Chris August is soaring high with 6 Dove Award Nominations in the following categories, making this Texas native the most nominated New Artist this year at the Doves:
* New Artist of the Year
* Male Vocalist of the Year
* Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year for his debut album No Far Away
* Song of the Year, “Starry Night”
* Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year, “Starry Night”
* Songwriter of the Year
The Sound Opinion recently caught up with Chris for an exclusive interview.
TSO: What was your reaction to the Dove Award Nominations?
I wish you could have heard it. I screamed like a little girl. I actually got woken up with my phone going nuts with text messages and voicemails. I was like, ‘What is going on?’ I couldn’t believe it then, and I’m still blown away. I was just hoping – maybe that I’d be nominated for best new artist – maybe.
To know that someone liked my album enough to nominate it that many times is a cool, cool feeling. I’m definitely excited. I have no expectation of it. I just think it’s fun to be nominated. I’m definitely appreciative and grateful for this opportunity.
TSO: What’s typically involved in your songwriting process and what’s your inspiration?
Usually, I’ll be messing around on the guitar or piano, just fiddling around, and I’ll play something new that sounds kind of cool. Sometimes, I’ll write a song around that.
But lately, the last few songs I’ve written, I’ve had an idea that inspires me or I’ll read something that inspires me, and I’ll write a song about it. Maybe I’ll hear a pastor say something, and I’ll be like ‘that was a cool line, I’m going to put that in a song.’ Lately, it’s been God teaching me something and I’ll write a song about that.
TSO: Share the story behind the song “7×70.”
When I was writing that song, it was the last song I wrote on the album. I definitely wasn’t even planning on writing it. I was actually hanging out in the studio two days before recording the album, and Ed Cash (my producer) looked at me and said, ‘Chris, I think you still need a personal song on the album.’ I was thinking, ‘What do you mean? They’re all personal songs.’
Ed told me to write about what hurt me when I was a kid. I went home that night and started thinking about my childhood. I grew up in the same house my entire life until about a year and half-ago when I moved to Nashville. I started thinking about all the memories in that house. I learned how to walk and talk, throw a baseball, saw my family fall apart. I come from a broken home and just a lot of other stuff happened – some things made my childhood a little difficult. I started thinking about all that and started writing about it.
Ed said to write about what hurt me growing up, and I wrote the first verse to “7×70.” I showed up at his place the next morning and sat at the piano and played it for him. I looked over at Ed when I was done, and he had tears in his eyes. He said, ‘Chris, this song has to be on your album and it has to be about forgiveness.’ I was like, ‘What are you talking about — forgiveness? You said to write about what hurt me.’ But through that, I felt God start to teach me about forgiveness.
God is a God of forgiveness, and with forgiveness comes healing. It’s not the easiest thing to do, but one of the names for the Holy Spirit is Comforter. I took a hold of that, and we wrote this song. It definitely wasn’t the easiest time, but I think it was good for a lot of emotions to pour out.
I’ve never been able to find any good to come from bitterness. I think when we search our hearts and find that, and can forgive, it can be very beneficial to our own lives. It wasn’t an overnight thing – it’s been a little over a year since I wrote that song. The initial part of forgiveness is the decision to forgive. But the healing takes a while. I’m still going through it, but I definitely encourage people to search their hearts. Maybe they need to forgive or need to ask for forgiveness. It’s an important thing that I think a lot of people kind of skip over.
TSO: Tell about the music video and how the idea for that came about.
I definitely wasn’t thinking when I said, ‘We should shoot this at the house I grew up in.’ Afterwards, I was like, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t say that – because then they’re actually gonna want to do that.’ But we traveled back to Garland, Texas and shot the video in the house I grew up in. It was kind of crazy. I always go there when I’m in Dallas, but it was the first time I had been back to the house since I wrote the song. I started thinking about all those memories.
It was pretty weird especially with intertwining those videos from when I was a kid, and then standing in the same spot more than 20 years later. When I got to watch the music video for the first time, I couldn’t believe how it all came together and watching my life story unfold before my eyes.
TSO: What do you hope people take away from your album and from your concerts?
From the album you probably couldn’t tell, but from the concerts, it’s pretty obvious that I’m a pretty goofy guy. I don’t take myself very serious… well, I do when the time calls for it. But most of the time, I’m pretty goofy.
For the concerts, I want people to have a good time, enjoy themselves and laugh. I think it is a good thing for people to sit back, laugh and forget about some of the hurt and other things going on in their lives for a little while.
At the same time, I think the most important thing and the reason why I do this is to write songs that people can relate to and dig into. Hopefully, it will encourage them and inspire them to live for something greater than themselves. For me, that’s what writing is all about and being able to connect to people. Hopefully, I can say something about my life that I’ve experienced and it will connect with someone. Hopefully, someone can grab onto that and can express their heart — maybe in a way they wouldn’t have thought about expressing it and can help get their words out. That’s my main goal as a writer.
TSO: Share some stories about that song has impacted people.
Since the song “7×70” came out, I hear a lot of things about forgiveness. One example that’s been on my mind a lot lately was a man, I’m guessing in his 40’s, who shook my hand after a concert and told me that this song saved his marriage. Then, he just walked off. I was thinking, ‘Whoa, wait… I want to hear more about that!’ He just wanted to share what the song meant to him, and it’s crazy how often I’ll hear that. God just laid the words for this song on my heart one day when I was in my bedroom. Now, it’s being used to heal marriages that were falling apart and maybe giving someone a little more hope to work through their problems. Hallelujah… God is good! It almost leaves me speechless.
TSO: What’s your favorite part of what you do?
It’s so difficult because it’s hard to narrow down to just one aspect. I love writing songs and recording. I love singing live, but I think my favorite thing is being able to meet new people and hearing their stories. Being able to connect, hang out and talk is definitely my favorite part of this. I love getting the chance to hang and talk with people, so if I’m coming around, I definitely want to meet people and say hey.
TSO: What do you feel like God has been teaching you lately?
God has laid it on my heart to take my Bible reading up a notch and dig in a little bit deeper. It has been really changing my life. At the end of the day, if you really want to get to know God, you have to dig into His word. God has been speaking to me in so many ways through that. I would highly recommend that people get into the Word, to read Scripture, realize His truths and apply them to your life.
For more about Chris August, check out www.chrisaugustmusic.com