Being onstage can leave many feeling freaked out. Ian Lake is not one of those people. A natural performer, Ian has performed both as an actor and musician and has found great solace in both creative outlets. We talked about both but leaned more towards the music side of life as he opened up about everything from how the two art forms play off one another to his singles like “The Bottom” and “Easier,” and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: When did you realize music was a path you wanted to take?
Ian Lake: It was in 2015 when I was performing in the Mirvish musical ‘Once’. I had played guitar and sung for my enjoyment for over a decade, but it wasn’t until I auditioned for that show, and got the job, that I realized I was something I wanted to approach more professionally. And call myself a “musician” not just someone who plays guitar. I recorded and released a single in 2015, called “This Isn’t My Day” and it gave me the confidence that I could pursue that path more seriously.
Kendra: Did that come before, after, or sort of around the same time as your acting because – you are out here being creative on multiple levels?
Ian Lake: I guess I am. Acting came before anything else. I’ve always used art and creativity to express myself, but acting was the first thing I took on as a career path. Though I did get my first guitar at the same time as my first professional acting gig, it was a long time before I ever tried playing music in front of anybody. I’ve recently started to treat my photography as more of a profession too, and my album artwork is all my photos. I just realized: why limit yourself to just one creative outlet? I am enjoying all different aspects of my creativity feeding each other.
Kendra: Musically speaking though, you dig deep into the emotional well. Both “This Isn’t My Day” and 2021’s “The Bottom” hit hard and listeners can hear you pouring every ounce of yourself into these songs. Have you always been someone who isn’t afraid of confronting their emotions, or did you turn to the arts to help with that?
Ian Lake: Yes, I’ve always been the type to talk about my emotions. I’ve always felt things very deeply, always been sensitive, and not afraid to show it. I found early on in my acting career that this was a powerful entry point to storytelling. To explore the more painful parts of life, and not to feel things on behalf of the audience, but to share vulnerable stories so the audience can relate to their struggles. With music it’s the same, and I’ve always gravitated to sad songs. Most of the music I write comes from a pretty deep well. It helps me process, and it’s cathartic to sing from that place, but I think it’s also a powerful tool of connection. When you share an emotional song and listeners respond to it, you realize we’re all struggling in our own way.
Kendra: “The Bottom” was your last release but you’ve been working on something new for 2022. What can you tell us about your new single that dropped on February 4th?
Ian Lake: Yes!! I’ve been working on lots of new things. My new single is called “Easier,” and it’s a really different vibe from “The Bottom,” even though it’s the song I wrote immediately after. It’s a song about forgiving yourself for the mistakes you’ve made, and living with yourself more lovingly, and giving yourself the grace and compassion that is so much easier to give to other people. It’s got a very soulful, almost R&B vibe, with some beautiful female back vocals, and a really nice groove. It’s more hopeful and encouraging than my last song, and I think people are gonna dig it.
Kendra: We’ve mentioned already that you’re also an actor. How do you feel acting and being a musician play off one another for you?
Ian Lake: Well, in my career as an actor I have always considered myself a storyteller above all things, and that has really fed into my approach to songwriting and also the production aspects of being a musician. That it’s not about me, it’s about making people feel a part of something bigger than themselves. That is valuable when you’re writing a song, or in the recording studio, and your ego is getting in your way, and you need to let go of that and let the song and the story be the point of focus. And I think making my own music has impacted my approach to acting, because it takes so much more courage and vulnerability to share something that’s your own words, your own creation. And that courage just gives me so much more confidence when I’m on a TV show. I don’t suffer from the same nerves I used to, and I just launch myself into it. I think once you make something of your own and see it through, you feel like you can do anything.
Kendra: Side note – since it’s February, I’m asking everyone to please share what they believe is the best love song and a bit of insight as to why they believe that song is it…
Ian Lake: Ugh that is such a tough one to narrow down! Especially since I tend to love sad love songs and my tastes are often changing. I’m going to choose two songs that have always spoken to me. “Something” by George Harrison has always been a song I’ve loved. Because it’s a love song that embraces the fact that someone can affect you strongly, but you don’t know where it might go from here. ‘You’re asking me will my love grow, I don’t know, I don’t know’. And I think that’s what love is about… sitting in the uncertainty of where it’s going and just being present in the feeling and joy of being with someone.
The other love song that I’ve always loved is “Reservations” by Wilco. Wilco is easily the band that has influenced me the most in my music, and this song has always touched me, because it’s a sad song, it’s a story of a relationship that’s clearly rocky, and someone who is struggling with fear and doubt, struggling with loving themselves, but wanting to commit to love. the main lyric: “I’ve got reservations about so many things, but not about you, not about you” has always been one of my favorite lyrics, and hits me right in the gut.
Kendra: Lastly, with your new single out at the start of February, what else can fans both new and old be on the lookout from you in the coming months?
Ian Lake: I’m very excited for the next few months, and finally getting to share the fruits of a lot of hard work by a lot of talented people. Not just the music but a lot of wonderful visual content to go with it: music videos and live sessions. I will be releasing more singles in March and in April, and then my full album “What It Is” will be coming out at the end of April. It’s eight songs, and it’s the culmination of a lot of time spent alone during 2020 and the early parts of last year. It’ll be streaming of course, but it’ll also be available on vinyl and CD for those that love to listen to music the old fashioned way. And my plan is to get back into the studio this spring/summer and start recording some of the new songs I’ve been writing lately. Which felt different from the ones I’m releasing now. It’s all very exciting, and I can’t wait for the album to be out in the world!