Sept. 27, 2022

Elias Dummer

As a part of the uniquely multi-faceted worship collective City Harmonic, Elias Dummer’s voice was heard around the world on songs like “Manifesto” and “Holy (Wedding Day).” Since the conclusion of the band’s work five years ago, Elias has continued...

As a part of the uniquely multi-faceted worship collective City Harmonic, Elias Dummer’s voice was heard around the world on songs like “Manifesto” and “Holy (Wedding Day).” Since the conclusion of the band’s work five years ago, Elias has continued to explore the craft of sacred songwriting through solo work.

The songsmith and multi-instrumentalist’s latest release is The Work Vol 2, an album full of the keen insight and attention to detail that has always marked his ministry. We dig into the project on this episode of Trevor Talks, unearthing a wealth of wisdom in the process. Listen in to hear why Elias just relocated his family back to their native Canada, how founding a marketing agency led to better music, and what precious gems of wisdom he’d offer aspiring artists.

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Elias Dummer  0:00  
At the end of the day, I think we need to be making records that feel like we're giving people words to pray that reflect their real lives and aren't just some song of escapism from their real life for 75 minutes on a Sunday.

Trevor Tyson  0:14  
Thank you for tuning in to Trevor talks podcast where we talk to real people about real topics and real stories. Guys, I'm so excited for this episode, which is brought to you by our friends at Wi Fi audio. So I'm so amped to partner with them on all this stuff. It's quite amazing that we have someone that actually believes in the show as much as I do. It's phenomenal. So thank you to live audio for making this thing happen. And without further ado, I want to dive into today's episode. My guest today is a worship or singer, songwriter, husband and father. You may know him from his former band, the city harmonic. And he's now full fledged into a solo career, which we've seen quite a bit of lately with Matt Hammett, formerly of Sanctus. Real Mike donahey, formerly of 10th Avenue north, we've just got everybody branching out and doing their own thing, which is super encouraging. But this was different. So stick around, I promise guys. He's one of a kind, and I'm amped to have him here with us. Here is Mr. Elias dumber. Elias, thank you for being here, brother.

Elias Dummer  1:15  
Hey, Trevor. Thanks for having me, buddy. Glad to be here.

Trevor Tyson  1:19  
Dude. Of course. It's like the one question I have is you're back in Canada now, which I'm sure we'll dive into because it has nothing to do with politics, unlike a lot of people would expect in today's day and age. But one question, how was the weather up there?

Elias Dummer  1:34  
Oh, it's gorgeous. It's gorgeous. I the summer here. last 10 years of Nashville had been really difficult for us in the summers. We're just not built for that kind of heat. Yeah. And the the summers up here are lovely in comparison. So it's, you know, in the in the high 70s, low 80s. At most a nice breeze. It's it couldn't be better.

Trevor Tyson  1:57  
Come on, I'm an hour east of Atlanta. And it gets kind of just like an armpit. Now. Yeah, it does the same in Nashville, but not as humid as the Atlanta area. So what has been the big change for you like, obviously, going back to Canada, it was kind of a rush job, you had six weeks before the kids started school, to just kind of branch on back into Canada. Now. To my understanding it was to where you had more families surrounding your kids, which is such a smart move.

Elias Dummer  2:25  
Yeah, that was the main thing was being closer to family. I mean, not to get political at all, we also ran into a bunch of issues with government stuff after COVID Where it so we're, everything was legal and above board, but they were just so slow. And so you know, trying to get, for example, a green card for my kids and wife would have been possible. But it would have been very, very, very slow at this point. And they've been really, really backed up. And my oldest is like 15. And I was sitting there going, oh my gosh, I don't think I have the heart to tell him that he can't go get a job till he's 17 Because of paperwork, you know. So that was that was family in a very broad sense was just sort of like, I want my family to feel like they can move on with their lives and do whatever's next. And the truth is the various things I do in music and business, it doesn't really change. My location changes very little of it, actually. So. So it's great. Yeah, so we're all back in Canada and working on a fixer upper house that we bought up here and come on trying our best to kind of stay on top of it all.

Trevor Tyson  3:29  
I love it. And you're young, or your oldest is 15 How old are you?

Elias Dummer  3:36  
I'm 39.

