Daniel Bashta is a tremendous songwriter and worship leader. He recently released his new album, The Invisible, is available now on iTunes. We got a chance to chat about worship, art, and songwriting.
Why worship music?
- There is this part in Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says when he runs he feels God’s pleasure. I really do love every form of true art, but there is something that happens in me when I start to lead worship. There is something so mystical and powerful something that no amount of branding or marketing could ever quite define. It all comes down to the presence of God. I’ve traveled the globe and I have seen the most miraculous things take place when the presence of God shows up. Do I believe that the world needs another worship song or worship recording, actually I don’t I honestly think God could care less, but I do believe that God is trying to say fresh things at timely moments, so my desire is that hopefully in someway I am able to be a piece of His raw heart beat to see a generation discover and encounter the real Jesus.
Who inspires you?
- Honestly any form of art and culture that is going against the grain. It doesn’t even have to boil down to the brand of Christianity. I love raw passion and unique expressions. Unfortunately that almost always falls outside the lines of Christianity. I truly believe with the ultimate and most majestic Creator and Dreamer living inside of us we should be the most creative people on the planet. I just think sometimes it comes down to believability and guts and unfortunately I feel like the church is somehow bent on duplication and replication rather then creating. To create usually means to live your life basically saying piss off to the status culture, which is what Jesus did. So far me inspiration always is something that leaves me saying wow, why are we not representing our Creator with these forms of expressions of art. It’s like I have this angst inside of me that just desires something more. Probably because there is so much to Jesus that I have only seen in part and I know there is so much more. Inspiration I feel like is always haunting and inescapable it leaves you wanting more and at the same time makes you uncomfortable because it is something fresh.
What’s your process for writing songs?
- I wish there was a perfect formula. Ha so does every song publishing company, but honestly there is not a perfect formula. I tend to really be motivated about writing when I hear a new or old record or see something that is wow why didn’t I write that or wow that is gorgeous. I go through seasons of being opposite of the quote and I’m 90% inspiration and 10% perspiration. Then there are times when I have this small sound byte of an idea and I have to really work and sweat to make it complete. I write in the most random places. I also have a group of people around me that I respect and I’ll show them a new idea just to see if they think it’s something worth working on. Sometimes ideas flow like a river and other times I feel like the stream is desolate. I never try to force something, I think you can sense in you guts when something is special. I always try to be opened handed as well. I try not treat every idea or song like it’s my special baby. I wish there were a perfect special formula because that would make this whole thing so much easier, but then again if it were easy we would have nothing to work for and I think that’s where true art shines through and when we write from our pain and our own story it goes from being make believe to gritty reality and I think that is where beautiful songs are birthed. I do think too that sometimes there is just something so special about a song no matter how simple or complex that God just breathes on and it’s just special.
Who would you most like to work with that you haven’t?
- Keith Green. Bob Dylan. Jonsi. Paul Meany(MuteMath). Bono. Daniel Lanois. Brian Eno. Brandon Flowers and King David.
What’s your secret to creating worship sets?
- I believe at the end of the day I am a worship leader not a worship artist. Which means I am meant to lead worship and not just create a vibey atmosphere. I want at the end of our worship time people to see and be fascinated more with Jesus then with me. So…. no matter what, every time I lead worship it is different. I try to think of a few things even every Sunday when I lead at my own church. What songs can we sing that people will connect and actually sing to doesn’t matter how old or new. How can I stretch heart perspectives in who Jesus is and maybe stretch their experience to get them outside of their normal comfort walls and lastly create an environment for the spontaneous. I do believe that when the Holy Spirit shows up we must allow Him to work and create space for Him to do so. I don’t want to get so caught up in my own schedule, play by play agenda. I want Him to have His way no matter what that looks like.
Where do you see worship going in the next few years?
- Hopefully back to the start. I feel like we are basically worship-FULL. Meaning we have everything we need and are not lacking anything. We have our vegas churches we have our production teams we have our HD projection. Now don’t get me wrong I love all of these things. I absolutely love visuals, but I feel like we have substituted the presence of God abit for production. I am guilty of this too. I do feel like there is a shaking going on in the worship community. A group of people are starting to be fed up with the baby food and the hype and there is a sound rising up that will be more about action and motion in our worship then in empire building.
- I want my worship to be marked by a mission. I want worship and justice to kiss and to see the church begin to transform their communities out of their worship. Yea so instead of trying to build the biggest walmart on the block, churches will begin to actually see transformation happen in cities and out of that I think worship leaders will begin to pen songs for their communities and gatherings that will help be a catalyst of change and reformation.
- I think that was the beauty of the song Heart of worship it was a very personal song for a gathering that was happening. It was birthed from a journey full of conviction not production. I think less people will care less about CCLI charts and more about the stories of healings happening all around the community.
- It’s exciting, I think this is where true art and life actually come alive.
- There’s this ultimate dream called the Great Commission. I think corporate community worship is a massive part of this dream. I love the church and we know that God loves the church so I love the fact that worship is a epic ingredient to building His church not ours.
What’s better writing or leading? Why?
- That’s hard to answer because I truly love both. For me I just love to worship and out of that sometimes a song flows out of the overflow of that worship. I think the key is when your write a song and sing a song out of conviction then something special happens corporately. Once and a while we see God breathe on a specific song and no matter in what environment that the song is sung in, something powerful takes place.
What scares you the most about art?
- Well… I strongly dislike that the church loves to follow trends of culture instead of culture following the church. I don’t know it’s like in the mainstream world everyone wants to be apart of the underground fresh sound that is so unique and inspiring. In the church most people just want to be associated with the biggest stage. It’s like no one wants to pioneer with the unknown everyone wants to be associated with what’s already massively established. True art will cost you your life. I think if pioneering was easy everyone would be doing it then we would have to coin another word. Just look at history, the truest forms of art usually got them killed. True art was meant to haunt you. I remember hearing a story while my wife and I were visiting the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel, when the pope first saw Michelangelo’s art, the pope fell to his knees in repentance because he had never seen such art that was so haunting and convicting. I guess the scary part of art is that true art should always reveal something. So in our worship true worship should always reveal something in the presence of God. So I guess the scariest thing about true art can’t not be produced or boxed in. It’s uncontrollable. Which probably scares most church CEO communicators. So I guess the true question should be instead of what scares me what excites me, because I do believe that’s what we were created for. The Church is beautiful and therefore we should be a part of a art revolution that fascinates the world by fascinating them with the beauty of the real Jesus. When the real Jesus shows up everything will bow!