[WM] You’ve got twenty-three songs currently in the CCLI top 500, have won just about every award imaginable, and your songs have been recorded by Michael W. Smith, Chris Tomlin, and Jesus Culture, just to name a few. Saying that you’re prolific would be an understatement! That said, if there was a time you experienced writer’s block, how did you approach breaking through it?
[Matt Redman] The key for me in those times has often been co-writing. It’s amazing how many times I feel like I don’t have something, and then a co-writer will have something strong to kick off the songwriting process instead. And how often that idea will be refreshing to my soul too, not just the songwriter in me. I love that. It’s back to that same theme again – we’re
[WM] Where do you get your inspiration for songs? Scripture? Life experiences? Stories of trials and victories from your congregation?
[Matt] The key is to be a songwriter, 24/7. You’re not always writing, but you always have your creative antennae up, listening out for song ideas of phrases or themes – whether that be from a sermon, or a book, or a conversation, or a new item etc. For me, adopting that approach brought a big breakthrough in the area of songwriting.
[WM] Do you have a routine for writing songs, or do they just come to you?
[Matt] I’m always thinking about songs and writing down lyrical thoughts, but the key has been to then structure some time to wrestle down the song. For me, that most often has meant putting some co-writing days in. That’s a fail-safe way of making sure your songwriting time doesn’t get eaten up or pushed out by something else.
[WM] As a songwriter, there must have been at least one time you heard an arrangement of one of your songs that didn’t appeal to you. What advice do you have for other songwriters on letting go of their songs so others can find something of their own in them?
[Matt] Ha! No – honestly! Even in the versions I’ve heard that weren’t the most musically accomplished, I’ve heard a ton of heart. So, it would be hard to look down on that. And remember, I’m just a little English guy who stumbled into playing music because I loved worship music. I’m lost without a capo, can’t read music, and I’ve been the worst musician in every band I’ve been in for the last 15 years, ha!
[WM] Songwriting is a gift, and not everyone has the same level of gifting. With that in mind, what are some good guidelines for key, chord movement, melodic range, lyrical content, and arrangement for creating well-crafted songs?
[Matt] I think I’m more qualified to speak into the lyrical side of things, honestly. Most of what I do musically is instinctive, and there’s some main and plain stuff like trying to find an addictive hook to hang stuff on, not taking too long to hit the chorus (especially in today’s world!) and not making things too complicated to sing etc. But I do find myself leaning into the melodic gifts of others – like Jonas Myrin, and myself carrying more of the lyrical side of things. For me, the one key filter to run everything musical and lyrical through is, “Are you bringing a universal theme, but expressed in a