Equippers Revolution is the sound of the Revolution Youth Movement, and a musical expression of Equippers Church. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, it's core members have grown up in the church, and have been a part of the youth worship team for over 10 years.
On July 14, this New Zealand worship team will be releasing their internationally released debut album with DREAM Worship Hands High. We are honored to catch up with Equippers Revolution's Creative Director and songwriter Kenan Stephenson for this exclusive interview.
Q: Thank you for doing this interview with us. Tell us more about Equippers Church? We understand that you're based in New Zealand but the church has many church plants outside of the country. What were some of the factors that caused such an exponential growth?
A: Thank you. The heart of our church is, and has always been to equip people for life through faith in Jesus Christ. Our main campus is in Auckland, New Zealand, but throughout the years we've planted more campuses because we believe the best way to reach people is through the local church. Our pastors are amazing at raising up leaders, and equipping them to be sent out to plant churches, so that's definitely a major factor in our growth as a church.
Q: Having 22 congregations, how do you monitor the worship of the entire church? Do each congregation have their own worship leaders?
A: That's a really good question. Each congregation has its own creative team, and it's own creative leader. In terms of monitoring those teams, Wayne and Libby Huirua travel through our churches and others teaching and training worship teams. They are amazing and we're very blessed to have them at our church. They played a big part in raising us up too.
Q: Let's talk about your new album, "Hands High" What's your vision in the making of this record?
A: This album is really just a chapter in the story of our youth movement. It reflects the journey we've been on for past two years - a journey that has been all about choosing to praise God through the unpredictable nature of life.
Q: Take us through the recording process. How do you guys write songs, who produces them?
A: For the last 3-4 years of writing songs for our youth movement, it has mainly been myself and Josh Huirua. We grew up in Equippers Church together, and have been creating together for about 5 years now. I tend to be more the lyrics, concepts, and melodies, whereas Josh can do everything, he's amazing. Right now we have a great crew of writers, which has been awesome to see, after it being just us for awhile.
Q: As I was listening to the songs, I notice that "sing-ability" is what earmarks many of the songs. Is this important for you in a song?
A: That's correct and it's fully intentional. We write firstly for our youth movement, and so it's very important to us that these songs are simple and singable, because even though this album is a studio album, the songs were all written to be sung live at our youth events.
Q: I must say I love your single, "Hands High." The words are freeings and the music is so fun to listen to. How did the song come about?
A: "Hands High" was the first song we wrote after our first album "Thunder" which we released in 2015. It came very naturally, and set the tone for what was to come, and what has ended up being the Hands High album. Our movement is very energetic, diverse, and bold, and our music reflects that well we feel.
Q: What are a few of the songs on the new record you are most excited about? And why?
A: Obviously 'Hands High', as it was the first song we wrote, which set the tone for everything else. We're also very excited about "Wild" as it's one of the more recent songs, and really reflects our movement - the Revolution. Our movement is all about stepping out in faith and doing things outside our comfort zone, so that others can come to know Jesus, and that song represents us well. "You Won't Let Go" is a big favourite at our church as well and so we're naturally super excited for that song too.
Q: Where can other worship leaders go if they want to buy or download the chord or the lead sheets of the songs on your new record that they want to sing?
A: We're working to make sure all those resources are available.
Q: Being a songwriter, what do you do to feed yourself spiritually?
A: Spending time with God.
Q: Favorite Bible Verse?
A: My favourite bible verse is Psalms 119:106 in the Message Translation which says, "I've committed myself and I'll never turn back from living by your righteous order." It's my favourite because it's the first verse I read after recommitting my life to God when I was 18 years old, and my Grandparents had written it down on a new bible they had given to me.