Laughing with Out of the Dust

Ahh! There's so much I can say about these two. But first, some backstory. Chris and Steph had just signed with Discovery House Music and were tasked with turning their EP into a full length (e.g. record more songs). They had already recorded 6 songs with producer Joe Causey (Colony House, Jillian Edwards). I remember listening to them and thinking, “Man, this is really good. I’ve got big shoes to fill.” Joe is a genius and the recordings were beautiful. So, with great excitement and a little anxiety, I got to work.

A little about Chris and Steph (AKA Team Teague). These are special people. They have one of the most incredible stories I’ve ever heard. The name “Out of the Dust” is hardly hyperbole. How many people do you know that fell in love, got married, things quickly fell apart, got divorced, were miraculously reconciled, REMARRIED EACH OTHER and now have 2 kids? I only know two.

They embody this beautiful hope. The kind that is only born out of suffering. Chris and Steph are “real deal” people. And I loved recording these songs with them. I almost titled this post "Working with Out of the Dust" per usual, but it didn't feel wholly appropriate. My wife would come home from work and ask how my day was and I would often reply, “Good! I laughed all day. But I think we got some good work done, too?”

So we were cutting vocals for a song called Radicals. Chris and Steph have 2 kids who had been watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse videos in abundance. Chris took a liking to a particular character named Pete, who he would imitate gregariously from time to time. Pete has this over-the-top form of expression that we all found really funny. So! Steph had just finished her vocal, Chris steps up to the mic and this happens:

I don't know if you can hear it, but if you listen closely I can be heard laughing and falling out of my chair. 

And that's basically what making this record was like. I’m really proud of it. And proud of them. They’re the kind of people who are so easy to root for. I’m blessed to call them friends.

Their self-titled album “Out of the Dust” is available now. Get into it!

(Recording POWER OHs on "Radicals" while Chris, obviously unbeknownst to me, is filming)

Working with Water Within

These girls and me, we made a record together. 

Like a record record record. That Thing You Do, anyone? Whitney and MaryPat… my sisters from different misters. I was thrilled when my college friends and now fellow Nashvillians asked if I’d produce their second full-length album. And I couldn’t be happier with the way this record came out. It’s always such a treat to come out on the other side not only having made a great project together, but as great friends. As people who were willing to dig deep together, get vulnerable, and press into the unknown parts of ourselves. We went there together and made better music because of it.

There were laughs. There were tears. There were JonBonet Ramsey conspiracy theories. And who says we can’t have it all?

There were also (the almost usual, it seems) sessions with Ben Shive and Nate Dugger who always bring a level of maturity and authenticity to everything we do together. It’s incredible how these two can be recording on different days and in different studios, but still play as if they were sitting right beside each other. I also brought in Kris Donegan to play guitar on half of the tunes that Dugger didn’t play on. It was my first time working with him and I love what he brought to these songs. Finally, Andy Hunt mixed half of the record and did a beautiful job.

I am so inspired by Whitney and MaryPat’s commitment to doing what they love to do, their ability to take huge risks and keep their heads up when things don’t go as planned. In the process of making this record, I got the privilege to see behind the curtain of their lives and to witness the grit and resilience it takes to be independent artists in 2016. So inspiring.


- When my buddy Jeremiah Jones walks in my front door exhausted after a 10-hour drive and I’m like, “Hey we’re recording some group vocals. You in?” He was in. And we all let loose singing some rowdy group vocals on a song called The Promise. T’was a good time.

- Trips to Burger Shack in Nolensville

- Nate Dugger’s chief aim in life is to eliminate any fade out at the end of any song… ever. He succeeded on a song called Humankind where he and Ben persisted in playing beautiful music so that I couldn’t bring myself to do an actual fade out. So they just play until the song ends… no fade out. And it’s magical.

- Did I mention JonBenet Ramsey conspiracy theories? I’m not naming names, but someone believes Katy Perry may actually be JonBenet. I don’t know, man.

