Catching Up With Jennifer Knapp
By Joseph Hassan
What's on the horizon?
It is an uphill battle right now. There's a lot of music out there. There's that uphill climb and then the fact that the fans I still have, we're trying to let them know. In response to the excitement we had from the fan base, I got out the record as fast as I could and now we're still trying to get people to recognize that we have the record out. We're making new fans every day. That's one of the most exciting parts. Seeing faces and names I actually recognize from travels before. And them bringing new people who wouldn't have even dared peel the wrapper off of one of my records because they just couldn't handle the fact that people called it a Christian record.
I'll be honest, I would have been in that boat.
And a lot of people are. It's a lot to get over if you're not comfortable with just having things delivered to you with one viewpoint in mind. And I think on the backside of that, I think my faith does expose itself in some of the things that I write, but I probably struggle more in trying to hide -- I try to keep it back. Not in a way that I'm embarrassed about it, but not everybody wants to hear about my old boring story so I want to write [songs that can be] inclusive of a lot more people. It shows up in subtle ways. I really struggle with [the question] "Do I keep that allusion in there?"
In a way, it's like you've come out with your sexuality, but you're almost going back in the closet with your spirituality.
It is an interesting paradigm. I got an email from a gal that went to a show a couple of days ago. She's an atheist and she's like, 'I came because I recognized what you've been through and wanted to be supportive and was really intrigued about the music.' A lot of fans that day were requesting the older, faith-based music. I acquiesced and I played. And then I get a letter from a gal saying, 'It was just enough but I was almost really uncomfortable.' And that's the last thing you want.
But -- in a way do you want to push that boundary?
It's a good boundary to push, I think. It's a good challenge to me, as well. I have no expectation that anyone's going to believe in the way that I view my god or my spiritual world. I'm over that bit. The challenge for me now is to begin to articulate that and to be a lot more inclusive when I didn't have to work that hard before. It's far more a new conversation now than it ever was.
It seems like this conversation about religion, spirituality, and sexuality may actually help open doors for members of the gay community who see religion as inaccessible.
The truth of the matter is, it's actually quite accessible. The impression I had in coming back to America just a year ago -- I thought there's no room for that. All you hear is the negative. All the monotheistic religions are really great at having the most conservative end of that spectrum negating the possibility of anyone coexisting [religiously] with their sexuality. The truth of the matter is that with Judaism, with Islam, with Christianity, there are places that understand the whole human being. There are churches and communities that are no longer willing to stand by and have their congregants kicked out summarily because of their sexuality.
We have to talk about the album.
Mostly the process of getting back was answering a lot of the voices in my head that were there before I even opened the door to coming back to be a public figure. Dealing with the issue of whether or not I sang about my faith, and if I was still a person of faith. It was complicated by my sexuality and then knowing that I was going to have to publicly deal with that. There were a lot of songs that started surfacing [about] that give and take. A lot of the songs take the format of a relationship -- it's very conversational. Sometimes those conversations go really well, they're really loving and really open. And sometimes they're kind of ironic. I've enjoyed the opportunity to be honest with the range of emotions that I've actually had in that experience. And I've somehow managed to come out on the other side not mad or angry or bitter but actually really hopeful. At the end of the day, that's what I hope people take. That as much as you might attach to an angrier portion, that you still find the peace and the comfort of having emoted that process and still respect that person sitting across from you as much as you can hopefully respect yourself.
And how would you describe its sound?
At the core, I'd describe it as a standard acoustic rock record. So much of it is built around the classic elements of a live rock show, but this record has a lot more keyboards on it than my last record. Cason Cooly [keys] did a lot to keep the balance between my folk tendencies and Paul Moak [guitars] fought back by adding some great electric tracks. It's a fun challenge, swimming somewhere between tasty pop sounds and purposed musicality.
Jennifer Knapp's new album Letting Go is available on iTunes and she continues to tour the U.S. through the end of October. Head to her official site for tour dates and tickets. And check out a live performance of the hit 'Dive In' from her new album Letting Go, which you can purchase on her site.
Letting Go is available now in stores and for download. For more on Jennifer Knapp, visit her official website.