Integrity Music announces the signing of Seattle-based band Citizens as they release their unique project, “The Joy of Being (Phone Demos),” today.
The band set out to make a record of songs for the church to sing, without music and production overcoming the lyrics. To accomplish this goal, Citizens recorded this project on iPhones acoustically in an empty church.
A press release said, “ ‘The Joy of Being (Phone Demos)’ features a collection of songs with lyric, melody and basic instrumentation that anyone could connect with and lead. As worship is moving from the sanctuary to the living room in this quarantine season, songs of substance and simple arrangements are more and more vital.”
"We wanted to make something that disrupted the norms of modern church music, specifically all the fanfare we (talking to ourselves here too) have put around production," shared Zach Bolen of Citizens. "So we went in and recorded it on iPhones acoustically and called it a day on the production. All that for one big reason, we wanted to give the listener a coloring book to be filled in how they would choose. Rather than make all the creative decisions for how these songs would exist in the church, we wanted to make a record that left room for people to imagine and create a sound that best represents each church and the people that are being led. At the end of the day, the lyric is what drives church songs, not the music."
Citizens wanted to get back to the middle ground themselves with this album. They wanted to find contentment in the absence of production and the honesty of an unrefined voice lifted up in praise to God.
"Our job is to faithfully write the best possible songs we can for the church," Bolen said. "This record is for the listener. Not just the worship leader or even the Christian. It’s for the world to hear, to believe, to worship. These songs are to be used in whatever way the listener wants."
Citizens will be following up the “Phone Demos” release with their own musical interpretations of the songs in September with the studio release of “The Joy of Being.”
For a copy of one of the “Phone Demos” videos, one can text Bolen directly at 206-488-9089. One can send back their own phone arrangement of the song.
The Seattle-based band Citizens has been breaking molds since a shotgun birth in 2011. Forming just months prior to their debut EP, “Already Not/Yet,” Citizens found quick endearment in the hearts and ears of people worldwide with their energetic alternative hymn arrangements. As their friendship grew, so did their storytelling. Original songs, sung out of overflowing wells of joy and dark depths of pain, began to surface and the full force of Citizens began to really take shape.
Citizens has never just been any one thing. Over the years they have received a welcomed embrace in a variety of genres, primarily attributed to their commitment to honesty. While every song has not always found itself in the spaces of corporate church singing, Citizens has stayed true to telling the stories of God’s grace in their lives. It’s always been about writing for more than just the Christians, but for the world to hear and know that they are loved no matter what.
The press release said, “Their forthcoming release, ‘The Joy of Being,’ is yet another exploration through new sounds and yet the same lyrical imperative: Writing songs for the found and the lost to sing.”