hospital were “Dad, Parachute went well, hundreds of people came to know Jesus”. Although he couldn’t respond by talking, I could just feel his pleasure at another event that touched thousands of lives.
One Sunday night ‘Scripture in Song’ came from Auckland to lead our congregation. That night was life changing. One of New Zealand’s top drummers, Tony Hopkins, had recently become a Christian and was part of the Scripture in Song band that night. In the middle of the service he was asked to do a drum solo. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven, as this amazing musician played jazz-fusion beats and made the kit sound like nothing I had heard before. It was like music and rhythm came alive, I was entranced, a new world had opened to me.
One of the biggest thrills now for my wife Chris and I is seeing our own adult children take up the privilege and responsibility of creating great music that will impact many thousands of people. My happiest times are sitting in a recording studio hearing a song that Sam is producing for someone or hearing a gut-wrenching new song that Jane has written. I can’t imagine a life that wasn’t immersed in music, I reckon that would be just plain boring.
A number of years later, when I was about 12 and starting to explore playing the guitar for myself, American artist Andrae Crouch and his band The Disciples visited New Zealand. I somehow talked Mum into taking me to their Wellington Town Hall concert. That night blew my mind! Here was this Afro American sitting at a grand piano with
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THE STORY AND THE SONG WORDS BY greg burson
Together with his wife Linda, Greg Burson planted Auckland church Edge Kingsland in 1999, Since then, the church has become a burgeoning creative community of storytellers and songwriters, with three influential albums of original worship music under their belt. Find out more about Edge Kingsland at www.edgekingsland.co.nz.
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God is our universal storyteller and songwriter; the transcendent narrator and conductor who is constantly unfolding the plot of this life, and the one to come.
ur lives are shaped and rhythmed by the ubiquitous reality of story and song. From the onset of time they have formed cultures, fashioned languages, ravaged us with every emotion and contributed to the ever-evolving nature of our spirituality. They are the staple diet of life, demanding our attention, forming our memories and awakening our creativity.
We are characters and performers that God somehow manages to keep alive long enough to stay interested in Him. And inside of all of us is this “hum of reverence” (thanks Jane Fonda) that is looking for its story line. An internal desire that is a part of an eternal plan.
Stories are an invitation to the imagination to come play in other spaces and worlds for the sake of our growing understanding. They are bigger than us, yet small enough to include us in the details. Our songs are the backing track that gives our story the emotive engagement it demands.
God is our universal storyteller and
How many times have you heard a song and had an instant memory jolt, being transported back to another time and place where pleasure and pain negotiated our seasons of life?
songwriter; the transcendent narrator
Every time I hear disco music I recall the memories of my teenage dancing and dating years and my love/hate relationship with pubescent awkwardness. The growing pains of adult emergence...ah, those were the days.
and conductor who is constantly unfolding
We all grew up being read stories and being sung to by a guardian, a parent, a friend. A social commentator, even. In another time the “radio” (now there’s a word) informed and instructed us in the ways of the world, keeping us connected to the universal sound of our evolving cosmos. Our ethos and education was formed and reformed by the metanarrative being outplayed around us.
the plot of this life, and the one to come.
The Bible - one of the greatest pieces of literature to grace the planet - is a sprawling narrative that recites the mythology and melody of humanity’s journey. A journey that carries from the ‘big boom’ (which sounds better than ‘bang’) of creation; through to the apocalyptic prognostications of those who are trying to work out the “happily ever after”.
You owe it to yourself everyday to use your imagination to write a new chapter in your story and pen a new score to the backing track of your life, which might actually keep the next generation inspired enough to do the same. We all have our favourite storytellers; one of mine is Dr Seuss. It is forever etched in my mind that a good story is constantly trying to re-metaphor and re-imagine life. How many of us knew there was such a thing as Sneetches, a Fox with Socks, a Cat in a Hat, just to name a few. All creative caricatures that help us rethink our world as we know it.
Eugene Peterson, one of my favourite authors, says it like this: “The biblical way is to tell a story and invite us; ‘Live into this - this is what it looks like to be human in this God-made and God-ruled world; this is what is involved in becoming and maturing as a human being.’ We don’t have to fit into prefabricated moral and mental or religious boxes before we are admitted into the company of God. We are taken seriously just as we are and given place in his story - for it is, after all, God’s story. None of us is the leading character in the story of our lives. God is the larger context and plot in which all our stories find themselves.”
