Opting against the usual childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut, putting out fires or pitching in the Major Leagues, singer/songwriter Dan Bremnes was convinced that a future as a drummer would complete him. Or would make his life complete, anyway.
As it turns out, even from a young age, Dan’s instincts were right on target. Unlike most childhood hobbies that are cool today, forgotten tomorrow, drumming was something Dan pursued with fervor. Only 10 when began playing at his local church, Dan considered this opportunity a privilege since he was “probably pretty terrible.”
Nevertheless he remained undaunted, and his love of music only grew stronger. To him, nothing was more exciting than stepping onstage and playing life, whether it was accompanying a visiting Sunday morning worship leader or jamming at a club show while on the road with various artists later on.
A couple of years after finding a steady rhythm on the drums, Dan’s repertoire expanded when he started playing the guitar. Soon thereafter, Dan also discovered a passion for songwriting. As the young writer experimented with chords and melodies and fumbled with early attempts at lyrics, full-fledged songs began to emerge.
But as exciting as these developments were, it was still difficult for Dan to make sense of doing music for a living. See, his small hometown of Salmon Arm, British Columbia wasn’t exactly the place to kickstart your music career—especially if you planned to sing about your faith. Unlike the United States, the Christian music scene was virtually non-existent there, so pursuing something in that vein seemed nothing short of impossible.
It was a six-month missions trip in Australia with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) that would help re-shape his perspective: “While I was there, something happened in my life, and God started working on my heart. I started to go a lot deeper in my faith,” Dan shares. “Something sort of clicked in me. I’ve always had these opportunities to lead worship and share about my faith, and I started thinking about making music that was really intentional about reaching people on a spiritual level. I wanted to come right out and speak about God and my relationship with Him.”
With his mission solidified and a million ideas swirling around in his head, Dan devoted himself to fleshing them out. The result of his efforts landed on his critically celebrated independent debut, Your Strength.
Before Your Strength saw the light of day, however, Dan faced a personal crisis he never saw coming. While attending a friend’s wedding out of the country, a pastor called from Dan’s hometown with the worst possible news. His mother had been killed in a car accident the night before. Dan was speechless. “For about a year I was almost completely emotionally paralyzed,” Dan recalls. “My whole world shattered in front of me, and I was completely helpless to fix any of it.”
In the midst of such a devastating season, Dan began to remember the words his Mom had spoken into his life, particularly how she’d encourage him to chase after what God had put on his heart. Knowing there was probably no better way to honor his Mom’s memory than by throwing himself wholeheartedly and deliberately into music, Dan also didn’t want to live with any regrets.
“In my town we go cliff jumping in the summer. I’m always the guy to round up a group of friends to go jump off cliffs. But when I get there and stand on the edge of the cliff, I realize that I like the idea of cliff jumping more than I actually like cliff jumping,” Dan shares. “Faith is similar for me. I like the idea of being brave and jumping out in to the unknown, but when it actually comes to putting faith into action, I think I like the idea of it more than the actual act. But I know that God is always calling us out into the unknown, and He’s faithful to catch us anytime we take a leap.”
That said, leaps of faith are still intimidating, even scary, but for Dan, stepping out and pursuing music led to a tremendous sense of purpose and joy. Like the majority of artists, his journey began humbly—playing local churches for the cost of his gas. But as he shared his songs with anyone who’d listen and continued to hone his songwriting craft, it wasn’t long before people took notice.
Proving quite the adept multi-tasker, Dan invested countless hours in being his own publicist, booking agent and marketer. He called radio stations, booked his own interviews and television appearances, and with a lot of sweat and elbow grease, his efforts began paying of: in addition to sharing the stage with the Christian artists he’d always looked up to and touring extensively in Australia and New Zealand, Dan collected a host of awards, No. 1’s and accolades in Canada, including a finalist position in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.
As he’s continued touring, recording and writing songs as an independent artist, it’s no surprise that Dan’s passionate vocals and evocative, authentic songs of faith have attracted the attention of Nashville’s Capitol Christian label.
Now, with the forthcoming release of his EP, which includes the dynamic and deeply personal first single, “Beautiful,” Dan, along with his wife and baby boy, are now embarking on another exciting adventure Stateside.
“My wife and I packed up all our stuff, packed up our baby boy, got in the car, drove to the airport and moved to Nashville,” Dan shares. “We are here now and are so excited about this next season to be writing, recording, getting ready for new music and what lies ahead. I couldn’t be happier just to know that I serve such a great God, and that I can trust that He’ll be there every step of the way.”