- Josh Anderson
Lucas Kovasckitz has been writing and producing songs for nearly a decade. It's a way for him to best communicate within the world. And music allows him to explore life and his faith with honesty. Lucas shares some of the inspiration behind his songwriting and why he will continue to make music for as long as he has something worth sharing.
Lucas Kovasckitz and his wife Danielle started attending theHeart regularly shortly after returning from an extended trip overseas in 2018. Their typical routine has been to work for a couple of years and then to drop everything to travel. They have toured most of the U.S. together, as well as visiting more than a dozen countries.
Lucas and Danielle are excited to now be putting down roots in Boone, the town where they first met and fell in love. They both have worked locally with teens and children in therapeutic care and group foster care. Danielle is working her way towards a degree in social work while Lucas, who goes by the artist name John Lucas, also records and performs music.
Music is a passionate pursuit for Lucas. And it has been for more than 10 years. In addition to recording his own material, Lucas recently joined theHeart Band to help lead worship on Sundays.
He was gracious enough to share some of his thoughts, struggles, and insights with us. The conversation that follows is unedited and it is perhaps at times challenging. And while it may focus mainly on music, we believe God can use the powerful words Lucas shares as encouragement for us all to explore our own faith honestly and with intentionality.
theHeart: How did you get into music?
Lucas: My parents bought my older brother and I a guitar when I was probably ten. I took a few lessons, and I hated it...I didn’t like the rules and the scales. I picked it back up a year or two later, and slowly started learning on my own. I then transposed my mediocre guitar skills to the family piano, and at some point my brother and I got a drum set. God bless our parents. We had a pretty strict "no-drum rule" between 9pm and 9am. I would crank my amp way too loudly and with way too much distortion, and my brother would whale on the drums. We would eventually stop when our ears hurt too badly to continue.
Eventually the word got out about our mediocre spread of musical skills, and we started playing at church. Playing outside of your parent’s basement is typically a good motivator for getting better. The church I grew up in is where I found a lot of my voice as a musician and songwriter, and overall I was given a lot of trust and encouragement within that community.
theHeart: How long have you been producing your own music?
Lucas: I started writing legible songs at around 12, and at probably 15 I started recording on my own. I bought a used Macbook, and ran the recording software that comes standard with every Apple product. I recorded a handful of albums and EPs on my own (which have hopefully made their way out of circulation with the death of the iPod), before moving to Boone and teaming up with Everett Hardin. Everett has produced and engineered everything from “Promised Land” to my latest album, “We Walk in the Garden”.
theHeart: What do you enjoy most about writing songs?
Lucas: I think when I intentionally sit down to write is when I most have the posture of listening. It’s meditation...it’s communion with God. I think God is within all of creativity. I don’t ascribe to the hard lines of this being “secular” and this being “sacred”—that God is within this but not that. I think God embodies us all...I think we’re all sacred beings, and we create from that overflow. Sure, some songs out there on the surface are about the club and drugs and beer and pickup trucks and stacks of money and all of the women you’re trying to smooch without putting a ring on it, but I think at the root of it we’re all singing about our ache and desire to be seen, to love fully and to be fully loved.
And I think a song that speaks of a deep love for my wife is just as important and “sacred” as that conveying a deep love for the Creator.
"I think when I intentionally sit down to write is when I most have the posture of listening."—Lucas Kovasckitz
One of my favorite teachers says, "the universal needs the particular." I have not seen God, but I have seen a reflection of the Creator intimately within Danielle. I think if I could put a word to what I’m after when I write, it would be "honesty". When I write from my particular human experience—holding all of the love, joy, doubt, pain, and fear—I add my voice to the universal human experience. And I think there’s something holy about that. If I attempted to write something “sacred” without the messy bits of all that comes with being flesh and blood, for me, it would be dishonest.
theHeart: What’s your creative process?
Lucas: Thoreau wrote, “how vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live." My creative process has involved getting on a lot of planes with Danielle to places I wouldn’t have otherwise gone. It’s involved working hard. Dishes. Laundry. Lots of reading and podcasts. Hiking. Running. Sitting by streams.
"How vain it is to sit down and write when you have not stood up to live."—David Thoreau
I think a lot of my creative process has stemmed from the realization that it all belongs if you are aware. I think if you are aware, the Spirit is constantly speaking to you through birds and mountains and what you’re afraid of and the people that you love and the people that are really difficult to be around (not a comprehensive list).
I think my iPhone has probably been both my greatest hindrance and my greatest tool for my own creativity. It’s the greatest hindrance when I become a mindless, scrolling, unaware robot of comparison. And also it's the greatest tool because I’m constantly writing lines in my Notes App or taking pictures of pages in books or recording voice memos to come back to. It’s with these threads of thought that I consciously or unconsciously take to the piano or the guitar to see where they lead.
theHeart: Why is music so meaningful to you?
