GRACE had the pleasure of speaking with Samuel Nwachukwu aka CalledOut Music a couple of days before his new EP, 'Come Home' was released. In an enlightening conversation, CalledOut gave insight into the process behind creating the music, and also dropped a few spiritual truths. Once you've listened to the EP, you may conclude, like we, that CalledOut Music is a man after God's heart, who pours out his love into the refreshing self-written songs. 'Come Home' collectively expresses a beautiful mix of tracks that prompt us to acknowledge God's supremacy and His love for us - which invokes an internal joy that touches your soul. In summary, it isn't easy to walk away from this body of work having been reminded of this great love, without responding in kind, with the way we live our lives daily.
GRACE MAGAZINE (GM): Well, first of all, congratulations on your recent 'Best Gospel Act' MOBO Award
CALLEDOUT MUSIC (CM): That's funny, I wondered what you were saying congratulations for.
GM: Haha, there are so many wins, so congratulations on everything!
CM: *both laugh* I didn't expect it. Getting the nomination was good enough for me and a pat on the back, but to actually get the call to say "oh you won it", that was the craziest feeling. I don't remember a time in music where I've been speechless, but that was one of those moments.
GM: How has it been with Covid, like even the fact that you could not go and physically get your award?
CM: Covid has been Covid. For [me and] my family, we've been taking extra measures. There was the option to get [the award] physically, but I decided not to because I've personally been taking this super seriously. I've had many friends and family pass on because of this pandemic. There was a season of three to four weeks where daily, someone I'd known, or that was connected to me died.
Sometimes we can read the news and be disconnected from the deaths because we don't know anyone it has affected, but it's a real thing, so I've taken crazy measures, not only with being grateful for my life but trying my best to not become a liability to someone else who could potentially become exposed to it.
Even with my prayer life, [Covid] has taught me to pray for people more. You know when you say "ah yeah I'll pray for you" - I've actually taken the time to pray for my brothers and sisters seriously. This season has brought me to my knees in many ways and shown me what's important in life, and one of those is genuinely caring for people.
GM: Considering the climate we are in, how was it producing this body of work during a pandemic?
CM: I had bought all my gear in mid-2019 and it's been a life-changing experience. Not that I don't like chilling with my boys because I love creating music with my guys. But being able to produce music from the comfort of my home for zero pounds – because we're in a 'panoramic!' lol– was an experience.
I've even got better at creating music and learning new skills I didn't have before, so that's definitely been a plus. My producers now call me and say this is how you do [this and that]. So, doing all these things in my own space, becoming more self-sufficient and producing for other people is a bonus. It's dope! Who doesn't want skills in this life!
So, it truly has been an experience and a season that has brought something out of many artists, especially the passion for making music. Creating has kept [them] sane because not being able to do so can make them lose their minds.
GM: So, the title 'Come Home'. What was the inspiration behind it and how do you go about naming your work?
CM: It's always more of an afterthought. With 'Come Home' the EP is very much an acoustic-driven project, with probably only one song not being an acoustic piece; yet all quite chilled out, so we were going to be so creative and call it 'The Acoustics'. But I started to realise that each of the songs had a theme, about repentance and reconciliation and I was like yo I don't think 'The Acoustics' does it justice.
I was going through the book of Matthew [in the Bible] back in December, and I went to the story of the prodigal son. It just so happens during my church crossover service that my pastor starts talking about the prodigal son, about how this is the year of a turning. He gave this scenario of going somewhere and things just turning around for you, whether it's turning around in your favour or just making a hard turn in a decision or something. The prodigal son always had a home and there was never a point where his father gave up on him. How he was welcomed home, the story of repentance and coming back into your father's arms is like there are a lot of people out there especially in the new year that decided this Christian thing wasn't for them or people who don't even believe in Jesus Christ, but you know, home is where the heart is, and I see that phrase in a different light now. Because the Creator created us, we only feel great when we are in Him; there is that void where we feel empty until we come home into His arms.
There's so much to say on that, but essentially we have all been a prodigal son at some point in our lives but just telling people that, look in this dispensation of grace, you can always come home so take advantage of it and come home and let your life be sweet. Jesus wants to do life with you and He doesn't just want to bless you like "oh here's a thousand pounds" – ( I mean I'll accept it don't get me wrong, I'll take the money Jesus lol ) – but beyond that, He legit wants to do this with me and He can only do that if I'm running home.
GM: Wow, I mean that's a whole sermon. So what are your favourite tracks on the EP?
CM: I'm not even trying to be that guy, but they all give me different vibes.
'You Are', the first song on the EP, is kind of a devotional, like you wake up in the morning and just want to play it to get your day started.
'No Better Day', is fully about reconciliation.
'I'm Yours' is a vibe but it's dope.
'Perfect Love' – got me a bit emotional when I was creating it. Sometimes I just can't understand His love if I'm perfectly honest. I try not to apply my human understanding to it because it won't ever make sense. It blows my mind sometimes, I'll be reading my Bible, and it's like so You really did that for me?!
