ed tullett: poetic sounds from the UK

12 04 2012

i first heard 18-year-old UK musician ed tullett‘s song “ribboned blood” on a random tumblr playlist, and was struck immediately by the jangling banjo and his strong, distinct sound, both musically and lyrically. the brooding acoustics on his new album never joy – released december 2011 – were completely (and impressively!) written, recorded, and produced by ed himself. he’s a great example of just how independently successful you can be when you embrace what the internet can do for your music. never joy is available for free download on bandcamp, and thanks to his open dialogue with fans from around the globe on multiple social media platforms (and of course his undeniable talent), the first pressing of his CD recently sold out. we spoke to ed to find out more about his music, what inspires him, how he feels about the new model of the music industry, and more. check it out!

1. describe yourself in three words: GO!

Cynical, self-concious (counts as one!), dull (what a well-rounded person).

2. how long have you been making music?

I started writing songs when I was around 14 or 15, when I first got my acoustic (the same one I use now in fact, I saved up so long for it!). My old songs were so formulaic and terrible, something I hope I’ve moved on from now, but I’m sure some would beg to differ! But it all comes with experience, and trial and error, and before I wasn’t writing stuff that meant anything to me – now I am.

3. your lyrics are quite beautiful – raw and poetic, layered with meaning. do you find that you purposely sit down to write a song or you’re struck by the muse at random moments?

Whenever I write it’s usually because I feel inspired. I would never want to try and write anything for the sake of it, or force it. If it means leaving an unfinished poem, or song, until later, then so be it. It’ll be worth it in the long run.

4. you’re 18 years old with a great album out on the internet via bandcamp (for free!) – how do you feel about the new model that has replaced artists depending solely on record labels for promotion and distribution? what has your experience been and where do you see the music industry going?

I think the use of the internet and social media to distribute and raise awareness about music, for both unsigned and huge artists, is a fantastic thing. I’d never have got even a hundredth of the people who have heard my album to do so without the internet, and I certainly wouldn’t be talking to you! It still sparks debate though, you have to be careful, and certain people do abuse it – the free and easy way that absolutely anyone can share their views on anything on sites like Twitter is sometimes not always a good thing.

I think the music industry will grow as a result, but maybe with a decline in physical media, and an emphasise on live shows as a way for artists to make money. I don’t have a problem with illegal downloading, as long as it’s just a single person downloading the music for their own personal enjoyment, or to share with friends, but I do object to people sharing music illegally on a mass scale to people they don’t know. It’s why I made the album free, it encourages sharing and the love of music.

5. what songs on never joy are you proudest of, and why?

I’ve been asked this a few times, and it’s a question I slightly object to. I don’t think any artist should release anything until they’re fully pleased with it! The album as a whole I’m very proud of, but if I was forced, then the 3 bonus tracks that come with the download of the album (‘Father Figurine,’ ‘Boyhood’ and ‘Knots’) are the ones I’m least proud of, I made them bonus tracks for a reason, they just didn’t end up sounding how I wanted to, and I couldn’t seem to get them to do so. I’ve had quite a few people saying they love ‘Knots,’ but personally it’s my least favourite song on the album!

6. tell us about your recording process and how this album came to be.

When I started writing Never Joy I began employing a technique whereby I write poems first, and then when I write music and melodies I fit them over the top. This way the words come much more naturally – I’m not inhibited by trying to fit in rhymes or rhythms. If I do need to change a word or two, then I can do that when I write the music, but it’s something I’m slightly against. Lyrics should be honest, and the best way to do that, or so I’ve found personally, is to write about something without being confined by musical walls (albeit probably the most wonderful walls in the world, they are walls all the same). The album was recorded with two microphones and a computer in my bedroom. I like to keep things simple, that way it sounds much more natural and honest.

7. who or what are your greatest influences?

Justin Vernon is a huge influence. I remember when I first heard “Re: Stacks,” and watched that infamous performance of “Skinny Love” on Jools Holland, something just clicked. I knew this was the kind of music I wanted to be writing – soaked in emotion, coming from somewhere so genuine, somewhere so perfectly open and honest.

Other artists I’m hugely influenced by include Radiohead (their influence may not be evident stylistically, but they are my favourite band ever), Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, Keaton Henson, S. Carey, Grizzly Bear – so many I haven’t mentioned, I could go on for pages and pages.

BONUS! recommend 1 thing you love that we should check out in the following categories:
a) MUSIC! I guess it’s probably best to pick something relatively unknown. I guess I’ll go for Keaton Henson, or Tubelord.
b) FILM! I’m not great at talking about films, but I really like the two films that Xavier Dolan has released thus far, I Killed My Mother and Heartbeats.
c) WEBSITES! If you’re a new band or musician starting up, please don’t go anywhere near MySpace, or even, in my opinion, Soundcloud – Soundcloud is so impersonal and uninspiring to look at, every page looks the same. Everyone should use Bandcamp – it’s so simple, you can make it look fantastic, and it’s a brilliant way to sell downloads and physical media.
d) BOOKS! I hardly ever read, and I really wish I did so more. I guess I’ll just say The Catcher In the Rye.
e) PLACES TO CHECK OUT IN YOUR HOMETOWN! Don’t come to my hometown, it’s emphatically boring. Go somewhere you’ve always wanted to go instead! I’ll be studying at University in London from October hopefully, so why not visit London if you’ve never been haha.

thanks, ed – really looking forward to new sounds from you!

KEEP IN TOUCH: like ed on facebook, and follow him on tumblr and twitter!

– da leopard

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3 responses

12 04 2012
spencerturney

Ed rocks! Great interview

15 04 2012
TheBigForest

Love this – thanks for helping to discover Ed.

15 04 2012
TheBigForest

thanks for helping US to discover Ed is what I should have written. Think Ill go back to sleep now :)

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