British worship leader Ian Yates talks to LTTM about his new album 'Good News', plus recording with Elim Sound, working with Stu G, and why he's giving away a free copy of his album with each CD sold!
Tell us a little bit about your new album 'Good News' and what the inspiration behind it was?
Over the last 2/3 years I've been re-discovering ‘What is the Good News?’. The majority of the songs have been born out of this period and also relating this to the joys, struggles and pain that life can bring us.
I really believe that the songs will inspire, empower and impact many lives as people encounter and engage with a God who is full of love.
The good news of Jesus Christ is the greatest / best news ever, in essence it’s a scandal - we come just as we are with all our stuff and mess, But because of Christ we are NEW, we get a ton of spiritual blessings, we become clean, we are able to have a relationship with a God who loves us. Jesus did what we could never do and all of this is because of what He did! It’s so amazing!
The other cool thing is the concept about the CD, basically when you buy the “GOOD NEWS” album you get a second CD free. This CD is exactly the same as the album - but the concept is that you give this CD away to a not yet Christian friend or family member - in essence sharing the good news.
The album is being released through 7core Music a brand new Christian Alternative label set up by Trevor Michael - Trev and I have partnered together in this and we’re so excited to see what is going to happen through the songs.
Wow, this is a tough one. I really love ‘New’ I love the vibe, but also the message. On the surface the lyrics may seem simple, but I really believe there is so much weight in these lyrics. My passion is that we can grasp this awesome new creation reality which Paul so clearly talks about in the new testament. I feel that this message has been lost from it’s true meaning.
What if we grasped the awesome truth that we are no longer sinners in Christ? What if we lived from this new creation reality? I’m really passionate about this - the guys in the old testament like David, longed for these days that we live in and to be in position that we are in today because of Jesus.
Some of the later tracks on the album have quite an experimental vibe - is this something you deliberately set out to achieve?
Overall I wanted the vibe of the album to be accessible but to try and push boundaries. I wanted to push boundaries lyrically and musically. I also wanted it to sound fresh and different. I’m always writing songs, and I love coming up with new ideas - Consciously we did want this to be different to what is already out there.
I really believe each one of us have our own unique contribution to bring and so I wanted to be true to myself and also to what God has been saying to me and doing in me. I love the current sound coming from the church in the UK and I’m all for it and a small part of it but I do think people need to be themselves - there is a danger that people write the same type of songs!
There have been a few articles about how Christian music is getting stale - I can see what people are saying but there is also some great people rising up - like Ryan Baker Barnes, Alan Mckinlay and Chaos Curb. So my thing is that we each need to be ourselves, be creative and go with what we feel God is saying to us.
What was it like having former Delirious guitarist Stu G playing on the album?
This was great! When Trev and I were chatting about the record, we thought it would be amazing to have Stu G on it. Trev and Stu are great mates but have never worked on a record together so this was the chance. His sound is amazing and he added so much to the 6 songs he played on. It was a privilege to have him involved.
You're also a big part of the Elim Sound team, what's happening with them at the moment?
It's an honour to be apart of this project. We’ve just recorded a live album at Elim Bible Week 2012 and that comes out July 30th on Kingsway. It sounds great and we are really pleased with it. The thing about Elim Sound is that these are songs for our movement, if they go outside, great, but the focus for us is to write songs for our movement.
We’re also super blessed to be involved in New Wine this year which is really exciting. For me more than the chance to serve at New Wine is what is being modeled - the church being one. When Nick Drake asked us I just thought it was amazing that the streams can come together. At the end of the day we are all one church.
The other exciting thing is we are launching a School Of Worship this year. It’s a year course based at Elim’s Regents College in Malvern. Check it out www.regents-tc.ac.uk.
How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?
I’m not too good at describing the style. I think the style I want to create is melodic and emotional music, I want to create songs that move people. I guess my main two goals are (1) that the songs would be full of Gods presence and (2) to take what I feel God is saying and translate that into a musical form.
My influences are always changing. At the moment I’m loving the new Sigur Ros album, Jonsi and Alex, Coldplay, The Civil Wars, David Guetta (not the lyrics, but sonically it’s amazing) I’m also liking a lot of the pop stuff at the moment. In terms of Christian Music the guys I mentioned before, I love what Bethel are doing and also a guy called Benjamin Dunn, he is amazing, really fresh and experimental and Godfrey Birtill - his lyrics are amazing.
How would you define success in your career?
For me at the moment my goal is knowing who I am IN Christ more and more. Living in this position, living in this reality and being more intimate with God - nothing else compares to Him. In terms of the record and the songs, my hope is that people encounter God’s love and His presence though the songs. There is nothing better than hearing how people have experienced God though the songs. Already so many people have been touched by “You Found Me” when I see people who struggle with life / depression / pain connecting with God and knowing His touch it brings tears to my eyes, this is why I do what I do.
What advice would you give to any aspiring worship leaders or songwriters out there?
Go for your dreams, be yourself, God has given you a unique sound and gifting. I think these are the most exciting times for Christian songwriters and bands. It doesn’t cost as much as it did to make a great sounding record (which I think was always an issue) and it’s never been easier to get your music out there. I know there is mixed opinions about Christian music in the charts or worship songs in the charts, but I think it’s time for more God songs on the TV and radio! I believe God breathed songs can change / impact many lives - I’d even go as far as to say touch / change a nation.
You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your mp3 player. What track is it?
This has taken a long time to decide. I’m gonna go with Coldplay ‘Every Teardrop is a waterfall’ love the lyric "I’d rather be a comma than a full stop".
What does the next year hold for Ian Yates?
I’ve got lots of ideas and thoughts! I really want to get the songs and the message behind the songs out there. to the church and outside the church - I’m really passionate about getting out into mainstream venues and releasing the presence of God! I believe if we are filled with presence of God, He is with us everywhere we go. I want to go in these places and release the love and hope of God!
I am also looking forward to see what God has in-store! the last few years have been amazing! I’ve had so many amazing encounters with Him and I know that is effecting everything around me.
Find out more at IanYatesMusic.com