Tribe House Blog
These Fighting Times – Interview with Corey Doak
Posted : December 20th, 2012 by TribeHouse
We caught up with award winning singer/songwriter Corey Doak and asked him to fill us in on his latest CD project entitled “These fighting times”.
TribeHouse (TH): Can you describe your musical journey to date?
Corey Doak (CD): I started out in the contemporary Christian world, but over the years I’ve fallen deeply in love with folk story songs.
My work has always revolved around faith, story and humor. I’ve found folk music to be the best way to bring these 3 disparate elements together. My writing ultimately explores the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Re-Creation. I used to write psalms to explore these themes. Over the last few years I’ve started to explore them through characters, metaphor, & narrative storytelling.
TH: Of the many great songs you have written in the past which one are you most proud of and why?
CD: I am most proud of ‘Song of the King’. It’s a re-telling of a parable found in the book of Hosea; a story of grace and restoration. Because it is an ancient, universal theme I believe that it stands a chance of living beyond me.
TH: During the making of your new CD you embarked on the arduous road of learning to be a studio engineer as well as a performer. Why did you feel this was important for you?
CD: I’m always trying to stretch myself, and growing into the role of a producer seemed like the natural next step in my artistic development. I liked the challenge of trying to record my best album to date without any technical experience and very limited gear. Fortunately, I was blessed with enough naivety, tenacity and faith to see it through. There’s also a pragmatic side to self-producing: It’s cheaper. I think you have to have some common sense to survive vocationally as an artist.
Going forward I will probably look at co-producing. I believe that community is at the heart of creation, and I would like to embody that philosophy in the way I make albums.
Listen to ‘Oregon’ from Corey’s latest recording here:
“What does it mean to create ‘redemptive’ art?” (Corey Doak)
TH: Your new album, ‘These Fighting Times’, is something of a departure from what some might know you for. What happened to encourage you to explore a wider range of subject matter for this project?
CD: It’s important to me to keep growing as an artist. Therefore, every album that I’ve ever made has been a departure from the last (except my first album; it was exactly like the one before it).
I should also mention that I owe much of my inspiration to authors. The books that I’ve read over the years have broadened my view of life, the world and theology. Writing story songs seems like the best platform for me to express my ideas as they grow in complexity.
There are not many direct references to faith in this record and yet this is something that you might be known for by many of your fans. How would you respond to the criticism that in this CD you have lost the plot spiritually?
The question ‘What is Religious Art?’ is more nuanced and complex than many people realize. If we are to seriously consider it we must be prepared to delve into some
challenging intellectual territory.
In light of my Christian faith, these are some questions I’ve had to ponder:
-What does creation say about the artistry of God?
-What is the purpose of beauty?
-What does it mean to create ‘redemptive’ art?
-The Book of Esther never mentions the name of God. Is it a ‘religious’ book? If so,
-Is truth ever communicated by people who are not Christians? If so, what does that
say about God and humanity?
-What about bad art with pious subject matter?
-Are certain kinds of art inherently bad? If so, why?
-Some people look at the world through a ‘sacred/secular’ lens. What does Christianity
actually have to say about this?
-What does it mean to be a Christian artist? A Christian plumber?
There are no simple answers to these questions.
As my faith grows it comes with a desire to explore the beauty and tragedy of life in new ways through songwriting. It also encourages me to love people of other worldviews, and embrace the commonalities that I share with them (such as a mutual love of music and literature).
My life’s mission is to live out my faith by doing excellent work; by walking in integrity and a spirit of love. Sometimes that means talking to people about religion; sometimes it means quietly loving my community. It’s the same way that I would approach being a carpenter.
My main idea is this: The way that we live our life is our true act of worship. A song that resonates with me from the CD is about three chords. What was the inspiration for that song?
‘Time Plays The Same Three Chords’ is part of a trilogy on the album that talks about loss and hope (the other songs are ‘Judy Waits By The Water’ and ‘See You Again’).
It’s a reflection on the cycle of birth, life and death. We had just gone through a season of loss in our family, and I think that song was my way of trying to make sense of it. The words and melody came to me when I was painting a fence last summer.
TH: Who did you collaborate with in making this CD and why did you choose these particular people? (generally)
CD: I always try to work with people who I can learn from, and who bring something unique to the table creatively.
‘These Fighting Times’ features Corey Janz, Scott Gamble, Gary Smyth, Jim Ryan, Curtis Tulman, Gene Elders and Michaela Burger. Justin Dueck and Nathan Sawatzky
did some vocals. Bill Buckingham mixed it. Geoff Holman knocked the artwork out of the park. He had the concept of the living room in the woods. It took 2 trucks and a trailer to haul it all out into the mountains.
TH: How do you think this CD might open new avenues for you musical career?
CD: It’s my desire to reach a broader sphere of music lovers. My new songs are suitable to mainstream music venues, and I would love to play anywhere that art and beauty is celebrated. I think my songs still have much to say to the faith community. I hope to be part of a deeper dialogue about faith and art amongst my fellow Christians.
For more info, tour dates, Corey’s blog and online store visit www.coreydoak.com
Corey Doak makes rootsy pop-folk music. His songs affirm liberty, life and joy.
His new album ‘These Fighting Times’ is a collection of stories of loss and hope. The songs are inspired by the likes of Paul Simon, Josh Ritter and The Weepies.
Corey lives in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada and has released six albums including ‘No Sudden Movements’ (2009 Covenant Award-Folk/Roots Album of the Year).
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