Water Within's album Long Live Your Spirit is available now on iTunes.

Vacation Manor - Girl, Say

What can I say? I love these guys like brothers. We spent a week together in January and I worked them pretty hard. Sixteen-hour days workshopping, arranging, re-arranging, listening, tracking and laughing. A few days in, we looked up and realized we were knee-deep in a record.

And the guys were total champs. Always willing to do whatever it took to get the right take — never once complaining, totally committed to making a great record and having a good time doing it. Let’s just say sometimes what happens in a studio needs to stay there.


Here are some favorite moments that I can share:

- When we realize one of the songs needs a bridge, Nathan leaves for 15 minutes and comes back with pure gold. Unbelievable.

- When Cole walks in from tracking drums on Careless and said that’s the most fun he’s ever had playing drums

- The super weird YouTube video we became obsessed with that ultimately led to the guys daring me to rip the audio and put it somewhere on the record. Did I? You bet I did. Will I say where? Nah.

I couldn’t be more pleased with how this EP turned out. It has only been out for a few weeks and has already gotten some big love. I’m so proud of these guys. The record is available on iTunes and Spotify.

Working with Genie Uribe

I met Genie when I was producing a live record for Christ Fellowship Miami, where she was a worship leader. We spent little time together the week I was there other than a quick vocal overdub session — which she nailed. I had known she was a good singer, but I found out just how good during that session. She sang with such clarity and conviction. I remember thinking that I'd love to do a record with her, but I don't think I mentioned it. She and her husband David moved to London a week later.

Fast forward one year. I get a message from Genie saying her and David are about to move back to the states and the first thing she wants to do is record an EP. Naturally, I'm giddy with excitement and we get to work right away.

We had so much fun making that EP! From slaving over lyrics and perfecting melodies to discussing theology and cracking up at YouTube videos. Genie and David were such a pleasure to be around and they quickly became good friends.

I did the majority of the heavy lifting musically on this one. Ben Shive and I tag-teamed the keys and synth production and Nate Dugger tracked all of the electric guitar. My new friend James Joseph mixed the EP and Jim DeMain mastered. It was the perfect team and we're all so happy with how it came out.

You can download Genie's EP "Forever and a Day" here.

MercyMe, It's Christmas

A few months back, I had the good fortune of working with producers Brown Bannister and Ben Shive on a Christmas record for the Dove Award-winning and Grammy-nominated group MercyMe. These guys have been making music together for a long time and they continue to produce really interesting-sounding records. Their new album “MercyMe, It’s Christmas” is no exception and I was honored to be involved.

Sleigh Ride. I LOVE the arrangement of this song. Ben Shive killed the string arrangement. The drums are so interesting and fun. Brown Bannister (master vocal producer) and Bart Millard (master vocalist) nailed the vocals for this.

- Brown Bannister is the best vocal producer in Nashville. What a legend.
- Ben Shive’s presence on a record makes everything better — his creativity, talent, work ethic and humility. It lifts the whole thing.
- Bart Millard is a fantastic vocalist.
- Mike Scheuchzer is a great guitar player and has really impressive tone.
- Joe Pisapia’s studio (where we tracked strings and horns) might be my favorite studio in town. The vibe, the layout, all of his instruments. Everything is awesome and he’s the coolest.
- Keith Smith’s horn section and David Davidson’s string section are both fantastic. Great readers, great players.

I’m picky about Christmas records. My wife Kristin and I seem to spin the same few records every year — Dave Barnes’ “Very Merry Christmas” is a staple. Kristin grew up listening to Amy Grant’s Christmas album from 1983, so we listen to that. Brown Bannister produced them both. And I think MercyMe’s new Christmas record joins the ranks of one of my personal favorites.

