The Westminster Confession of Funk

Talking about theology, but keeping it funky

I am a husband and father and pastor of Trinity Covenant Church and teacher as St. Abraham’s Classical Christian Academy in Santa Cruz, CA.

I married my Indian Princess just before Y2K. I am an old fashioned Protestant Christian Humanist who lives where people vacation. I love music, love to surf, coach soccer for a hoard of minions, play the drums, and read actual flesh and blood books. I enjoy theology and literature and history and philosophy (if Sophie is serving beer) and Anglo-Saxon Poetry.

If I could have lunch with any three living people, I would have buffalo ribs with a butter, mushroom, cream sauce, Roxy Ray would be singing with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and I’d be at table with Tom Wolfe, ?uestlove, and Adam Schlesinger (and Brad Bird, because it’s my fantasy, and no one can count in my fantasy).

If I could have dinner with any three dead people (and the TARDIS was there with its universal language translation circuit) I’d have slow smoked dry ribs with the author of Beowulf, Herodotus, Martin Bucer, and Polycarp (see the previous paragraph if you have questions about my ability to count). And Janis Joplin would be singing with Louis Armstrong and his All-Stars backed up by Parliament Funkadelic of course.

My carefully crafted internet persona is also much cooler than my actual person, but I can live with that.

The Nature of Us - Interview with Joel Ansett

First off, thanks for joining us at The Westminster Confession of Funk. Congratulations on your new album The Nature of Us. It is seriously high quality stuff.

Thanks for having me.

This album started as a Kickstarter campaign. What is it like to hit go on the campaign and end up here with an amazing album that, last I checked, was #9 on the singer/songwriter charts on iTunes?

It's not an experience I can easily wrap my head around. I still feel incredibly blessed by this entire opportunity. To have so many people get behind me and believe in the vision for this album was so encouraging and motivating. Now that the record is released, I'm feeling a bit of fatigue, but mostly relief and a whole lot of excitement. I had my doubts along the way but it's an enormous relief to release something after putting so much time and hard work into it; and I think the excitement of watching the songs take on a life of their own is one of the best rewards of making music. So, so thankful for this last year. 

I find the title of your album really intriguing. What's it about?

I came up with the title after the album was finished actually. I wrote down all the lyrics and circled words that repeat; tried to identify all the themes that come and go throughout the record. Vision is a strong thread but nature itself is even stronger with songs like "Turn to Gold", "My Heart Is Set", "Give Our Hearts Some Weight", and "Tragedy Is Not the End" all containing some sort of Nature metaphor in the lyrics. Then I saw that all of the songs have this thread of wanting to know who we are; they all have this underlying sort of hunger to know where we came from, and where we're going.  All the songs present a sort of different layer of an answer those questions; and the double meaning of the word "Nature" tied it all together for me, hence "The Nature of Us."

Music is such a fundamentally human endeavor. What have you learned about humanity making music?

Amazing question. I could talk about this for a long while. To sum up, I've learned that humanity is blessed to have music in the world. I've learned that we are hungry for mystery and drawn to beauty. I've learned that we are made to worship. I love that C.S. Lewis quote that says "you don't have a soul, you are a soul." Music helps remind me of that everyday.  

What do you hope people walk away with after hearing your music?

So many things, haha. I don't want to speak too much about it because I do cherish the moments when a listener gets something out of a song that I never intended; a couple T.S. Eliot lines come to mind though. I hope people hear the voice of the hidden waterfall and see the boy hidden in the apple tree, not known because not looked for. I hope people walk away looking for those things, looking for the world that ought to be. I hope they would leave a show hungry for something greater. I hope people remember what it's like to be home, and are moved to get back to that place.   

And what are your plans now? What do you have coming up?

My wife and I are having our first baby coming up in February (hip! hip! HURRAH!) so I am working on a little Lullabies EP now. I'm also starting to write with a friend from college  and I can't wait to see what emerges from that project. But after this baby comes, we'll be hoping to go on tour in the spring to support this new record, and who knows what will happen from there! 

Thanks for joining us here at The Westminster Confession of Funk. Let us know when you go on tour so that we can get the word out. And thank you for The Nature of Us. It has been a joy to listen to.