Influencers will drop their debut full-length album Just The Cross on May 17th. The 13 track live collection aligns with the name of their viral single which is nearing a million streams worldwide. Influencers have been honing their craft for years internally, serving those God has placed in their path at the international Influencers Church which resides in both Atlanta and Australia. Their music is being born out of worshiping in different spaces – Haiti, a mountain, a coffee shop for their "† (just the cross) sessions" and more. The melodies are curated by the diverse voices and faces that bring the group to life. Recently, members of Influencers talked with us about the songwriting process, the call to take their music to a global audience and their biggest musical inspirations.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of your debut full-length album, '† (just the cross)'. Give us an idea of how long this record was in the making and what it feels like to have the finished product?
Mark: Thank you! It feels surreal to have these 13 songs out for the world to hear. We recorded it at Influencers Conference in October 2018, but the writing process for some of these songs spans almost a decade! "Just The Cross," for example, started as a couple lines in the back of a van in Haiti while we were waiting for cameras to switch back on after overheating. Years later, it came to life in a cabin in north Georgia in just a couple hours.
Chloe: Like Mark said, some of our songs were birthed years and years ago, so for some of the tracks we can feel a bit like, “yay, finally!” But what God has taught us is that some songs are written on a journey and can’t be birthed any other way than first to be lived out. With many of our songs, they are literally the journey that we have gone on as a church and as a team. Songs like, “Further”, were written out of a season that God had us in, of wanting to go further and deeper into the plans that He had for us. To read through the lyrics and listen through the tracks is very emotional, as we relive the journey that God has taken us on. It’s really special!
How would you describe Influencers songwriting and musical style to a first-time listener?
Mark: These songs have been a soundtrack to what God is doing at Influencers, but more than that, we pray that they’d be a soundtrack of hope; that these faith declarations would lift your spirit, wherever you find yourself in life! The lyrics have a raw authenticity about them but we’ve intentionally paired them with anthemic melodies so they’re easy to sing whether you’re in your shower, your car or your church!
How did all the members of Influencers organize into a group originally and how long has the current group been together?
Danae: Influencers Worship is made up of a collective tribe of musicians, worship leaders and songwriters from Influencers Church globally - across our ten campuses in Australia and the USA! We all serve in our local campuses, worship leading or playing on the weekends, but we started to get together and work on music to release in 2016. We’re all great friends and it honestly feels like family when we all get together!
When did the group first start to feel the calling to expand from local services and bring music to the church globally?
Mark: As a church, music has always been at the forefront of what we feel called to do. We’re part of the Hillsong Family and have a rich history in launching influential artists from the Planetshakers band to one of our worship leaders winning the first season of Australian Idol. We hadn’t really done anything as a worship artist in about a decade until 2016 when our Senior Pastor Ashley Evans really felt God calling us as a church again to actually be influencers and influence all spheres of society, music included. From there, the wheels were in motion and we’ve been running with it ever since, releasing singles, 2 EPs and now a full-length album.
Who or what were some of your biggest inspirations, spiritually and musically, in developing this collection of songs?
Danae: We love anything with catchy hooks and fun melodies. I think our writing is influenced by artists like Lany, Glades, The Chainsmokers, Halsey, the ‘pop rising’ genre... Growing up around Planetshakers and Hillsong UNITED also had a huge impact on most of our team - those songs shaped us as teenagers.
Going into Easter, there was such a significant positive response to “† (just the cross)”. What was it like to see listeners respond so strongly?
Chloe: An amazing part of it for me is seeing the Holy Spirit doing a similar work in hearts and congregations all across the world. We feel so privileged that God would help us to articulate a simple and timely truth for the global Church that we can all sing with one heart.
Why did you choose “† (just the cross)” to represent the album as the title track?
Chloe: Jesus’ death on the Cross and His resurrection is the foundation and the bedrock of our faith. Above everything else, the simplicity of the gospel message is what we want people to remember and to get from our music. For us, “Just The Cross” is the banner under which everything else falls; so it made sense for this song, which carries this message, to be the title track.
Which track are you personally most excited for listeners to hear and why?
Chloe: “Most excited” is definitely a hard call to make! In answering this question, I was reminded of a moment I had recently; having a hard week and feeling like the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I wanted to escape with God and forget about everything going on - so I put on the song, “Draw Me Near”. As I sat and let the song play over me, I felt as though God had picked me up and wrapped His arms around me and it was as though everything else faded away. I LOVE this song because it has the ability to do that in people’s hearts. I’m really, really excited for people to hear this song, because even though it is powerful when sung in services and corporate settings, it has such a sweet ability to be part of our personal worlds during the week whenever we want to be transported out of our current situation into a bubble with God and let His “love cover all”.
Out of all the songs on this new album, which one would you say is the group's favorite to perform right now?
Danae: Oh man, this one’s tough! We have a lot of fun playing these songs and I think all of us would have different favorites in different seasons, but "Dance Like It’s Done" is always a good time. There’s a freedom in the atmosphere that praising before the breakthrough brings, and it’s pretty special to be a part of bringing that at the top of a set.
Which track was the most difficult to write or record?
Danae: We decided to record this album with our conference less than 50 days away, and at that point we only had 4 songs finished. It was definitely a big push for our writers to finish these songs and I can honestly say it was the grace of God that gave us strength when we felt like we had nothing left! I think it’s safe to say that Misha and I have the reputation for being the slowest when it comes to finishing songs though as time-zones aren’t exactly on our side. There were a lot of late night / early morning Facetime sessions to finish "Here With You" and "Believe Again," it felt like they were always “almost done”. I think we ended up with the final lyrics/melodies about 3 weeks before pressing record.
What is one key message that you hope listeners take away from this album as a whole?
Mark: If you listen closely you can hear thousands of prayers we recorded all throughout the album process. It sounds like rain at times. Our prayer is that as people are listening to Just The Cross, the prayers of thousands would be like rain to a weary soul. That it would be more than just music, it would be healing and a powerful encounter with Jesus.
What lies ahead for Influencers after the release of this record?
Danae: We’ve been working on the next batch of fresh songs now for a couple of months and we will definitely be releasing some cool stuff very soon. We’re playing some fun summer events this year as well as gearing up for a very special conference in November where we might even be pressing record again!