Trevor Tyson  3:38  
Dude, I was at least thinking like 2930 ish. You don't want that. All I said is it's the Canadian genes running through your body. Bieber Drake

Elias Dummer  3:49  
and Alberta in the water through put it in the water. It's that simple,

Trevor Tyson  3:53  
as Carrie Underwood would say there is something in the water. But that's that's amazing, dude. So you have family up there. You were born and raised in Canada, correct? Yep, yep. Yep. So you have quite the outstanding career path already in Canada. So it wasn't a huge move. But honestly, I can't imagine packing up kids and moving to a different country through a pandemic for say, right. That's crazy. Yeah, that had to be fun. And now you're living in the leafs the leaf country or whatever. Yeah.

Elias Dummer  4:24  
We're big leafs fans, so come on, which is which is hockey season is going to be a lot of fun a lot closer to home games. It was fun watching them come and beat the Preds every year but but you know, they,

Trevor Tyson  4:36  
I mean, it'll be good to be home. You have to be careful who you say that around to especially when you're around Bridgestone Arena, you might get jumped, which is not like a bad area or anything but those fans are diehard, the credit they're hardcore, they're

Elias Dummer  4:48  
hardcore, but it's good fun. It's a good it's a good vibe over there for sure. It is

Trevor Tyson  4:52  
and man you've been out promoting your latest album The Works Volume Two, and it's quite a cinematic work as always explaining beforehand. It's not too surprising coming from the city harmonic in your past life in the past of your musical history. So I wasn't shocked. But it has a very calm sense to it, if that makes sense. So when it comes down to the works, Volume Two, what's your elevator pitch? And how would you explain it to people?

Elias Dummer  5:21  
Yeah, we came into the work volume to really wanting to make a record, which was kind of comfortably bittersweet. Sure, in other words, like, and I don't mean bittersweet, and it makes you comfortable. I mean, we were okay with the tension that was going to exist in the record. I mean, and honestly, some of my favorite records in the world function that way, I think of one great example is the Joshua Tree or cold plays a rush of blood to the head, or there are these records that are as there are moments of just, you know, simple beauty to them. But, but there's complex, there's complexity, and certainly emotional complexity in you know, social injustice, complexity, if I think of the Joshua Tree, and, and that was kind of all baked in, we were like going, you know, what I want, I need to make a record, which is a reflection of my real life, and I can think of nothing more. I can't, for myself, this isn't for others. But for myself, I couldn't think of a bigger waste of time and energy than just putting out like a vanilla ice cream worship record or something like that. It couldn't, it couldn't work. And so so the words that we've been kind of kicking around are kind of stubbornly hopeful, like I, you know, it's been a couple of crazy years, there's a lot of people who are really angry and hurt in and you know, myself among them. And so it's one of those things where, if we don't, even as worship guys, and as an artist, I mean, I kind of tear in and out of congregational versus more kind of listenable, I guess, worship music. But the, at the end of the day, I think we need to be making records that feel like we're giving people words to pray that reflect their real lives and aren't just some song of escapism from their real life for 75 minutes on a Sunday. And so that's really where this record came from, to be honest. Maybe that'll mean, no one sings it at church, but that's okay. It'll it had to get made.

Trevor Tyson  7:18  
Yeah, I don't think that there's going to be like a boundary of people not wanting to sing the songs at church. So rest assured on that. It's quite interesting to think about though, because obviously, in 2019, you put out enough, which is a very congregational song, it sounded like even the music videos in front of a congregation. So what's been your creative journey, leading from 2019 to now because they're two totally different sounds, which is obviously the same person, the same heart, but you've been through some things and yeah, grown and you've learned so what's been the creative escape going from 2019 to 2022?

Elias Dummer  7:54  
I love that. I love that so so it's probably more accurate to say that the work Volume One was odd for me than it is that the word Volume Two is weird for me. So in other words, like, when the city harmonic wrapped up in 2017, and I'm a I write a lot, I have a lot of ideas. The truth is I had a huge grab bag of ideas that never fit into the city harmonics cannon, if you will. And so the volume one was a little bit of scratching all the itches, I never got to scratch. You know, and and enough was one of those two, just a really on the nose, congregational song, My Church loved that song. And it was just kind of one of those things. But going into Volume Two, it was a little bit more like Okay, so what was it of what what in the city harmonic was has always been true of me, now that I've scratched that itch is that an itch I need to scratch forever? And it turns out, it wasn't. And I was pretty I was I was kind of going into Volume Two going, I think I'm a lot more comfortable making records that sound and feel like I want them to sound and feel that I am scratching these itches or trying too hard to be a certain kind of thing for the church, if you will. And I know that there are you know, there's something to that and there's something to church worship team is being able to kind of create a sound, but I'm gonna dude, I'm gonna just a guy I'm so I've got it. I've got to make records I love and I'm, I've kind of leaned more into that than I did probably on the first time around with my solo stuff.

