Eight albums on, Christian music chart-topper Nathan
Tasker says prayer remains the key element in his songwriting.
“I spend a lot of time praying that God would give me
the songs to sing,” says the 30-year-old Sydneysider.
“I’ve found that the songs he gives me are usually
better than the ones I force.”
“When I was younger,
a lot of my writing was an attempt to take doctrine
and put it in a song whereas these days I’m
trying to take the way doctrine impacts real life
and put that into a song."
Tasker, who cites
artists such as Keith Green, Randy Stonehill, Michael Card
and Rich Mullins as among those who inspire him, released
his latest album - Must Be More - late last year.
Musing on how God communicates to him about his songs, he
says that reading the Scriptures plays a major role in inspiring
him as does reading theology books.
“(It’s) also just people that we meet and seeing
the way the Gospel impacts on real lives, I think is one of
the ways a lot of my writing is being affected lately,”
says Tasker, who is already working on his next album.
“When I was younger, a lot of my writing was an attempt
to take doctrine and put it in a song whereas these days I’m
trying to take the way doctrine impacts real life and put
that into a song. So I think the process has changed slightly
and hopefully become more real and more engaging for people
Tasker grew up in a Christian home near Hornsby in Sydney
and recalls making a decision for Christ in his late teenage
“Both my parents were Christian so I grew up reading
the Bible at night with my dad and praying,” he explains.
“During my early teenage years through highschool, I
think I called myself a Christian during Christian studies
class because I went to a Christian school, but if you had
of seen me, I didn’t do anything that a Christian would
do - I did the exact opposite.
“It wasn’t until the beginning of Year 11 that
I read No Compromise - the story about Keith Green
- and was really impacted by how he knew Jesus. He was more
than just an historical figure to him and I didn’t know
Jesus like that. So I read through the Gospels over two weeks
and at the end of that I became convinced that Jesus is who
He says He is. So I prayed a simple prayer and have been endeavouring
to follow Him since then...”
Tasker can still recall the strength of feeling he felt as
he had prayed and how much he had “wanted to be associated
with Jesus and all His promises”.
“I think up until then I had been seeking satisfaction
everywhere else and it hadn’t satisfied me. But in Jesus
I saw what it was that my life needed and hope for eternal
life as well.”
His love of music comes at least partly from his Christian
upbringing. His father used to lead to a camping ministry
in Sydney called Crusaders and Tasker recalls spending much
of his early childhood on the camps watching as highschool
students played the guitar.
“One thing I noticed about those guys was then whenever
they played the guitar, lots of girls gathered around them,”
he says. “I thought to myself ‘Wow, they know
something I don’t’. So I begged my dad in Year
8 to get me a bass guitar and then in Year 9, I begged for
my dad to get me an acoustic guitar - a black one because
I thought that was particularly trendy. So I started teaching
myself how to play those instruments and over the years I
just kept adding more instruments that I was enjoying. I had
such a desire to be able to play as many instruments as I
could...and to play other people’s songs well.”
Tasker says the most important
responsibility he has as an artist is in trying to
“create in truth and excellence” and making
sure his work reflects some of God’s glory.
Tasker now plays
an array of instruments from the mandolin and bouzouki through
to the electric guitar and "some piano". He had
some formal instruction on the double bass while at highschool
but his use of all the other instruments has been self-taught.
“I think a jack of all trades and master of none,”
he says of his ability to play a range of instruments. “But
it gets me by and I love it.”
Becoming a professional musician wasn’t something he
“It happened completely by accident...” he says.
“When I left highschool I wanted to be a primary school
teacher and was going down that path pretty quickly. However
during that time I was being invited to come and play Christian
songs to youth groups and to churches... (and) that kind of
snowballed until I deferred university and went into it full-time.
"To be honest,
it was never something that I sought out; I never had any
dreams or goals of being on a huge stage and playing for people.
It was just something that happened and even today I think
if God called me away from it and showed me another thing
to do, I probably would be quite willing to do that.”
