Samuel Decker

Samuel Decker relaxes in the dim bedroom of his apartment, strumming away song ideas on his electric bass guitar and singing out potential melodies, nevermind the fact that it’s 12:45 a.m. and he shares the apartment with three other guys.

Decker, 20, sits in a casual green t-shirt and khakis, his light brown hair messy and his eyes tired after a long day of work, school and extracurriculars.

Born in Houston, Decker grew up the oldest of three siblings. He said that he has always felt overwhelming support from his family.

When he made the decision to go to school for film, he said his family was just glad he was going to college at a school they could afford.

Decker is a sophomore Media Arts major studying film at the University of North Texas and works as a videographer and media assistant at Design Works in the University Union. He also pursues his love of music through his band, Nakamara, and other side projects.

“I’ve loved films ever since I got a laptop when I was 13 and would watch movies under the covers until my mom would yell at me,” Decker said. “It’s something to believe in. For an hour and a half, it’s a good story to get invested into.”

Now Decker has made his own short films and produced music videos since high school. One of his films, about a group of friends who accidentally summon Satan while playing with magical jelly beans, was entered into the Long Beach Indie International Film Festival earlier this year and his band released their self-titled debut album last Saturday.

Despite finding his passion at a young age, Decker doesn’t feel the same drive to make films as he used to. He credits this to the fact that what used to be an escape is now his his main subject in school and the focus of his job.

“Now that I’ve made films I don’t care as much anymore if I make a lot more,” Decker said. “Film is way harder to make a living in and you get bombarded by so much of it you lose your passion for it when you’re studying it so much.  It doesn’t fulfil me as much as music does in ways I can’t really describe.”

Decker produced his first album at 16 and is currently working on around 30 other projects including a solo album and a folk EP.

“Musically, I think I’m still at the top of my game, even if I’m not where I want to be,” Decker said. “I have a lot of things to say, creatively, that are pretty unique to me and I think that’s what people want to hear.”

With all of this on his plate, Decker acknowledges this as his most intense semester yet. He is in class and at work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday and follows this with studying, club meetings and late night band practices. Thursdays are his self-proclaimed “fun days” as he adds the recording of an improv podcast he founded with four friends to his long list of responsibilities.

Though he has years of experience under his belt in both the film and music worlds, all of his hard work has led him to one conclusion: people, not fame or success, are the most important part of his life.

“What’s important to me is friends and creating things that other people can enjoy whether that’s making films or recording albums,” Decker said. “Money only means so much…but making something for somebody, even if it’s just a meal, that’s pretty priceless to me.”

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Tyler Brasher

It’s 11:30 a.m. on a Friday and 23-year-old Tyler Brasher shows up to work, citing a uncooperative trash bag as the reason for his lateness. His brown hair, expertly styled to the perfect amount of mess, his scruffy brown facial hair, black framed glasses and tall lean, frame make him look more like a Portland coffee shop hipster than a leader at an Assemblies of God church located right in the middle of the Bible Belt.

Tyler Brasher may be only 23 but he has already accomplished an impressive amount in his professional life. Brasher is the Worship and Creative Director at Thousand Hills Church in Corinth, Texas, making him one of the youngest to hold this position in the church’s history.

He was chosen at the age of 14 by the leaders of his childhood church to be mentored and tailored for exactly this role. They helped him hone his musical gifts and promoted him to leadership roles within the church’s youth groups from a young age in an attempt at preparing him to one day work for the church.

Brasher believes he was called upon by God to serve and inspire through music and worship and has devoted his life to following the path that he feels was set out for him by God himself.

“The lord spoke to me,” Brasher said. “ I saw visions of leading worship to thousands someday. I still think that there will be more than this, that this is a stepping stone.”

Stepping stone or not, Brasher has spent most of his young adult life working with and being in charge of people much older than him. He was thrown into this role sooner than planned but his talent, motivation and optimism have garnered him the respect of coworkers many years his senior.

Brasher tells how it was hard at first for people to see him as a leader and not as the little kid they watched grow up within the church but now he has earned the respect of his peers.

“I had to let go of the idea that I was too young to lead and accept that I don’t have to have strengths in everything in order to gain respect,” Brasher said. “I’ve had to work for it in order to gain credibility.”

He now is in charge of the entire church band as well as planning all of the churches productions and worship events; a job that consumes almost every minute of his day.

Brasher’s day is a whirlwind of jumping from task to task. One minute he’s writing e-mails and formatting sheet music, the next he’s pitching Rihanna parody ideas to his pastor, and then he’s off to the sanctuary to help a youth group member prepare her solo for Sunday’s service.

“Tyler is busy 24/7,” his girlfriend, 19-year-old Nicole Messner said. “He spends hours every night working on songs and coming up with production ideas, it’s pretty impressive.”

Although Brasher is well-respected and very successful, he gives all the credit to the people that surround him. Rarely does he take the glory for himself but instead says how God, his parents and his mentors at the church have guided him to where he is today.

He surrounds himself with people that share his strong faith and claims that without the opportunities he has been given through church and growing up in a religious household, he would not be the man he is today.

“Tyler makes us all better,” Brasher’s coworker Tiffany Brewer said. “He is so humble and makes you work harder to live your life for others. He’s also super goofy and knows how to have a good time which can sometimes be a hard thing to balance.”

When asked what his “end game” is for his life, he didn’t give the expected answer. He didn’t mention love or money or success but rather a much deeper take on what he wants out of his life.

“I want to know that I did everything that God wanted me to do,” Brasher said. “I know that if I do that, I’ve done everything right.”download