Official website of B.REITH featuring news, online store, tour dates, blogs, downloads and more.

May We Never Lose Our Wonder

I woke up a tad earlier than normal this morning to try to get a head start on the day. Honestly, I was feeling overwhelmed. There is this mixture of hope and sadness. My excitement for the future is intertwined with fear and self doubt. I wanted to look forward to today, but it felt more like a trap, and my expectations felt threatened by sabotage (self-sabotage being as great a threat as any other).

As I was sitting in a room with 6 windows and the October sun was gently rising, I started to think about specific things that God created. I don’t know how this happened, but something deep in my inner soul desired to shift my attention to something greater than myself. I started with galaxies, the universe, planets. Then I thought of crocodiles, tarantulas, autumn leaves, koala bears, nerves, chemical bonds, colors, sound, harmony, clouds, light, gravity… I went on and on and became consumed with awe for the Creator, blown away by God’s imagination, power and ability. It reminded me of Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” I was also reminded of a song by Bethel, “May we never lose our wonder, wide eyed, mystified, may we be just like a child, staring at the beauty of our King. You are beautiful in all Your ways.”

So if you’re like me today you have a lot of things to do that you may or may not have signed up for. The weight of self doubt, past mistakes, the weight of the work itself, and our powerlessness to control the outcome no matter how hard we work, well that can get incredibly heavy and paralyzing. My encouragement to you is to let your imagination wonder and try to come up with a creative list of things that God created. And to balance out the seriousness of life, our responsibilities and work with a childlike innocence and wonder towards God the Creator. Almost as if we're exchanging a pair of glasses filled with anxiety, negative focus looking at everything that doesn't work for a pair that focuses on the simple beauty all around us, in people, in ourselves, in a God that is beautiful in all His ways. We need His help to do this of course.

Side note, I'm releasing a new EP entitled "Heart On My Sleeve" this Friday, that is where a lot of this intertwined excitement and fear stems from. More to come on that... Have an amazing day filled with childlike awe!

Art vs. Brand

I’ve got a friend named Arthur and a friend named Brandon. When we hang out, typically, an argument breaks out. Very rarely can the three of us get together without a heated exchange of words.

Arthur is incredibly gifted creatively. He’s very passionate about authenticity and has a way of communicating things in a new and unique manner. At his core is artistic integrity. This is for two main reasons. One, he believes that art in itself is a sacred gift and deserves to be treated as such. Two, people are valuable and deserve to be served with integral art. He loves the challenge of digging deep and making the listener think, understanding that as human beings our minds and hearts are meant to be stretched. He doesn’t want to mimic other art, for that to him is not creating, that’s copying. He desires to reflect his Creator, not reflect a reflection of Him. Of course Arthur knows that everything he creates is in some way a derivative, but he labors to make sure that that derivative is not watered down and still holds to his value of originality and authenticity. He relies heavily on the right side of his brain, doesn’t over-explain things, and is completely okay not fitting into a niche. The art speaks for itself. It needs no explanation, title or genre. For the freedom to express new creative ideas opens up the door for conversations to be had in a way they’ve never been had before.

Brandon is very creative as well. He takes great pride in presentation. He’s passionate about efficiency and effectiveness. He doesn’t want to waste time just creating stuff. He wants to make sure whatever is being created can find it’s way through the clutter, for his priority is for art to have a maximum impact. Brandon is more concerned with tangible and predictable outcomes. He researches constantly, learning new trends and what seems to work and not work. He would even say that the art is secondary and should serve and follow a marketing plan, for art that is aimless will not hit any target.

Brandon always gets on Arthur for not having concrete goals and specific objectives. Arthur lashes back and accuses Brandon of sucking the life out of ideas and making everything a formula. If Brandon and Arthur could find a way to co-exist and find a way to work well with each other, they’d make a great team. I wonder if it’s possible at times, can the core motive of art work harmoniously with the core motive of brand?

My problem with Brandon is that he’s so focused on the numbers and the physical realm that he tends to undermine the value of the unseen and the beauty of creativity and innovation. Perceived success or failure determines the worth of the art to Brandon, not the inherent quality of the art itself.

My problem with Arthur is that rejection has hardened him over time so now he’s very defensive. Even when someone is trying to help, if he feels threatened in any way he puts up a wall. He tends to place the integrity of art on a pedestal and pride can override humility and servanthood, and sometimes his fear of selling out can prevent him from selling anything at all. 

