Ed Muirhead has been quietly releasing music under his own name since 2011’s Cage For The Clouds album (writes Andy Wood). Having became a solo artist by sheer accident a few years earlier Ed has continued to write, record and release albums. 2013’s beautiful album Simple Life saw him gain a fair bit of attention in the media with songs such as ‘Ode To The Kingsway’ and the title track being featured in local media and on STV.
There’s a lovely gentleness to Ed’s songs, they have a folk-pop feel to them but embrace a wide range of influences and reviews have compared him to artists such as King Creosote, Michael Marra and Leonard Cohen. There is a lack of pretentiousness to Ed’s music but no lack of craft or skill in his songs and the arrangements which suit each song perfectly. Having been a big supporter of the local music scene and a regular face at gigs including The Cool Cat Club we felt it was more than time for Ed to appear on the stage rather than simply in the audience.
Ed kindly agreed to answer some questions for us ahead of his debut performance at The Cool Cat Club.
Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you do.
Hi, my name is Ed, I play piano, write songs and sing. I play drums, guitars and other things too, but most of the time it’s piano…
What first influenced you to write and sing?
At the age of 16 I wrote a few songs… then moved to Glasgow, joined a couple of bands and played keyboards (in the 90s, when keyboards were not common in indie bands). We did one of my songs at a gig & it went down well with the crowd: looking back, I suppose that encouraged me on. I didn’t sing much until a few years ago…
What are your current influences, musical or otherwise?
That’s a hard one to answer, I absorb loads of things without noticing, whether it’s a beat that makes me move, or an intricate ballad with a heart-wrenching story. Right now I might listen to Stevie Wonder, Feist, Dick Gaughan, Led Zep or 10 others…
You’ve released 2 albums to date on your own label, Tattie Records. How have those albums been received?
The reception was great, though I always feel like a small-time outsider… I needed to get the songs out of my system and give them a life of their own. It’s great to hear the positive feedback, and requests for extra copies to send to friends or family overseas!
What are the pros and cons of running your own label?
It’s a tiny label, about as small as you can get, one man and his dog. So far it’s been my own material, though we have other acts coming. Things move slow at Tattie, and it’s a challenge wrangling musicians – though I will announce a new act soon – young Johnny Cash with a moody Mexican twist!
You released your most recent album, Simple Life, last year and there seemed to be quite a buzz about it. How do you feel about that and why do you think that was?
Simple Life had a wee local buzz, mainly triggered by the Dundee ballads getting picked up by local papers, radio, TV. I had a brief media bang: interviews, photos, videos, fun for 15 minutes :-)
What are the vital ingredients for a simple life?
Who knows? It’s probably a lot easier than you think, these days everything is too complicated. Justice is a big thing for me, even more than peace. If you can avoid greed that’s a good thing. The song was written straight after hearing someone describe the story on the radio. Later I researched it, seemingly quite an old story: fisherman & businessman… your homework is to find out more about that ;-)
I believe you have a new album on the way? Can you talk us through this please?
Yes indeed, it’s half-done, due to be released on 1/5/15. The music is new-fashioned blues and funk, and called “Day Job” – I’ll tell the story behind that title during the gig… There’s a brass section, harmonica, extra guitars: several guest musicians who I’m calling The Banter. I imagine at gigs people will say “I’m only here for The Banter”.
Prior to performing and recording you played in a band called Trampled By A Horse. How important is it to do both or is it more of a happy accident?
They’re a great bunch of guys, I’ve been with them for several years now, first on keyboards, now drums. We’re fairly laid-back, more of a social gathering – gigs are rare, but good fun: original rock with a dose of punk. I like doing a bit of both. Late in 2009 the band couldn’t make it to a gig, so I volunteered: that was my solo debut, done 40 gigs since then.
In addition to writing, performing and running a record label you also run a listings website for Dundee and have produced the rather epic map / family tree of the Dundee music scene. What is the idea behind the latter projects?
Eight years ago I started inDundee.co.uk – to do gig listings for the city. Over time I heard about local bands as they split, reformed, etc, and thought I should do something with all that info. The Dundee music map grew from there, with loads of suggestions from band members and connections between all kinds of groups. Last Christmas we had a limited run of posters, and a new edition is planned this Christmas: send in your music connections and we’ll get them added!
What are your thoughts on the current Dundee music scene? Any particular favourite bands you’d like to recommend?
I love live music, and get to gigs whenever I can… there’s a thriving scene & always plenty to look forward to. Too many to mention, here’s a quick alphabetical list of local bands I enjoy live: AMWF, Courtney’s Chain, Darren Campbell, Esperi, Kings & Cowards, The Mirror Trap, No Egos, PanicByFlare & recently saw Stonethrower: mesmerising.
Do you have any routines or rituals you like to undertake before a performance?
Not really, just think of a song to start with, then take it from there… a set will take its own course: depending what comes to mind, and the crowd’s reaction. I often sing one I’ve just written, those are special times, the song is not quite finished & you never quite know how it will go.
If you could organise a gig or festival with your ideal line-up and location (being the world of imagination money and mortality are of no hindrance) what would that consist of?
I’ve seen big acts and brand-new bands, and often had the same excitement at both, so I don’t really have an ‘ideal line-up’. But it would be cool to see John Martyn, Ray Charles, James Brown, etc.
Here’s another plan: get Daisy Dundee to do a festival, she’s a genius at gig organising! ;-)
What has the future got in store for Ed Muirhead?
I’m changing career the next couple of years, loads more music, particularly music therapy and community music.
What’s the one thing I’ve not asked that I should have asked – and what’s the answer?
Who’s your favourite member of Randolph’s Leap? – The bass player :-) Last time I saw them play The Cool Cat Club, I remember thinking their bassist is just so funky!
Ed Muirhead opens the Randolph’s Leap Cool Cat Show this Friday (3rd) at Beat Generator Live, Dundee, which also features Blood Indians. More info – tickets available from Groucho’s and online here.
Photos by Dave Arcari and Chris Gunn