In December Revival Times spoke to Dax O’Callaghan as he was preparing to launch his first worship album Bow Down in Kensington Temple. This month, following his two successful concerts at KT we asked Dax about how the project has developed for him since the launch and about his life as a recording artist
Bow Down has had great initial responses in a number of different ways. We were obviously doing something very new in KT with the sound being very urban even though they are worship songs, so I was personally waiting for reactions from the beginning. The music as an overall sound has been well accepted, especially in KT, which is a main target. It’s great to make music but it’s even more satisfying when people are generally enjoying listening to it and tell you they bought the album and are playing it at home.
Another great reaction was hearing the melodies being sung by the congregation. This was an extremely positive response from Church members. With the songs being created for worship it was the vision that the songs could be used for people’s personal devotion at home and the Sunday congregation. You hold a lot of responsibility when writing as these will form part of somebody’s expression to God, so I was mindful of this.
To hear songs like the title track Bow Down being sung by 1,000 people during a KT worship service was extremely special. This was a new experience for me and extremely humbling. At the concerts we’ve done there are always people coming out to the front to dance during the song Love. People of all ages! It really makes me laugh and is extremely special to see. During the concert people were coming into KT from the street as they could hear the music. There is no better response then that.
KTPAS play a huge part in this. Daniel and Lisa Perez are training the students strongly so I immediately asked if I could work with them as the dancers. They learnt everything I choreographed and were enthusiastic. I was extremely happy with the visual so far and am thankful to them. Within the industry we have to work exceptionally fast when filming music videos or TV shows so I tried to go easy and not scare them with too much dancing at the beginning - but everything which I hoped for was achieved, so now we can continue building. I have continuously been creating videos to help portray the songs’ messages during the shows too. KT are very fortunate to have the screen as a backdrop to the stage and we can use this to great effect. I have learnt a lot working with the technical department at KT on this as the cues for these ‘gimmicks’ during a show are vital. Having live instruments, dancers, videos all in one show brings many of the different departments together to begin working as one big unit for the best impact for a show. There are many little ideas that we’ve attempted and developed, like during the song Father I worked with a KT colleague who can sign for the Deaf. So during the latter stages of the track he joins me on stage to sign the lyrics. It took a lot of rehearsal to get the timing just right, but the impact it has in carrying the song’s message is strong. I still feel like we have just started so I look forward to continually working with KT to mould innovative original shows - which nobody imagined would be at KT!
It is extremely hard to only chose one of your babies above the others! But I am most proud of Father. When I listen to it I know the Lord created this song as I could never produce a song which subtly builds and delicately expresses an intimate emotion asking for hope. I really like its idea and that it may it bring a message of hope to someone listening. This was the Lord’s song given as a gift. I didn’t conceive it, I discovered it.
I am also extremely proud of how cool the dance tracks turned out. I could play Love or the song Fly at Pineapple when I teach the professional dancers and they would fit right in. One of my favourites on this album though is the song Dance. I never imagined we would go as far as having a pure dancetechno track where the lyrics are complete praise to God. That is pretty cool and different!
I love all round entertainers who were ground breaking within their era. Charlie Chaplin was one of the first visual actors to work on TV as camera recordings were invented. Even though it was such a long time ago his mind set to soak up the new technology as it was being invented and use it to express his art in new forms always inspires me.
Fred Astaire did the same. His ideas are still inventive for today - he was nearly 50 years ahead of his time. Even when discrimination against the black culture was still active within the US, Fred Astaire would fight to have the talent within the African-American people on screen in his films so that the art being created was the best it can be. This is inspiring! Share the light so that we all shine bright!
Obviously, Michael Jackson is a phenomenon within the music industry. His lyrical depth, his intense emotions when singing, his visual breakthrough to express songs with music video, and his production creativity within song recordings are simply untouched. He was totally the fullpackage, but it is his mind set that inspires me the most. To create what was in your heart however different it looked never deterred him. It is easy for us to enjoy his videos now, but at the time he had to fight continuously as he was the first to do it. That is love for your art and when things become too hard I remember these people and what their belief in their craft created.
I think what Jessie J, Tinie Tempah and Ed Sheeran have done for British music over the last year is a fantastic achievement. I would love to work with them. What Israel Houghton and Kirk Franklin have done to break down walls of separation between church music and secular music is inspiring. I would love to collaborate together. A wish list would include working with Will.I.Am. I feel he is very inventive and always on a path of discovery with his music. Last year I saw the Black Eyed Peas tour and Will invited me into their dressing room after the show as we used to have the same music manager when I was in LA. We played songs back n’ forth and his character inspired me as he loved all the new technology which was evolving and was thinking of ways to use it to express music. This reminds me of all the great minds of the past and how they used new inventions within media to express their craft. I would love to work with him in the studio.
I think you reach a stage when you just want to work on projects that inspire you personally. You spend most of your early career as an artist trying to prove yourself and gaining acceptance in the fields you desire. I have been lucky to have five number one songs across seven different countries in the charts across Europe. I have played two lead roles in London’s West End and have been very lucky to play lead characters on televisions shows like EastEnders and Casualty due to me starting in this business so young. So I don’t really set out to prove what my talent can do anymore. You relax and it becomes more about using your experiences and gift to see how far I can keep growing. With projects like Bow Down I feel I have only just started to discover some aspects of my talent and have a long way to go still, I am still only in my twenties, but I feel an old spirit sometimes. I have worked continuously in television since I was 10 years, and I am grateful, but you miss out on a lot of ‘normal’ life experiences growing up so now I do things more for me and what is important for a healthier personal life.
At one stage, a couple of years ago, everything became about doing things for the Record Company and Management. Every day recording, performing or a TV interview which was an investment for their profit. It’s a pressure that you must be successful. The backlash is that you look around after a few years and there are no friends or family to be seen as you haven’t put time in to this side of your life. I will never lose my passion for music as I have been doing this since I was so young, but it is now about the balance as you only get out what you put in.
Since returning to the UK at the beginning of 2010 I have been more at peace with my faith within my work environment. I have always been in the same industry but the UK and London does have an open mind to people’s beliefs, even though we still have a long way to go in spreading the Word through-out the City.
I found my hardest time was during 2006- 2009, the three years I spent in Europe and America touring with the band I was in. The lifestyle was so fast, and everything is so controlled I forgot who I was and what my passions were.
Sure, that with the entertainment industry there are a lot of the cliché temptations around you every day, but it was never a problem holding on to Christian values and morals. The problem was becoming lifeless within the routine of a harsh schedule. You never had to think for yourself as our travel, accounts, food, living was always scheduled and taken care of.
Seeing family and friends is actually a hassle to the schedule, so quality of life is sacrificed and you stop enjoying yourself. Then you lose inspiration, and then motivation. You’re doing your job, but not sure why.
My prayers would become more irregular and the same with Bible reading. Before I would pray deeply to settle each night, enquiring and seeking guidance. And would read in the mornings, setting the foundation for my day. But when you are trying to catch an hours sleep on a tour bus in-between travelling, or running to an airport after a show it becomes easy to let personal things slip as it saves time. Even phone calls home feel like a hassle, which is why I found it hard during the latter stages of this period.
When I saw what had happened I realised there are no excuses and I must define who I am. I wanted God as my complete centre again so I packed my bags one day while I was living in Los Angeles and flew home leaving the job behind. I knew God had bigger plans for me but I had to surrender bringing my focus back to totally on him. I had to Bow Down to be lifted up!