by Adelie Salagnac
For non-initiated people like me, and like many of us, Christian music can be a little bit of a blurry concept. South Jersey-based alternative-inspirational band, Fresh Fire, was nice enough to have a chat with me about their music and about their projects, on a chilly Monday evening, just as they got off a rehearsal session.
Creating great music, with the goal of giving people the power to change our world and to embrace the love of God, Fresh Fire is not your typical band. The currently six-piece project greets me with a loud and cheerful, “We are Fresh Fire!” Nice, I thought, this should be a fun one.
With hook phrases like “Fresh Fire continues to cultivate the gift of music that God has given them” all over their social media, I was curious about their approach to achieve this. Benjamin Akuma, keyboardist and vocalist, says: “I feel like the inspiration is already inside all of us, so it naturally comes out. (…) It comes from what we already have inside of us.”
Having played music for years and years together, there is a real sense of cohesion between all the band members. Chatting with them, one can easily feel the link that unites them all. David Eural, drummer, explains that the band, much like any other, started off as a group of friends just playing together. At that point, it was only three of them, and little did they know about how far their little group would go.
Soon enough, more people came, the lovely lead vocalist Brianna Jordan being the latest addition, and they started writing their own material. “A lot of us, as musicians, used to play for different artists,” he says. “Well we decided to start doing our own thing!”
In 2011, their first EP, Extended Play, was released. Looking back on their journey, the band as a whole admits one thing: it is one hell of a journey, but a damn tough one.
“What isn’t tough?” jokes Eural. “You do everything yourself. I would say the hardest thing is being a musician, and then doing all the business stuff. You can’t really just focus on playing, you got to get things done, you have to do copyrights, then to try and book shows. It is really a lot. It is all hard to do, but we still do it, and we love to do it. That is why we still do it.”
Alan Wilkins, saxophonist and key bassist, adds: “We all aspire to be at that level of success, where millions of people listen to us, millions of people want to see us at a show. Sometimes you want to be doing what those people are doing, but a lot of times those people do it because their label told them to. We have a lot of freedom. So we enjoy that. It is also scary being so original.”
Their freedom allowed them to participate in projects they really cared about and were extremely excited about. Some of you may have discovered Fresh Fire through World Café Live’s now institutionalized Philly Rising Yearly Showcase. Our fellow readers have probably heard us rambling on and on about the artists participating in Philly Rising quite a lot of time – but you can’t blame us for appreciating good, quality, music.
“We gained a lot of exposure. A lot of people that we don’t normally meet, got to hear Fresh Fire’s sound. I think they go a little treat that night!” says Eural.
Fair enough, they did not win the competition, but they might as well had. Recognized as standout performers, we believe the wonderfully talented musicians of Fresh Fire still have bright days ahead of them. For the next couples of months, the band is going to push their new EP, Forever, which came out last September, playing shows all around the place, doing open-mic competitions.
But back to my main concern: Christian music? What is it? Fresh Fire’s aim is to create inspirational music – to sparkle something in each and everyone’s heart. What message do they want to convey, you ask? Eural explains:
“Our message is that there is something greater. Our message is that God is real. Our message is that Jesus is real. And our message is that, life is bigger than what we see in front of us. And the solution is bigger than what we can do ourselves, it really is to look beyond what you see and to look for God in those things and those situations.”