I began making electronic music 7-or-so years ago in my bedroom. My friend, Grant, introduced me to Reason and Ableton Live, and I locked myself in that room for a weekend, and figured out everything I needed to know about synthesis, ADSR, recording, and whatever I thought was “the limit of necessary know-how to create electronic music.” I had a lot of fun then. I wasn’t confining myself to any boundaries, I was just making music to make it. I didn’t care about what people thought about it. But then, even though the feeling wasn’t as pronounced as it would later be, I felt like I was getting into something that would end up making me unhappy, compromised, and unfulfilled.
I love music, actually. I’ve been “doing” music since I was five, and started writing songs in middle school. Music has always been a fun part of my life, but the emphasis, the focus was shifting more towards myself while making music under the Gejius name. You probably wouldn’t even know it, but I’m a Christian and have been one since before I started playing piano. When I acknowledged Christ to be my Savior at that young age, I’m sure the understanding was simple. Jesus loves me, I love Jesus, I want to hang out with Him in heaven- sounds good. But as I got older, and the gifts that I believe God had instilled in me developed, this idea of a “relationship with Jesus” never developed along with me. I had a simple faith that I carried with me up until college, where it was easily left behind while I pursued my dreams and aspirations in becoming a note-worthy musician.
Recognition is a big part of it, and not just for musicians, either. Everyone loves to receive recognition and acceptance, no matter who they are, what they do, or where they live. Recognition fueled my desires to become someone worth admiring, someone worth looking up to. As I started to create more and more songs, I wanted to share them with people. I got some good feedback from my friends, and I tried pursuing being an artist. Whatever romantic dreams of playing on stage I may have had previously were dwarfed in comparison by the ego-stripping experiences that would continue to follow me and my music as I pursued this dream. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played some really great shows and met some seriously amazing people! But my heart, my mindset at those times was totally self-serving. And worst of all, I’ve had many moments over the years to be brave and stand up for Christ and my beliefs, but I decided to shrivel away, to keep my mouth shut, or to pull a Peter and deny any ties to Jesus. I’m not proud of those times. My actions then really stuck out to me, and ultimately have made me rethink what all of this music-making means.
Many of you know I live in Japan, just outside of Tokyo. But most of you don’t know that I’m actually a missionary of sorts out here. I say “of sorts” because I’m not affiliated with a mission, but I believe God has called me and my family to Japan for the purpose of sharing His love and light here. But moving here wasn’t a choice for us. I was unemployed and didn’t have any job options lined up. My wife and I have always loved the idea of coming to Japan, but never thought it possible. But during this time of unemployment, I tried with an application for the JET program, which I didn’t get an interview for. My wife and I considered driving down to Anaheim, CA, for her to try out to be a face character at Tokyo Disney, but that was aborted for being just too crazy. Soon after, my dad sent me a forwarded email about a piano teaching job at a Christian International School just outside of Tokyo, which when I read it aloud to my wife, thought it was a bad joke because it sounded like such an unbelievably good fit. What was at first a seemingly bad joke turned out to be God’s provision for us. If we had made it to Japan via the JET program, we might have ended up in some country-bumpkin-nowhere village. If we had made it via my wife’s Disney job, we would have had tight, terrible living conditions and a 3-month visa, having to go back to the States. What God had provided for us with this job was a caring community of friends, being close to civilization, and a secure job future. His way, not ours, was best. My point in telling this story is to show just one example of how God has provided for us. And my logic at the time we came was, “Great! I’m going to live close to Tokyo, so I can still play out!” True, yes, and I did get to play at some fun “live houses”, but my mind couldn’t break out of the fact that God had brought us to this community for my job, not to be an artist.
I had told co-workers and friends that I was going to play out in clubs to meet people and share Christ with them, but even then I knew I was lying to myself. I didn’t have that kind of courage- and God even tested my words! I would play out at a club, meet an English-speaking Japanese person who asked me about my beliefs, if I went to church, or tell me about their history with God or Christianity. Without fail, I would just “oh” and “hmm” every time. I was more concerned about my identity with my music, rather than my identity with Christ. So, for these reasons, I’ve decided to stop Gejius for good.
Now, here’s where Crossfading fits into this whole thing. Just before Christmas 2011, a Japanese pastor at a church we were attending here in town approached me with a proposition. He had received a phone call from a past church attendee, saying that his late brother had left him a large amount of “advanced electronics,” but the church wouldn’t be able to use such “advanced electronics” because they were too “advanced.” When I asked the pastor what “advanced electronics” meant, he said he wasn’t sure how to explain it, but continued to say that the brother who had died used to work for Yamaha for the last 25 years in the music and engineering division. My attention was peaked at this point, so I asked if the pastor could arrange a date for myself and another UK missionary friend who’s into analog synthesis to meet this guy and check out his “advanced electronics.” A few weeks later we were able to meet up with this man, and when he invited us in to show us the equipment, we were floored. Racks, mixers, cables, keyboards; it was just a mess of boxes to the untrained eye, but we were like kids in a candy factory searching for hidden treasure, of which we found a lot of. The man told us that we were free to take whatever we could use for our ministry, but I felt a twinge of guilt at that moment. At that moment, I knew that I couldn’t use this gear for my own music. God had plainly orchestrated a huge blessing for my friend and I, and I wasn’t about to muck it up.