The re-telling of life through story and song is an “all-play’” responsibility. So let’s sing, write, and love for the sake of the world.
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storytellers WORDS BY sy rogers
Sy’s unique life and three decades of ministry have inspired and encouraged audiences from London’s Royal Albert Hall to many of the world’s most influential pulpits. A gifted communicator, award-winning talk show host, recording artist and pastoral care specialist, Sy is a leading voice regarding sexuality, cultural themes and God’s character. Married since 1982, Sy and his family have recently returned to New Zealand, where he is a Teaching Pastor at LIFE church in Auckland.
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hat’s your story?
want to be convinced that our lives have value and purpose, that we can overcome our obstacles. We want to be loved, and need to be rescued. There are many ways all this plays out in multi-faceted story-telling, from drama to comedy. Great stories are, at the core, redemptive and therefore, inspirational. Such stories play to our yearning, our hope and our need for the reinforcement of certain truths. It’s true too, that some great stories are tragic, and therefore cautionary (Romeo and Juliet). But these cautionary tales still impart value through their warning, that it’s not too late to correct course and choose better. Jesus shared several cautionary stories, such as the Parable of the Wise and the Foolish Virgins or The Rich Young Ruler. Ultimately though, these are stories to inspire one toward God.
I was a broken and needy young man, from a childhood of abuse and tragedy with a chip on my shoulder toward God whom I blamed for my suffering. Though misled and wandering, I had an unexpected encounter with God that then set me upon an unanticipated path to becoming an ambassador for Him and an icon of hope. The best part of the story is that God earned back my trust as I was willing to take the gamble of learning about Him. He won my wounded, wary heart, gave me a place at His table and afforded me the kind of life adventure a scriptwriter would not likely imagine. That pretty much sums it up. Why is our story so powerful?
Foundationally, humans are interested in humans. Every tabloid and biography makes this point. In modern times, personal experience has great credibility and authority. This is the outcome of several factors. Cynicism towards constant marketing in media causes us to seek that which is genuine or authentic. The telling of one’s personal journey is an act of vulnerability that is usually appreciated and respected as authentic.
What musicians out there are telling great stories?
That’s an interesting question. I do not look for the obvious, as in ‘great lyrics’ telling a great story in a great song… although there are examples of this. Instead, I look at the lives of the artists. In other words, as a spoken word artist, teacher, communicator, I tell my audiences not to be impressed with a talented orator. Hitler was one. It’s the content AND the character of the communicator, displayed over time. So I look beyond the stage persona, hype, marketing and talent. It’s life ‘off stage’ that also tells the story: like Bono of U2 - his music onstage speaks, but it’s his efforts to use his influence to benefit others that is also impressive. Celine Dion has a rare vocal gift, but she is also famous for being grounded and focused on her marriage and family life. Bono and Celine are not examples of the latest pop sensation, but they have enjoyed enormous, sustained commercial success globally and have not been undone by it.
Additionally, relativism in Western cultures says there are no absolutes - except ‘personal experience’. Therefore, ‘What I believe may not be your truth, but it’s MY truth’. This logic is hard to refute and gives powerful cred to one’s personal story. No doubt social media encourages and enables people to narrate themselves day-by-day: ‘I’m eating pie now’, ‘I’m in Paris now’, ‘I’m getting stitches in my knee now’…People bother to post such things and others bother to read them, because there is that basic, powerful interest in what people do. If you were to tally up your own timeline posts or tweets at the end of the year, what kind of story would have been posted?
Over the course of time, they have persevered in spite of humanity and circumstance. They are examples that inspire many beyond the matter of their music. New Zealand has many wonderful artists, who also demonstrate this same persevering integrity, making them more than performers. Their lives inspire by example of how they live, and what they live for.
Indeed, everyone everywhere has a story to tell. Considering that we all live in a world that serves up tragedy and comedy, adversity and opportunity, each story will likely bring insight. But the best stories, the truly powerful stories, inspire us onward and upward. Any artist who gets this, has the potential to become a great story teller.
Now THAT’S a life message…that’s a story worth observing!
