The Honor Project Documentary
As you may know, The Honor Project Documentary is a film about modern men sharing their life stories. It features 15 southern Californian Dads from all sorts of backgrounds and ethnicities, varying from the baby boomers generation to millennial. Idle Tuesdays Recording Studio was able to interview Adam Nelson, one of the selected artists for the documentary soundtrack. They had the opportunity to discuss the roots of his musical inspiration and his music history.
Adam Nelson is an up and coming singer-songwriter from Washington. He has recently made the shift from shy chemistry major to a singer-songwriter. Shifting from the classroom to studios, being interviewed for music blogs and podcasts–Nelson’s career is on the fast track. With his work featured in our documentary, Adam Nelson will be broadening his career from singing in the church to writing and performing contemporary music.
Nelson shared with Idle Tuesdays Recording Studio the true story behind this progression from worship leader to signing a record deal. He touched on how the journey happily caught him by surprise.
Becoming a Recording Artist
As a boy, Nelson suffered from stage fright and was forced to perform for the first time, live, by a close friend. Nelson’s friends have truly been a source of direction in his musical career. It was actually through a quirky connection with a friend by way of a random trip to Israel that he was connected with Honor Project Documentary’s director/producer Emily Hibard. She has since mentored him and connected him to this current venture.
It was truly Nelson’s paternal relationship that made him a great contribution to the soundtrack. The root of Adam Nelson’s musical inspiration stems from both his relationship with his father, Jim Nelson, and his experience performing in church. When writing for the official soundtrack, Nelson used his spiritual roots as a tool for understanding the bond between the human father-son relationship in comparison to his relationship with his spiritual father. This caused Nelson’s music to have an ultimate message of unconditional love and the understanding that love has no boundaries. This message is especially found in a loving father-son relationship one we aspire to portray in our documentary.
Nelson believes it is our responsibility to love people the way God loves him. This message is found throughout his music. His music is about the ultimate feeling of love and is for all listeners who have someone in their life that they love wholeheartedly. Lyrically, his music holds all the components of an emotional whirlwind contributed to every loving relationship.
In addition to the paternal influence that his music is based upon, his sound is heavily influenced by contemporary pop musicians. One of Nelson’s biggest inspirations is Ed Sheeran— he hopes to one day develop his sound to the level of soulfulness that Sheeran presents. Nelson spends most of his free time watching live performances of Sheeran and looping his own music with that of the Grammy award-winning artist. Most of the research Nelson did in preparation for our soundtrack was by watching Ed Sheeran guitar tutorial videos on Youtube and practicing his inspired techniques. His goal for his music is to have a sound that transcends genres and touches every listener’s heart.
The Songwriting Process
A tool that Nelson recommends for new songwriters when exploring lyrical topics such as love, is to expand on all moments of inspiration that come to them as an artist and then grow from that point– even if it is just one word. In writing his songs for the official soundtrack, Nelson would take a keyword like ‘Embrace’ and think of personal connections he can draw from that embody that feeling when writing his music.
In the interview with Idle Tuesdays Recording Studio, Nelson thought back to the creation of the first song on the Documentary soundtrack, In the Arms. He reflects on the perplexing summer meetings with Emily Hibard and the significance that the word Embrace caused him and his artistic process. The same word continued to vex him on his drive home one evening prompting him to recall a significant moment in his childhood when he suffered a devastating loss.
As a boy playing little league, Nelson was not always the best out on the field. Nelson recalls the moment that he suffered one of the most heartbreaking failures of his young baseball career and how his father was the one who was there for him. When thinking back to this loss it wasn’t the heartbreak he remembered, but the embrace of his father that later provoked inspiration for his music. The hug of his father and the words of wisdom he shared with young Nelson sprung the lyrics, “When you hold me– every worry disappears.” The moment his father took him into his arms and embraced him left Nelson feeling an ultimate sense of unconditional love no matter what may befall him.
Nelson continued this technique for other songs on the soundtrack. For example, the song By Your Side is based on another experience from his childhood. In the interview, Nelson shares the difficulties of having a father that works in aviation. It has caused Nelson and his father to develop a multifaceted relationship that is largely spent apart but effectively has not been weakened by the physical distance.
He recalls one evening in his childhood when he was struck with illness and was rushed to the hospital. Initially left to believe he would be forced to undergo this experience alone he was astoundingly awoken by the face of his father by his side. That moment revealed the lyrics, “When it seems I am far away– I am closer than you think.” These lyrics express the type of relationship most children have with their fathers especially those who can not always be physically present in each other’s life. He hopes his music will evoke the feeling of unconditional love that he feels from his father and the constant present of his love that he feels whether his father is near or far.
Many of the songs he has written for the album utilize this message of unconditional love as well as embody the coming of age feeling both fathers and sons develop in their life over time. We the team behind The Honor Project Documentary cannot wait to hear the completed project. Also based on the transition that Nelson is currently taking creatively, we also can not wait to see how his sound will develop over time as a contemporary artist.