Jonathan Ogden Reveals Why He Keeps His New Music "Simple and Stripped back"

Jonathan Ogden

UK-based singer and songwriter Jonathan Ogden has released his brand new EP.  Songs from Home features 5 acoustic guitar-based worship songs that are reflective, intimate, and yet they have a way of touching our souls. Ogden wants this EP to reflect simplicity. an approach that is quite different from his usual sound of blending bedroom pop with hip-hop and electronic music.   

We are honored to catch up with Jonathan for this exclusive interview.

Q: Jonathan, thanks for doing this interview with us. I have come to know and love your music through your involvement in Rivers and Robots. "Burn for You," one of the songs from the previous Rivers and Robots' album, is one of my all time worship songs. Why did you guys decide to go on a hiatus?

It was a difficult decision and not an easy one to make. It's hard to finish something that is going well. But I knew it was something God was putting on my heart and that this was the right time to lay the project down for a while. I'm incredibly thankful for the 10 years we've been going though, and all the people who've been with us on that journey!

Q: Are you still in touch with other guys? How are they doing?

Yes, of course! We're friends beyond the band project. Nathan and Philip both live here in Manchester too, and our drummer Caleb moved back to Malaysia but we keep up with FaceTime!

Q: In the meantime you have recorded a new solo EP. How is the sound of this new project different from your work with Rivers and Robots?

For this EP, I tried to keep things as simple and stripped-back as possible. This past year of lockdown has been a really unusual time and I found that in some ways it was difficult to connect with some of the same worship songs - the big anthemic songs we sing with thousands of people. Something about those songs just felt a bit strange when you're alone in your room and not singing with other people. I found myself just picking up my guitar and singing simple devotional songs to the Lord, and this EP was really just trying to capture some of those songs. I wasn't really aiming to make something with crazy production and creative arrangements. I wanted to just capture these songs in the simplest form possible and let the lyrics shine through.

Q: Has the pandemic affected you in terms of your writing and recording of this project? If so, how?

Definitely! One positive side to it was that it caused me to reach out to more people through zoom calls. In a very isolated time, the internet can bring us together and make the world feel a little smaller. I usually like to write songs in-person, but I ended up writing songs with people in different countries that I maybe wouldn't have thought to reach out to usually. I wrote a song called 'Laid Down Lover' with my friend Gideon from Singapore, a collaboration called 'Always On My Mind' with Joe Bae from St Louis, and a co-write with Kindred Worship from California on this EP.

Q: You have mentioned that one of the songs off the new EP "Sufficient for Me" is the most difficult song to write. Why is that so?

`Sufficient For Me' is a song about suffering and prayers that can feel unanswered. I had the chorus almost 2 years ago and never found a way to flesh it out more with verses. I think over this past year I was able to process some of those feelings a bit more and find the language to what I was feeling and wanted to express. I was also aware that, like with many things, it can be a sensitive and nuanced subject and I wanted to make sure I didn't rush it.

Q: You also got to work with Kindred Worship on, what is my favorite song off the record, "Jesus My Beloved." Tell us more about how this song came about and what it means to you.

This is one of my favourite songs on the EP! I reached out to Kindred over this past year after I heard his 'Edmund' project and loved it. We got on really well and decided to try working on a couple of songs. We had a conversation about wanting to stay strong in our faith and walking out some of the commitments of our youth into our old age - being faithful to the end. The conversation led to some lyric ideas and by the end of the call we pretty much had the song written. It came together in such a simple way and I'm really glad we got to collaborate. He's working on new music too so keep an eye out for that!

Q: What normally inspires you to write?

I like to keep listening to new music and stretch myself. I try out new genres and styles that I haven't heard before. I sometimes explain it as living life "with my antenna up" - just always being receptive to what's going on around me, taking time to notice, listen and see where inspiration can be found. But lyrically, I'm nearly always drawing from the Bible. I like to try and keep a regular rhythm and habit of reading the Word, and taking notes of the parts that jump out to me, sometimes taking a passage and reading very slowly, or stay reading that passage for several days and digging into it. I just want people to know God more and go deeper in their relationship with Him and so I try to keep my songs centered around who God is.

Q: Are you working on more new music for the near future?

I've been writing and producing tracks for several other artists that should be released at some point soon! After that I'll start working on a new solo project too - probably a full album this time!

Q: Where can our readers find out more about you and your music?

You can follow me on social media @jonathanogdenmusic or find all the links on my website:

Listen to "Sufficient for Me" here.

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