The Malta Independent 15 November 2018, Thursday

We are all broken but if we bring love into equation, it creates a work of art - Fr Rob Galea

Rebecca Iversen Saturday, 9 September 2017, 08:28 Last update: about 2 years ago

Maltese priest, Robert Galea, has just launched his new single, ‘Dominoes’, in collaboration with Ira Losco. The 35-year-old came all the way from his parish in Australia and made the extra effort to launch the single in Malta first before anywhere else. The young and trendy priest has received much attention and his extraordinary talent in music has allowed him to tour the world, perform for the Pope and compete in X factor Australia. Fr Galea gave The Malta Independent an exclusive interview, about his new single, book, possible movie and his journey towards priesthood.

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When did you know you wanted to become a priest?

I was brought up here in Malta, and when I was approxitmately16 years of age, I had sort of a conversation experience.I wasn’t massively religious before but I was really depressed and even suicidal. So I was in a really bad place and it happened all at once at a youth group, where I had a faith experience. It was this faith experience that pushed me towards wanting to help others and from then on it became my life mission to helpother young people.

In fact I had girlfriend on and off for 4 years and I didn’t enter the priesthood till I was 21 year of age. I used to pray to God telling him‘I will do anything that you want but don’t let me join the priesthood’. So, the priesthood was very far from what I saw myself doing.

I studied a business degree at University then I finished that and went to work with my dad for a bit. But then I really started to get into my music and I started touring. At one these concerts, I met this priest he was just so alive and so cool and I wanted to become like him. That was the first time I thought about it.

I entered the Seminary when I was 21 and left when I was 28 so it’s a long journey. When I was in Melbourne I got asked by the bishop to stay on in Australia and decided to stay on. The church there is very different to the church here and when I arrived, there were no young people so these days I go into pubs, schools, prisons, travelling round Australia just reaching out to young people.

How did your family take the news of you wanting to become a priest?

My mum strangely knew before I did that I was going to become a priest. She knew for sure, when I was around 18 years of age and I was in a relationship at the time; she just had that sense and some mums have it. When I told her she just goes, ‘finally you realised it’. I was more surprised with my decision than she was. My father wasn’t too keen, he thought I was wasting my life, wasting my time but when he saw how so happy I was, he was able to let go and these days he’s very proud.

When did you start your journey into music?Tell us about your musical achievements?

I started playing in my parish when I was around 17 years old, from there I wrote a song for my friend Daniel’s funeral and his parents asked me to record it and from there I got signed by a UK company and began touring around Europe. From signing with the UK, I made an album then I took a gap year to Australia, in which somehow my album fell on desk of Sony Records, in Sydney, and I was signed with Sony records.

On World Youth Day, I was asked to perform, in which there was a billion viewers watching so it was quite monumental for me. I had to chance to sing in front of half a million people and I sang for the Pope, which was amazing, whilst also getting a deal with an American record label. Then the invitations from Canada, India the rest of Europe started pouring in, asking me to perform and speak to young people. I was also part of X Factor Australia, in which I was asked to audition and at boot camp stage I decided to leave. Namely because if you are to be signed under this specific Sony contract, I wouldn’t have been able to dictate when I wanted to perform; currently I come across as a priest and I don’t want to comprise that, which I had the liberty to do with the other contract I was signed to. I wasn’t ready to give up control.

Singing for the Pope was anremarkable experience but usually it’s the small things though as well, where you speak and perform to a school and they actually listen. It’s when you sing Justin Timberlake , they’re like ‘wow I can relate to this’. It transcends the mind, connects with the heart and on a human level, and an emotional level. So proud musical moments for me are when I am able to connect on a human level.

Tell us about your new album?

My new album is more pop, dance music and alternative pop.

You’re touring round Australia, tell us about it?

 I work in my parish in Australia and two days every week, the bishop allows me to leave so I can tour. I’m here in Malta for literally just 7 days just to launch the song and to see my family. I was in India and Indonesia last month so I travel a lot. I receive these invitations then I organise a tour. I tour with one purpose and that is always to send out a message of hope since I believe the epitome of hope is love.

How did a song with Ira Losco come about?

