1962: Clipper Cowbridge

1963: The Swiss Invasion

1965: Marilyn Kaye

1969: The Fold

1970: Yorgi

1971: Devon Shire

1972: Sandee Saunders

1976: Rockfinger

1978: The Spooky Bunch

1979: Decoupage

1981: Bleep

1984: Tiger Love

1985: Laryssa Foxxx

1986: Smasher of Things

1987: Suthrn Cuzn

1989: ~pianogirl~

1990: Razorflesh

1995: Breaker Bear

1996: Action Plus

1998: J Lounge

2001: Eesk

2004: Lazarus Project

J Lounge: Uplifting Downtempo (1998)

Clubbo Records recording artists the J Lounge

MERGING MUSIC AND SPIRITUALITY is nothing new — many scholars believe the roots of human music and religion are inextricably entwined. From those earliest bone-flute tootlings to this week’s Hassidic hip-hop blockbuster, people have always relied on song to communicate their deepest-held beliefs.

Contemporary Christian artists the J Lounge are no exception. The group’s 1998 electro-bossa “Relax…Let Jesus Drive,” from the Clubbo EP A Different Kind of Ecstasy, tapped into ’90s lounge music and electronica while promoting a message of faith.

The result? Praise music you can chill to.


“Relax…Let Jesus Drive”

“Relax…Let Jesus Drive” lyrics and credits


Who says Christian music has to be frumpy?

Los Angeles-based duo the J Lounge blends the glamour of classic cocktail culture with a naïvely tuneful ’60s vibe, adds a dash of downtempo cool, and spreads the resulting mixture, stucco-style, over a rock-solid foundation of faith.

J Lounge LP (Clubbo Records)

When vocalist Meggie Swenson and keyboardist/programmer/producer Dave Mathews first met in line at the DMV, sparks did not fly. “I was sort of the coolest DJ in town for those fifteen minutes,” Dave recalled recently over icy glasses of Einstein Water in Meggie’s cheery kitchen. “And there was Meggie in her vintage clothes, going on about the swing music scene. I have to admit I was thinking, ‘Hurry up and call my number so I can get away from this geek!’”

“I really liked Dave,” adds Meggie, toying with the monkey-themed swizzle stick in her glass. “But I could tell he was in a pretty dark place spiritually. I wanted to invite him to my Bible group, but you can tell when someone’s not quite ready for something like that, and in most cases I don’t believe in forcing my faith on other people. I just sort of hoped we’d meet again.”

They did meet again, two years later. “I was at Food Forum,” recalls Meggie. “I was offering to help this guy in a wheelchair with his groceries. And then I said, ‘Hey — aren’t you that DJ guy from the DMV?’”

It was Dave, who had been tragically injured in an early-morning auto collision on his way home from a gig mere days after that first meeting.

Clubbo recording artists the J Lounge

“I’d pretty much given up on music,” says Dave. “I started paying more attention to my spiritual life after the accident, and I’d gotten to a pretty good place. But I associated music with the club scene and things like irresponsible drugs and drinking and sex. Anyway, Meggie and I started talking there in the parking lot, and after a while she helped me see that trippy beats and cool vocals could be combined with a more positive message.”

Meggie squeezes Dave’s shoulder, eliciting a shy smile from the soft-spoken DJ. “I don’t think I taught Dave anything he didn’t already know. I mean, I came from a pretty spiritual family. Pastor father, choir-director mother, all that. Dave didn’t have those things, and I guess he just needed someone to show him what he already knew, deep inside.”

Neither artist sees any contradiction between their faith and the sometimes sybaritic lounge and electronica genres. “Just because some people think lounge music is all about liquor doesn’t automatically make it true,” argues Meggie. “We were all put on earth with the ability to make the right choices.” She gestures to the plastic monkeys in their glasses. “I can think these little guys are cute without believing they’re my great-great-grandparents. And guys can listen to tropical music and wear Hawaiian shirts without filling their homes with satanic tikis.”

“That’s so true,” nods Dave. “Same with the little subliminal messages we put in our songs. A lot of rock bands gave that technique a bad name by using it as a force for darkness, but who’s to say you can’t use it to bring people to the Lord? It’s techniques like this that help listeners catch our vibe without having to take E.”

Meggie’s laugh sparkles like non-alcoholic champagne. “No, you sure don’t need E — all you need is J!”

The J Lounge has generated many uplifting downtempo grooves since its 1998 Clubbo debut, A Different Kind of Ecstasy. But that EP’s “Relax…Let Jesus Drive” holds a special place in the duo’s hearts.

Clubbo Records recording artists the J Lounge

Meggie helps Dave spiff up for the photo shoot.

“When we wrote that song,” says Meggie, “I think Dave was still coming to terms with the fact that he couldn’t drive anymore and was dealing with a lot of the guilt he felt after the accident. So I think the song has been real therapeutic, not just for our fans, but for Dave.”

Chill with the J Lounge this summer as it rounds out the Jubilation Tour, opening for co-headliners Rood and JoyUs Noyze.