Q&A with Arthur from Linescratchers

Arthur Hatton created Linescratchers — a blog, podcast and web forum for LDS musicians who don’t write/record/perform “LDS music” (e.g. devotional or Christian-pop inspired LDS music) — in June 20008 as a blogspot blog featuring artist interviews. It has since moved to its own domain name and expanded what it offers, including rolling out a podcast last June. The interviews are great, but it was the podcast that really got me excited about what Arthur is doing and convinced me that there are some very talented indie LDS musicians out there. Just yesterday, Linescratchers scored its biggest interview yet — Low’s Alan Sparhawk (Linescratchers takes its name from the Low song When I Go Deaf) . It’s a good interview and so are the others.

I recommend you take the time to poke around the site if you haven’t yet, and do subscribe to the podcast.

Arthur was kind enough to have the tables turned on him by AMV and do the following Q&A.


What was the impetus behind the creation of Linescratchers?

The short answer is, I created it because it didn’t exist. There is no other website for LDS musicians who don’t write LDS Music. However, I’ve never been satisfied by the short answer. Linescratchers really came out of my experience with a few people in my life. For example, a young man who was told by his mother that he couldn’t be a rock musician and a good Mormon. After an argument with his father, he moved out of the house and decided the obvious choice was rock music. He lived in a storage unit where his band practiced, staying warm only by plugging in their stage lights and pointing them at himself as he slept. He slipped into a world of sex, drugs, and bad decisions. After perhaps twenty years, he has returned to activity and his wife was baptized. They are now sealed in the temple, but he is working overtime now to correct mistakes and will probably never feel caught up. Continue reading “Q&A with Arthur from Linescratchers”

Music in the key of free: an interview with Sally DeFord

Sally DeFord is one of the most prolific modern LDS composers and arrangers. Her work has been featured in Church magazines seven times and she has received 33 Church music awards for her compositions and arrangements. Seriously, search for her name on LDS.org–there are eighteen hits. Her song, “If the Savior Stood Beside Me“ was used in the 2008 Primary program and was performed in the General Young Women’s broadcast in 2007. Oh, and she also gives away her music for free. That’s right. You heard me. FREE. (That noise you’re hearing, that’s ward and stake choir directors everywhere cheering.) Read on to find out why.

Continue reading “Music in the key of free: an interview with Sally DeFord”

Help me find the “non-American” Mormon Culture

Last year I purchased a bound volume of the 1949 issues of the missionary magazine of the Argentine and Uruguayan missions, El Mensajero Deseret, which I found in the basement of Sam Weller‘s in Salt Lake City. I had hoped that I might find there some articles originally written in Spanish by local members (not missionaries), and that I might there discover something of their perspective at the time. Unfortunately, my (still) somewhat cursory review, while it found many interesting articles, including one written by my grandfather that my family didn’t know about, failed to find any articles by local members and few originally written in Spanish.

I’m not sure how different things are today. Mission magazines like El Mensajero Deseret, which were meant for all members in the mission (not just the missionaries), have been replaced by the Church’s international magazine (in Spanish, La Liahona), and that magazine is largely a translation from English.

As a result of examples like this, I think its easy to assume that no Mormon cultural works are being produced outside of the English-speaking areas of the Church. In a comment to my post last week about What Should Mormons Know About Mormon Culture?, Anneke wrote:

“I’m uncomfortable with any attempt to define “Mormon Culture” that then limits that culture to “Anglophone Mormon Culture.” I realize that most of the time English is all we’ve got”¦”

I am also uncomfortable about this — but its hard for most of us, English-speaking residents of the US generally, to know much about what is being produced in Mexico or in France or Brazil or Japan. Its not like there are clear paths for getting materials from these places to the Mormon market in the US! I suspect that not a lot is being produced, given the low density of LDS Church members from each other in other countries, the lack of a market or way to distribute cultural works, and the near worship that foreign LDS Church members sometimes have for the Church in the U.S.

So, hoping that those who read this will add the works they know about, here’s a list of some of the works I know or have heard of. I’m sure there are plenty of others:

Continue reading “Help me find the “non-American” Mormon Culture”

On Fish and Ponds

A picture of a pond in a residential garden.

Most Mormon books, music and film are like little fish in a pond. Fortunately, consumers of these Mormon products face the same situation.

I think the idea behind the metaphor of fish in little or big ponds is something students face as they approach graduation and start trying to find some kind of success in the world. Students have to decide what kind of success they are aiming for: do they want to be big fish in a little pond? or little fish in a big pond? Are they content to be important in a small company or a cog in a large company?

Of course there are myriad ways of applying this metaphor to life. It points out an important issue in life and in human culture: how we define the scope of our efforts and even our success. It is usually possible to influence how large a fish we become. But changing the size of the pond is generally quite difficult. [There is a kind of corollary to this on the sign at BYU’s entrance, where it reads “The World is our Campus.” At least when I was there we joked that it should say “The Campus is our World;” a truism in that it is impossible to maintain such a grandiose scope.]

So how does this all work with Mormon products? Are Mormon products trying to find their audience in a small pond or a big pond? Should I move between ponds? And is it possible to be available in both small and big ponds?
Continue reading “On Fish and Ponds”