Thursday, January 6, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Jay Interviews Elias of The City Harmonic

You know that extremely catchy piano pop track that you hear on the radio every morning before you go to work? Well it's called "Manifesto" by The City Harmonic, and I recently had the privilege of interviewing Elias, frontman for The City Harmonic! My questions for the band are in white, followed by the band's answers in orange. Enjoy!

Jay: How did The City Harmonic band members meet, and what inspired the band's formation?

Elias: Well, we’ve been friends in some fashion or another for quite some time.  Eric and I (Elias) took music classes together in High School and Aaron started playing keys with me almost 8 years ago now.  Josh and Eric were college roommates as well, and as I understand it, it had an impromptu “jam room.”  So, although The City Harmonic is a relatively new band, we’ve been making music together for awhile.  

We’re inspired by a lot of things that have come before - particularly the emotional space you hear in spirituals and some hymns – but we’re also really just trying to write music that we love and hope that in doing so we help others feel as though they can find their voice too.  

Jay: What is it like being a debut band with a brand new EP, already hearing your song "Manifesto" make it to the Christian music charts?

Elias: Right now we’ve buried our heads in our little rehearsal studio writing our LP and there isn’t much by way of Christian Radio where we live, so if not for Google and Facebook, I’d have no idea people even liked our song! We’re very glad for the reaction it’s received.  Honestly, it’s cool to see God using our song to impact people.  The way things have gone we recognize that in some way the momentum and stuff like that is well out of our hands, so there’s almost nothing we can do about it except to keep going and continue to be honest and trust that God will take care of things in one way or another.

Jay: What inspired the awesome song "Manifesto"? Did you ever think that it would become as popular as it has?

Elias: At first, “Manifesto” was essentially a piano line, a groove and a song title.  Just from the emotional space of the song we knew we wanted it to be a big, raucous declaration and something people could rally around and agree on.  So it’s kind of a declaration of some pretty universal (and historical) Christian beliefs – but that in and of itself is a bit of a statement these days.  We took the words to some of the creeds into the studio one day and had them scattered all over the control room while we pieced together the song.  I’ve overheard Christians define themselves by their denomination in conversation – and that just makes me cringe. We can’t (as “The Church”) define ourselves by our differences.  “Manifesto” is our subtle way of saying that for the most part what we hold in common is far more important than what separates us. To me, the idea that people can sing Amen (“Yeah!” or “I agree!”) together in a culture that can seem coldly individualistic is pretty powerful.

I guess you could say I’m surprised but grateful at the response we’ve had to “Manifesto”.  It’s definitely humbling.

Jay: What would you say is the single most important inspiration behind the Introducing the City Harmonic EP?

Elias: Hope. And Coldplay. Just a little joke. Mostly hope.

Jay: It looks like you guys had fun recording your new video for the hit "Manifesto." Can you tell us what it was like to record your very first music video as a band?

Elias: It was a lot of fun! I got to be pretty involved in some of the creative process and worked on the animations and artwork myself  – so that was a bit stressful but rewarding too.  Jesse (the Director) was great and pulled the day together really well so things went pretty smoothly.  

There was one hilarious moment when the entire crowd was running full hog down a street and this poor little old guy came out of his apartment at exactly the wrong time.  He clearly had no idea what was going on.  The crowd tried to be respectful and avoid him but still finish the shot and get to their destination.  I don’t know what he thought was going on as there was obviously a camera crew there but he started throwing elbows at people in panic and looked ready for a fight.  He didn’t speak English very well, but in the end he figured it out.  But man, I still wonder what exactly he thought was going down.

Jay: Musically, The City Harmonic is unlike anything I've ever heard before. Where does the inspiration for your unique sound originate?

Elias: I guess it’s a bit of a mashup of a few things.  We’re inspired a lot by old hymns and spirituals, I tend to like epic British sounding rock bands like Coldplay, Aqualung or Arcade Fire, Delirious? would be another group we really admire. We’ve also got a soft-spot for folk music (and always have). Sometimes we jokingly refer to ourselves as British rock meets campfire sing-a-long.  

Jay: What do you see ahead as a band for 2011?

Elias: We’re starting to put the year together, and with the record coming out and travel and everything I think it’s going to be a busy year.

Jay: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview with Jay's Musik Blog! Any closing thoughts?

Elias: Thanks for asking! Closing thoughts?  Keep an open mind.  That’s another joke.


  1. Good interview! I gave you a couple dozen page loads while waiting for you to post it! :D Joke!

  2. Very cool! And a very interesting interview!! :)

    I love Manifesto and look forward to hearing other songs like it!!

  3. @Mike: Your page loads are always welcome! :D

    @Renee: Thanks for checking out the interview and commenting! Glad you enjoyed the read! :)

  4. Great interview! :) I really like the song "Manifesto," too.

  5. WOW Jay this is awesome! I Love The City Harmonic, and I really enjoyed this interview.

    The City Harmonic has totally changed my point of view when it comes to worship music.

  6. Awesome job, Jay! Great interview with Elias. I'll be tweeting about this post!

  7. @Miss S: Glad you enjoyed it! I love that song, too!

    @Lisa: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment again! I agree that their music is really good "unique" worship!

    @Rescued_By_God: Thanks for tweeting about it! As always, your getting the word out is really appreciated! :)

  8. Awesome interview! Now I got to go see that music video. :D

  9. I can't wait to see the video. Great interview Jay!

  10. @Justin: Hope you enjoy(ed) the video! :)

    @Carol: Thanks for stopping by! Glad you enjoyed the interview as well! :)


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