Trevor Tyson  9:25  
I would agree. And I found it quite strategic on your part that David Leonard had his hand in on this because the guy's a legend on its own. And when I heard it the first time, I literally thought my head I was like, I wonder if Leonard had anything to do with this because there's similarities in the sound and obviously with him in the creek, it makes a lot of sense. So where did you and David get hooked up? How involved was he? And isn't he'll legend? Would

Elias Dummer  9:51  
you agree? Yeah, I love David. We've known him for years. So David Koch, really David's involvement in the record was just on see clearly so he he co wrote The song see clearly with me, it was one of those things where I'd had a lot coming in. And he had ideas. So we got together, literally wrote the song in like a couple of hours and then went out for lunch. It was very, and then we came back recording a demo, I think. And that was it. And then the demo sort of became the foundation for the rest of the record. The rest of that song. My co producer on the record was Brent Milligan, who is a legend like a genuine legend in terms of like he was he played bass on Jesus free keep produced almost all of Steven Curtis Chapman's records, I think he did colony house. David Crowder, banned all kinds of stuff. So Brent is he's played on everything. And it was just, he became a good friend of mine. And that's one of the things that I'm kind of grateful for. Practically everybody involved in this record in some way. Is, is a friend of mine in some way or another. And Sandra, I had just met when we did this, that's, that's kind of the only person but she was a good friend of brands. So it's kind of like, I think, on volume one, a lot of it was born of kind of, like I said, doing it myself getting it done proving I could and then Volume Two was like alright, I'm I was a band guy, I loved the creative rub that comes with that the back and forth, and the wrestling through what it what it needs to be and kind of the emotional depth that that creates. And so this time around, it was really just like, Let's do cool things with my friends. And David's one of them. We've known date, we were labelmates for years with David and, and we've known each other for many years. So it was it was a great example of that.

Trevor Tyson  11:36  
One of the songs that really hit home for me on this record was long story short, and for some reason with me personally, it feels like the more artists I talked to, the more I'm like, hey, the last song on the record was actually my favorite. Recently, Matty Mullins from Memphis may fire was on and I was like, Dude, there's something about the last song on all of your records. And they always just hit me. And it's the same for you. So would you mind breaking the song down for us? Especially for those who haven't heard the project yet? How would you break down long story short?

Elias Dummer  12:08  
Okay, so we approach this whole album as an album, which you're not supposed to do anymore, but I don't care. So there you go. So we totally did it. And very much thought of, you know, the layout of the album as an experience a journey from beginning to end. So it is titled Long story short, knowingly, it's probably best to understand that as the album itself, it's not I wouldn't call it a deconstruction record, because I wouldn't use that word probably to describe my life. But certainly, over the last, and the truth is, bulk of this happened 20 years ago. But you know, there were certainly idiosyncratic beliefs that I wrestled with over the years. That's a big word. Yeah. Well, you know, like beliefs that, that you're taught in a certain kind of church are definitely Christian. And then you read a whole bunch of Christian history and go, well, that turns out not to have been the case. And um, you know, being told this non negotiable thing isn't not only non negotiable, it's not even within Christian history. It's like, you know, 50 years old or something. So you get into that over the years. And so, you know, that weaving into the album and this kind of question of doubt, and disappointment and frustration. So long story short, closes the record with this kind of tight emotional tie down of the tension of the biblical story in our in my own story, and the hope in complexity. I mean, the first verse is about Abraham carrying Isaac up the mountain as a metaphor for what Jesus did on the cross. So there's this real, there's layers that are a bit tense to it. And so musically, we really tried to keep that prosody there. That song is my wife's favorite on the record, it's one of my favorites may be of all of my whole catalogue just because, well, there's a moment, there's a moment at the at near come about two thirds, three quarters of the way in the song, that musically is one of the most satisfying things I've ever been a part of. And I don't even get state credit for it. We arranged it somewhat on piano. And my good friend, Jared Hashim, who actually co wrote track two on the record, is this amazing string arranger. Everybody uses he's over in Australia. Well, because of COVID. He went, and he got in on this session with like a bunch of players think 12 players. And so there's that that's all real. All the strings on this record are huge and real. And so it's this huge rock opera moment. Kind of, you know, as at the climax of this song all about the tension and beauty of the story of the gospel.