What are the fundamental elements of a great story? Keep up with Sy at:
A great story is not just entertainingly told. It employs the great themes of drama and hope, adversity and triumph, reconciliation and redemption—these register with people universally. Humans do seem ‘pre-wired’ to naturally connect with redemptive stories. Truth is, we are all in some kind of drama and cannot save ourselves. We also
syrogers.com Facebook.com/syrogerscommunications Twitter.com/syrogers1 Download his new app from syrogersapp.com
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THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CHRISTIAN MUSIC WORDS BY MICHAEL GUNGOR
You could label Gungor frontman Michael Gungor a double agent of sorts, responsible for such church anthems as “Beautiful Things”, yet constantly challenging the confines of a subculture. In this excerpt from his blog, the “Liturgical Post-Rock” tunesmith shares his thoughts on genres, JPMs and cassette burnings.
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grew up going to a small school, which was part of the small church that I was part of in our small town, which, you may not be surprised to discover, created kind of a small view of reality in my mind…The story of the universe was about a six thousand year old earth that some big powerful guy that we called “God” made so that I could believe in a guy named Jesus and go to heaven when I died. Anyway, this guy named God had music that he liked, but it was only the kind of music that was sold in stores that also sold lots of Bibles and pictures of bearded white guys holding lambs around their necks. The other kinds of music… you know the kinds that most people listen to that say words like “baby” and “damn” that they sell in places like Best Buy… This guy named God didn’t like that music because for every minute that the music played, you couldn’t hear the word “Jesus” well, any times! He needed a much higher J.P.M. (Jesus per minute) before he liked the song. I know this sounds funny, and I wouldn’t have ever put it into those words, but that was basically the reality. I remember when the youth group burned all of our “secular” tapes. But I had a problem, because I didn’t really own any secular tapes, at least none with words like “baby” or “damn” in them. So I think I may have just found my tape with the least amount of J.P.M.-ness and tore it to pieces! I look back at those days with a mixture of embarrassment and fondness. I liked how simple the world was when it was so small and understandable. But, small-mindedness doesn’t always have the greatest effect of good in the world. Over the years, as I walked with God, I realized I had made idols and silly images of him in my head. He wasn’t a guy “up there”. In fact, God wasn’t really a “He” at all, that was just a metaphor. Then I went to college and learned that there’s pretty good evidence that the earth is older than 6,000 years old, and that the universe is bigger than I thought it was, as I learned that there are a lot of things that people don’t know…it all humbled me a bit. I began to realize that all creativity and goodness and beauty comes from this infinite creative source that is responsible for the universe’s existence. This God that holds all things together and is the source of all life and love is also responsible for any beautiful thing that human beings ever do, no matter what they believe about Jesus or God or how old the earth is or whatever. All beauty belongs to God. … I realized that things like labels or CD’s can’t be “Christian”, only people can be “Christian”. Christian means being a follower of Jesus. Music can’t follow Jesus. Only people can. That means there is actually no such thing as Christian music. That would be like saying that a house is agnostic because an agnostic built it. A house is a house. Words are words. Music is music. This also means there is no such thing as “secular” music. It’s all just music. … Ideally, I think Christians should seek to maintain a purity of mind and heart that is “not of this world”. We should be aware of what we drink in and how it affects us. … There are films and plays and pieces of literature and art and music that are drenched with the creativity and majesty of the Creator that are made by artists who would call themselves “atheists”. They can’t help where they got that creativity from, even if they’d like to try. On the other side of the coin, for those who may be cynical towards the “Christian” markets, we must remind ourselves that even in things labeled “Christian”, the beauty of God can be found. This constant tension of trying to live in the world but not of it is a tricky one, and it’s easy to get the two ideas mixed up. There’s nothing wrong with singing songs about Jesus, and trying to sell it to Christians. At least I hope not, because that’s what my job is… And, believe it or not, I do love a lot of Christian music actually. But my hope for myself and the Church today is that we could learn how to recognize and be formed by the true, the good, the beautiful that is reflective of the presence and voice of God in the world around us, both inside and outside of the church. And secondly, that we would recognize the pollution of the world that is present in much of the human art as well, both inside and outside of the church, and learn how to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. Gungor is playing Parachute Festival 2014.
Catch more of his musings at, or grab a copy of his book ‘The Crowd, The Critic and The Muse: A Book for Creators’ at www.gungormusic.com
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Parachute artist Development
THe NEw STOrYteLLERS Allow us to make some introductions. For a long time we’ve wanted to find a more practical way of supporting emerging artists with potential. This year, our Artist Development initiative was born. The project sees us getting alongside four artists from New Zealand and Australia and journeying with them for a year. From recordings to photoshoots and one-on-one mentoring, we get to be a part of these artist’s stories, helping them with the bricks and mortar of their careers. We’re only part way into the first year and we’re already richer for the experience. It’s our great pleasure to be throwing ourselves behind this amazing talent, to see our mission outworked in real terms. So, we reckon it’s time you met our crew.
