Song Cycles – the Jason Gray & Derek Webb Remix Project

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When the recording of my next full length album got pushed back in mid-2010, we started to wonder about releasing an interim project for the fans who were early adopters and have been waiting for something new for a while now.

The original plan was to try and do a covers project with Derek Webb (something I still hope to do in the next 12 – 18 months :- ) in the Fall or early Winter, but it quickly became clear that our schedules wouldn’t allow for it.

021811_jg_epcover13Derek then kindly proposed a remix project instead that would require very little involvement from me and that worked well with the time he had available. And voila – a Jason Gray remix project was born.

Kind of…

A remix project is less certain to sell than a cover’s project, so my label had to scale back the budget, hoping to earn back their investment. The new budget would allow us to do only four songs with Derek, but limitations can often be creativity’s best friend.

As we wondered about how to make the most of what we could of these remixes, the head of A&R at Centricity, John Mays, proposed we turn this project into an inside look at the journey of a song, incorporating the work tapes that I record into my laptop when I’m working out ideas, to the little homemade demo I turn in to the label as we wonder about which songs are worthy of inclusion on a record, to the album version, and then finally to Derek’s remix.

This concept got me really excited.

As far as I know, this kind of project has never been done before. I fell in love with the uniqueness of the idea as well as the opportunity it gave me to let people have an up close and personal experience with my recording process.

For instance, in the work tape of “More Like Falling In Love,” if you listen close you can hear my 4 year old boy, Gus, singing along with me (before he drops what must have been a Lego creation on the floor and yells, “dang!”), and in “Jesus Use Me I’m Yours” you can hear a bit of a completely different version that I had been working on before abandoning it to try a fresh approach with my friend Matt Hammitt (of Sanctus Real). You can also hear Matt and I fishing for melodic ideas for the bridge and the (sometimes awkward) progression as the song finally starts to take its final shape. I love hearing Matt’s voice on this, too. You can also hear Joel Hanson and I as we discover the outro for “I Am New”.

Considering the vision of this project, Derek Webb was, of course, the perfect fit. Centricity (my label) wanted us to focus on the two singles that had performed well at radio this year, but I got to pick “Blessed Be” and “Jesus Use Me I’m Yours” – both important songs from my live show that I thought would lend themselves well to being re-imagined by Derek (I think “Jesus Use Me, I’m Yours” is my favorite of the remixes).

I imagine it may not be a project for everybody, but it was made specifically for the fans who have graced my work with their attention and enthusiasm and I hope they enjoy the peek behind the curtain of my creative process. It has been a joyful little project for me to work on (mostly because Derek did most of the work ;- ). We made a limited run of only 2500 copies and after that it will only be available digitally.

The new full length record is coming in September! But until then, I give you Song Cycles.


21 Comments

  1. Mark

    Jason Gray and Derek Webb…Brilliant, but I wouldn’t expect anything less. Hope to hear more from you guys in the future.

  2. Laura Peterson

    This track was a lot of fun to listen to. I felt like I was paying attention to everything at a much deeper level, listening to the differences and similarities and making comparisons. I’m intrigued to hear more!

  3. Debra Henderson

    What a fun idea! I love the vulnerable transparency of watching a song hatch..it’s like a peeking inside a cocoon..anxious to hear all of it! Save a copy for us – also looking forward to seeing you on the 29th!

  4. Kaitlyn

    And all this time (since last Monday) I thought Gus was saying “DADDY!”. I still think it’s amazingly hilarious and candid, though.

    I love that you guys gave fans the opportunity to get a better understanding of how a song is birthed. It gives me a whole new appreciation for the writing process, and also quenches my music geek thirst. 😉

    Lastly, Jesus, Use Me I’m Yours is definitely my favorite remix. I love being able to hear how much that song changed from beginning to end, and it makes me love it 100 x’s more than I did before (I loved it a lot on ESICU). I can just dance to this version a bit more. 🙂

  5. Jake

    Any chance of a digital download while we wait for it to come in the mail? I just purchased it, and was hoping to listen beyond just the one offered above.

  6. Jen

    Um… yeah, I thought he was saying “DADDY!” too. Now it’s even more random and hilarious!

    I can attest to how good this is… great concept, beautiful remixes, and I really dig the work tapes too. I think the Rabbit Room folks will especially love it. 🙂

    Also, exciting to hear the covers project isn’t totally abandoned… I hope you guys get to do it some time in the near future!

  7. Adam Bennett

    Holy buffaloes Batman… that is awesome! I love it! Great job J… er Derek… er, well both I guess. Can’t wait to hear the rest.

  8. Jaclyn

    It’s hard to put this into words, but I’ll try.

    This “More Like Falling in Love” remix feels like how I feel about this idea. I’ve grown with it, and now the song’s grown with me. When I first heard this first song on the first album of yours I bought, it was the first time I’d ever heard your music. It was also the first time I’d ever heard a clear explanation of a growing, thriving relationship with God, not based on any merit or math. The song opened cool and bright, like I’d been crawling through a musty, fur-filled wardrobe all my life, and then found myself passing through the back wall to the first hints of spring day.

    Times have changed since then, and I’ve grown beyond relying completely on music theology for my daily bread (thanks to my amazing church home). I will always count this song as a major root founding my corrected understanding of God and His gospel. Derek may never have intended this in his re-imagining, but to me, the remix echoes the strain and the glory of that journey, like a seafaring fiddler’s song after the end of a long journey.

    Thank you, Jason and Derek. I look forward to hearing all of this work!

  9. Tony from Pandora

    I would LOVE to see Jason and Derek in concert together. Guitars strapped on, singing in the same microphone… of course Jason would have to be on his knees and/or Derek on soapbox. Derek does have a soapbox, doesn’t he?

  10. Tony from Pandora

    No offense to Derek Webb or his fans (of which I’m one). I’ve got everything from the Caedmon’s demo tape to the Democracy albums (once the 2nd one’s finished) I can’t wait to hear the Derek Webb influence on Jason’s songs

  11. Profile photo of Jason Gray

    Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    That sounds like a great idea, I can just see it: Derek will do his thing, agitate, get conversation going, probably make a few people angry (who need it :- ), and then I’ll come out and be co-dependent and try to make everybody happy again, “it’s okay, it’s okay, he didn’t really mean it like that…”

    I’m in. Especially if we can do the thing where we lean back to back while we play our guitars.

  12. Tony from Pandora

    I can fit 8 normal sized people in my basement (or 6 Jason Grays, or 10 Derek Webbs) Name your price, and I’ll make it happen… if my wife says it’s okay, of course…

  13. Jen

    YES! Tony, sign me up for the basement show. (I’m normal sized. :))

    Actually, I’m wondering when they’re going to start a synthpop duo side project… it would be totally rad. I’ll settle for the covers album though.

  14. Brian Elledge

    Jason,

    Thank you for this great CD (and for signing my Rabbit Room copy)! Can you share the lyrics of the first verse of I Am New? Thanks!

  15. Brian Elledge

    I should have said the lyrics of the original first verse, as included in the Demo version. Thanks.

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