While many bands plot a long term destination with a list of bullet points to check off the achievement list, others are born out of a completely organic spirit that leaves the door completely open to whatever the future may hold. In the case of worshipful electronic rockers Shine Bright Baby, who hail from the sleepy town of Orrville, Ohio, being in a band wasn’t necessarily a lifelong mission initially, but when local reception grew so strong that major festivals and record labels came calling, the foursome had no choice but to notice God’s plan for the band was much loftier than members ever imagined.
“At the beginning, Shine Bright Baby wasn’t very intentional,” confirms singer Emily Irene. “Nathan first brought the idea of starting a band up for fun and it was a ride we took alongside our lives while pursuing college and other interests. But God had other things in mind and we’re a testimony of how God’s will intersects lives towards His plans, which can completely change for the better.”
A flashback to the band’s 2007 genesis finds Emily and Nathan (guitar) lighting up the local scene, both in mainstream club settings and amongst Christian circles, giving their fresh and inventive amalgamation of pop, rock and modern worship music all wrapped around a dance-floor friendly electronic palette. Considering most of the bands in town steered towards metal, Shine Bright Baby certainly stood out from the pack and soon cemented their line-up with fellow area players Joshua (guitar/vocals/keyboards) and Karl (drums), who all gelled somewhere between the crossroads of Shiny Toy Guns, Katy Perry, Neon Trees and No Doubt, but rooted in a decidedly vertical lyrical framework.
“We got our name from Philippians 2, which talks about shining brightly for the Lord, but we wanted to take what that verse said and apply it to the band’s mission and what we stood for,” explains Joshua. “Emily wanted it to be more fun and playful, so she tacked ‘Baby’ on the end and it just stuck.”
Continues Karl: “We all come from church backgrounds, all leading worship at church at various points of life. Anytime we’re on that stage, our goal is to glorify God and worship through our instruments and voices, and hopefully in turn, help others be able to draw closer to God.”
Those genuine desires, coupled with impeccable musical abilities, soon found the foursome alternating between headlining and opening for even more established acts like The Classic Crime, Ivoryline and Manic Drive, quickly graduating to mammoth festivals like both coasts of Creation, Alive, Ichthus and Kingdom Bound all with very little personal promotion, but rather, feverish audience and industry interest that kept the booking requests rolling in. In fact, it was an appearance at Alive Festival when the gang was just getting its wheels in motion when an executive from BEC Recordings took interest, resulting in a contract with BEC that literally landed on their lap.
“After we signed, we went into a really serious songwriting mode, coming up with 70 or 80 songs,” reveals Emily of the selection pool that found its way on to the group’s national debut disc Dreamers. “We needed to find what we wanted and what felt right, and throughout that process, we experienced a lot of growth.”
In addition to from the band’s overwhelming ambitions, producers/songwriting collaborators Matt Arcaini, creative partners Mike “X” O’Conner and Tofer Brown, plus executive producer Pete Kipley, all helped shaped their undeniably infectious sounds. “On the recording end of things, ‘X’ and Tofer were very experimental and organic in getting sounds and tones,” unveils Nathan. “Matt’s portion of the album is very clean, commercial and straight-forward, but the cool thing is we love both sides of things. We can be experimental and grungy one minute, but also poppy and crisp the next. We also wrote a couple tracks with Pete, plus he was always behind the scenes in sculpting the overall sound.”
As the songs started shaping up, so did the group’s vision of naming the disc Dreamers, which simultaneously applies to having God redirecting their dreams towards full-time music ministry, while also serving as a means of encouragement for anyone in the process of pursuing their passion. “You can’t put a limit on what a dream is and you can’t put it in a box,” reflects Joshua. “Dreams can be so creative and so vast that’s there’s often times so much room for growth and expansion. We wanted to release a record that would empower our fans and inspire them to follow their God given dreams and pursue God and His plan for their lives.”
In addition to the title track’s uplifting energy and contagious chorus, other highlights include the redemptive confection “Beautiful Love” and one of the band’s personal favorites “Made To Glow,” about letting God’s love shine in everyone’s daily actions. On¬ a more reflective note, the piano/acoustic ballad “Love Restores” was written in the wake of a highly publicized school shooting near the band’s hometown, which proposes how the Lord’s love can renew even the most broken circumstances. The group also shows its more aggressive side on “The Brave Ones,” a guitar-charged anthem centered on living a bold life of faith with a little help from Disciple front man Kevin Young.
“A lot of songs today have so many negative undertones, and rather than writing a bunch of songs that wallow in struggles and hurt, we want to have these songs be lights to shine in the darkness,” notes Emily, the group’s primary lyricist. “The purpose of this album is to help other people with a message of God’s forgiveness and redemption that they’ll hopefully find optimistic, inspiring, and relatable.”
Listeners can have a chance to weigh in personally with Shine Bright Baby as the band embarks on an extensive tour in support of the refreshingly diverse Dreamers. Thus far the calendar includes an extensive Acquire The Fire Tour with power poppers Everyday Sunday, followed by a full summer of festivals and an even more extensive fall outing sure to cement the band as an equally formidable force on the stage as they are in the studio.
“We’re all young, we love to have fun and we like the crowd to have a good time right along with us,” notices Nathan before Karl interjects. “We’re really passionate about what we do, which sometimes finds us jumping around on stage and sometimes settling into a worship set since we always want to give credit where it’s due. You can expect a really tight, interactive show that you can walk away from ready to take on the world and follow your dreams.”