Linescratchers is known as “the site for LDS musicians who don’t make LDS music” , but… with all due respect for that motto, perhaps a better motto should be “the site for LDS musicians who don’t make TYPICAL LDS music.”
Recently, our own fearless leader and visionary founder, Arthur Hatton, proved this with his own album release of spiritually influenced music that certainly doesn’t sound anything like the “typical” LDS music. He has blurred the lines.
My own recent album release, a pet project that was long overdue, also blurred the lines – not so much in a spiritual sense as Arthur did, and not by directly speaking or preaching of gospel doctrines, but with most lyrics clearly drawing on themes and values that are expressly taught and encouraged as part of LDS teachings, certainly my own project was “in the world but not of the world”. In fact, I’m working on a new project now that will push this concept more than I have ever done before, but that is a story for another day.
As Linescratchers has recently moved into a new chapter of leadership and direction, I have reflected on the meaning and value of the site as we move forward, and frankly, I think that the blurring of lines is a good thing. How does one define when music is or is not “church related” music? While I certainly create categories in my mind, it is ultimately impossible for me to completely separate “church” and “secular” music in my own original works. Why? Because as a believer and a follower, it is impossible for my belief system to not impact my creative works.
My understanding is that this site was created somewhat out of frustration that it seemed that anyone who claimed to be both LDS and a musician was instantly stereotyped into a very narrow box. There has been for some the perception that being LDS and living/working/creating outside of that box would lead to being ostracized. In all fairness, neither of these perceptions translate 100% into reality across the board, but as an LDS musician, I certainly have seen and experienced this to some degree at some time or another. The linescratchers mission has been to help bring awareness to LDS musicians who don’t fit that box, but whose work is still a worthy art.
So, has the linescratchers mission been watered down, become outdated, or forgotten? I say absolutely not! I think it is great to see more acceptance of LDS musicians making music that contains spiritual themes, but doesn’t quite fit the perception of what LDS music is “supposed” to sound like. I think that it is great to see the blurring of the lines – remember, we aren’t talking about blurring the lines between right and wrong or good and evil. We are talking about blurring the lines between what is considered secular music and what is considered church music. If we are diluting the church message with secular music – that is the equivalent perhaps of mingling the philosophies of men with scripture, and is not a good thing. But if we are enhancing secular music to include more spiritual and value driven content, that is a wonderful thing indeed. And, if we are tastefully expanding the available options of styles of spiritual music, that is also a wonderful thing. We are taking a good thing, and making it better by expanding it.
God gave us talents, and he intends for us to use them. I challenge LDS musicians to not be afraid to blur the lines in the right way. Don’t be afraid to wear your faith like a badge of honor, and let little messages, spiritual moments, and a strong value system creep into your “secular” music. Music that is raw, real, and honest connects better with listeners anyway, and little in life is more personal, and real than someones deeply held beliefs.
I will continue to make music that is not intended to be spiritual or church oriented but upon close examination, it will be hard to overlook the beliefs and the lifestyle that influence who I am and how I create. Yes, blurring the lines is a good thing. I am both a secular AND and religious artist – I’m proud of it, and in doing so I will help to continue to fulfill the mission of linescratchers in my own little way.
Matt Mylroie is now a full time music professional, operating under the name of Driftwood Tide Music. You can learn more at www.driftwoodtidemusic.com