A student at Franciscan University of Steubenville is preparing his first solo album that consists of songs he has been writing since the beginning of COVID-19.
Senior Joe Kiss, a philosophy major who is also picking up a music ministry minor, said his album, “You’re All I Need,” is filled with music about praising God and other forms of prayer.
“I think with any album, really, it’s not just something that just happens all of a sudden … because there’s a whole life-long journey of learning music and getting closer to Christ,” said Kiss.
Kiss wrote his first song, “In Your Eyes,” when he returned from Austria in spring 2020, but he didn’t have the idea of making an album until he wrote a second song called “Make the Move” in fall 2020.
Kiss set a goal at the beginning of this semester to raise $4,500 through a Kickstarter account, which is a public benefit corporation. Within 21 days, he had raised $4,700, allowing him to begin production.
“You’re All I Need” is Kiss’s first solo Christian album.
Kiss played guitar in a semi-professional metal core band when he was 19, and as the band grew to be successful, the members went on tours, produced albums and released music videos. However, Kiss was an atheist at the time who still felt a deep emptiness in his lifestyle.
“That was something that led to me getting down on my knees and (I) started to follow Jesus Christ,” said Kiss.
After taking a break from music, Kiss was baptized in the Catholic Church in 2018. He began to work with his local parish choir, where he learned to sing.
“I never sang before, in fact I couldn’t sing,” said Kiss. “People told me, ‘Stay away from the microphone please,’ so it was actually an interesting grace.”
Kiss now sings and plays guitar with Franciscan University’s music ministry at 12:05 Monday Mass and occasionally leads praise and worship. He is also working on performing outside the school.
Kiss has been working with John Paul Von Arx, coordinator of worship at Franciscan, since the beginning of this fall semester. Von Arx has been helping Kiss to write music for his album and has guided him to keep the production Christ-centric.
“It’s nice to have (Von Arx) there spiritually, musically and just as a brother,” Kiss said.
Kiss’s favorite song is “Make the Move” because he said it is a simple, powerful song about listening to God’s voice and being able to take that whisper into a vow to follow God’s will.
Kiss said if it wasn’t for that song he wouldn’t be at Franciscan.
Kiss has been recording his album at Aardvark Productions located on Fourth Street in Steubenville, Ohio.
Kiss has also been working with Dan Bozek, the producer of Kiss’s album and the bassist in the group, and senior Joe Mulligan, who is playing drums. Senior Katherine Bernasconi, along with graduate student Delaney Dickey, are also working on the album with Kiss, singing and playing guitar.
Kiss described his music writing process as inspired by God. He said the process starts with a riff, then he and God will begin to talk with each other by communicating though song.
From there Kiss will finish the song in about two hours, then make changes over time. The process will always start with guitar before he moves to vocals.
“My whole musical life I have wanted to bring light into people’s lives and especially when I’d started to play music, I wanted that to be a part of it,” Kiss said. “I’m trying to proclaim Christ and to have Christ be the center (of my music) and that’s just a beautiful thing because my life was changed radically for the better because of Christ.
“To have a Christian album that the Lord is using me for to bring people to him for his greater glory, that’s just awesome.”
Updated Nov. 8, 2021.