Trevor Tyson  14:49  
That's wild. And obviously your art is extensive, and your creative genius is super obvious throughout the music. Like if you dive into the catalog, you're like, oh, how you go from city harmonic to Elias Delmar and then now with the worst Volume Two, there is a lot of meat on the bones there. Yeah, like if you're open to it, I'd love to dive deeper into your story and hear the overarching story behind you behind your wife behind her Dahmer, which I would have loved to jump into. And since you're open to it, we're gonna go through that and so much more right after the break with a word from our sponsors.

Elias Dummer  15:30  
So yeah, man, so I, I am from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, which is sort of inseparable from our story, because Hamilton is a weird city used to make steel doesn't make steel it Well, I mean, it's still make steel, but not to the degree it wants did like a lot of steel cities. And so now Hamilton is like a cross between Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Portland, it's like, very weird, culturally, very kind of alternative. In a lot of poverty everywhere you look, and also this kind of strange, affordable living gentrification thing happening. So it's a beautiful city, with ugly right up against it all of the time. And that's a interesting place to grow up. And that was probably kind of my own family story. I'm on my, on the product of divorce. My parents divorced when I was 12, or 13, it got really complicated, you know, with step family and all of that kind of stuff. I have a brother who's has autism. And that was kind of part of our story all along. And so, you know, I moved schools, I was in the gifted program and got moved around, and all of that. So it's just a lot of hanging out. But in the midst of all of that, was this kind of anchoring community I had in my youth group, and just really, really deep deep friendships. And that that is something I'm really grateful for. With that said, you also get the complexity. And we actually kind of talked about it a little bit in Curie, a liaison. My youth pastor was a complicated figure. I mean, part of where Zach Bolin from citizens and I connected and became friends was in in the fact that even though he was part of Maurice Hill, with Mark Driscoll, and all of this big stuff, there were certain traits of that, that were really really familiar to me, even though I grew up in a small church with no podcast and no video, you know. So it's, it's, it was something we kind of connected on in. And I guess, for me, having someone in my life who called us to more and deeper and better,

Elias Dummer  17:36  
even with some kind of toxic traits in there, but always saying, Hey, don't be like me, be like, whatever it is of Jesus, that you see in me, there was always this sense, in which faith was anchored to Christ in the church, more than it was anchored to single personalities and that sort of thing. And that drove me in a big way. So Hamilton, and my own life kind of coalesced in a major way when we the because of poverty. And because, you know, churches were in struggling in a sense to reach the community, they were part of all of these churches started working together. And we started this kind of interdenominational missions element for students in the city as well. So this movement called True city. At its peak, it was like 35 churches working together missionally. So doing projects together, deciding where to plant churches together, regardless of denomination, like really cool stuff. And then we were kind of running this missions thing where students would all come together in the day, go serve all day at one of like, 50 different nonprofits are cleaning up needles in the park and stuff like this, which is kind of like we haven't we have an alley behind our house, like there's guaranteed to be some addicts in the area on a regular basis. So it's just part of life. And so, so the, we're we're doing that. And then at night, we come together and have this kind of raucous worship night. And the band for that was the city harmonics. So the city harmonic was a worship band that had come out of multiple churches, we didn't go to the same church. And so that's kind of why we ended up with a different sort of sound because we just couldn't, we didn't share a worship culture. We didn't share a church culture. It was like, Hey, we're going to sound like a band making worship songs, because that's about the best we can do. We don't we're not a worship team, you know. And so that's kind of what we did. And that, of course, you know, drove the next 10 years of our life. My wife, my wife, and I got married really young. We have five beautiful kids, and we're going on 20 years together and it's a fish. Yeah, yeah. So we've we've had just been hacked. Yeah, it's it. Yeah. Jam packed. It hasn't been a jam packed life. It's right. And I mean, I, you know, along the way, I was lucky enough to have started a business and that's been good. And I think the freedom part of I think the I think the freedom To feel creative without being quite as scared, honestly, comes from having a few irons in the fire. Sure, I think when I was at church when I was on staff at a church full time, and that was our only income as a family, I made worse choices. I there was no sense in which I had the courage. And that's just something about me. It's not about church, but I didn't have the courage to lead and based on what I thought was right, more than what was going to keep things going. Yeah. And

Trevor Tyson  20:35  
when you get involved in a church like that, it's like you're saying, it's not specifically the church. But a lot of times, there are a lot of people that things have to go through, and it's harder to get things done. Specifically within the church, it's like, hey, this probably doesn't align with our core values, or there's always going to be some opposing force. Yeah, but there is a different angle to owning your own company. Like, it's, it's quite interesting to think about, because a lot of people get stuck and not necessarily in church, but in jobs that they hate, because they're afraid of what could be. So was that something that you had to combat during,

Elias Dummer  21:13  
I got I got fired from the church, I was at full time. And in get, but it was, it was a it was a leadership change thing that happened. And so I was fall out essentially early fall out of that. And then when that happened, a lot of the board members of that church were like, hey, you've done a ton of marketing stuff, creative stuff, video stuff for us. And it's been really, really great. We all own companies in the area. And frankly, your works better than some of the companies we'd hired, would you start a marketing agency? So I was like, Sure. So I turned around and started a marketing agency, that's 15 years ago. And so that's kind of been part of our story, like the city harmonic record got made, because I did a barter deal with the studio.

