UK's worship leader Ian Yates drops his second single, 'Forgiven', taken from his new album 'Mystery' set for an April 3rd 2020 release. It's a 3 minute 26 second up-tempo acoustic pop song brimming from intro to outro of positivity and life both musically and lyrically.
Yates is a Christian worship leader and songwriter from Liverpool, UK. September 2016 saw the release of Yates' 4th album, (his 3rd on 7Core Music) 'Awaken To Love' to rave reviews, and included 'No Longer I' co-written with Matt Redman, and the UK Step Fwd chart number 1 single 'High Wire'.
It was followed up in 2019 with his 'Deconstruction vol. 1' mini album which contained the singles 'Blackout', "Belly Of The Beast', 'Hope Beyond Hope' and 'Deconstruction' all of which proved popular on various Spotify editorial playlists and gained radio airplay across many stations in the UK, USA and Australia.
Q: Ian, thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself: tell us about your ministry as a worship leader -- where are you serving? And what are your roles and responsibilities?
I'm married to Kate, we have three children Jackson (5), Elijah (3) and Abiah (1). We live in Liverpool, UK. We attend Bootle Elim Church which is our local Elim church. I've been there since I was 8 and my Dad's the pastor. I'm not on staff at the church and I usually lead musical worship at least 2 or 3 times a month.
My time is split between my own musical adventures and working part time for Elim Sound. Elim Sound is the worship department for the Elim Pentecostal Churches. We have around 550 churches in the UK and 9,000 across the globe. I have the privilege of leading worship at events, churches and conferences. With Elim Sound we run a School Of Worship and the last 2 years we have ran a National Worship Conference. I love songwriting, producing, facilitating training and seeing people going for their dreams. There's also a lot of admin to make everything happen. I've been working full time with music for nearly 5 years. I see it as a massive honour and privilege to do what I do.
Q: It's so exciting that you have a new record coming out in April! Why did you call the album "Mystery"?
I'm excited too. It's almost four years since my last full album. The dictionary meaning for 'Mystery' is 'something not understood or beyond understanding. There's a lot of mystery to faith and life. I've been wrestling with how I/we embrace the tensions, paradox's and mystery around us.In terms of faith there is a mystery with creation, the virgin birth of Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, the return of Jesus, the Trinity and so much more. In life, I think we're surrounded by it. I've wrestled with the mysteries of life, loss, dissatisfaction, brokenness and there's a lot I/we may never understand. That doesn't mean God doesn't care or God doesn't listen.
This theme came out in a lot of my writing for this project and hopefully sums up the album. The key theme being that God is with us in the mystery, the unknowing and the asking of big questions.
Q: Are the songs on this new album more church worship songs or songs that are more reflective and personal?
Musically, this is a more stripped back, intimate sounding album, Hopefully creating some space for the listener for rest and contemplation. I intentionally wanted these songs to be a tool to minister to people and speak into lives. It's my most honest and vulnerable album so far, as I've mentioned I've wrestled with a lot of things over the last few years, yet in all of that I know that God is good and we are loved by Him. In trying to reconcile the tensions and paradox's, I'm learning to and embrace the mystery.
Some of the songs will work in a corporate worship setting and then most of them will work as ministry songs. I think we can often get distracted by the challenges of life, I know I have. Throughout the songs I'm longing to come back to simple and authentic worship.
Q: What were some of the highlights for you in the making of this record?
One special highlight was on the last day of recording in Eastbourne. We were recording the vocals on one of the last songs at Trev's place and it just didn't feel right, I turned to Trev and said this song doesn't feel right I know this is last minute, could you listen to this other song. It was a bit spontaneous, yet felt like a really God inspired special moment and Trev instantly connected with it and said this is the first song we're going to release. That song was 'Loved By You'. It had gone through lots of versions at that point and I'd just finished this version the day before we went into final production. I love the way it worked out and that on the very last day of the recording, this songs took us by surprise.
Recording vocals for this project was really special too, it was quite emotional for me and a number of times I had tears in my eyes. Remembering God's faithfulness and goodness through my life and also really trusting and believing that these songs will connect with people all over the world. I have a deep conviction these songs will bring hope to many.
Q: For this new record, who did you work with in terms of co-writers and producers?