We piled our newly discovered treasures together and were met by the man some time later, only to hear that his family was a bit uncomfortable with strangers coming by and taking their brother’s belongings, so he asked if we could leave. My friend’s immediate response was, “Sure. We don’t want to get in the way of your family. This is a difficult time for you all, so no worries.” All the while I was cringing inside, because my initial reaction was, “Are you kidding me?! He doesn’t even know what half this stuff is!! We were so close!! Agh!!!”. But I realized my friend was right and chimed in with his response. The man said he would call if the family gave him their approval to let us have the equipment. I thought There is goes. That was it. But even then, we were both amazed at how God knew our interests so well and could bless us according to those interests. The next night I got a phone call during dinner, and we received permission to take the equipment! We were stoked! But I needed to find a car to transport it all, which ended up being harder than I thought. I called the man to ask if the following weekend would work for him, but he instead offered to drive it to me instead! Not only was God blessing us, it was being delivered right to us! I was in awe of this personal blessing. Not to mention that a week before meeting the pastor I mentioned at the beginning of the story, I was telling God that I didn’t want to do music anymore. I had realized my selfish attitude, my cowardice, my shame, and I felt like I couldn’t let Him down anymore. In spite of all that, God came and blessed me with a huge affirmation of my love of music. I decided to give up Gejius that night in December to Jesus. Well, mostly.
My school had a charity event put on by two seniors this past Thursday. I was asked if I could do anything musical, so I said sure. Due to being busy and poor planning, I was running out of time to create a set. As a result, I made a set of Gejius tunes and thought that would be easy enough. I knew them already, so I just brushed up the set and went with it. On the night of the charity event, I didn’t get time to do a sound check, since other students needed to go first. Although slightly peeved, I just went with it and hoped everything would work out. When my turn came up, I brought out my gear and started playing, only to find out that no mids or lows were coming out of the speakers! I tried asking the guys in the sound booth to see if they had EQ’d my channels, but everything was flat. It was my computer acting up. I ended up playing the whole set with no mids or lows, feeling like a complete jack ass (I tested the same set up the next day and it worked just fine, fyi). That’s when I realized it. My motives were again starting to slide back into the direction that I thought I had moved on from. I was hoping to impress friends that came, my teaching colleagues, the students that were there, but instead I felt like my pride got a huge melvin (Wayne’s World anyone?). I even wore a Gejius t-shirt!! I was beyond pissed. I just wanted to pack up and go home. I argued with God, “Why!!? Why did that have to happen to me tonight!? Why couldn’t You have made it work just this one time?!?!” His response was, “Because if it had worked just this one time, you would have started sliding back from where I brought you out of.” He had me. I knew He was right, even though I was still angry about how it all went down.
I don’t quite understand God’s love in the heat of the moment. Or better yet, I couldn’t care less to know that God is “helping me” when it hurts. I don’t want to have to hurt in the first place, honestly, and neither do you. But without pain, hurt, struggle, and adversity, we could never become the people that God envisions us to become. He sees the best in us, even when we think we’ve reached our peak of perfection, or our ultimate low point, or even when we don’t even care that He wants to help us become better. Some of you reading this see no point in God, that we live and die, and that’s it, that the stories that I’ve shared with you are mere chance and circumstance, being in the “right place” at the “right time.” But think about this: I’ve had to make a series of decisions based on a belief that God loves me and that He can be trusted. By making those decisions, occurrences of being “in the right place” at the “right time” are more frequent. I believe that there is a God, who sent his son, Jesus Christ, to this Earth some 2,000 years ago to create a way to have a personal relationship with God, which in turn saved us from the consequences of Sin and Death, enabling us to join Him one day when we die. This same God has changed my heart so much that I wanted to share my stories with you, in hopes that you might be willing to look at your own life and ask yourself, “Can God really have a purpose for my life? Could God really know who I am?”
I challenge you to ask God something about yourself, something about your dreams, your aspirations, and see if you don’t get an answer. Now, God may not speak to you in a thundering cloud or even at all- but He’ll answer you. And that answer might be something you wouldn’t expect to hear, or rather, something you didn’t want to hear. But He’ll answer you. He answered me, and I know that He will continue to be with me, no matter what.