Trevor Tyson  21:54  
So I had surreal. I did their branding

Elias Dummer  21:57  
and their website. And then we in exchange for 60 hours of studio time, we self produced the first EP including manifesto. And then once the record was done, found ourselves in a bidding war with the labels. And they just basically took it and remixed it. And that was it.

Trevor Tyson  22:16  
How interesting is that? I own a marketing agency, too. So it's just hilarious because you do barter with people on things. It's like, Hey, y'all need this? I need that. Let's go ahead and work it out.

Elias Dummer  22:28  
It's figured out

Trevor Tyson  22:29  
figure it out. And it's the art of negotiation, or what would Trump called The Art of the Deal or something. And it's always like, there's always a silver lining, no matter where politics or anything comes into play. Like, you can always have some fun, right? Yeah. With owning a marketing agency and being a creative force, like you are, how did you find time for music? Was it something like you mentioned before, when I was skimming over your name, I was like, I thought it was drummer at first you're like, that's the only instrument I don't play. So music had to come into your life early on, if you play more than one instrument, or self producing this stuff, a gifted songwriter, and you find time to keep your passion and play with having five kids. It obviously means something to you. Yeah, no

Elias Dummer  23:11  
music is really important to me. I I grew up playing my mom was in choir, church and all of that stuff. So I started, you know, I was in youth choir at like, five. My parents have this picture of me in my diapers with those huge this is the early 80s. So these huge like Ken headphones, the big leather ones, RCA ones or whatever they were, that were like on my hands and I'm standing up on the tee. I'm standing up next to the TV holding the TV and bobbing up and down to thriller while it's playing on the on the TV screen. So so that that I guess I've always loved it. And so I was in bands in high school. And while I was in a ska band actually in a ska

Trevor Tyson  23:56  
band, what is that? Yeah, exactly

Elias Dummer  23:58  

Trevor Tyson  23:59  
What no for what is

Elias Dummer  24:01  
a ska band? Okay, so you know, reggae, right reggae? Yeah, so ska was the slightly hyper predecessor to reggae.

Trevor Tyson  24:09  
Okay, so like

Elias Dummer  24:12  
in in the 90s, it had kind of by the 90s it had kind of blended coming out of like two tones stuff in the in the UK in the 80s with the specials and all of that, by the 90s it had kind of blended with the punk scene in a pretty heavy way. And so we were kind of part of the like, third wave ska thing and, and it was pretty gritty, like we were, you know, and like a lot of bands in that world. You start out all teenage and hyper and it's upbeat, and it's mostly about goofing around, and then you sort of slow down, the music slows down, you start there's fewer and fewer distortion pedals on the board and you're you know, sounding a little bit more like sublime as time goes on. But so that was that was that was kind of our vibe. It was great. I loved it, but But ya know, I quit that in 17 Delete worship 1718 Delete worship, we had been doing all the clubs scene around, we were the band that opened for people in town. And so yeah, it's always been a part of my life. I've always played in bands and always made music. And, you know, I'm really grateful that I get to continue doing it now.

Trevor Tyson  25:15  
Come on. And for someone that has aspirations to do music, and they don't know where to start, they don't know anybody that's in a band, they don't know how to start a band. They don't know the first thing about anything. If you were in that position, and 2022, you'd obviously have a lot more resources at your disposal with distrokid, CD, baby YouTube, being able to create a social media platform. Where would you start in 2022? If you were to have to start right now from scratch, no name no past history and music? Where would you start?

