VCT: Ed, it is a pleasure to finally get the chance to interview to get an update on things. I’ve been a fan of yours for a while now and think your latest release “Letters From High Latitudes” is a marvel. Do you want to tell me a little bit about what is the inspiration behind this latest album?
Well, first off let me say thank you for having me and extending the accolades for my latest achievement “Letters from High Latitudes”. So does that mean that your stalking me?? lol!! The inspiration for the album has come from many different areas of my life and experiences. As I come from a very political and agricultural background; much of the music that you hear on this album and many of my albums is trying to ask questions about what is happening in our day-to-day lives and how these things affect us. It never ceases to amaze me the lack of knowledge the public receives on major social and political decisions that affect more of our lives than we know. For instance; if you go to the grocery store and things in the produce section are coming from thousands of miles away, why is it that we are not growing these things in our own backyards and local farms which are suffering. In Canada our local family farms are slowly dying and being taken over by large corporate farming groups that are utilizing modified forms of food and/or seeds that are heavily sprayed many times a year. Studies show that these pesticides can migrate through the food and consequently manifest themselves in forms of disease that seems to be rampant in our society today. I’m also trying to ask questions as to who is really running the show quote unquote the man behind the curtain, or is it us. Even the concepts of spirituality and who we are in a song like “I found God” or “Electric Beauty” is asking these kinds of questions and saying things like what we do to ourselves we do to the planet and what we do to the planet we do to ourselves. The people that I’ve met, the places that I go, and the people that I talk to are my inspiration. I am continually finding parallels between my own life and others around me and realizing that we are all going through the same obstacle course and that we can’t all be as different as we think we are. “Letters From High Latitudes” is a perspective album.
VCT: I know you have traveled and toured all around the world and probably seen some truly amazing things, can you tell me about a few?
Yes I have been many places around the world and it is music that has taken me there. I played to people like Donald Trump, Anne Murray, Alex Lifeson from Rush and I have played in places like the Ford Theater in Toronto, the Royal Palace in Spain, the Ontario Place Forum and toured across Canada, United States and parts of Europe. I have to say that the most interesting things that I’ve seen are the people. Whether I’m traveling for pleasure, or for my music I always find my experiences with communities where I’m visiting to be the most fruitful and interesting in my travels. I find the stories, tales and experiences that they have fuel for my imagination and writing. I have been welcomed with such open arms into people’s homes who have given me food, a place to sleep and a roof over my head when there was nowhere else for me to go. The generosity and kindness of people that I meet all over the world are the most wonderful experiences that I can have other than playing music.
VCT: Your music is quite engaging and your songwriting is superbly crafted, is there any special secrets you want to let up and coming artists know about how you think it’s best to write a hit song? “
Once again I thank you for your compliments. A hit song is something that gets under your skin. It has an infectious feeling and stirs something in your emotions that is hard to ignore. If I was to give any advice on writing a hit song I would say don’t try to write a hit song. As I mentioned, the listener feels a certain emotional connection to the music and the same goes for the writer. When an idea approaches you, there is a certain feeling of presence of truth. The lyric and the melody seem to conjure a melting pot of emotions that seem so right. Concentrating on writing a hit song much of the time will show itself as very typical and clinical. Good ideas and artistic epiphany, come without warning but need to be acted upon when the moment arises. Many people say that its all been done but I disagree with the statement when it comes from this emotional perspective. Each individual has something unique and interesting to offer in their own way. This is one of the hardest things for any artist to do is to allow themselves to be themselves. There may be symmetrical framework in cords, idioms, genres and structure, but so much of this can be still manipulated in an interesting and new innovative way. The only thing you need to do is to think outside the box and look for the new path that is being shown as you move through the experience. A hit song is what your heart makes.
VCT: When think about the past 15 years or so, what do you feel has happened to the music scene?
There’s been an incredible amount of change that has happened over the last 15 or 20 years. The event of the Internet and new technologies have allowed music makers to approach their audiences in a completely different way. The advent of modern technology has made it so many people can now share their musical ideas with people all over the world independently without the need for big record companies, overhead, distribution and things from the past which were out of reach for most musicians. It is however a double-edged sword as much of the mainstay commercial music has been quantized and auto tuned to a point that it seems no longer human. At the same time it has also changed the amount of people that once participated in music culture in terms of people actively going to shows and their local community bars, halls and nightlife that once supported a burgeoning musical community. This means that much of the time it can be very difficult to put people in places where music is happening. Many clubs now have WebCams and many bands post their shows on YouTube which people then in turn log on to, or watch from their homes. One of the things about playing music live is the symbiotic relationship that exists between the band and the audience. It’s very odd playing at a club that only a few people are in, but over 500 people are logged on to. Music needs to have this kind of community interaction. So I would say a great deal has changed in the last 15 to 20 years some for the good and some for the strange.
VCT: What is your favorite song to perform live?
