The Prince Of Jamaican Surfing, Sir Ivah Wilmot
Parker Coffin and Jamaica's rising surf star discuss Rastafarianism, music and wave dancing.
Through the zig-zag streets, drop dead coastline, and jagged reefs of Jamaica lives a powerful surf scene.
Within lies Billy “Mystic” Wilmot, and his merry band of Rastafarian surfers. Billy popularized surfing on the Caribbean Island, and today, his son, Ivah, with the fabulous Instagram handle @Ivah_The_Great, is Rastafarian surfing royalty. The handsome, dreadlocked 20-year-old possesses style on a wave akin to the likes of Asher Pacey and Dave Rastovich. His surfing is laid back. Fluid. And, his approach on land is as charming as warm, blue water, user-friendly waves, a spliff and rum drink to wash it all down.
Ivah rides for Roark; he writes and produces (crappy-as he would call it) music and is the most publicized surfer in Jamaica. Parker Coffin (another new mug on the Roark team) joined Mr Wilmot at home to discuss inspiration, the creative process and glide down a few Carribean lumps.
Ivah and the fruits of a well-balanced life.
Some fellas just look good atop a surfboard.
Parker: Who had the biggest influence on your surfing?
Ivah: The biggest influence has been my brothers. Especially Inilek, the second oldest of my brothers. He surfs like Rob Machado – that kind of surfing that's for himself. He just wants to figure out what a surfboard can do. I draw from that more than trying to please someone or impress judges with my surfing.
Parker: Who would you say is the most underrated musician to come from Jamaica?
Ivah: Wow, good question.
Probably my father, Billy Mystic. A lot of people don’t know his music. He’s been on tour and has put out multiple albums. He’s worked with the best of the best. But, he chose to pursue surfing more so than music. He made a name for himself surfing. He was spread thin doing surfing and playing music, so he never reached his full musical potential. He was leading two lives, like Clark Kent and Superman. He set up Jamnesia for all the smaller upcoming acts can come and display their skill. He’s done a lot for the whole music scene here.
In Jamaica, there's always time for a quick coconut.
Parker: What was it about surfing that took him away from pursuing music?
Ivah: He always kept making music and writing songs. My family is full of creative people. I guess it was just being on tour and being away from his kids. He would surf when he was on tour and when he’d come home he’d teach us surfing. Every morning he would take us surfing. It became a family bonding activity more than anything. He grew a name for himself surfing and grew surfing in Jamaica. It didn’t take him away from doing music but it was a different path he chose to be closer to different things.
I guess you could call it a sacrifice but you never know because he is happy having his family around him and everything.
Parker: Surfing is one hell of a drug, that’s for sure.
Ivah: Yeah man, for sure. Surfing is family.
Ivah and Billy Mystic kicking out the jams.
"He would surf when he was on tour and when he’d come home he’d teach us surfing."
Parker: Who’s the biggest influence on your music?
Ivah: To tell the truth, when I’m making music, I try not to take too much influence from people because I don’t want to copy them in any way subconsciously.
I do listen to a lot of music and sometimes I hear musicians play something or sing a lyric or write something in a particular way that I'm like, "Wow this is really good. I wish I thought of that or I wish I had written it this way."
I like guys like Chance the Rapper, he's one of those who is very easy going in his lyrics. Kendrick Lamar is more like spitty-spitty, fast-paced rapping and some kind of old school to it. For reggae, Chronixx, of course, because I know him personally and he makes really good music. Kabaka Pyramid too as a lyricist; he writes very good lyrics.
Parker: Is Bad Brains one of those famous Rasta bands on your radar?
Ivah: I don't know, never heard of them.
"You’re taught to be conscious of your surroundings, your actions, intentions and how they affect other people."
Parker: Who’s the most underrated surfer to come out of Jamaica?
Ivah: Hammer-toe Joe because it’s hard to travel. I’m fortunate enough to own a Canadian passport and have dual citizenship. I travel pretty easy. But, for someone who is born here you have to have a Visa to go anywhere. With the Jamaican Passport, you can only travel the Caribbean so it’s hard to get exposure. The next up and coming kid is Ronald Hasting. He’s the next guy; if he figures it out he’ll go fast.
Parker: Can I ask one more question, is your family Rastafari?
"When you hear a man say, 'Jah, Rastafari' you hear the faith in his voice. You see it in his smile."
Parker: How do you interpret Rastafari in a modern way? Like how do you live your life because you’re obviously not a conservative Rastafarian?
Ivah: Growing up as a Rasta you don’t really know where it comes from. You more learn of the teachings of other people and how Rasta behave. You adapt to that. It’s just straight loving kind of vibes. You take care of one another.
Straight lovin' kinda vibes.
You’re taught to be conscious of your surroundings, your actions, intentions and how they affect other people. To always try to do good. Then when you get there, you can learn the history of where it came from and what it’s all about. I feel like if you have those fundamental laws in your system from your young, young, young youth it’s hard for you to be a bad person. Growing up in a Rasta household is just identifying what a good person is and how to be one.
You have to have a firm belief in what you’re doing and saying. You have to have faith and admire anybody who has faith in anything, whether it’s themselves or god or any different power; whatever you want to call it. I admire anybody who can put 100 percent faith into something.
That’s what I see in Rasta people. Like, when you hear a man say, “Jah, Rastafari” you hear the faith in his voice. You see it in his smile. That’s what I got from growing up in Jamaica as a Rasta Youth.
Ivah the great.