Matt Macaulay is a London native who was exposed to music early in his life. His mother was a violin/piano teacher and his father was similarly involved in the arts. A big part of their church participation and expression was through music and he got his start learning how to play drums at a younge age. Matt followed his now–wife to the States after meeting her at Hillsong’s training facility in Australia, where he studied music ministry for two years. Although most of his involvement in the arts has predominantly been in church music, he has also dabbled in other side projects with a friend in the UK who was part of a small branch of Universal Studios. He released his first solo record in 2007.
Whose music has influenced you the most?
Matt: I grew up on a steady diet of Phil Collins, Elton John, Genesis, Van Morrison, so I’ve always had an appreciation for good music. I think every component is important, but I tend to lean towards appreciating the lyrical and melodic content first.
What do you with Mission Chattanooga? How did you get involved?
Matt: Micah (my wife) has been with the Mission since it began in Chattanooga. When I came to visit for the first time in 2012, I attended the Mission and met many of the good people involved. Eventually I moved to the States in 2015. Micah had helped plan the music ministry at the Red Bank chapel, so I came on board the pastoral staff as well to help with that. Chattanooga House of Prayer helped sponsor my visa over here and carved a role for me to do songwriting part time, which became a full time role in January of this year. That led to me creating the Union, which is a space for creatives to get together.
Can you tell me more about the Union?
Matt: I love creative people. I have a desire to see creatives in the Chattanooga worship sphere thrive and succeed. Through the House of Prayer, we had events where people would come in, worship and create together so I spent a lot of time over the past two years building relationships around the city with that in mind. In a lot of the younger generation that I encountered, I found that there was a deep–seated desire to collaborate on creating new expressions of worship. Eventually the Chattanooga Worship Collective was started, and it was passed off to me so we put plans into place and had our first meeting in July. 60-70 people showed up and represented 18 churches. There’s a desire in Chattanooga for people to be part of something bigger than themselves.
How often do these gatherings happen?
Matt: I'm trying to do a gathering once a month because everyone is busy and you can’t schedule too many events at once. We’ve alternated between nights of worship and songwriting.
What does the format look like? Is there a lot of structure?
Matt: There isn’t really a lot of structure. The cool thing about it is that we get to involve a wide range of people in this project. There are a group of guys who have come regularly since the first meeting who will be providing the back line for this next gathering. There are eight other guys who will be leading songs. It’s fairly free flow; we have coffee and hang out before we get together and just start playing. The noise in here can get crazy, but it’s a beautiful experience. I’d like to get a live recording one night. It’s moving much quicker than I thought it would after spending the past two years just networking and getting to know people.
Where can people find more information about the next event?
Matt: You can email us at [email protected] or www.theunionmusic.org . We hope that it’ll be a place where people can interact with each other and share each other’s work. We want it to be a hub of encouragement and sharing and collaboration.
Have you seen this project bring different denominations together? And how does that affect the music that is created?
Matt: Being from London, I’m used to more cosmopolitan, multicultural music. But I want to see a place where there is a blurred line between mainstream worship and what I’m used to hearing back at home. It’s not easy because those two types of worship music are very separate in Chattanooga right now but I’m trying to engage people outside of the church world like Mary Howard Ade from the Visitor’s Bureau. I think people are excited for another way to express themselves and connect in Chattanooga. I’d love to see a wider, richer expression of worship.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue music full time?
Matt: My advice probably wouldn’t be very glamorous but hang in there. Learn to get good at doing a hard day’s work because there are many of them. It’s often a daily decision to get out of bed and press into what drives you. A lot of people don’t make it because they give up. No one else is going to do it for you. There’s always one person who makes it because they are in the right place at the right time, but most people have to put in the hard work. I’ve been doing some self–assessment and realized that I thought more people were going to open doors of opportunity for me and it hasn’t come quite that easy, but the work is still worth putting in my best effort.
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