Elias Dummer  25:47  
Okay, so this, this one's for free. The, the, the, I'm just kidding. I would say every artist of every kind, whether that's a visual artist, whether that's a musical artist, whatever, the number one problem, and there have been studies on this, actually, but the number one problem that every artist has is not the problem they think they have. They think that they just need to write a great song, and people will appreciate a great song. And while I would love that to be true, it has not been true. In my experience. There are great songs that No, it's true in the long run, holy wedding day as a city harmonic song that ended up being our biggest song, it took 10 years. It was 10 years before that song was a song everyone knew. And and you know, it was not a hit at radio, no one wanted to play it. So it didn't work. It was a dud. And then 10 years later, people like it well, no one has the patience to wait 10 years. So if you want to make something happen in the short term, the number one problem you have to solve, in my experience and expertise at least is brand recall. That's it. If people people are infinitely more likely to check out your music, if they've heard of you. If they've ever been recommended to you it that is the number one problem which means that it's not about do I go distro kid or that do I do. It's like you got to start sharing what you're doing in a way that is consistent and easy to find. So like if I was starting from scratch and 2022 Honestly, Tik Tok and SoundCloud, bro, like it would be really straightforward. It'd be as easy as it can get to because you can, you will make money later. But until until something scales, there's no money to be made streaming as an indie artists who has an audience, streaming is great. I really love streaming, I'm not going to complain about it. We're not making bank at all. But it's that's that's first, but it's consistent. You know, I mean, it's there's I as an indie artist who owns my masters every month, there's money that comes my way from people listening to it two months ago, that wasn't true before. Royalties were great if you were on the radio, but not great if you weren't. And so you were always chasing the hit. It's now way more possible to build an audience, but that audience has to want to come with you. And to want to come with you. They need to be invested in you and to be invested in you. They need to know who you are. And so the the number one problem, you have to solve his brand recall.

Trevor Tyson  28:20  
Yeah. And it's the same thing for podcasts. Because when I started, it was like, Okay, I knew that I wanted it to be like the branding to be larger than life. So we invested in the branding, we invested in the website, the equipment and all of the things but I was consulted. Like before I started I was like, Hey, we're gonna be shooting most of this at the time it was zoom. Now it's a different platform. Should we put this on YouTube? And I consulted with a friend who is a large YouTuber. And he said no, there is no way to grow on YouTube and then a year after that, I put it on YouTube and that was the turning point for me to really shut it off. And what it is today and it's like nobody has a blueprint for success and that's why I'm curious to ask like you went from the brand awareness with the city harmonic and that is such a larger than life name going from a band to an indie artists can have its like hit or miss spots. Oh totally will have been able to do it like super successful super soon, but you have to have some patience just like you're talking about it took 10 years for that one song to get some traction. Yeah, that is so true for so many people. I mean yeah, what's that song that was on Stranger Things are running up that hill or something? Yeah.

Elias Dummer  29:35  
Canadian by the way, just want to point that out. Just want to

Trevor Tyson  29:39  
point that out. So we've got her we've got you we've got Beger we've got Drake. We're just adding on boo bleh There you go. Who Oh Dion. Celine Dion. Yeah. Oh, but there's so many amazing vocalists including yourself that Shawn Mendes Sorry, I was Shawn Mendes. You're a boy band free calm. I'm just gonna weekend, the weekend. But so many People are like, Man, I want to have a hit. And I want to have it now. And I'm glad that like, we didn't plan any of this out. So I'm glad that we're able to offer indie artists and such a great opportunity to hear from someone who's successfully doing it. Like when I went to your YouTube and hit on videos like 90% of it as of right lately is YouTube shorts because you're capitalizing on a new platform. Yeah, totally freaking amazing that you're staying ahead of the game with this stuff.

Elias Dummer  30:25  
And don't even feel ahead of it. Honestly, I mean, I think I probably was way too late. It took me a really long time to find on Tik Tok and reals. Something that I enjoyed doing I, I love I'm really nerdy about this stuff. I'm really geeky about Well, life, in general, I probably overthink and over dig into too many things. And so I think part of the thing was like, I didn't want to just be like singing songs all the time on Tik Tok, I didn't want to do that. And so I was like, Well, I'm going to talk about the stuff I know, I'm going to talk about the stuff I'm interested in. And that feels like a good jumping on point. And people who understand me and are like, hey, that's who Eli is, in real life. Those are people who are gonna love the music, probably at some point. So that's kind of been my theory, again, for the brand recall problem. And part of it too, is if I just play a song, it gets it reaches a couple 1000 people. But like, if I say something related to what I do, that really reaches a lot of people that and it does, those, a higher percentage of those people are going to see my music when time comes around. So I know it seems really indirect, and it's not for everybody, I know that some people want to make their bedroom music, and they want the world to find it. But my experience is you've got to help them. And so, you know, one way or another and now that's what labels are for often is helping people who don't have the wherewithal or resources to do that, to do that. But in my case, I owned a marketing agency, I had a staff I have teams have started several companies, which have all done done, okay, at least. And so it's kind of been this thing of like, well, I really just need to be able to do this, I know what needs to be done. And we're out doing it. And, and I'm doing it in a way that is really genuine and fun. And that's kind of I know, people have a lot of opinions about social media, and frankly, I do. But it's, it's, it's just been, it's been a journey to figure out how to do it in a way that was earnest, I guess. And I think that's probably part of a stage of life thing. You know, I'm, like I said, I'm almost 40. And you do get to a point of like, oh, I need to be or I need to be honest and earnest and kind of play my cards. And that and not worry about as much whether those cards fit into somebody else's deck of cards. So it's kind of like, you know, what, I, I care about what's true, I care about what's good, I care about Jesus and care about what's beautiful in the world and, and making the world a more beautiful and Christ like place. And this is how I'm going to do it. I'm going to be myself through the process. And, you know, if it's not artsy enough for somebody who's really cool, that's fine. If it's, you know, too artsy, for somebody else. That's fine. I'm going to, I mean, you know, that's, I'm doing me, that's kind

