Since their stint on X Factor in 2010, brothers Luke and Joel O’Dea have taken the road less travelled to create music with purpose. Joined by Jess O’Dea-Clayton (Luke’s wife), they are VERSES—a dance/pop-infused trio who pen songs straight from Scripture.
People recognise Luke and Joel from the X Factor. What led you to create VERSES with Jess after this?
Joel: It feels like a lifetime ago that we were on that show. Verses started as a vision that Luke had to write the modern-day memory verse, and it was just natural that his brother and wife would become part of walking that out.
Luke: Some time after X Factor we realised that we were trying to make our own ‘dreams’ come true and do everything to have success, in the end to the detriment of our relationship with God, each other and with music.
So when I had the idea to make [VERSES] music I wanted to do it differently—to focus on making great songs rather than a great artist, and why limit this to just a guy or a girl singer? So I thought why not have both! Joel and Jess are great worship leaders, singers and creatives. We weren’t trying to realise our own dreams or success, but to do something where God could impact culture, people and individuals through music.
Your sound is akin to top 40, but your lyrics are based on the Bible. Why did you choose to do this?
Jess: We didn’t really choose the genre so much as the genre chose us. We have eclectic tastes in music, from rock to dance, but we all felt that God was calling us to write this style of music.
Joel: It’s definitely a fun genre to play live. We get to bring the power of the Gospel with the energy of pop/dance music together. At first, we only imagined that this would be a recording project, but we have had the best time performing it live this year. It really has been awesome to be able to share our music with thousands of young people; it’s such an honour.
You’re on your third US tour. What has been the most surprising part of this tour so far?
Jess: We have spent a fair bit of time in the States now, so not much surprises us these days. But driving on the other side of the road, at first, is surprisingly hard! Another thing is the lack of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ here. In Australia, we are accustomed to think that when you dream big, or chase after something different, people are going to make fun of you or try to pull you down. We just haven’t experienced that here; it’s been great.
How did you get involved with the Salvos?
Joel: Luke and I grew up in the Salvos. Our grandparents were officers (ministers), our mum was an officer and now our parents oversee our church at Northlake’s Salvos. Our first corps (church) was at Lambton Salvos, until we were part of the team with our mum and dad to establish the Northlake’s Mission. So I guess you can say we have always been involved with the Salvos.
Other than your music, how does faith impact your life?
Jess: Until we started walking out this journey, I felt like I could get through life without having to use a lot of faith; I always seemed to be able to work it out or at least have a backup plan. I have learnt, more and more these days, that walking by faith means moving forward even when there is no backup plan, and somehow trusting I won’t need one.
Luke: Maybe a better question to ask is what parts of my life doesn’t faith impact. When I think about the future with faith, then I am excited and totally trusting of what God has planned; but when I think about it through natural eyes, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know if we would be doing what we are doing right now if I didn’t let my faith in God impact my life in this area!
VERSES’ EP Chapter 1 is available on iTunes now.