Styling: Gem Speeden and Chris de Jong Photography: Gem Speeden
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f you went along to any of the Paul Colman and Steve Apirana tour dates in August, you would have already had the pleasure of meeting Talia Caradus. Having escaped Otago’s wintry grasp for Auckland, the Dunedin-raised songwriter is weaving her way into New Zealand’s hearts with her endearing songs of love, life and glacial heartbreak.
At 15 years old, Talia placed in the top ten of Play It Strange’s national songwriting competition, garnering praise from the likes of Exponent troubador Jordan Luck for her song ‘One Last Question’. Alongside her songwriting, Talia’s developed a vibrant internet community around her, with over 100,000 views across her bedroom covers of Bon Iver, Avalanche City and Band of Horses. In 2010 she recorded her debut album ‘The Shelter’ with her brother Matt, giving it away for donation on Bandcamp. Hunkered down in a songwriting hibernation in 2013, Talia’s poised for even bigger things in the coming year. · 29 ·
Parachute artist Development
nakita turner Y
ou could easily assume Christchurch’s Nakita Turner was born with a guitar in her hand. There’s an air about her that belies her youth – and so there should be. Turner was writing and performing songs before she hit doubledigits, wrangling her brothers to form a house band and making short work of the South Island’s local talent shows circuit. It wasn’t long before 14-year old Nakita was wrangling within those small circles too, shoulder-tapping familiar contestants for a higher cause; anti-bullying. “I had this idea that it would be really great to write a song about how kids get bullied, the effect it has on kid’s lives and how we can stand up to this problem” the Cantabrian enthuses, “I wanted to bring together a group of talented young artists to record a great anti-bullying song inspired by the fellow kids of Christchurch.” And so, among the cracks of Canterbury’s musical community, the seeds of the song ‘One Voice’ were sown. Over one short year, Turner’s inescapable enthusiasm has seen her trace lines up and down the country, uniting not only peers, but musical heroes, in order to lend weight to her anti-bullying anthem. Nakita visited schools around Canterbury, polling students for lyrics. She knocked on studio doors and sent out letters in earnest. She wrangled another house band; this time she found herself backed by Matt Barus and L.A Mitchell from Christchurch band Dukes, who acted as Nakita’s songwriting mentors, helping her flesh out the song. Turner has also dedicated the profits from ‘One Voice’ to local anti-bullying group Our Voice, a collective of Kiwi students building anti-bullying resources for their peers. Plans are underway for a music video to back the song, produced by New York-based ex-pat Katie Hinsen, who has worked alongside Peter Jackon at Weta Workshops. In her own indomitable fashion, Turner’s currently making her way through New Zealand’s celebrity phonebook, hoping to get as much star power behind the video as possible. “I have been personally affected by bullying and I know many others who have too. The phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is totally false. There are lots of kids out there who are hurting because of bullying. I have always had a heart to help these kids,” says Turner of the campaign, speaking like a champion who has truly found her voice.
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Parachute artist Development
路 32 路
the soorleys Y
ou will hear the usual chaos of a family reunion; tiny riots of laughter that reduce the span of absence to a distant memory. You’ll hear the in-jokes, the memories and the recalling of age-old embarrassments. These are all the sounds of home. The Soorleys are a tousled bohemian outfit. Sisters Beth, Laura, Shelley and Millie are up front, with husbands Sam and Christopher in tow, rounded-out by honorary cousin Phil - when it comes to bands, few people can boast such familial chemistry. The daughters of a travelling preacher, Beth, Laura, Shelley and Millie were never far from an impromptu knees-up. There were hastily arranged renditions of ‘Edelweiss’ or the gospel sway of Sister Act’s ‘Joyful, Joyful’ – one that still gets wheeled out at family gatherings. It wasn’t long before the sisters were finishing each other’s musical sentences, creating four-part folk harmonies that channeled vocal groups of the 60’s. Sam joined the sisters, drafted in on drums and raised on a trans-Tasman diet of Crowded House and Aussie folk-rockers Goanna. Lured from across a crowded bar by Beth’s pitch-perfect rendition of ‘Summer of 69’, multi-instrumentalist Christopher joined the family soon after. Seventh member Phil is a cardcarrying blood brother on bass. Together, they are The Soorleys. The moniker is a tip of the hat to the sister’s mother’s maiden name; the music is a family jamboree. They call it ‘fun folk’; the raw stomp of their Irish ancestors and the pop sensibilities of Fleetwood Mac. The Soorleys are here to get you dancing. There’s no shoegazing here; onstage the sisters spin, hoot and holler with joy and abandon. “Thunders roar, we dance, we’re chasing all our fears away,” they sing, chanting incantations atop folk rhythms. You will hear the usual chaos. The four-part harmonies, the jangle of banjos and the thump of the floor tom. The reckless spirit of a big tent revival. Welcome to the family.
