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.
Derek 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.
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.
Jason Gray is a recording artist with Centricity Records. His latest single, out now, is "When I Say Yes".