Bethel Music on Their New Album ‘Come Up Here’—“This Experience Was Really Special”

On Friday (March 17), Bethel Music shared Come Up Here, an 11-track offering that was captured in the Redwoods of California. Among the album are original worship songs written and performed by members of the faith-based collective.

Videos by American Songwriter

According to a press release, the album “serves as a testament to the majesty that God has created the earth.” The collective aimed to invite their listeners from around the globe to witness the “magnificence of the celestial evergreens and reflect on the beauty of God’s glory.”

Founders Brian and Jenn Johnson along with singer-songwriter Josh Baldwin sat down with American Songwriter to discuss the new record and the mission of Bethel.

American Songwriter: Can you talk about your decision to start Bethel?

Jenn Johnson: In the year 2000, we were given the position of worship pastor at Bethel Church and that’s really when things started for us. We were songwriting and people were moving to be a part of what we were doing. It just kept growing. We had gone with another label, to kind of help us get out the songs and music we were creating at the time, and then that label went bankrupt. So we’re thought, ‘Well, alright, what we’re gonna do?’ We prayed about and we really felt like we were supposed to start our own thing. That’s where God was leading us. Especially in the industry, we saw unhealthy demands on artists and families torn apart. We just that there had to be a better way. That’s really why we started Bethel.

Brian Johnson: We wanted to be more than just us. On a whim, we started the label. At the heart of it, we always wanted to set the stage for other church kids—write songs for the church. That’s what we keep reminding ourselves of and always trying to stay true to that.

AS: What do you think being part of a collective brings to the table?

BJ: Just like any organization, when we’re together we go a lot further. Maybe someone has an idea for a song I’m writing. I haven’t written a song by myself in 16 years or so. I think it’s always better to do stuff together.

Josh Baldwin: I’ve always loved being a part of a team. I love being a part of something bigger than me. We get to be our own artists – I put out most of my music under my own name – but then I also get to be a part of this movement that makes me feel like I’m not out there by myself. That feels special to me.

AS: You recorded Come Up Here in the Redwood Forest. How was that experience? Do you think it added to the final result?

JJ: Yes, it was absolutely amazing. We’ve had that property for a really long time. I grew up in Northern California in the Redwoods. We grew up running around there and four-wheeling and doing family picnics. So, I’ve always wanted to record in the forest. So we took probably 100 of us up into the mountains and put a stage in the middle of the forest. Being out there in nature, recording and singing as you’re looking up at the stars, was absolutely amazing. In the Bible, we see these mountaintop experiences, right? Where people go up to the mountain and encounter God. So this experience was really special.

JB: I think there are moments in your life where you think, “okay, take a picture of all of this in mind.” This was one of those times.

AS: Is there a particular song on the record that you each connect to?

JB: I love “Beauty” by David Funk. He’s a good buddy of mine. I sang with “Jen” on her song “Holy Forever” so that one feels close to my heart too. I think it’s hard for me to separate the song from the people. Some of my best buds are in there. They could sing anything and I’d love it.

BJ: I think “Holy Forever.” That was a special one.

AS: Is there a goal to bring Christian music to a secular audience? Or are you happy serving the church alone?

JB: I think we know who is going to listen to our music the most but, I think, with something like this, it’s so visual and captivating that I hope it gets people who don’t know the lord or don’t listen to us to get their eyes on it.

This music sounds great. So maybe that draws them in first and then they hear the message behind everything. That’s what can help change lives. I’ve always had the heart to go after church leaders but, I hope the song and videos reach people who don’t normally listen to this type of music.

Courtesy of Bethel Music / Alicia Krass

Leave a Reply

3 Songs You Didn’t Know Ariana Grande Wrote For Other Artists