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Parachute artist Development
the veLVET REGImE M
ost high school romances are fleeting things; an awkward heartbreak, a back row obsession. Those lucky enough to find love in rock n’ roll find a different obsession altogether. Trace back the inception of any great rock band and you’re bound to find a bunch of fanatics, swapping mixtapes, gorging on their parents’ records and preaching their musical loves. Wellington four-piece, The Velvet Regime, was birthed around a school desk; it was a coming together of influences as varied as they were refined. Frontman Nigel Martinez brought a trans-generational diet of Pink Floyd, Jefferson Starship, Tame Impala and Grizzly Bear to the table. Drummer Jason Reder offered an adopted pedigree of 50’s rock; Elvis, Gene Vincent and Buddy Holly. All four schoolmates, including guitarist Stefan Poad and bassist Joel Averes, found a common ground in the edgy pop sensibilities of The Strokes, Interpol and Kings of Leon. With any obsession comes the drive for perfection. The quartet eats, drinks and sleeps music, studying indie rock luminaries, determined to crack the code of the perfect hook or the most enchanting melody. Leaving more tunes on the cutting room floor than on the stage, the band believes the song is king and it shows; a Velvet Regime song is a work of finesse – perfectly placed guitar lines intersect with brooding bass work, held together by Reder’s strident drum work and Martinez’s clever melodies. The fixations are clearly paying off; 2011 saw the band take out the Best Song Award for their single ‘There is a Light’ in national heatseeking competition Smokefree Rockquest. Even though school’s out, The Velvet Regime’s mantra remains; write the songs that get stuck in your head. With their influences on their sleeves and their craft at the forefront, this is one obsession made to last.
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路 35 路
THE ENGINE ROOM
While plans for Parachute 2014 were simmering away, we kept ourselves busy taking the trans-Tasman songwriting duo of Paul Colman and Steve Apirana on the road in August. We hit ten North Island dates from Whangarei to Wellington and also got to introduce you to Talia from our Artist Development initiative. August also saw us snag Florida alt-rockers Anberlin for a special Auckland show at the King’s Arms, reminding a packed rock club why they’re still one of the best live acts in the biz.
Nestled on the second floor of our Kingsland H.Q, Parachute Studios has quickly become a boiler room of local talent, a constant stream of rehearsals and recordings. In May, the studios housed our Loyal sessions; a NZ Music Month tribute to national treasure Dave Dobbyn featuring Massad, Brooke Duff and Loui the Zu. And NZ’s inaugural X-Factor winner Jackie Thomas recorded her best selling debut album downstair with producer Sam de Jong.
PIE IN THE SKY
Mystery Creek’s set to hum again in 2014. Our 24th year boasts one of our broadest lineups yet; an array of national treasures, returning festival favourites and fresh faces.
Our artist management imprint has been running the miracle mile in 2013, with the announcement of Ruby Frost as judge on the inaugural season of The X-Factor New Zealand. The pink-haired alt-pop princess is now a household name, guiding two of her artists to the final three of the competition. Never one to rest on her laurels, Ruby will spend the rest of the year in writing mode for her sophomore album, which will include a writing trip to Sweden, the alt-pop capital of the world.
It marks a fresh approach for us too. In previous years we've based our artist selections around one or two established American Contemporary Christian acts. This year we are doing things a little differently, placing the focus high profile Kiwi artists, coupled with some of the best, brightest and most creative acts from around the world.
RWANDA At Parachute 2013, we raised funds for some much needed medical equipment for the health centre in Tubehoneza. Through Festival-goers giving, we were able to provide: • • •
We’ve also thrown in some of the leading voices in creativity, social justice and pop culture; from Mosaic’s Erwin McManus to Invisible Children CEO Ben Keesey and pro-skating legend Christian Hosoi.