My favorite song to play live? That’s a tough question. As you can see and hear, my albums tend to take on many different genres of music including folk, jazz, funk, spoken word, country and just about everything in the kitchen sink. If I was to say a song that I sing, then a more recent number like “I Found God” is definitely a potent tune for me to play. This song for me is an epitaph number. To me God takes on many forms and one of those, the main one, is this planet we call Earth. What we do to ourselves we do to the earth and what we do to the earth we do ourselves. I feel this song to be so important in this day and age when many people are dealing with things that are destroying their very backyards and the way they live their lives. I guess it really comes from aboriginal philosophy. This is our mother, she gave life to us and we must look after her. As for an instrumental number, one my favorite songs to play is a waltz that I wrote for the great Nicola Tesla. Waltz for Tesla is a very melodic and complex melody that for me is sorrowful and yet happy and powerful at the same time. It’s a song that is in the idiom of jazz or improv music. It not only allows me to express this beautiful melody but at the same time opens the floodgates for improvisational instrumentation that is so fun, free and conversational.
VCT: “Ed Heads” around the world should know what about what has happened this past year?
This past year has been incredible. With the help of Mike Stover and MTS Management in Pittsburgh I have been able to get out to more people than I had ever thought before. Since May the album has been doing incredibly well and has been well received right across the board. “Letters From High Latitudes” has also been nominated for six different awards in the United States. The AMG (Artists Music Guild) and the IMEA (International Music and Entertainment Association) have nominated the album for “best contemporary album of the year”, “ best male contemporary vocalist of the year”, “best independent album of the year” and “best male vocalist of the year”. This is such a wonderful thing for any artist to have happen to them. The organizations not only vote on public opinion, but also much of it is based on contribution to American culture. It makes me so happy and delighted that the music and art which I created is helping people, and getting into their heads, souls and minds. Because I am so politically outspoken yet at the same time quite humorous and sarcastic, it is a great award for me to get this kind of information and energy out to people. It’s also an incredible achievement for me as a dyslexic; to be nominated for something in a literary fashion for me is a tremendous achievement.
VCT: Do you want to share any inside info on your plans for 2015 and beyond?
My plans for 2015 and beyond are to keep writing and making music, touring and helping people understand what’s going on around them. I’m always writing and I never know when a group of songs feels like they’re starting to come together. I may be ready sometime around the summer of 2015 to start recording a new album. In the meantime I also have a documentary in the works for a very exquisite 250 year old bass that I have which was in the first and second world wars. It has names and battles of the people that played it and the locations it was at etched into its ribs. I plan to trace the history of the people and places back in time to its place of origin in Europe which was Prague. It will be called “If This Bass Could Only Talk”. Millions of people died, while this instrument survived. It wants to tell its story.
VCT: I love your song “Coming my way” it is so pure and real it hits hard, what your favorite dirty joke?
Ha ha, I am the king of dirty jokes. Tasteful and un-tasteful.
Two drunks are sitting on the side of the curb watching a dog lick it’s crotch. One says to the other “I wish I could do that” the other says “you’d better pet him first he looks kind of mean”
VCT: You are quite a rich man with lots of experience, do you have any favorites?
One of my greatest experiences has come to me in the last little while. While visiting the island of Jamaica I have met so many friends and now people I consider family in this beautiful jewel of the Caribbean ocean. My wife and I decided after 10 years of not going anywhere because our lives were so busy that we needed a break. We quickly met friends at the resort we stayed at but over the 28 days that we were there we spent little to no time at the actual hotel; but spent it with people in their homes and communities. Many people told me you have to be careful when you go to Jamaica that nothing bad happens to you if you leave the resort. One of the very first things that I did when we left the resort was to go down to Kingston to District 3 Port Royal and play my acoustic guitar on the street to people. In a very short time a song like “Coming My Way” would gather crowds of two to 300 people that would be listening, clapping and singing along. Very quickly I started to realize that the notices of warnings that we were getting from people was something that really existed inside of our own fears and minds. People all over the world are very much the same. We all want to be loved, we want to be safe and happy. There’ll always be good and bad in the world but if we live our lives in fear it may be difficult for us to deal with the bad, at the same time shut ourselves off from all the wonderful experiences that we could have with people. Jamaica solidified this for me in my heart. I could go anywhere at any time with confidence, pick up my guitar and play music to people wherever I went. This experience has made me rich in confidence and feel like I can take on any problem wherever I go.
VCT: Anything you want to share with your fans? “
Well, first off let me say what a pleasure it has been talking with you today about my music and philosophies. I would like to say a special shout out to all the Ed heads that have been supporting me over the last years. It has been truly tremendous. I would also like to once again send a shout out to my manager and co-conspirator in my musical endeavors Michael Stover for all his hard work getting my art out there. Thank you for such a wonderful interview and I look forward to talking to you in the future. You are totally, totally an Ed Head.
Big’n you up…