In the spotlight: Ivory Lake

Ivory lake is the brainchild of 25-year old Josh Watts, drummer and singer/songwriter. Josh is originally from Sheffield (UK), but is now based in Alicante, Southern Spain.

“I think spending my childhood in Northern England, greatly impacted the lyrical side of my music. Northern England for me is characterized by grey skies, rain, and a general dullness, however, at the same time has this warm sense of community. Spending the last 15 years in Spain surrounded by beaches, palm trees and pissed up tourists, has made its mark on the instrumental parts of my work. I believe it creates an interesting contrast between the two that goes together in a nice way.”

You are originally from Sheffield. How did you end up living in Alicante, Spain?

“Yes, I’m originally from Sheffield. I was born there and spent the first 11 years of my life there, but I suppose now I feel more at home in Spain. We moved over with my family to get away from some personal issues, and I think we all knew that it was just time for a change.”

Josh has been making music since he was 11 years old. His aim is to make music that people enjoy and feel impacted by. He released his debut EP ‘Pillows’ in January 2021, which combines introspective alt dark pop lyrics with an upbeat sound.

In the music video for ‘Pillows’ you play all of the instruments. Is Ivory Lake a solo project or do you have a band? Is it also a project that you’d like to take on the road?

“I like to think of Ivory Lake as a bit of both really. I write and record all the music, but the songs are nothing without a band to perform them, it gives them life. And yes, I plan on taking Ivory Lake out on the road in early 2022, if all goes to plan. It’s something that has been in the works for a while now and I can’t wait to get out there and show people what we can do!!”

‘Pillows’ is a beautiful song, but the lyrics are about domestic violence. I read somewhere your mother had several violent boyfriends, so I’m assuming it’s autobiographical? What can you tell me about your song ‘Pillows’?

“‘Pillows’ is a very special song to me and it was hard to write. Although it doesn’t go too in depth it forced me to look at that time in my life, the effect it had on my mother and siblings and the impact it has made on the person I have become. As a child whenever I would hear my mom and boyfriends arguing they would always put on music to try drown out the sound, but it never did so I would hide my head under my pillow and it’s become something of a habit. To this day I still can’t sleep unless my head is under a pillow.”

What inspires your lyrics?

“I suppose I am lyrically inspired by the darker side of life. I have always gravitated towards sadder, darker music. I think it can invoke much stronger emotions than singing about girls and sunsets. And that’s what music really is to me – a way to make you really feel.”

What social issues are you most passionate about?

“I suppose I’d like to raise some form of awareness for children affected my domestic violence. I can’t personally speak for the millions of women and men who are abused everyday, but being a child who was involved myself and knowing the impact it’s had on my life, I feel a responsibility to help in any way I can.”

What are you hoping to achieve with your music?

“I don’t have much of an agenda if I’m honest, I just want to make music that people enjoy and feel some what impacted by, and if I can make one person think about the impact that domestic violence can have on the rest of someone’s life that would be great.”

You’ve been playing drums since 2009. When did you start playing guitar? Did you have any lessons or are you self-taught?

“So, I started playing guitar when I was around 16. My neighbour showed me how to play the riff for ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica and then later my mom showed me a few chords, but apart from that I’m pretty much self taught. It’s the way I like to do it. I think being away from someone showing you how to do every little thing gives you a chance to really explore the instrument in your own way.”

What’s your go-to instrument to play?

“My go-to will forever be drums. The feeling I get when I’m playing, like everything else falls away, all my insecurities and anxiety just go to the back of my mind and I can be myself – I find it therapeutic.”

Do you have any hobbies that contribute to your musicality?

“To be honest creating music and caring for my children are my only really hobbies. I think having my kids gave me a new sensitivity to life which I suppose helped me open up with my lyrics a bit more and become a better songwriter.”

You’ve toured all over the world with Geoff Tate (ex Queensrÿche). How did you end up playing in his band? Did you have to audition?

“It’s real strange how these things happen. I used to play in a small bar in Spain with a previous band I was in. The owner of the bar, Gregg Daly, and his son mark happened to be friends with Geoff and his wife Susan. At the time they where in need of a drummer (luckily for me), so I believe Gregg sent Geoff a video of me doing my thing. A little while later I received a call from Susan Tate asking if I wanted to tour with them. So I learnt all the material and 3 weeks later I was rehearsing with Geoff in Ireland getting ready for 4 and a half months of tours running over 26 country’s. The whole experience was surreal.”

How long did you tour with Geoff Tate?

“I toured with Geoff for around 4 and a half months in 2018. Then we did a few shows in Italy and Germany in 2019 and then Australia in 2020 just before the pandemic hit, so I was with them for around 3 years, but we are still on good terms and I will be happy to tour with them again.”

How did you handle being away from home for an extended time period?

“Being away from home was hard especially with having 2 small children and my partner over here, but it felt worthwhile. This has been my dream forever – it’s all I have ever wanted to do.”

What’s one thing that makes you feel at home no matter where you are in the world?

“This isn’t very rock and roll but a good cup of tea and a Netflix binge seems to do the job pretty well and maybe a cheeky smoke.”

What are you most proud of to date?

“I think some of my unreleased material that I have been writing since lockdown has me really excited for what is to come.”

On your socials you also post quite a few videos of you playing covers. What’s your favourite cover song to play?

“Ooofff, hard question but I love to play ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen that’s my go to cover for my solo gigs. In close second is ‘The Boxer’ by Simon and Garfunkel.”

What’s the best piece of advice another musician ever gave you?

“That groove, precision, and consistency is more important than showing off your skills.”

What’s next? What are your goals for the next 12 months?

“I plan to keep hammering away at my songwriting, get back in the studio before the end of the year and then tour most of 2022. I’m so ready to get back out there I’m about to explode!”

What’s your favourite song from the Cool 20?

“I’m really enjoying ‘Outta My Head’ by Alvinos Zavlis.”

What song would you like to add as a bonus track and why?

“I’m gonna have to choose ‘Spit of you’ by Sam Fender as it’s such a brilliant song – it hit me right in the feels and I love the chord progression.”

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Published by leancool20

Drinks tea, not coffee. Usually dressed in black.

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