Ian Yates: Remembering that God is always with us

Thursday 4th May 2023

Liverpool-based worship leader IAN YATES has been a mainstay of Cross Rhythms radio for years, now having a striking 19 songs making your favourite station's playlist. Tony Cummings quizzed the songsmith about his years in music ministry.

Ian Yates
Ian Yates

Tony: Of all the many worship songs you've released down the years, what are the three which have had the most take up (ie, have been sung a bit in different churches)?

Ian: The top three would be "Loved By You", "No Longer I" and "Here Is Love". "Loved By You" was released in 2020 and is my most streamed song, every day people all over the world stream it. I've had some incredible messages from people, I'm really humbled that the song has ministered to many and helped them through some really tough situations. It's quite ironic as this song wasn't going to be recorded, at the time I thought it was too honest. On the last day of recording the album ('Mystery') one of the songs wasn't feeling right so I said to Trev (the producer), 'I've got this other song idea' and he was like 'why didn't you show me this, it's got to be the first single'. So it nearly never got recorded.

I recorded "No Longer I" for 2016's 'Awaken To Love' album and it means a lot me. It started out on an Elim Sound training weekend with just three students in 2014. In one of the breakouts I shared a little idea I had with Sam (Blake) and the first draft was born. That evening we spontaneously started singing some of it at a prophetic/encounter evening with our three students and some of the students from Elim's Bible College (Regents) and really sensed something special about the bridge. We sent the idea to Matt Redman and he made some great changes and we ended up finishing the song over email. Matt recorded the song on his album 'Unbroken Praise' live at Abbey Road and the song has now been sung all over the world. Last year I randomly found out that it had been translated in Portuguese and released in Brazil. I think there were over 20 million views of the song on YouTube, and we didn't even know about it. It's so humbling and amazing what can happen with an idea that started in a very small way.

"Here Is Love" was the last song on my first album 'The Hope And The Glory' with Survivor Records in 2010. I'd done an arrangement of this well-known hymn and I added a tag, which is really significant to me and is always moving to lead. The song was then released on a number of compilation albums including 2017's 'The World's Favourite Hymns'. I think from around that time it seems like a lot of churches have been singing this arrangement and over the last few years it's been in CCLI top 150 songs in the UK which is so great to see.

Tony: Your current Cross Rhythms radio hit is "Never Alone". Tell me about the song.

Ian: Thanks to Cross Rhythms for the add. It's a song about getting lost, it's about getting distracted by the things I'd seen around me and losing site of what was in front of me. It's about reminding myself that I'm not alone and that God is holding on to us when we stumble and when we are soaring. It's reminding myself about the times in the past when I've gone through situations and trials that God has always been with me. I may not have felt it or recognised it in the moment, but looking back I can see God's hand on my life.

Tony: What about your recent albums?

Ian: Last year we released Part 1 and Part 2 of 'Between The Joy And The Sorrow'. This was my sixth album and fifth with 7Core Music. The double album project is a collection of songs that explore the highs and lows of life. It's about navigating the moments of joy and the moments of sorrow that we experience and trying to live in the tension of them.

Musically Part 1 has a more acoustic/folk vibe to it and Part 2 a more band/indie feel. One of my goals with this project was to be really honest and ask some big questions. The album touches on anxiety, loss, fear, doubt and disappointment, but is always hopeful. A lot of the project was inspired by the Beatitudes, Mathew 5, 6 and 7 especially in the Message translation. These songs were born out of the few years as we navigated the pandemic; throughout that time I had to come back to a simple trust in God. I often found myself disappointed with the things I'd seen, I found myself getting frustrated and lost in the opinions of people, the many perceptions of God, the incorrect prophecies, the politics and politicians. But at the end of the day, I'm only responsible for myself and I had to look at myself and say, am I living a life of true devotion and worship? Am I living the way of Jesus? There are a lot of strong voices out there, but am I listening to Gods voice?

The two years before the release I felt like I was living in the tensions of God's faithfulness and provision, yet facing struggles and wrestling with the things I'd seen. My prayer is that these songs bring hope to those who have been disillusioned and remind those who have been disappointed that there is a light in the darkness, there is a Father who loves his children.

Tony: Are you still a part of the Elim Worship team? Tell me a bit about their last album.

Ian: Yes, I'm still very much part of Elim Sound. Currently I spend half of my time working for Elim Sound and the other half on my music and serving in church. There have been a few releases over the last few years; we released a studio album 'God Is Still Moving' in 2021 which was recorded in people's homes and home studios. We invited 40 Elim songwriters to be involved in the project, we had 22 Elim Churches represented and 35 people involved in the recording. The collection of songs included some new depth and honesty with songs of praise and worship but also containing songs of lament. Our hope was the songs would provide a soundtrack for our movement as we navigated the pandemic. We also released a live album last year which was recorded at our Elim Leaders Summit in Harrogate that contains one new song "Give You Praise", a number of songs from the 'God Is Still Moving' album and some well-known refrains and songs like "How Great Thou Art", "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" and "Shout To The Lord".

Tony: Through thick and thin you've continued your association with Trevor Michael. To my ears he is a producer/engineer making more radio-friendly recordings than most of the top American guys. How have both of you managed, creatively and financially, during the streaming era?

Ian: Trevor is an amazing friend. I've had the joy of working with him since 2009 when I recorded my first song with Survivor Records in Eastbourne. He's the real deal, very humble and very talented. I think over the last few years we've both had some highs and lows. Creatively, Trevor got involved with mixing in Dolby Atmos which is a surround sound technology that is becoming very popular especially on Apple Music and Tidal. So he's been working on mixes in that format, he mixed some tracks for Snow Patrol, he's been writing some reviews for Sound On Sound Magazine and has been working on quite a few albums, especially on Tina Boonstra's debut album which came out on 29th April.

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