Young & Free: Taking Jesus To MTV And Beyond - Hope 103.2

Young & Free: Taking Jesus To MTV And Beyond

Young And Free’s new record 'Youth Revival', due for launch next week, has already gained the attention of the secular music world - including MTV.

By Clare BruceThursday 18 Feb 2016Hope BreakfastMusicReading Time: 5 minutes

Listen: Young & Free’s Aodhan King and Laura Toggs chat to Hope 103.2’s Laura Bennett.

Worship albums are great for playing in your car, your home, and your Lifegroup/ Bible study/ Connect Group—but not usually for giving to your non-Christian friends. Am I right?

Until now.

Young & Free’s new record Youth Revival, due for launch next week, is made to be different. Its first single Where You Are, which emerged late last year, has gained attention not only with young believers around the world – but in the secular world too.

Watch: Aodhan King and Ben Tan’s acoustic version of ‘Where You Are’, at the Hope 103.2 studios.

Written by musicians from Hillsong church’s youth ministry, with young and current electro-dance sounds at its heart, the upcoming album has made waves in the mainstream.

The video for Where You Are has been playing for weeks on three MTV channels in the United States, and the song earnt a spot in the viral top 50 on Spotify.

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This kind of secular reach is a dream come true for singer and spokesperson Laura Toganivalu, the daughter of Hillsong’s pastor Brian Houston, better known as Laura Toggs (pictured above). She and her bandmates hope the album will be one that young people will share with their non-Christian mates.

“That was our vision for it from the beginning,” she said. “We wanted to create music that would bless people, but also that they would be compelled to share it with their friends.”

Young & Free Reaching The Mainstream

Watch: The music video that’s reaching MTV audiences in the USA.

Young & Free released its first album in 2013, with Alive, heralding its now-signature dance–style sound. That was followed by a fresh version of United’s song The Stand in 2014, then the 2015 single This Is Living (along with its Spanish translation Vida Tu Me Das, a hit in Latin America).

Laura T told Hope 103.2’s Laura B last week that the new album Youth Revival taps into the band’s well-known dance sound even more.

“Our music is always undeniably going to be about Jesus and to glorify Jesus,” she said, “but I think with Youth Revival we felt a real calling to reach people that we’ve never reached before.

“So intentionally we have written a few songs that hopefully will open the doors.”

Young & Free – How Did A Church Youth Group End Up On MTV?

Young & Free Alexandar Pappas

Young & Free Singer-worship leader Alexander Pappas

And that’s exactly what they’ve achieved with Where You Are; it’s not often – or ever – that MTV features a praise song by a church youth group.

Laura said it was as much a surprise to her as anyone else when they appeared on the American music video show.

“We wanted to make a music video because obviously it’s a great way to get the message out there, and we wanted to explore different expressions of creativity,” she said.

“Capitol Records in LA distributes our music in the USA and I think someone representing them showed it to MTV and they loved it—which is so encouraging. For us it was such a compliment that it would stand alongside today’s most popular music; that just blows our mind.

“Even just a couple of days ago my sister-in-law sent me a video of the music video playing on MTV in her living room in New York City. So it’s still playing today which is just amazing.”

New Young & Free Songs To Listen Out For

Watch: The teaser video for the upcoming album ‘Youth Revival’.

The song Where You Are is, quite simply, about living life walking with Jesus.

“The song follows a character who is, like we all are in life, faced with many options,” said the song’s voice Aodhan King, “and he comes to the conclusion in this song that life with Jesus is better than anything else, and that being where Jesus is, is the best place that you can be.

“That’s kind of what we wanted this album to be about. We want it to speak to everybody, not just in church but all people. We’re all faced with options, so this song was that song.”

Tracks to listen out for next include Real Love, (catch glimpse on the Youth Revival album teaser video above), and Falling Into You.

Real Love is the song that really resonated with our youth,” Laura said. “We’ve been kind of releasing previews online over the last couple of days and there’s been so much excitement for that one in particular.

“But there’s some beautiful worship moments as well. I think To My Knees is really beautiful and another song called Passion. Actually they’re all good!”

Catch The Young & Free Launch Online

Young & Free Aodhan King

Young & Free’s Aodhan King

The Young & Free team left today for the USA where they will travel between cities promoting the album. The tour includes a live-streaming DVD launch at the Youtube Spaces studio in Los Angeles, that you can catch online at 11am Sydney time on Wednesday, February 24.

“I’m so excited for that,” Laura said. “There’s been such great response from high schools who are going to tune in. We’re going to literally play all the new songs. Then we’re going to Seattle… and then we’ll be home for Colour Conference.”

The Sound Of A New Generation

Listen: Laura Toganivalu chats about the formation of Young And Free

In a 2013 interview around the time of Young & Free’s formation, Laura said the band originated from the heart of her dad, Hillsong pastor Brian Houston. He wanted to release a fresh generation of young people to forge new paths in worship music.

“I’m a youth pastor and I personally saw a gap and an opportunity with all of these young people who have amazing talent that’s God-given,” Laura said at the time. “I really felt strongly about giving them an opportunity to write songs for our Friday night programs and for their friends.

“We really had it in our heart to write the types of songs and sound that would enable young people to dance and have fun and be free and full of the joy of our Lord.”

Young & Free was the new and younger version of United, a band that also sprung out of the church’s youth ministry, and has now matured and released several highly successful albums.

Who Gets To Write The Songs?

When you’re running a youth group of 400 people, you can’t have every teenager in your songwriting, world-touring team. They wouldn’t fit on the plane, for starters. But Laura said the band is very inclusive in its creative process.

“It’s not exclusive, it’s not just a few of us,” she said. “We kind of invite everybody to the table to contribute. So even with the album process…Ben and Aodhan would organise sessions and it would include all sorts of people.

“So it is a very collaborative type thing. But when we go out touring we just choose key representatives. And that’s we call them. They represent a much bigger story that’s happening at home in youth and church.”