Tony Cummings of UK Christian music media outlet Cross Rhythms recently talked with singer/songwriter Tess Wiley, formerly of CCM act Sixpence None the Richer, about growing up in a musical family, her music career, moving to Germany, and how her faith has played a part in all these aspects of her life.
I first encountered Wiley as the guitarist on the group’s second release This Beautiful Mess, before the band was beset with financial and legal troubles related to their record label’s bankruptcy, prompting several of the members, including Wiley, to quit. Unfortunately people are more familiar with Sixpence’s breakthrough hit “Kiss Me” and their cover of The La’s “There She Goes” than they are with the excellent material found on This Beautiful Mess.
The entire article is an interesting read, and it doesn’t hurt that she name-drops my favorite band King’s X. Here’s what she had to say about her tenure in Sixpence and her experiences with the Christian music industry:
Tess is an artist with little time for the way the music industry and some fans have divided up music between Christian and non-Christian elements. She commented, “I think the divisions are lame. I never really knew much about the Christian music scene, having, at best, listened to Amy Grant and Petra while growing up. King’s X opened my eyes really wide, and the fact that they were from Houston, Texas was, ‘like, totally awesome’ for a 14-year-old. Then I joined Sixpence None The Richer and was blown away by the whole indie scene. I came to see the drawbacks quickly, though, when recording ‘This Beautiful Mess’. The record company wanted more mention of Jesus and more obviously Christian lyrics. I witnessed a lot of, um, bullshit - ‘scuse me - and wanted nothing to do with it. Christian business people are, in my experience and that of my husband, more often unscrupulous than their secular counterparts. Plus, I feel, as many will agree, that the bar is simply too low among Christian artists, and that leads to lower-quality art. People are so excited for a band or artist to be believers that they don’t need for them to prove ability before consuming their product. But, of course, there are a lot of great artists in the scene, and lots of great believing artists outside the scene, too.”