Husband and wife music duo, Michael and Lisa Gungor, are preparing to release their next indie/pop electric/worship album One Wild Life: Soul on August 7. The two, collectively known as Gungor, spoke to BREATHEcast about their trilogy of concept albums, their rough 2014, and their ideas on theology and Christianity.
One Wild Life: Soul is the first of the trilogy that also includes Spirit and Body. This first release focuses on their tumultuous 2014 which consisted of the birth of their special needs daughter and deemed "controversial" comments made by the Gungors concerning their faith.
"It was the most difficult year of our whole lives I think," said Lisa. There was a lot going on at the time, but the one major thing was the birth of their daughter, something she describes as "beautiful and amazing." However, what they didn't know was that baby Lucette also had some complications that they didn't know about until birth.
This time of chaos sparked off a writing spree that made things sort therapeutic for them and helped them cope with what was going on.
All of the songs on Soul are based on this idea of sight. The question asked is, 'We have one wild life, what does that look like?' "It is beautiful, and though it's full of pain, and full of tragedy, it's also ALL. That's what makes life beautiful is that there's joy and fright, there's beauty and there's tragedy, and how we can fully let ourselves feel all of it," said Michael.
Michael says the pair both grew up in a way of looking at the world that got fragmented into the spiritual part of your life, or the secular. "You had a spirit and lived in a body...and soul; who knows what that is?"
He is able to integrate it all into one and sees it as one whole experience. It is all connected to one wild life for them. For example, think of the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. These are three separate parts connected together as one.
"When we're talking about Soul, we're not talking about some other reality other than what we are. Like that's somehow a separate thing from the body. But it's a lens that we view reality from," said Michael.
He says the soul is what also distinguishes us from animals and other creatures. We have this awareness of spirituality and life that another creature could not.
From there, the soul transitions to the spirit, which is reflected toward the end of the record. Thematically the album starts to shift into the spirit, and that will set up the next record on through body. This transition is mirrored in the artwork as well with the colors of the circle on the cover all kind of blending together.
Lisa said she had already been on a journey of rediscovering where she came from as this album was coming to life. During this time of discovery she felt that everything was magical and beautiful, but she lost sight of all this greatness God creates. "I felt like I was reviewing the world in a certain lens."
Lisa continued, "I thought I was already on that trajectory, and then my daughter was born...the summit of this idea of how you look at life and see things" changed for her.
Little Lucy was born with two heart defects and Down Syndrome, so the Gungors were scared of what this new path would look like. These fears blossomed into seeing the love and beauty for a child with special needs.
Their daughter is now doing very well, and the two surgeries were a success. They put out the "Light" video to talk about Lucette and to also honor her. Michael shared that the name Lucette means Light, and all she did was light their lives up. The video shows a lot of her first year of life, and also contains pictures and things that fans sent in support. "We had all these people all over the world holding these candles with their families and friends for Lucie."
The Gungors saw these amazing expressions of love all throughout the year. "When I think of God as love, any experience of love that is deeper and truer of course makes me love that idea, and love God more," Michael said. "How tremendous and powerful that can be from being able to experience suffering and fear...when you experience some real expressions of love, it's quite profound."
Lisa said when they had their first daughter people would tell her, 'Oh, you're really going to understand what the love of God is'. However, she shared because of where she was at that point in her life and how she understood God, she actually felt the love of God less. "It really confused me...for me that just didn't line up with some of the ways of Christianity."
As Lisa matured in her walk with God, she was able to see the amazing parallels of being a parent, stating that having children changed her life and taught her "unconditional love."
"We talk about unconditional love and then we put all these conditions in certain circles of faith."
Getting back to Soul, musically and thematically it will blend into the theme but it will not be as blatant as say, Thrice's Alchemy Index. In the Alchemy Index, the music, tones, feel, and lyrics reflect the four individual EP's, Fire & Water and Earth & Air. One Wild Life: Soul, Spirit, and Body will hint that they all tie together, and all will be unique in the aspect of it's individual subject, but also feel part of the greater whole.
Soul is completely finished but the entire trilogy together is not finished yet, but is almost there. Michael said they have enough songs to where they are trying to beat what they have. He's hoping they have a bit extra to leave on the floor that maybe they can revisit later. As for the timeline, the only thing Gungor is promising is that all three albums will be delivered to their season pass holders. They are unsure if everyone else will have access to them right away. He did admit that if Soul were to take off and do well, they are prepared to ride it out for a while to give it the best chance it has.
Another thing the Gungors have to figure out is how to tour these records, "Once they're all out, that'll be a long show" he joked. Realistically, they are planning on doing a handful of Soul release shows, and then a short run tour of the album in January. Shortly after that
After that Spirit would come out, and they think Body would be out around this time next year. "That's the ideal scenario. I can't commit to it, but that's what I'm thinking," said Michael.
Be sure to check part two with the Gungors as they talk about worship and music as art. Read part three where Michael talks about questioning faith here. Read our album review for One Wild Life: Soul as well.