Working with Native Spirit

I like a good hang. You probably do, too. And the guys from Native Spirit are that. I hadn't met the indie rock quartet until they showed up to my Nashville studio fresh off the overnight drive from Virginia. So it’s safe to say that when we all embarked on a creative journey of recording their first single, it was with a few fingers crossed. But it quickly became clear to me that these guys loved good music — and each other. And that’s a treat for any producer going into a few long days of recording.

Coming in, we weren’t sure which song to lay down. So the guys played through some tunes and soon the cream rose to the top. It was a song called “A Toast and a Spirit”. It grabbed me from the first line when Nathan sang, “I ran into a burning room. I didn’t know what else to do… I heard you calling me”. My interest was peaked. Nathan had something to say… a story to tell. Something that instantly resonated with me. So I was on the hook.

We worked hard, laughed hard, shared ideas about God and experimented with some new sounds. Anyone who knows me knows that those are pretty much my favorite things in the world to do. Needless to say, it was a joy to create something new with these guys — not the least of which was a friendship. And I can’t wait until we get together and create again.

So until then, enjoy Native Spirit’s new single “A Toast and a Spirit”.

Native Spirit is Nathan Towles, Josh Morales, Dane Spearman & Cole Young
Produced and Mixed by Kyle Cummings
Mastered by Joe LaPorta at Sterling Sound

Working with Young Novalis

“Young Novalis” sounds like the name of a band I’d listen to at least once just because they have a cool name. As it so happens, first-name Young is a singer-songwriter from Westminster, Maryland who just happens to have a really cool name.

Fortunately, Young also writes great songs. When he and I began talking about making a record together in 2014, he sent me 20 or so completely written songs. For an indie musician, this is pretty rare. I remember listening through them and after each song thinking — “This song needs to be on the record”. That’s even more rare.

But we weren’t setting out to make 2 full-length records. We were making a 6-song EP, so the whittling processed commenced. 20 songs became 12, 12 became 8 and 8 became the final 6.

I enlisted the genius of Ben Shive [Colony House, Dave Barnes] to track keys and some synth. I also brought on the insanely gifted Nathan Dugger, one of Drew Holcomb’s “Neighbors”, to record electric guitar and lap steel. As usual, they both exceeded expectation.

One of the things I love about Nate is that he doesn’t roll up with a couple guitars, a pedalboard and an amp (as you can see above). He brings everything — like all of his guitars and all of his pedals, which are mostly in an old suitcase because they couldn’t possibly coexist on an already-crowded pedalboard. We had a tool for everything, which is always so inspiring.

Young's new EP, entitled Feet That Found A Road is available now. My sincere thanks to Young for trusting me to journey with him in the making of this project.

Working with Ben Shive & Rend Collective

When I began producing in Nashville, Ben Shive [Colony House, Dave Barnes, Andrew Peterson] was the first person I hired to track keys/synth on one of my records. And I believe he's the only person I've hired since. Not because he's the creative force behind some of my favorite records of the past 5 years, but because every experience I have in a studio with him is so insanely gratifying and inspirational. I'm consistently blown away by his musical instincts, abilities and kindness.

Ben called me back in June and asked if I could help him finish up the new Rend Collective record, which he was co-producing with drummer Gareth Gilkeson (in addition to a few songs Ed Cash produced). Fortunately, I had just wrapped up a record, so I gladly signed on. I did a ton of editing, tuned some vocals, tracked some acoustic guitar, prepped some string and horn sessions… a little of this, a little of that. 

I'm grateful I got invited to the party.

At said party, Ben introduced me to legendary producer Brown Bannister at Joe Pisapia's East Nashville studio where we cut strings and horns for Rend's record and for MercyMe's Christmas album that Ben and Brown are co-producing together. (More on that in a future post)

Rend Collective's new record, entitled As Family We Go, releases August 21. It's some kind of rowdy, uninhibited Irish-folk-rock-n-roll-worship... and I love it. Now there's a string of adjectives you don't see everyday! Which is exactly why you might consider giving it a spin.