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Learning to Slow Down: An Interview with Soul Thirst Music

Soul Thirst Music is a singer-songwriter duo based in the UK whose sound evokes the best of Soul, Gospel, and Jazz. The result is a smooth, easy-listening experience that puts solid songwriting and tasteful arranging at the forefront. We sat down with Soul Thirst to ask them about their journey as artists, newest single, and what it takes to be in the music business.

The Haystack: Your website has mentioned that a full album could be expected in 2021. We are currently running out of 2021, slowly but surely. How soon can we expect to hear an album from you? And what should audiences expect from a full-length Soul Thirst release?

Soul Thirst: 2021 brought some unexpected twists and turns. The loss of Tochi’s dad earlier this year really rocked our world as you can imagine. We’ve decided to push the full album back a little so expect something in 2022! What can they expect? Around 10 tracks of acoustic and acoustic inspired songs with lyrics that speaks directly to the Christian’s journey. From older originals like ‘Hunger and Thirst’ and ‘Rebuild the Walls’, to brand new songs such as ‘Hold on’ and hymn re-arrangements like ‘Have Your own way.’ Some upbeat R&B sounds and some more ballad-like traditional gospel sounding songs with a bit of jazz and other eclectic sounds weaved in between. We truly hope and pray these songs will resonate with our listeners and help them in some way on their journey of faith.

HS: The two of you met in the mid 2000’s and have been making music together since the end of that decade. What would you say feels different now about being a musician compared to when you started? And what would you see is the most exciting part of being a musician today?

ST: Now, we work a lot more seamlessly together. We’ve found our creative groove you could say; God 100% gets the credit for that. We used to have huge arguments every time we started working on a song and end up achieving very little, or just being angry (haha). But over time God has taught us our unique approaches both have value and don’t have to cause conflict but can actually compliment each other. Tochi has much more of a ‘big picture approach’ and is also super patient whereas Charlotte tends to be more into details but also quite impatient (that is a total over simplification but hopefully you get the point). I think actually as a result of spending so much time together and creating together we’ve absorbed some of each others strengths making us better artists. We definitely still have arguments at times in the creative process but we work through these so much better and create something we are both really happy with and can truly connect with.

The most exciting part about being a musician/artist for me today is that I can now actually say it with my chest and believe it. I am an artist! I used to always feel like a bit of a fraud because I knew I had so much more in me to share that I was sharing. It always seemed like as an Adventist you were supposed to kinda give your ‘best’ but not really because that could make you you shine a little too brightly. Even though I do still struggle with this at times I’ve grown so much and am so much more intentional about creating doing it wherever I can. I desire to juice my gift until there is nothing left! For me (Tochi) the most exciting part about being a musician today is the scope for collaboration. The speed of technological advancements have meant that working with other musicians is easier than it has ever been and you really grow when you collaborate with other musicians.

HS: On the newest song, Slow Down, the lyrics deal with the experience of making major life decisions, and the importance of taking time to seek God’s guidance when making those decisions. Since the two of you have been making music together for so long, and for some time now as a married couple, how has that need to slow down manifested itself in your lives and in the decisions you’ve made both as artists and as people?

ST: Wow that is such a great question. At the time of writing this particular song we were in the thick of house hunting for our first rental (as you will gather from the lyrics in verse 1). Since getting married and especially since becoming parents to our two girls we’ve had to make so many decisions that have required us to truly slow down and listen for God’s direction. From deciding where to live, to choosing a nursery for our little girl. Lately the constant prayer is that God would guide us in how best to raise our girls and deal with each stage of their development. Parenting is the most challenging yet most rewarding responsibility either of us have ever had. Sometimes the decisions are simply which song God would like us to minister at church. We recently had an experience where God has laid a particular song on Tochi’s heart but I didn’t want to sing it so we chose a different song. When we go to church God spoke to me and laid that same song on my heart that He had laid on Tochi’s. We sang the song and it was clear that it was just the song the church needed.

HS: This song also has a remarkable contrast in arrangement between the verses of the song - which are sparse and minimalistic - and the very ornate instrumentation that dominates the rest of the track. Since you operate as a duo, how do you approach translating your songs to live performance? How much does the limitation of only having two members affect your songwriting and arrangement choices, if at all?

ST: We’ve been blessed to work with our amazing friend and producer Keith Bazari of Kerba Music, who has done an amazing job on our songs - keeping our sound but adding freshness and vibrancy that has really brought our songs to life! We’ve enjoyed beefing up the sound with backing vocals and additional instruments. Our signature sound however has always been acoustic and stripped back and that is what you will hear on some of the songs on the album and what we mainly do when it comes to our live ministry: simply Tochi on the acoustic guitar and Charlotte singing. We often play around with the vocal and guitar arrangement to keep things engaging but we rarely find that having just two of us is a limitation. If anything, it’s actually where we feel most at home. The opportunity to bring our listeners into the intimate space with just Char’s lush vocals and the soothing acoustic guitar is really healing to the soul.

HS: Tell us a bit about the “Christian Songwriters UK” community. How did that come about? What benefits have you personally experienced from your interactions with this community?

ST: Christian Songwriters UK is a group which began in September 2019. Charlotte was looking for some support with her decision to take song writing much more seriously and thought surely there must be something on Facebook. To her dismay there was not much out there at all, and definitely not something UK based, so she started the group. It’s been a huge blessing to meet likeminded Christian songwriters and help facilitate collaborations, individual writing challenges and sharing sessions. We are now 145 strong. We want to do so much more to support and engage the members. Artists are often quite isolated when it comes to the creative process. We need safe spaces to share and grow together, build collaborative relationships and grow in our faith.

HS: The two of you have dipped into many different aspects of the music industry - everything from performing at nursing homes to writing music for previous Britain’s Got Talent competitors, alongside plenty of other endeavours. What advice would you give to younger/newer artists who are beginning to step into the industry but aren’t quite sure where they fit? Do you think that being multifaceted and flexible like that is essential for artists trying to establish themselves?

ST: Speaking particularly to younger Adventist Musicians, I would say fear not and don’t be discouraged. I found that the majority of the teaching on music in our church is based on fear and that stifled my growth as a musician, and that in turn led to discouragement because of listening to so many of the different voices of people preaching and teaching for doctrine the traditions of men which have no basis in scripture or even the Spirit of Prophecy writings. I would encourage them to embrace the gift of creativity God has placed within them and listen to His voice so that they can explore that gift as much as possible. Pray that God will fill you with His Spirit and give the gift of music like He gave Bezaleel and the others the gifts needed for creating the art in the temple (Exodus 31:2-11). Don’t be scared to experiment and also reach out to people. The Christian/gospel music industry is more established in the States, but here in the UK it’s a bit like the Wild West. So speak to people, don’t be an island but collaborate and work with others. That will help everyone reach their goals quicker!

Soul Thirst has also recently announced that they will be releasing a Christmas themed single on December 8, 2021. Follow our playlists to stay up to date with all the artists we cover.

More About Soul Thirst Music: Location: London, UK

Genre: Gospel / R&B / Soul

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