Since releasing their self-titled major label debut in 2013, sibling trio Everfound have been a band moving at a steep trajectory. They’ve risen to the challenge, continuing to write and create and have most recently released the Resolution Christmas EP, boasting a collection of covers and originals that the band puts their signature spin on. Soul-Audio recently had the chance to chat with lead singer Nikita Odnoralov about the band’s success and their latest recording, what Christmas means to them, and about their ideas regarding Christian persecution here in the West, a subject the Russian immigrant’s family is all too familiar with. We also get the scoop on when we might get music from the act so read on and enjoy!
Soul-Audio: So I know you guys have been making music for a long time but have just more recently hit it bigger with the full-length album a year ago and whatnot so I’m wondering what the thought process was to tackling a Christmas record so early in your career. It seems like, with many artists, they wait until they’re a few records in and then use the Christmas album as an outlet of sorts.
Nikita: Well, we released a remix EP and people loved that and we didn’t release anything else this year other than that. And we’re always writing, we’re always creating new art so it was really cool to have a collection of Christmas songs that we could just add and write a bit more too and then we were ready for the EP. And we also have a Christmas tour that we have been doing every year for the past four years, I believe? It’s called “Rock the Halls” and mostly right now we’re keeping it in the Colorado area and the surrounding states but we do have plans to grow that, year by year. Last year we were on the Winter Jam Tour, which was kind of crazy as we got on the fall part of the tour, so we weren’t able to expand our Christmas tour as much as we wanted to but we wanted to put out the Christmas EP as a part of that. And like I said, we had some songs ready and we love Christmastime so we just thought, why not? (Laughs)
SA: You mentioned how you guys are constantly working at your craft, writing and creating and I’m thinking that taking on Christmas music presents a special challenge, particularly given that the three of the songs on the EP are covers of Christmas classics. What is the challenge of taking those familiar melodies and lyrics and making them your own?
Nikita: That’s a great question. I think the challenge is to find the right sounds, our sounds, for the music. Y’know, we have a Russian influence in our music, somewhere in there. (Laughs) Because we grew up listening to a lot of Russian music, pop music. When we were kids, my parents would listen to that stuff. So we just grew up with that kind of in the back of our heads. Now we don’t really listen to it too much now, but I would say that it definitely influenced us. But as to the challenge, I feel like it was a little bit easier for us than, for example, my American friends who just listen to American music. I feel like it was a little bit easier for us to come up with unique sounds and unique takes on the songs. But then again, the musical culture now in the States, all over the world, is just so vast, especially with the internet and all that you can discover.
I think one of the challenges definitely was finding out, for us, what does our voice on this song sound like. But at the same time, because we’ve had that tour that we’ve been playing for four years now, we obviously would play Christmas songs live. So we had a couple years to figure out that sound and for the record, we just matured it a little bit more, worked on it a bit more. Still a challenge but because of the tour, because we’ve been playing the songs every Christmas season, it made it much easier. Does that make sense?
SA: Yeah, totally. It’s as if you’ve worn the songs for a while so putting them back on for an event like this, they feel a little more comfortable. Makes perfect sense.
Nikita: You got it! Exactly.
SA: Now you mentioned your family’s history a bit, coming from a Russian background. That history also carries some pretty serious stories of your family undergoing some pretty serious and legitimate persecution while in the Soviet Union and I wonder, with that backdrop, does that affect your view of the holidays? Like, what does Christmas mean for you having that history behind you?
Nikita: I think it’s the story of redemption. For all Christians, Christmas is an incredible time of year. It’s the birth of Christ, the birth of hope. It’s God showing us that He loves us. God so loved the world that He sent His son; it’s a reminder of that. With that background of our family’s oppression back in former Communist Russia, I think it’s also a very hopeful time. We lived in a place in southern Russia that was actually just a few hours away from where the Olympics were and it’s a pretty warm place. So we didn’t have, like, twenty feet of snow that we had to make tunnels through to get out of our house. (Laughs) I do remember one Christmas where it snowed a lot. So the climate is basically a lot like Colorado’s so it was not that big of a change. I was a kid but I still remember some of those things.
