Martin Smith Interview | Family, Music, Life & ‘God’s Great Dance Floor’

Martin Smith Interview | Family, Music, Life & God’s Great Dance Floor

What do you do when you’ve spent 20 years of your life touring with one of Christian music’s biggest bands and then decide to take time off? For Martin  Smith, front-man of Delirious? it’s been a journey of discovery… Discovering himself and music again and his recent solo projects embody that journey and culminate in ‘God’s Great Dance Floo’ series of album’s.

We caught up with Smith earlier this year (before the release of ‘God’s Great Dance Floor, Step 01’) to talk about family, music, life and ‘God’s Great Dance Floor’.

Once thing that’s always been consistent in Martin Smith’s life is his love for family and their involvement and influence on what he does. From trekking around the world on a tour bus together, to being on stage celebrating the end of an era Smith’s family is something that he clearly cherishes and over the last 3.5 years has been investing a lot of time in as husband, dad and leader. With children that are older and a marriage that is stronger and his solo endeavours, how is Smith finding the balance of husband, father and worship leader this time around?

“Well, it’s been a great 3 and a half years,” Smith shares. “The band ended 3 and a half years ago so I’ve had the gift of time, to be at home a bit more and record the music at home.”

Being at home, being there in the morning, being there at night and that consistency has really made the difference, Smith explains,

“I think it’s brought an amazing balance to me and the family and the kids, church as well and all of the rest of the stuff we’re involved in. I’m really enjoying this season and I think it was a great decision for us.”

‘God’s Great Dance Floor Step 01’ plays like a narrative set to music, painting vivid pictures that spark the imagination verse by verse learning about Smith’s wilderness experience, vulnerability, and rediscovering who he is and what God’s purpose is for him in this stage of his life which is perfectly embodied in the song ‘Awake My Soul’.

“Through that first 2 year period of 2010, 2011 was a time of just saying, ok God, here I am. I don’t know whether you want to do anything again. Have I got a voice? Do you want me to sing again?”

This from a man who’s written some of the world’s favourite songs that connect you to the heart of God and justice for the world. For Smith it was a real time of prayer saying,

“God, you’ve got to breathe life into me again; that season (with Delirious?) has worn me out. I need you to wake my soul up again and I think He’s done that and I’ve really known the kindness of God in an amazing way.”

What is it really like to go ‘Back To The Start’: back to emptiness, a vessel waiting to be used, pouring out everything that was, wiping away the residue, a willingness to be broken (experience pain) and be formed into something new to fulfill a new purpose? Smith answers,

“It’s a big thing to throw what you have and what you are into the sea and just let it go, but a freeing and releasing experience as well,” shares Smith.

“Even now putting a record out, it’s very much back to the start, building everything again and seeing what’s going to happen. There was a certain degree of pain (and feeling that) this is a hard thing to walk through and I believe I’m going to do it.”

While ‘God’s Great Dance Floor Step 01’ tells Smith’s story of discovery over the last 3.5 years, musically it’s new, fresh and not a recycled Delirious? sound. There’s soundscapes and textures that support the narrative making the album an experience, not just an album.

“I think it’s got to do with the songs but also to do with the team that came around the songs,” shares Smith.

“It’s a totally unknown team. They’re all music guys from my church. A lot of them had never played on a record before. I think it was just a new day for everyone, in what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it, it’s just a very fresh thing.”

Smith really did go ‘Back To The Start’ using new musicians, having no label and releasing his EP’s independently to a loyal fan base.

“I didn’t put the original EP’s on iTunes. I just wanted to keep it all low key and make the music for some of the older fans and just put it out there.”

“I felt like we needed to push this to the next stage, compile the EP’s and add a couple of new songs and the guys from Integrity (Music) have been mates for years and I needed a bit of help with that so it felt like the obvious thing to do.”

Smith has spoken about “the church discovering how to dance again,” but what does that really mean? Is it metaphorical or is it literal? Should we abandon seats and altars and install giant dance floors so we can rave in church?

“I think there’s layers to it.” Smith says. “I think it could be that, (pushing the chairs aside and going for it) and I think it’s a big part of what church should be.”

“I think that’s a big part of where the church should be. If it (the church) can’t celebrate then it can’t really do the Gospel. I think that is in there but I think a big inspiration for ‘Back to The Start’ is the prodigal son story.”

“He messes it up big time and then he comes back and there’s a really great bit in there that says as he returned he could hear the sound of celebration in the distance. I’ve got a feeling that, that’s the next phase for the church: our churches have got to be a place of celebration or it’s not going to draw people.”

Smith has undoubtedly contributed much to world, through his music, songs charity initiatives (such as CompassionArt) and of course his wife Anna and their children but is there more for him to do? What drives and fuels the passions of Martin Smith on a daily basis?

“I think for me, it comes back to the local church. My family are all at St Peters in Brighton. I think we want to see the church touch the city.”

“Records are great but ultimately I think that’s where our heartbeat is. I think because of that, maybe you can hear that this music has come out of that place and not just written for a release. It feels like it has life in it and I think that’s where we are as a family.”

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