Welcome to the inside of my brain. I am Arthur. I am Brandon. I am WAY more Arthur than Brandon, but I have both of them in me. Call it the right and left brain, call it the artist and the business man, call it years of being in an industry and the result of many challenging conversations. No matter what, this is a real dilemma for those of us with creative gifts. It's a very difficult line to walk when considering both of these perspectives. Sometimes I'm overthinking it, a lot of the time, but that doesn't minimize the reality of the dilemma. A dual minded man is unstable in all his ways. I have to be very careful to surrender these extremes and place people around me that I can trust and let speak into the chaos.

This blog is not an attempt to solve the problem. It’s simply a creative idea that I thought some of you could relate to in some way. As a creative person I’ve often felt defective when being lectured by individuals telling me what they think I should do. The “You just need to…” line is so insulting. But here I am, grateful for all these years God has provided me the opportunity to create (not just music) and connect with people. Super excited with a new found courage to release new music. It takes the God who created creativity to provide the wisdom how to steward this gift He game me.

With that said, if Brandon was real he would probably tell me this blog is too long, it’s too abstract. That people don’t have time to read all this and they don’t care enough and don’t get it. That I should be researching popular tag words and posting relevant info and aiming at a niche target audience. Maybe Brandon is right. But I legitimately enjoyed typing this blog. If you enjoyed reading it, thank you for taking the time to hear my thoughts. Maybe you have some of your own you'd like to share. I'd like to hear them.

I Couldn't Make This Up

I would like to tell you a story. Every now and then certain events happen that are incredibly random and I do not believe them to be coincidence. They are inexplicable and their mathematical probability is basically equivalent to impossible. I'd like to think of them as moments when God reminds me that He is good and He cares about me, that He is in control, and that even though sometimes I feel like I'm way off track He’s still at work and I can cease striving and just simply surrender. In the words of Gregory Boyd, God is not more “there” than He is here. He is not more “then” than He is now (from an amazing book called Present Perfect). God just simply is. Whenever. Wherever.

So, my story. Two weeks ago while I was driving to a meeting I was thinking out loud, praying and being honest with God. That morning I had to postpone the Pledge Music campaign launch another week due to reasons outside my control. I had worked so many hours and was exhausted and disappointed. I knew deep down that it was okay and would still work out, but I was frustrated. Sometimes disappointment triggers the memory of events from the past when I’ve felt like no matter how hard I worked things still would’t come together. Like I was defective or something. You ever been there?

So in that moment, on that drive I had this feeling inside and said to God, “God, sometimes I feel like your playing games with me.” Now I believe that God is good, and that is the truth no matter if I feel it or not. My experiences and emotions were telling me something different than what God’s infallible word says about Him. So I knew my feeling wasn’t aligned with truth, but it still was a true emotion. I thought it wise in that moment to listen to a sermon via podcast to help feed my soul some truth to process. I had started one by Robert Morris a couple days before and randomly stopped it. So I hit play and picked it back up right where it left off. 

I promise you, this is what happened next.

Robert said “The Holy Spirit speaks to us. He’s not walking alongside us trying to talk but his mouth is covered. GOD IS NOT PLAYING GAMES WITH US.”

I sat there, dumbfounded. Paused the podcast. What’s crazy is I wasn’t even that surprised. Things like this have happened enough for me to think “Wow God you did it again!” Instead I really wanted to hear what God was saying to me. In that moment I truly believe He was speaking to me from Heaven through Robert Morris saying “Brian, I am not playing games with you!! I love you. I would never lie to you or lead you on. Every word that I speak is truth and will eventually come to pass. I know you feel hesitant to trust me, but I am not a man, I am NOT a liar, and I most certainly am not playing games with you.” Yes I’m using my imagination to quote God, something I am very careful with, just know that everything I typed is rooted in what the Bible says about God,

The reason I took the time to write this blog is because I believe God is saying that same thing to you. I heard a teaching last night that said we project what other people have done to hurt us on God and bring Him down to a human level. But God is not a human, which means He is not bound by human characteristics. I wrote this blog also because God’s character has been attacked. Rumors have been spread about Him. He doesn’t need me to defend Him, but I am speaking up because buying into these lies have hindered our relationship with Him and kept us from trusting and diving into His arms.

We can’t just disregard our feelings. Jesus didn’t even do that. From Mark 14:34 Jesus said “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death… Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will but what you will.” Jesus didn’t sin in telling God how He felt and asking if there was another way, He processed through it and obeyed. I could go on and on but I need to stop there.

Allowing ourselves to feel emotions and bringing them to God can help us find the healing we’re really searching for. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m running with you.