A neonatal heat lamp for premature or stressed babies. A generator to help the maternity unit cope with regular power blackouts. A laboratory drier for blood testing.
We’ve profiled a couple of festival artists on the next two pages – we look forward to introducing you to the rest of them over the coming months.
This year, the introduction of our Parachute Tag technology allowed punters to donate leftover credit from their wristbands to Tubehoneza. We rounded up a veritable mountain of tags, bringing the total donations to $29,000. Thanks for your generosity!
See you this summer!
NOISE Our Noise gatherings have continued in 2013, kicking off with an inspiring night with Sydney-based cultural provocateur Jeff Crabtree, who walked a group of local musicians through the creative process. Three stages. Hard work. Who knew? Check out his stuff at www.livingwithacreativemind.com
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- K YE K YE chore. I lost myself in it; it was an outlet for everything from frustrations with relationships to a search for meaning and purpose,” says Tim when describing the passion behind Kye Kye. “For all of us, this has been a labor of love.”
"Thoughts of cloth that lay on stone I am watching a cross that bled alone to be the only valley of trust and hope we know we envision that place then watch it flow through us Your words Are my sight"
Fronted by Olga’s enchanting and slight vocals, Kye Kye couples intricate lyrics with raw, electronic instrumentation. The band’s sound ranges from the organic likes of Sigur Ros, Deathcab for Cutie, and Coldplay, to the electric sounds of artists like M83. Their lyrics are poetic, worship-tinged, their music a mixture of influences. “Genre didn’t really mean a whole lot for us growing up; we never had some kind of loyalty to a specific type of music. Be it folk, R&B, or anything classically 80s or 90s, it was always about the connection and about listening for honesty in the music, and I think that most people can somehow feel it without really being able to explain how.” Olga explains, “When we write songs, that’s what we strive to do: create music that we connect to and that makes us feel things and brings out those emotions within us. That’s what’s important to us in music: a connection.
-‘My Sight’ Though they’ve been around for a while, Kye Kye continues to haunt us in the best possible way. The US-based electro-indie crew are currently working on the release of their sophomore full-length ‘Fantasize’, to be released in January 2014. Kye Kye consists of Estonian-born siblings Olga (vox/ guitar), Timothy (programming/keys/guitar), Alex (keys), and brother-in-law Thomas (drums). Based in Camas, Washington, the atmospheric, femalefronted, indie quartet began at home where music was a part of everyday life growing up. “I don’t think I ever really saw myself doing anything else. Sitting in my bedroom tracking demos, experimenting for hours upon hours was never a
Kye Kye is playing at Parachute 2014.
Meet them at www.kyekyemusic.com
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- JOHN MARK MCMILLAN told God he would give his life if it would draw more people to Him.
"We have seen a darkness But we have seen a light We have felt the love Of a hope’s hot blood In the machinery of night"
All of McMillan’s songs burn with a kind of honesty that usually seems to evade a lot of songwriters. “On this side of eternity, we’re going to have tragedy,” McMillan says. “A lot of times in church we don’t want to talk about those kinds of things because it’s uncomfortable, but there are so many people in church who need to have that dialogue with God that I had. I think that’s why that song has become so powerful.”
- ‘Seen a Darkness’ You may know him as the man behind smash alt-worship tune ‘How He Loves Us’, but truth be told, John Mark McMillan’s been carving out a niche for Americana-tinged worship tunes for years. The North Carolina songwriter writes Gospel music run through the filter of the Southern night; electrified folk from a man who cut his teeth on Dylan and Kerouac and Springsteen all the while haunted by the presence of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost.
McMillan has continued to pen songs of that same heartbreak, vulnerability and poetry. His 2010 album ‘The Medicine’ was hailed as a work of “gutsy, poetic rock n’ roll”, establishing him at the forefront of the indie worship movement. Upon parting ways with his major label earlier this year, McMillan took to Kickstarter to raise $40K for his next album. Within 30 days, his loyal community had gathered around him, raising $70K for the record
Admittedly, it is hard to get past the song that travelled the world. ‘How He Loves Us’ has become an anthem for 21st century worshippers, championed by the likes of Jesus Culture, David Crowder Band, The Glorious Unseen, Flyleaf and Hillsong. The heart-rending story behind the song is as raw as Psalms of old; McMillan wrote the song in response to his best friend’s sudden death in a car accident - an accident that occurred the night after his friend had
JOHn Mark McMillan is playing at Parachute 2014.
Meet him at www.johnmarkmcmillan.com
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