Centricity Music recording artist Jason Gray releases today his latest music project, Order, the first volume of a three-part album, Order Disorder Reorder. The 5-song recording is available now on digital retail and streaming outlets globally, as well as at physical retail. Working with producers and writers such as Jeff Sojka, Ellie Holcomb and more, Gray showcases his signature heartfelt, poignant lyrics paired with well-crafted pop melodies on Order. Just hours before the release of Order, Jason opened up with us about the concept behind this new collection, the extensive song-writing process he underwent and his measures of success for the record.
Congratulations on the upcoming release of 'Order,' the first volume of the 'Order Disorder Reorder' album. Can we start by talking about the concept of this new project and the decision to release it in three smaller parts over the next year?
Thank you! There’s so much I could say about this, but I’ll try to keep it concise.
I owe a lot of the thought behind this record to a quote I heard in a podcast from author Richard Rohr who used the words “order, disorder, reorder” to describe the journey of transformation—the idea that we go through seasons of building up, tearing down, and being built back up again. Death and resurrection over and over until we reach “the fullness of the stature of Christ.”
The New Testament story of the apostle Paul is a prime example of this journey: a self- described “Hebrew of Hebrews” and model Pharisee, Paul was certain of his answers and that he knew all there was to know. But then he encountered Christ, was stopped in his tracks, and lost his sight--both literally and metaphorically as his former way of seeing the world was revealed to be so insufficient as to be considered “blindness.” God then brought a man named Ananias to Paul to pray with him, and as the scales fell from his eyes, he looked out on the world with a new way of seeing.
Order, disorder, and reorder. All of us go through these stages as God leads us through experiences that grow us up and into deeper and more nuanced understanding of truth. This is how we grow, and the process begins with order.
There’s something about recognizing this pattern of reformation that has helped reduce my anxiety and self-pity when the hard times come. Instead of cowering in a corner when the storm hits, I am emboldened to see the storm as the place the Lord meets with me to make me more of who I most want to be.
Can you give us an idea about how long this album as a whole has been in the making?
I have usually written 14 songs or so per record and recorded 12, but this time around I was thinking about how Springsteen wrote something like 80 songs that were boiled down to the 11 that made up Born In The USA and how there were more than 300 songs in consideration for MJ’s 9 song Thriller record. I wanted to see what would happen if I just wrote and wrote for 2 years. 75 songs later it seemed that we had a pretty good pool to choose songs from.
The theme came after the fact, though all the songs are more or less about transformation since that’s my focus these days. But after writing the song “Order Disorder Reorder,” it seemed clear that I had the tent that could house this new collection of songs. After that, it was a matter of choosing which songs fit into which category.
The first volume, Order was the hardest to wrap my head around! I mean… we don’t watch movies or TV shows about order, right? We want to see our heroes encounter a problem so we can see how they overcome it. Our mind likes problems to solve, so songs of order could potentially be not very engaging. So I really wrestled with that.
I felt like I solved the problem when I realized that today’s order is actually yesterday’s reorder. Seasons of order reflect the wisdom we’ve gained thus far given the experiences God has already walked us through. Once I realized that, it was about picking songs that I felt represented the kind of foundational wisdom that future learning can be built on.
That filter helped, but it was still a challenge to find the “right” songs to serve this theme. What I mean is that I could have easily made about 4 different versions of this record given the pool of songs I had written—A worshipful record? A pop record? An angsty indie pop/rock record?
It would’ve been easy to make a more introspective singer songwriter version of this record that would’ve been personally gratifying, but would have appealed to a much smaller audience. I hope to find the right home for those songs in the future, but for this season it made the most sense to swing for the fence and make a commercial record that we hope will cast a wider net and make these ideas accessible to more people.
Can you describe the thought process behind the artwork for the 'Order' EP?
The idea of growing into different perspectives is represented in the multiple directions I’m facing on the cover. That approach could have been a little too obvious, but I felt what my friend Joshua—the art director at Centricity—did with it was really cool and vibey, so we went that direction and I’m thrilled with how it turned out.
Were there any changes or challenges in your personal life that may have inspired this collection of songs?
Oh Gosh… always haha! In the same interview with Richard Rohr I referenced earlier, he talks about how the most common catalysts for transformation are either great love or great suffering. I would say that I’m still dealing with the aftershocks of my divorce. Maybe I always will be, who can say? But yes, the great suffering of losing what I loved most in this world—my family—has been a catalyst for reflection, transformation, and inner healing in my life. It still casts a shadow that touches other painful parts of my life.
Which track was the most difficult to write or record?
For Volume 1: Order, I’d say “Order Disorder Reorder” was the song that demanded the most of me as a songwriter. That’s because it could so easily become too conceptual and become a head song instead of a heart song. Bono (of U2) says that a feeling is stronger than a thought, and so as a songwriter I’m always trying to write thoughtful songs that hopefully connect on a heart level and make a listener feel something. “Order Disorder Reorder” could easily have become too heady—the language itself is very clinical—but that phrase has been so helpful to me personally that I was determined to make a song about it that I hoped would become a part of the fabric of people’s lives. I was grateful to have cowriters like Ross King and Justin Amundrud to help me keep it on a heart level.
What is one key message that you hope listeners take away from this EP?
That they don’t have to be afraid of the storms of life. Author Ann Voscamp once said that songs can serve as handrails in a storm, something people can hold on to that helps anchor them. I hope these songs can be handrails for people in the process of order disorder reorder.
How will you define "success" for this collection?
Wow, good question. There are so many different metrics. At the end of the day, I need to feel like I’ve told the truth. So that’s the first measure of success for me. Beyond that, hearing that the songs found people where they were and helped them would be the second measure. And beyond that, I know my label and management hopes it succeeds commercially. I hope for that, too, because it will mean I can make another record and keep doing this work. Commercial success also reflects that you’ve struck a nerve and that it’s connecting with people, which is important to me as an artist who sees my music more as a way to serve than as a mode of personal expression.
Are there any plans to tour after the release of this new music?
We are dreaming about doing an Order Disorder Reorder tour after all three volumes release where I play all the songs and hopefully create an event centered around transformation.