The Pancake Cook (Pt. 1)

The other night my really close friends' daughter graduated from pre-kindergarten. Yes, you read that correctly. There was a graduation ceremony… For 5 year olds… And it was awesome. I’m talking cap and gown, diploma, musical performance (with hand gestures) and star shaped rice krispy treats to accompany a post ceremony celebration. This may not come as a surprise to you, but a few years ago when I experienced it with one of their other daughters it was a first for me. I had never seen anything like it before. Back in Milwaukee I don’t think we even had an 8th grade graduation ceremony. (Any Brown Deer alumni feel free to confirm or deny that as truth in the comment box. Awwwwww B.D.!)

Towards the end there was a slide show divided into sections with a few pictures dedicated to each child. Each one said what they wanted to become when they grew up. Seeing the adventure and innocence in those young eyes, accompanied by Francesca Battistelli’s “Write Your Story” had me a tad watery-eyed and pulled my chest down into my gut just a little bit (which I’m pretty sure is the manly way to cry). There’s something powerfully engaging and inspiring about a 5 year old sharing what they want to “be” when they grow up. A fireman. A doctor. A princess. And my favorite of all, a “pancake cook” (which I thought was a lot more innovative than this kid who got over a million views - no offense kid, or Batman).  It's amazing how most children have this wide open imagination, not filled with fear of failure, regret and cynicism, but open to a world where anything is possible.

I sat there thinking about myself and what I dreamed about back when I was 5 years old fighting imaginary storm troopers and creating worlds full of adventures with my cousins. My future was ahead of me, and the potential of what I could one day become helped encourage me through the mundane daily routine of life. But now after years of getting banged up, learning some tough lessons and grieving over the future I may never have (Steven Furtick calls this the “expectation gap”), I typically don’t dream beyond my existing perceived reality. I’m growing in this area, especially when it comes to creativity. 

There is this incredible Ted Talks by Sir Ken Robinson:  on how most education systems are “educating people out of their creative capacities.” And because of this something shifts in our brains as we are taught to value and prioritize logic over creativity. I have wrestled with the consequences of this way of thinking for the majority of my career. If you find the time to listen to this, he’s already communicated it in a way that I never could.

With that said, I will stop here and give you the chance to go and give that a listen. I have to pack and get ready to head out to LA tomorrow morning along with a list of to-do’s I’ve avoided for 3 days. I will pick it back up where I left off with Pt. 2 very soon. Cheers! (I never say that but it felt good so we're goin with it)

Don't Forget About Me

I don’t know how it happened. Or even what happened. All I know is one year passed, then two, then three… Each year would begin and end with the same difficult to embrace reality: I hadn’t released any new music. 

That’s over 150 weeks, in which every Tuesday I would watch (and somewhat listen) as thousands of songs came out. I felt lost at sea, with no engine, no sails, just paddles… watching hundreds of other ships sail off into the horizon one by one. But I kept paddling.

Back in my days in Milwaukee as a young inspired artist with tons of energy, creative innocence and “know-it-all” ignorance, I used to get mad when my favorite artists took a long time to come out with music. I remember when Brian Mcknight’s 2nd album (if I remember correctly) was delayed. “Come on man, how hard is it to put out music?” I thought. “This is what you do for a living. If I wasn’t in school I’d be putting out an album every year.” My passion was sincere yet naive. I had yet to learn how challenging and painstaking it is to persevere in continuing to write, record and release innovative quality music in the midst of life’s variables of ups and downs. Great art comes with a high price. So does following your calling.

So here I was, three years of silence. And the longer the silence went on the harder it was to break it. I had spent years working very hard to break through walls to get to where I was, yet here was another mountain in front of me. And this one was different. It felt like no matter what I tried nothing was working. I know what having momentum on your side feels like, which makes not having it all the more grueling.

Early 2014 I started recording new songs and performing them at shows. I figured I would release them that summer. But there wasn't a system yet in place to properly market those songs. And with no marketing strategy there was no deadline. And without a deadline songs never get finished. I was traveling a lot, and schedules weren’t lining up. Not to mention I’m a recovering perfectionist. Fear and shame frequently work their way into my thinking and feeling. I wrestle believing God’s truth about me at times, and settle for lies. Honestly, it's hard for me to be vulnerable because B.Reith is a brand, and i benefit if you buy into it. But my name is Brian. I am a human being. I am incredibly gifted by an amazing God. But I struggle with a list of character defects that I could blog about for days.

So this makes me a perfect candidate for God to use and show off how amazing He is. His grace truly is sufficient, and His timing is perfect. I have a lot of regrets. But it doesn’t matter. Because I’m here, right now, communicating this to you, with a smile on my face (you’re gonna have to trust me on that). I've learned so much in the past three years. I truly believe I'm going somewhere, and I want you to come along with me. The journey starts here, picks back up right where I left off. And since making music is what I'm best at, well I figured I'd start by giving you a free song. And non-coincidentally it's entitled "Don't Forget About Me."

Listen here