I had 126 songs written for this project and then Trevor Michael (Producer / 7CoreMusic) and I got it down to 12. As I said we took one out and then added 'Loved By You' on the last day of recording. The final 12 songs didn't include any co-writes, it wasn't intentional, it just came out that way this time. We took it back to basics in terms of production for this album too, I was really intentional with creating space and simplicity, in the end everything was played, programmed or recorded by Trev and me.
Again that wasn't intentional, we planned to have some folks join us but in the end we felt what we had worked. In terms of production Trev and I have done a lot of projects together and we have a great process where I bring the songs to him, he then gives feedback and then I usually get the song in a demo format, usually 70%-80% ready and then they go through his filter, we then re-do all the vocals, all guitars and the other live instruments. We also re-work some of the programming usually running it through some of Trev's' quality analog gear.
I've really loved Foy Vance's last 3 albums particularly 'The Wild Swan' and 'To Memphis'. Trev saw the mic Foy used on the 'To Memphis' album and decided to buy one for the project. The mic was so good we recorded all the vocals and acoustics with it, hopefully the vocals and acoustic come across really warm and organic. Hopefully you hear some organic sounds throughout the songs.
Trev is an amazing engineer, he's very talented and very humble, he's been producing and mixing albums for over 20 years including many of the UK's worship albums. He also recently mixed 8 tracks on the latest Snow Patrol album so it's always a joy and huge privilege to work with him.
Q: Let's talk about your latest "Forgiven." What's the song about? How did this song come about?
This is the only real upbeat song on the album, which is very different for me.It's a reminder that we are truly forgiven - this is a well known biblical truth, but sometimes it's something we can struggle with accepting. I know I struggled with this for years.The song celebrates that we have been forgiven, that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus and that there's nothing that can separate us from the love of Christ. A lot of the song is taken straight from Romans 8:35-39
I also love this quote from Joseph Prince 'Knowing that you are completely forgiven destroys the power of sin in your life'.In 2009 his book 'Destined to Reign' really helped me with fully believing I have been forgiven. My hope is that as we sing this song we will fully know that we are forgiven and nothing can separate us from God's love.
Q: Earlier this year, you released another single "Loved By You." Tell us more about your thoughts on this song.
This is a really honest song. I think many of us have those moments in life when we ask God 'What's going on?'. or even question 'Where are You?'
It's about real life, pain, disappointment, loss and grief, yet in all of it knowing that God is good and we are loved by Him. In all of my questions, this is what I know for sure. There's a lot I/we don't understand and may never know. As I get older, I actually know a not less.
As I said before this song went through a few variations, then about 2 weeks before recording the album our Elim Sound Core Team had some time in Ireland. We got to spend some time with Pastor Malcolm Duncan, who is an inspirational communicator, author and speaker. He shared some thoughts with us and some of his new book 'Good Grief' which he'd just finished. He shared about his own personal grief and loss and how he had cried out to God. I was reminded of the times when I've cried out to God, the moments when maybe He seemed silent and I've wondered where was He, yet looking back I can see that God was there the whole time, holding me.
Malcolm challenged us to write some real songs, some honest songs. In that moment I jotted down the first 2 lines of the first verse.I finished the verses and added them to the chorus and bridge idea I already had.As I was pondering the idea and having my daily musings with God, I was reminded again of my own journey and those pivotal moments that have shaped me, I felt Him say to me - 'I didn't start the storm'. Even though I knew that, it was like a fresh revelation hit me.
We all have our stories, our struggles, our own suffering. Many of us will have had moments when we have cried out to God, when we screamed out to God and it was silent. Sometimes we need to go back to basics and the profound, beautiful simplicity of God is so good and He loves us.
Q: What's your hope for this new album? How do you wish these songs would impact the lives of your listeners?
My hope is that these songs deeply minister to people. I feel really strongly that some of these songs are for believers and leaders who have been serving and sowing faithfully for many, many years. For those who are a bit jaded and tired, maybe a little cynical and are wondering was it worth it? Did I hear right?
I know a number of close friends who have gone through some tough times recently and I've sent them the album early and the songs have really spoken to them. Above all my prayer is that these songs bring hope, peace and lead us to the heart of worship and wonder.