Shepherd Of My Soul hits 1 million views!

Today, the Rivers & Robots song Shepherd Of My Soul hit 1 million views on YouTube! Of course, this is just a number, but it's also really exciting to us because it shows what an amazing platform the internet is to be able to share this kind of thing.

It's what we're all about at Set Sail - making art about God, and sharing it with the world. Throughout history, missionaries have travelled the world, making God known to people around the globe. Today, we live in a world that's more globally connected than ever, and in a generation where the language of art is one of the most powerful and influential. Culture is shaped, on a worldwide scale, through our songs, our films, and our artistic expressions that carry a message.

At Set Sail, we see ourselves as missionaries on that platform. We want to speak the language of art well, aiming to create great art that's all about God, whether it's music, video, design or another artistic expression. And Shepherd Of My Soul is a perfect example of that. It's a musical representation of Psalm 23, with a lyric video we edited out of clips of beautiful scenery from around the Earth. And we love that the message of Psalm 23 has been heard through YouTube, in 184 nations! But more than numbers, it's the individual stories we hear from people's comments which really blow us away, and encourage us to keep going.

"I'm going through a tough season... I believe God is molding me for a great plan he wants to accomplish. I have been listening this song almost daily. Twice, if not three times over sometimes with strength and courage and sometimes in absolute tears... He will and will always be the Shepherd of my soul."

"I tried to sing this, and couldn't because I had to cry. I'm learning about Christ more and more, day after day, prayerfully. And these lyrics are so perfect for a prayer."

Watch the video below.

Introducing: The Seasons Project

I love writing songs. Taking words, melodies, rhythms and bringing them all together is one of my favourite things. When writing songs for a specific project, I often take a scattered approach to writing and end up writing more songs than needed. This happened during the writing of our Rivers & Robots album, The Eternal Son, I was left with many songs that didn't fit on that project, either musically or lyrically. I ended up recording some of those very simply and putting them out as an EP called By The Streams.

Back when I first started Rivers & Robots, I really enjoyed the simplicity of coming up with an idea, recording it on my laptop and then releasing it straight away. I didn't know any other way of doing songs really, and as the band has grown I've learnt the lengthier, but often more rewarding process of going through the stages of demos, rehearsing with a band, recording each part in a studio, mixing and mastering. Since becoming a band in 2012, our subsequent albums such as All Things New and The Eternal Son have been a lengthier process, and songs go through a lot of behind the scenes work before making it onto an album. It's this process that often refines the song and makes it better than it was previously. And I think our later albums have been a real step up in quality for that reason.

But there's still a part of me that misses the spontaneity of capturing that first idea and spark, the first demo, and sharing that. This year, as we're between albums with Rivers & Robots, and still in the transition period of trying out drummers and touring, I wanted to have a creative outlet for the songs I was writing this year. And a return to the simplicity of just sitting at home, writing a song and then releasing it. I've been trying to stretch myself to think outside the usual boundaries of the genres I feel comfortable writing in, and I've been trying out various styles. Presenting all of these songs at once would feel so varied it would probably be confusing, so I came up with the idea of the seasons project.

I'm aiming to write and release four EPs this year, based on the four seasons. Each one done in a different style. The first of those EPs, Winter, was released just a couple of weeks ago. The theme of that one was to record something 'stripped back', with very few layers and effects. The majority of the EP is acoustic, with some electronic touches here and there.

 
 

I've started work on the Spring EP now. Spring is a time when things come into bloom, things brighten up. It's a beautiful season. And I want to reflect the beauty of the season with rich, lush arrangements. I'm excited to start recording these tracks.

Have a listen to Winter on the links below!

- Jonathan

Gather relaunch in a new venue

We've been running our Gather worship nights for a couple of years now. The aim was to do 'creative worship in creative places'. We started in living rooms with small, cosy nights of worship and then last year we moved into club venues around the city. We used different venues every month, including Manchester Academy, Gullivers, Dulcimer, Creation Cafe, The Anchor, Luther King House and more.

This year, we wanted to make the evenings a little more consistent. Having a different venue and artist every month meant that every event looked different, which was part of the plan, but it also felt difficult to build a regular rhythm and community around it.

This year, we're excited to be partnering with Nexus Art Cafe, who have provided their venue as our regular event space on the last Thursday of every month. We'll still be getting different artists in throughout the year, but we hope to create a place where people can come every month, hang out, meet new friends, and worship together. We had our first event in January which was great. And we'll be hosting the second one on February 23rd. These monthly events are free, so you're more than welcome to join us if you're in Manchester!

All the details can be found on our website: herewegather.com

Still Volume 1 Released

The instrumental album we've been working for the last few months has now been released! We've really enjoyed the process of arranging some of our favourite worship songs as instrumentals in our own Rivers & Robots style.

On Tuesday we did a launch event here in Manchester, at the Anchor Coffee House, where we showed a 15 minute version of the album and did a livestream Q&A, taking questions from YouTube about the process of making the album. You can watch that whole event here.

 
 

We also filmed some behind the scenes of that launch event for episode 21 of the Set Sail vlog, which you can watch below too.

 
 

After a successful launch night, the album then came out on Friday, and has received great feedback from fans and critics.

Lift Up My Eyes - New Video

At the end of October we posted a quick video to our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page with a simple idea. We asked our fans to pick a line from the song "Lift Up My Eyes", write it down on a sign, and film themselves holding it in whatever part of the world they're from.

Little did we know that we'd get nearly 400 videos sent in from all over the world, and two weeks of editing and trying to keep track of all the locations in a spreadsheet, we released the video.

What started a simple idea to make a fun clip ended up being much more than we expected! In a time where the news is full of doom and gloom, and social media is rife with arguments and negativity, it was so good to see the church around the world so full of joy, worshipping God together through a simple video. It really fit the message of the song well, which is all about lifting up your eyes to God in times of difficulty. It makes you think bigger when you see people from all around the world being so happy!

Introducing: Still, Volume 1.

We're excited to announce the release date for our new instrumental album. We've been working with Integrity Music to produce the first album in their series of instrumentals, taking popular worship songs and reworking them in our style. The first album, Still - Volume 1, will be released on January 13th 2017. We can't wait for you to hear these songs!

 

Here's what Integrity say about the project:

"Integrity Music is excited to announce a new series of instrumental worship albums, each featuring the unique sound and aesthetic of a guest producer, beginning with Still Volume 1 and the critically acclaimed UK band Rivers & Robots.

Infusing modern worship songs with a vibrant, chilled aesthetic, Still delivers the perfect backdrop for moments of devotion, prayer and meditation for individuals and churches. From creating an atmosphere for soaking prayer to offering a sonic oasis during the rush hour commute, this series calls listeners to still their hearts before God. Recorded in various locations around the UK and mastered at the legendary Abbey Road studios, Still is emotive and reminiscent of a film score, combining strings, brass elements and electronic instrumentation. If you are a fan of Rivers & Robots, you will want to immediately add this to your collection. If you’re new to Rivers & Robots, this is a great introduction!"