Lucas: Songwriting is the way that I can best communicate within the world. I’m one of those people that overanalyzes their interactions after the fact and wrestles with what I should have said or done (days or weeks or even years later). Songwriting is a way to communicate in which I can use every word and note with intention. I can weigh each word, and dive into every definition and sub-meaning. I can use metaphor and personification. I can speak from different points of view, and even have the audacity to speak from the point of view of God.
Further, lyrics and music together are a powerful combination. Sometimes you can sing the simplest line, but it feels like all of heaven and earth is contained within it. Music is the universal language...maybe it’s where the universal and the personal/particular dance together.
theHeart: What advice have you received that has made the most impact on you?
Lucas: I think my answer to this question has certainly changed over time. Early in life, my answer would probably be to wait for the “walk” signal to cross the street to avoid being hit by a car. It’s still very useful advice to this day, as Danielle is horrible at waiting for the “walk” signal. Whenever we visit cities and cross streets, I have to quickly weigh whether I should pull Danielle back by the shirt to save her life, sprint after her, or let her be her own strong and independent woman and have a little patience for myself to avoid death.
I think my answer lately would be from Jesus in Matthew 5.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”—Matthew 5:43-45
I grew up with a pretty fundamentalist Christian worldview, and it was pretty easy to discern who my enemies were supposed to be...it was easy to draw the lines of sacred and secular, and to know who was “in” and who was “out”. It was also easy to feel a lot of fear when thinking of God, and it was easy to feel a lot of shame. When you have a lot of enemies I think it’s really hard to extend grace to yourself.
My views have shifted over the years, and I’ve been pretty open about that process. I’m not afraid of God anymore...for myself or for others. I have a different relationship to the Bible and some of the things it’s been widely interpreted to say and to mean. A few internet-Christians have called me a false teacher and quoted scriptures at me. Some have told me that I can’t be a Christian if I don’t believe this, and are praying for my soul. I welcome any prayer I can get.
I think sometimes it’s easy to get jaded about the church and Christianity (and by extension, God—or what we perceive to be God), by those who often speak the loudest within the culture. For post-evangelicals, I think it’s easy to create a reversal effect and for evangelicals to become the new enemy. But how could I not extend grace and understanding when this was once my own way of thinking? When you love an “enemy”, they cease to become an enemy. The “unrighteous” ceases to be an outsider. And that’s the point, isn’t it? That we’re all the children of God?
While I have the floor, I wanted to extend my gratitude to the people at theHeart who have fostered a community that welcomes well. You have made me want to be a part of a faith community again. You have made me feel not only welcomed, but have also made me feel like I have something to offer the Body...as I am. Thank you. Truly.
So I guess the two greatest pieces of advice I have are to cross the street safely and to love everyone until you don’t have enemies anymore.
theHeart: What advice would you give someone who is interested in pursuing music?
Lucas: My main piece of advice would be to pursue music because you love it. If this is the foundation, you won’t be disappointed. For the great majority of people, if you’re in it for the money or the accolades you’re in the wrong field.
For the past couple of years, music has been our family’s main source of income, but I’ve side-hustled and sweated and job-searched for a lot of it. When I was first starting out as a teenager, I would pour my heart into recording music and veeery few people would download it (it was free, and before streaming came around). When I recorded “Promised Land” I was working the night shift and would do my best not to fall asleep in the studio. But this is what I love, and I will continue—come what may—as long as I am able and feel like I have things worth sharing.
Another piece of advice is to surround yourself with people that elevate what you do. Have a few people in your life that know what they’re talking about and that will give you honest feedback. Some people (spouses, grandparents, etc.) are by law not allowed to tell you when something that you create isn’t great or could be better...and if they break the law you probably aren’t going to be able to receive it well. Find people who can lessen the blow but tell it like it is...and on the flip side to also trust and lean into your own instincts.
Finally, write what you feel. Write what you see. Write what holds true for you. If you’re writing under the burden of what you expect others want from you, you’re going to write one-dimensional flat songs. Write honestly. Let the Universal dance with the particular...the “filthy” with the “righteous”.
Telling our stories is one of the most powerful ways we can illustrate how God is real and active in our lives. Sharing them can lead to real and meaningful connections with one another. At theHeart, we want to be known for the stories we share with one another. By doing so, we can grow closer as a church family. And we can inspire each other to confidently live a life that is uniquely focused on demonstrating Christ's Love. Do you love telling stories through written word, video, photography, or artwork?
Would you consider joining a network of contributors to theHeart Blog? If you're interested in learning more, contact Pastor Josh: email@example.com.