But Christmas itself? I don’t feel like it was too different except for the fact that there was extreme poverty. I remember that we wouldn’t really get gifts for Christmas. But coming back to the spiritual part of your question, to be honest, the three of us, we never got to experience that oppression because we were kids and because communism did fall in the nineties. Now for my parents, that’s a great question. I never really talked to them about it from a Christmas angle but I do know that a lot of Russian songs, like Russian hymns and stuff like that, are written in prison. So as the Christians would be suffering for their faith, they would be inspired by the Gospel and the Holy Spirit and they would start writing songs. So they have a lot of minor qualities to them. So what I would say is that Christmas, with a “Russian” spin, even though it’s hopeful, it still has a lot of minor melodies and a lot of minor qualities which are reflections of the people suffering, that were going through difficult times, even during that hopeful season.
But on that note, I just want to add, that any suffering around Christmas, any kind of suffering period, is horrible. But around Christmas especially it’s easy for us to forget the joy and the love and that wide-eyed wonderment. If we’re going through a difficult time, it’s easy for us to forget those things that Christmas brings. Because it’s a miracle! I mean, God became a baby, totally dependent on a teenage girl. And so that’s why we have that song, “I Want Christmas Back,” on the EP that talks about how “I want Christmas back” and that I don’t want the past or my own loss of innocence, whatever that may be, my own difficulties and whatever I’m going through; I don’t want that to overshadow Christmas.
Because it’s the birth of the Son of God! We really wanted to have a song like that because we realize that there are Christians suffering around the world, even at Christmastime. You know, just because it’s Christmas, other communist countries or oppressive regimes don’t pause from persecuting Christians. So we wanted to write a song that would speak to all suffering, whether it be kids going through their parents’ divorce, a couple that is separated at Christmastime; we wanted to have a song that speaks to all suffering in general. And just that request, “God, would you please return to me the joy of my salvation?” basically.
SA: This is a little segue away from the discussion of Christmas but still on that topic of persecution, with your family’s history, what are your thoughts on the views of Christian “persecution” here in the west? Does having a family history that is colored in with rather severe oppression change how you view some of our so-called “Christian persecution” here in the States?
Nikita: Well, there’s obviously a difference when you’re looking at the severity of somebody being threatened to be killed or put in prison. Like my great uncle spent more than twenty years in prison, just for owning a Bible, and then they lost track. My family lost track of him. So no one really knows if he got killed after being twenty years in prison of if he was let go and died. But there’s a different severity basically than somebody here in the States not being invited to a party because they’re a Christian or something like that. But at the same time, we cannot minimize any suffering for Christ’s sake because it’s about the heart. Christ does see the heart and people are different and people’s tests of faith are different.
So that’s kind of the type of perspective I try to have on it. There are Christians suffering around the world today. I mean, just because Russia is no longer a communist country, there’s a ton of persecution. Jesus said, “They hated me, they’re going to hate you. If they hate the Master, how much more are they going to hate the student?” And it’s something that we can’t just brush off. For somebody it might be really painful, something that for us might not seem as bad because of our past and our family’s history, but we know there’s no reason to look at it and being kind of judgmental, like, “That’s not really persecution.”
Although, we do have to be mindful of the people and the countries around the world that are oppressing and persecuting Christians to the point of death, torture, or imprisonment and we have to pray for that. We can’t just close our eyes and be just upset that they’re taking prayers out of schools. We have to take it in a world context as well. I think that’s a healthy thing to do as the Body of Christ.
SA: I couldn’t agree more. Okay, well, let me ask, what’s up for you guys next? I know you guys have the Christmas tour and, are you doing Winter Jam or no?
Nikita: No, we’re not doing Winter Jam. We did the fall run for Winter Jam so we did nine shows on the West Coast with Hillsong UNITED, Jeremy Camp, and that lineup. Right after that, we all took a week or two off and just relaxed; this year I think we’re nearing 150 shows so it’s a crazy year for us. We started writing already for our next album which we are so about so we’ll continue that. We’ll play a couple of Christmas shows here and we’re continuing to write and over Christmas break and into January and February we’ll write. And then March and April? I think we’ll start to record and figure things out and then come May we’ll probably do a bunch of festivals throughout the summer. And then in the fall, if everything goes great, we are excited to look at potentially releasing our next album. So we’ll see how all of that unfolds; it’s not official or anything yet but a new album will be coming out and we’re trying to make that happen.
Be sure to check out the Resolution Christmas EP, available on iTunes here.