Trevor Tyson  33:13  
of what it is. And it comes across that way. I don't see your Lyric videos, I don't see your cover art and go, Oh, this guy is trying to be like Madonna, right? I've never caught that vibe. Like, right? It's never been that way. So

Elias Dummer  33:28  
I'd be a very bad Madonna. I

Trevor Tyson  33:29  
think that's why I would too, I would be terrible. Like people wouldn't pay to see me dress like that. I can promise you that. No. So with all of the new projects and all the songwriting all the raising the kids, how do you find like, with social media, it's so easy to get discouraged. It's a passion for you to share your music and you're creating content that is so meaningful. Like if I go to your Instagram, which I'm on right now, scrolling through, it's like you talking and sharing your life, you're sharing what God's doing, through your music, you're sharing just things that he shared with us through through Scripture. And that's part of the job for se. But if things don't hit an algorithm, or a song doesn't pop off the way you want it to. How do you keep yourself going? Because it's so easy to get discouraged and back away. And I know that like they're all the successes, they're all the things in the public eye that are like wow, would you know or Wow, GMA Dove Award like all of these things, it seems successful, but when you strip everything down into the nitty gritty, your father, your husband, your business owner, multi entrepreneur, there has to be times of discouragement.

Elias Dummer  34:42  
Oh, totally. Oh, yeah. All the time, all the time. I mean, that happens very frequently. But I think too, one of the gifts of having been at this a while, um, which, you know, no one gets to tell their 21 year old self much of anything, but if I could, it'd be like, hey, There are going to be ups and downs and it's going to be okay. And I don't mean it's going to be okay isn't like everything's gonna work out, no, you're going to fail at some things. And you're and you likely are failing your way forward, hopefully, it's as long as you're paying attention and learning something from it. And so that's, that's kind of the effort that I'm making. I can't say I do it perfectly. Certainly, if you asked my kids, they wouldn't say so. But, but I, but I, you know, I'm certainly trying to learn as I go and improve. And, you know, like we were talking about earlier, I think for a lot of people, what nobody thinks of their own life is like, fair or good, or they think, Oh, I got, this is the hand I was dealt. And so I'm going to, I'm going to play it as best I can. And I think for me, really trying to keep discipleship in, you know, character and trying to the best of my ability, not always successfully, but trying to the best of my ability to kind of keep the person of Jesus at the center of decisions I make on a day to day basis, really drives a lot of that. And so to that end, like that's what enough was about initially, it was just this sense of feeling washed up, worried, I was done worried that the city or Monica was gonna be the only cool thing I ever do. And, you know, the song was really born of like, well, no, God, I find my self in who Jesus is. That's, that's, you know, I find Jesus and in return, I get a self made in the image of God, right. Like, there's something to that. So so I don't know, I there's there are a lot of dark moments in life. Everybody has them. Probably I'm dealing lately, more with disappointment and frustration, with, you know, many Christians in church at large. Where it's like, Man, I could win at this. But do I want to, you know, that's something that's crossed my mind a lot, just sort of knowing where so many people are at No, it's just having so many things happen in public, that are just so man. It's like, the church has got some real bad PR lately, Enter. And and it's, and it's not about manipulating the story. I mean, like, we're just not doing it very well. And we're not doing it very well loudly on social media. And it's just this kind of, you know, hurt, pain, I guess, and disappointment and frustration and say, Hey, we're better than this. We're, we're the body of Christ. We're you know that. So that bleeds through a lot of what I'm doing right now in church work is trying to call myself and all of us to a guess a more faithful way.