While Tasker started off performing covers of Randy Stonehill,
Mark Heard and Keith Green songs - with his first public performance
in 1993, he soon came to the realisation that the message
of the songs he was performing wasn’t exactly what he
wanted to say. So he started writing his own songs.
“So I wrote out of a desire to communicate to people
in front of me.”
Tasker says the most important responsibility he has as an
artist is in trying to “create in truth and excellence”
and making sure his work reflects some of God’s glory.
“What I really want to do is to be a creative artist
that reflects truth...”
This means creating
music that isn't subcultural for Christians but is counter-cultural
and doesn't take its lead from the mainstream music scene.
"I think we
should be leading the way..." he says.
These days Tasker spends much of his time on the road both
in Australia and overseas - so much so that four days in a
row at home in North Sydney counts as a good break. His music
has already taken him across Europe, the US and South Africa
and he says he’d love to tour in countries in Asia.
“Certainly Singapore and Hong Kong have quite a growing
Christian music community,” he says. “Also their
openness to the Gospel is really encouraging - there are very
many missionaries who I am in contact with in those places
who I would love to go over and support and encourage what
they do and connect and partner with them.”
Supporting others in their ministry is a passion of Tasker
and his wife Cassie.
“We don’t want people just to come along and find
out about me,” the musician says. “We actually
want to partner with churches and with ministries and with
people who are already doing great things on the ground in
different countries of the world and even here in Australia.”
He has a particular
passion for Michael Youssef's global radio ministry Leading
the Way and includes a presentation on their work as part
of his concerts.
Tasker says having Cassie with him all the time helps to keep
him accountable and grounded, particularly when on tour.
“I very rarely have this problem, but if ever I started
to think ‘Wow, we’re really achieving something’,
she’’ll immediately remind me that the things
of the kingdom are invisible before they’re visible...and
I think we all need that.”
While he sometimes struggles with spending time with God and
admits having seasons in which the Bible seems very dry to
him, he says that reading writings which are “soaked
in the Scripture” has helped in those times.
“A good example is John Piper’s works or Eugene
Peterson’s - I read their books. They’re guys
who just know the Scriptures so well and they have an ongoing
conversation with God which is intense and real and they allow
you to be a part of that and I think oftentimes that fans
the flames of my own passion and my own desire.
“I actually spend a lot of my time when I’m
playing in front of people praying that God will use
what I’m saying and use what I’m singing
and use what I’m reading out of the Scriptures
to really impact the people in front of me,”
Bonhoeffer once said ‘Christ on the lips of my brother
is often stronger than Christ in my own heart’ and I
think I know what he means by that. Sometimes you need to
be inspired by others and I often get that through books.”
Tasker has come
along way since the days of playing Keith Green covers to
church youth groups, but he says he does miss those early
“I didn’t have a care in the world except for
the fact that I could go and play music to people,”
“These days, I think I’m like everybody in the
world that we live in which the world tells you about your
financial pressures and what the expectations are and what
you should be achieving. I miss that ability to just go to
youth group and sing - (where) it doesn’t matter if
I don’t sell CDs, it doesn’t matter if I don’t
get paid and it doesn’t matter if the Christian music
industry finds out there were only 10 people here - it’s
all OK. I think I really miss that.”
As a result, he says he relishes those times when he does
have an opportunity to play somewhere for free and not to
worry about selling CDs.
“It will be just to keep my soul alive, you know. Those
times are so refreshing. I would love it in the future we
could actually raise support to help support what we do so
we didn’t have to worry so...when we get rung up by
groups saying ‘Can you come to our prison? Can you come
here? Can you come there?’ and we could say “Yes
we can and you don’t have to stress about raises your
finances or whatever, we just want to come and bless you’.
I think that would be amazing.”
Still, Tasker adds that despite having publicly performed
more than 1,200 times in public, he has an overwhelming desire
to communicate what Christ means to him every time he stands
before an audience with a guitar and sings about Jesus.
“I actually spend a lot of my time when I’m playing
in front of people praying that God will use what I’m
saying and use what I’m singing and use what I’m
reading out of the Scriptures to really impact the people
in front of me,” he says.