I was reading something just now that says that the enemy always tries to use our unworthiness to discount us from God's love but that's the exact point, it's because we are so unworthy that it's even more beautiful. So today I just learned a new tactic: when the enemy says "oh you're not even worthy to receive God's love" and it's like "yeah I know, I'm not but that's why I'm taking it". God didn't come for the people who thought they were worthy and perfect; He came for the lost and the sick who needed healing. His love that is so perfect always brings me to my knees. So yeah, I would say right now that 'Perfect Love' is definitely the song for me. And I'm not trying to be that guy because you know valentine season but you know…
GM: On the flip side, what was the hardest song to write, it sounds like it might have been 'Perfect Love'.
CM: Yeah, definitely it's both my favourite and the hardest because it wasn't an acoustic song to start with - it wasn't even in the original EP plan. I sat with my manager and went through the song list and there was another song that we shall not speak of because in hindsight, it's like God you're actually good you know because it just didn't fit the mould of what You were trying to do.
GM: Are we still going to hear it though?
CM: Yeah yeah just not now. It's not a bad song at all. It just didn't fit the vibe.
GM: Okay, I was going to say no song goes to waste *both laugh*.
CM: It just didn't fit the vibe, but I played him 'Perfect Love' and when I say it was straight vibes like I was bopping to it, but then I told him I've always reimagined the song stripped down and I want to give it a go. At that time the song wasn't finished, so I had only written half and reimagining the song is when it got really emotional.
I do these things where I write all these vibes and songs with heavy beats and melodies and sometimes when you take off the music and just read the words for what they are it just reads like a completely different song. I even found that with 'Joy'. The original version dropped in the summer and it was vibes and then the acoustic drops and people were messaging me every day like yo I love this song and I'm like it's the same!
GM: No but it doesn't feel like it at all!
CM: Exactly and that is a beauty and privilege as well from God, to be in a position where it's like yeah I can get these songs and they can work in both ways, but at the same time the words are so lyrically sound and so biblically sound that people are blessed by it. Even the acoustic version of 'Joy' is a favourite from the two, even if it wasn't the original to start with.
With 'Perfect Love' we took the song and removed all the hype and noise. It was just like a love letter to God, and that's when it started breaking me down like for a couple of days I was like yo I can't believe it. I rarely ever get super emotional writing a song, but it really cut me deep that it really renewed something in my walk with Jesus Christ and it was just so transformative in my life that I will never forget it. But yeah that song was so hard to write because I just needed to make sure I got it right like you know when you have something that is so good and need to find the right words. But in the end, I'm so happy.
GM: Wow, which begs the question what is your creative process like?
CM: It can be anything. Recently it's come a lot from rhema like oh this is something I just learned and over time it develops. In the past I have freestyled a lot of stuff. Like 'Portraits' was mostly freestyled. I would sit in front of my mic and the song would play and I would have an emotion in my heart and then I would say a random melody or word to say how I was feeling at the time and then just put it altogether.
My manager usually asks me to send me all the lyrics because I'm about to submit all the songs. But 'Portraits' was [tricky] because I did not write anything down because it was mostly freestyled. So, I had to go back and listen to the MP3s trying to [listen]and type like oh did I say that, that's cold. It was so cool. But it's either I do that which gives me so much freedom, or rhema or something I've read, or I'm praying about at the time. So music can come first, but it doesn't have to.
GM: Can we expect visuals?
CM: Yeah, so we already started working on these. I'm particular about that this year in terms of how things look so yeah definitely visuals.
GM: Do you see yourself collaborating with anyone?
CM: Yeah I came into 2021 thinking let's see how it goes, the EP was the main priority. But I want to see more collabs in my bag, which's being worked on.
From the UK definitely Guvna B, I mean it's due. You know when you go out in the morning and look up and you're like ah this rain is due. It's just important to me because we all grew up listening to Guvna B and being in the same space as him right now is amazing, dude is 10+ years deep and that's not a joke. But I feel like it has to be right because whenever we text each other about a collaboration, it's like it's going to happen, but we're both like we need to make sure it makes sense as well and not just collaborating for the sake of it. I know the song will bang because if Guvna B comes to the studio something will happen and it'll just be fire but timing is essential, and that's something I'm learning, I'm not in a rush and Guvna B isn't in a rush. But I'm so excited about the UK scene; there's Becca Folkes, Niiella, Deb Orah and all artists from HFP Music, there's so many like the UK are bubbling right now I'm just hoping we get it right.
GM: Do you see yourself doing anything else outside of music?
CM: Hopefully. Production is something I've been doing and serving at church, [it] is so important for me to take time and do that and not focus on what song I've got left and being in my local church and delivering things to people in these times, it's those little things. I don't mind it at all. For me it's something I would love to put a lot of time to this year like just being present in my local church and helping anyone so that's the one thing I'm keen on this year.
GM: How is it with working and serving at church?
CM: I do stuff with the band and worship team and things are very smooth [it's a] smallish church 150-200 people but we love it and try to pursue excellence and in some way, I genuinely believe it's so important to have a group of people, especially during a pandemic that holds you down and checks up on you and this season, showed us that church was more than Sunday for every one of us. So, I was so happy about that, I do help the church with music, playing keys and leading worship sometimes it's like a community thing - it's cool.
'Come Home' is now out and available on all major streaming platforms. In a season where a lot of us have been spending more time at home than usual, 'Come Home', is the perfect reminder to us of making sure that we connect with our Father in our spiritual home too.
Hear the new EP now
Words by Yemi Adekoya