Trevor Tyson  37:51  
I love that. And where do we start with that? Like, if man, the church were to ask for Elias Dumars perspective on where they can shift this bad PR rep. Where should they start?

Elias Dummer  38:04  
Well, I think on some level, if I were to speak, having spent the last decade in the states, if I were to speak to the American church in particular, because it's a different the world, the world is different as you travel around, right, and even as we're interconnected. I think it isn't always a mistake to think small. And that's actually true. And in marketing to like, at the end of the day, the most important thing you do is make a connection with a person, most important thing you do in that in, in your life. And of course, I mean, second to following Jesus and having having that kind of life with God and God. The important thing you do is make meaningful relationships with people so that we can rub off on it. That's what discipleship is. We're not just intended to tell people a simple gospel and, and leave them with it. We're intended to do meaningful life together, and call each other to a more Christ like way, and that Christ like way is almost always at least rooted in kindness, and at least rooted in that, that practice of love. And there are other things there's truth, there's all kinds of other words we could throw around in there, too. That's great. But God Himself says that it's fundamentally about love. And so if it's fundamentally about love, we need to start there. And that doesn't always look like a big strategic political campaign. That doesn't look like winning at issues that doesn't look like winning. It looks like treating that person, maybe that gay brother in the street, maybe treating him with kindness and goodness and say, Hey, I love you and I can be your friend, I can be good to you. In the midst of that. I mean, that's, you have the story of God's people in captivity in Babylon. And what are they told to do? They're told to marry their daughters off and make families to plant gardens to do what is good for the city of Babylon. They're told to do what is good for Babylon. And yet some Now so many Christians now go around in the world as if their job is to tell Babylon how broken it is all the time. But what were the people in Babylon told to do make Babylon good by being good to Babylon? And we've we're just not even sometimes it just feels like we're not even sure there are certainly characters not even trying. And so I think I think, really at the end of the day thinking small and going, what does it mean for me to be a kind, loving person, to the people in front of me and around me to the best of my ability? I don't do it perfectly. I don't think anyone does. But at least I feel like we kind of need to correct ourselves away from the grandiose efforts to conquer the world. And and think about our to our neighbors on each side of us,

Trevor Tyson  40:43  
man, and it's so easy to let politics and all of the things that divide us get in the way and it's like, how are we going to make the American church great again? I don't know. But I think it starts with us who out here yeah, that's not a Trump quote. But you know what I? It's funny. So like, it's really encouraging to hear from you Eliasson, obviously, we want to send to everybody to listen to the new record the works Volume Two, which is streaming everywhere. Do you have merch and everything up on a website? Dude, yeah,

Elias Dummer  41:13  
if you're on Spotify, you'll see merch there, you can go to alias And there's stuff there. I mean, my name is weird enough, it is my real name. And you can find it by that name. Just about everywhere. There are not very many alias numbers in the world. So that z u m m er, that's that's the only tricky part there is no B and I need to point that out.

Trevor Tyson  41:34  
He doesn't need to point that out. He does need to point it out. But ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for just tuning in week after week. And wise, thank you so much for being here. And a special shout out to our friends at life audio for putting this episode on. We're forever grateful for you. Thank you so much for believing in the show. And being a part of this journey with us. Be sure to go pick up the works volume to wherever you stream your records. And if you are struggling mentally or just feel like you're in a rut and need some extra care, I just want to point out that there is hope there is love. There is compassion. There is somebody out there that wants to speak with you and all the resources are going to be as usual in the description below. To beneath the skin death, the wife, Tina HopeLine. Heart support. There's so many people out there that would love to take time out and just have a conversation. So if you're feeling heavy, you're feeling burden. Be sure to go check out some of our friends in the description below. There's always a reason to live. There's always a reason to choose to live. We love you guys so much. We'll talk next week.

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Elias Dummer

Elias Dummer co-founded and fronted one of Canada’s most acclaimed worship bands, The City Harmonic. As the group’s principal songwriter, he helped pen such hits as “Holy (Wedding Day)” and “Mountaintop,” as well as “Manifesto,” which served as the theme song for 2011’s National Day of Prayer. The City Harmonic earned 12 GMA Canada Covenant Awards and a Juno Award (Canada’s GRAMMY® equivalent), before disbanding in 2017.
Dummer released his solo debut, The Work Vol. I, in 2019 and was named Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2020 Covenant Awards. Both as a solo artist and with The City Harmonic, Dummer’s music has garnered more than 100 million streams to date.

For further information, visit or Follow Dummer on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.