We met around 2 years ago, we have been acquaintances for a while and I made contact with her after X Factor and asked her if she wanted to maybe to do a collaboration. I wrote some songs and asked if she would record them with me and she said yes immediately. She really put her energy into this and we recorded it and now were releasing a music video.

What genre of song is it? You wrote the song yourself? What was the process and what is the message from the song?

 The song is called Dominoes. It’s a pop song which talks about brokenness of us and all of us. It talks about how we are broken into a million pieces but when these billion of pieces come together, your million my million, they create a work of art. When we bring love into the equation. We all fall down but we are all here to pick each other up. I co-wrote it with another friend of mine called Gary Pinto and Ira also added some parts when she recorded her part. This song is very much a pop song and it’s going to be in my new album and this will be my seventh album.

Do you tend to write religious songs or other genres of music?

I write everything. I’ve written religious songs, liturgical songs, contemporary Christian songs, a lot of my songs are quite folk or very Ed Sheeran style.

It is not exactly conventional for a Catholic priest to be into pop music, how did this come about?

I think there is a lot of priests who do listen to pop music and it’s the perception that we all sort of get because we don’t know them personally. Really it comes down to authenticity. In Australia, for me if I sit in a church and preach, if I just sit there and talk, I will just be preaching to myself. So, what I love doing is connecting with people on a human level and I am not afraid of my humanity, of being real or being myself. And that’s how I work through my social media, my films which I make every week, the book, the movie, the music; it’s all about working with people on a human level because I want people to see the person I am in love with, which is God. Not to connect with me, I am just the instrument, I want them to see the love and to ask questions because ultimately, I can’t teach faith it must be caught and people catch faith through seeing you, the real you and through the person who pretends to have it all. God equals love so really,it’s just falling in love with love.

Who’s your favorite musical artist?

I do listen to Ed Sheeran a lot, EDM; I currently have Harry Styles new album on repeat in my car. John mayor I love listening to but I have many more.

Yourfavorite genre of music?

I don’t listen to ballads much or death heavy metal either but it just depends on my mood. I like dance music and Djs, I have already recorded with the Ministry of Sound before, so yes I have a varied taste.

You’re publishing a new book and a film?

My book is coming out in December and it was taken by American and Australian publishers and it’s about my story and conversion. It’s based on my story, its spiritual reading, reflection, stories andexperiences. Itswritten for teenagers. The name hasn’t been chosen yet. It will be coming out in Australia, Europe and North America. On the other hand, the movie, a Hollywood film company have bought the rights of the book and they’re working on it, it’s in the script writing stage.

Are you overwhelmed by the fame and recognition you’ve received?

It’s surprising but I am actually an introvert, I do this because there is an urgency in my heart to help others and I’m not interested in being recognised and being known. I feel really humble and it’s amazing when I see all these things happening and people’s life changing and regaining hope. People need to understand I also cry myself to sleep sometimes I also struggle with depression and find it hard to face people, I get a reality check when I look at myself; it’s just way bigger than me as individual. I don’t own these things as my achievements, I owe it to what God has left in me. I am also working with an amazing team and I have incredible people around me.

Do you see yourself ever giving up priesthood or music because of the other dominant?

I don’t see it as a distraction, I see that they go together hand in hand. My vocation as a priest is to preach Jesus through word and sacrament and I think there is no greater way to preach that than through the language of the heart and if you were to prioritise, being a Christian is priority and following Jesus, then it is to be a priest and serve Jesus through the priesthood. Only then after all that, am I a musician, it makes little sense if it’s just the music in itself. It is always something greater than myself.

Is your music going to create any impact in a society, which is becoming more liberal and secular?

Music impacts us, it’s the language of the heart. Whether it convinces and converts people, that’s not the point it’s not why I do it. I am there to help people find God in someway or some form and one of the ways we find God is through this new song of mine, by loving one another and fixing our brokenness. Whether you have faith or not whether you are gay or straight, this or that; I don’t care, what I care about is that you find a god who gives you unconditional love and which is what this song is about. We are all searching for truth and love and if we can find this love through our brokenness, to love someone even if we don’t like them, just imagine if we could do that.

 

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