In only a year since the release of their debut LP Morning Light, Ivory Hours has quickly become one of London, Ontario’s strongest touring bands. More than just a local favourite, their unfailing professionalism in both their marketing and sound have given the group an undeniable fan base that is moving across Canada. Throughout the summer, they’ve taken their unique brand of toe-tapping indie rock to several festivals including their largest ever homecoming show at Rock the Park in London where they opened for City and Colour.
On August 20th, they’ll be performing at the eighth annual Riverfest in Elora, Ontario during another full weekend of arts, music, food and culture. Also performing at Riverfest are Highs, The Zolas, Dilly Dally, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Hey Rosetta as well as headliners The Sheepdogs, Walk Off the Earth and Chromeo.
In between touring, Ivory Hours lead singer Luke Roes is currently travelling in the other London (England) where he took time to speak with Alissa Chater for Indie Underground.
Alissa: What are you most looking forward to at your upcoming summer music festival shows?
Luke: On top of amazing music, the best thing about summer festivals is meeting new friends & catching up with people you only see on the road. Everyone at a music festival shares a similar passion so it feels like there’s a pre-established connection between people. No matter what festival I go to, I really feel a sense of belonging.
Alissa: You’ve gotten to play with high caliber acts at recent summer festivals such as City and Colour at Rock the Park and now Wintersleep and Chromeo at Elora RiverFest this year. Who is an artist you’ve been really excited to share the stage with? Do you have any stories about a time you met a musician you admire?
Luke: I’m hoping to catch Hey Rosetta at Riverfest, I find them incredibly inspiring. It was also pretty magical sharing the stage with Edward Sharpe, I’ve had some amazing times listening to their music (and their performance was spectacular, I’ve never seen that many people on stage). I had a beer with Sam Roberts at a festival a couple years ago and was really inspired by his kindness. It seems like he always makes time for people which I really respect.
Alissa: You posted on Facebook that your friends got engaged at the Rock the Park Festival this year in London. How was it pulled off? That must have been a very special moment to share with your friends.
Luke: Yes! My friend Brent was planning that for a long time – we told his girlfriend they’d won backstage tickets in a radio contest and they’d be coming up to accept a prize. She had no idea till she opened her eyes, it was really cute. Definitely made our day (and hers evidently).
Alissa: I recently saw on Instagram that you recently visited Abbey Road Studio in England! What did that mean for you as a musician?
Luke: There’s an immense amount of musical history in London, England, especially so for Abbey Road. They’ve had groundbreaking sessions there, not just with the Beatles but Radiohead, Oasis, Sam Smith. It seems like a place that will birth amazing careers for a long time to come.
Alissa: You’ve launched a brand new line of apparel with Cloud Empire Creative which includes shirts, snapbacks, tanks and other custom looks. Why is it important to have fashionable merch? How did the collaboration with Cloud Empire Creative help create the new looks?
Luke: Glad you like it! Our approach to merch has changed quite a bit over the years; recently I wanted to try out some simpler designs that were closer to clothing & surf brands than traditional band merch. We’ll still use more graphic designs, but I also wanted something more versatile. JP Spanbauer (out of Toronto) designed a logo and wordmark that we’re really happy with, and more recently I did a design collaboration with Dan Phillips for the t-shirts & tanks (Dan is one of the owners of the Illbury + Goose brand from London). Cloud Empire Creative did a great job printing, honoring a package we had won from the Edge’s Next Big Thing Contest.
Alissa: I think you guys have taken things to the next level when it comes to marketing your band. I’ve noticed that you’ve entered a variety of contests and talent searches. What is your vision for the way you market Ivory Hours? What has been the most beneficial to your success?
Luke: The contests have definitely helped; for better or worse they’re a common catalyst for bands that make it these days. Part of it is the resources they provide, but it also helps generate a story & buzz for the band. That said, most news outlets & radio are looking for much more – that means you have to keep touring, putting out video content, networking and creating your own smaller successes. None of it can be done overnight, but if you keep an open mind and don’t burn bridges, good friends, fans & contacts will accumulate. Resilience & perseverance are key. That said, none of that matters if the music doesn’t resonate with people.
Alissa: What is your advice for an upcoming band to get their music heard?
Luke: (1) Write good tunes. Be honest with yourself and look for critique outside of your immediate friends and family. Keep practicing. (2) Get 100 people out to a show in your hometown, draw is currency. (3) Tour, working your way farther from your hometown each time. Early on it’s not about the money, it’s about meeting the bands, promoters & industry players who will influence your career in a large way later on. Trade shows with bands from other cities. (4) Have a good attitude. The music industry is hard for everyone – learn how to be a good communicator (especially when discussing money), don’t complain, build a good rapport with promoters, bands etc. (5) Do your own research – I’ve had equally influential people give me completely opposite advice. Be informed and trust your instincts. I’ll leave it at that for now!
Alissa: Every time I have seen you guys play, it’s been very clear that a lot of fans have major heart eyes for you [heart eye emoji]. Do you find that extra attention intimidating or flattering? Why do you think that fans most often have a crush on the lead singer?
Luke: Definitely flattering….apparently listening to someone sing releases endorphins & oxytocin which explains my man-crush on Ray Lamontagne.
Alissa: It’s been more than a year since the release of your debut album Morning Light. When can fans expect new music? How has your writing changed over the past year?
Luke: I’ve been spending the summer writing new music – I’m really excited about the new direction and the team that’s going to be working on it. It probably won’t be out until next year, but we’ll be testing it out at live shows long before then so keep your ears peeled. You can expect big choruses, some heavier guitars and overall a good mix of pop & rock. We’ve got a new touring member on board so I’m allowing myself a lot more overdubs to fatten the sound.
Alissa: How do you like to spend your time when you’re not on tour? What else have you been up to this summer?
Luke: Besides writing, I’ve been doing a lot of canoeing which has been fantastic. I’m taking full advantage of the weather for swims & enjoying craft beers (shout out to Muskoka Brewery, Collective Arts & Great Lakes Brewery). I’m writing all of this from London, England where I’m visiting my brother. All helping to keep the music fresh.
Alissa: If you had one song to sing at Karaoke, what song would it be?
Luke: Daaanng….maybe Small Town Boy by Bronski Beat.
Purchase tickets for Riverfest Elora.