Continuing my series of interviews I had the chance to talk to Ed in SL on his houseboat in Bellisseria after his show at Saddles, which I featured here. Ed is a singer/songwriter who just returned to Second Life after a long break.
Hello Ed, thanks for agreeing to this interview, it’s great to be here with you. It was a wonderful show earlier and before we start, tell us a little about you?
Well lets see, I am from the UK although I have spent the last 9 years living in Colorado but I recently moved back to live in England – big adjustment. I am planning on staying in England for the foreseeable future but my intentions are to go traveling. Currently, I spend much of my time listening to musicians perform and it has been great. I’ve made friends across Europe, America, Canada, Australia, Brazil etc. all from the comfort of my own home. I think that’s partly why I wish to travel. I think I want to take my guitar with me and busk and meet people.
You should. I also love this here in Second Life, the possibility to make friends all over the planet – the thought of “one world”. It doesn’t matter where you are from, it’s our hobbies and interest that connects us. Talking about Second Life, you are back from a long break, right?
Yes, I was out of Second Life for over 4 years and was in and out before that too. Besides music, I also used to enjoy written roleplay in medieval fantasy sims, I loved the creativity of story telling.
Welcome back then. And you were not forgotten in all these years: rumors say you were the youngest artist who performed live in here?
Yes when I originally joined I was the youngest performer in Second Life and one of the few from the UK. It’s grown a lot since then.
Luckily the community has grown over the years and it is still strong.
Yes, it is and the importance of the live music scene is even more so now with everyone in quarantine. Being able to attend shows and have that sense of community is nice.
…I do love performing in Second Life and expressing my creativity…
But you are also performing in RL?
No, I don’t currently perform in RL however I went to college for vocals and modern music and used to perform regularly. I would love to focus more on my songwriting as that’s where I feel my talents are but I do love performing in Second Life and expressing my creativity in various ways.
Too bad, I love the music you play, especially your original songs. But glad you find your way to Second Life to share them with us.
For me music is about expressing myself and having fun and less about making it a job. If I can touch someone with a lyric I wrote or a melody and make a difference then it’s all worth it, even if it’s just a few people listening.
Well said. Who would you say touched you with his or her music?
My favorite musician in RL is Paolo Nutini, his songs are well written, with honest, meaningful lyrics and he sings with raw emotion and soul. He has really influenced my songwriting and musical tastes. That being said I love Cat Stevens, Ed Sheeran, Chris Stapleton and bands like Radiohead, Coldplay and REM. I was fortunate enough to see REM in Hyde Park, they were incredible. Michael Stipe is amazing. I love his stage presence and unique vocal ability.
Now I’m jealous. Sadly, I never made it to a concert of R.E.M.
Hehe, one of the only major bands I’ve actually seen live, I mainly listen to more local musicians. As far as Second Life goes, I love lots of musicians but my favorite is Jon Bazar who is my Second Life uncle. I originally helped him get started he has a wonderful voice and does lots of great covers that I really love from all sorts of bands including R.E.M. He even covered one of my originals which I felt very honored by. The song was “When she smiles”.
Jon is great. I saw him recently at Surfside Hideaway as he started playing here again.
Yes, it’s very funny, we came back around the same time – unintentionally but I was thrilled. My Other favorite is a singer named Holly Giles. She is from Australia and has an incredible voice.
Holly is great too yes. I already featured her on my blog.
Oh that’s great, I love the tone of her voice in particular, that slight rasp, she also has a great stage presence, and she raised over 200.000 L$ for Relay for Life this month. It was very moving as I just lost my grandmother to cancer.
Heard about that fund raising, I was stunned.
Yeah so was I. I caught a vast majority of the shows and her fans are so kind and generous and it made me realize why I loved the Second Life community. Everyone has big hearts, it’s a great platform to make a difference. Even right now during isolation. People are feeling a sense of closeness and community, even more so and coming together to entertain and laugh.
True. I watch a lot of shows via Facebook at the moment. So many artists find a way to stream and reach out to their fans. Frank Turner for example, he streamed last week to collect money for his crew as all his shows were cancelled. The fans donated over 30.000 €. At least the world isn’t that bad.
Oh wow, that’s wonderful. The internet can be a strange place, but used correctly and as a tool it can be wonderful.
Have you ever considered doing this too? Streaming live on Facebook, or youtube?
Yes, I was thinking of doing a live stream myself, my avatar is a lot more pleasant to look at though.
Well, not everyone can be 25 and hot forever. Speaking about age, since when are you into music? I mean playing it by yourself?
Since I was 14, so like 17 years now. However, I wrote my first song when I was 8. It was about an eagle from Texas, so it wasn’t a surprise that I moved to America for a while.
It’s very therapeutic and healing.
Wow, is there a story behind it why you got into music and writing songs? Obviously it’s not the usual hobby of an 8 year old.
My parents had music playing all the time and I remember dancing around to Elvis Presley in my living room when I was 4 years old, even used to imitate him when I was a kid. They listened to all sorts of music though from The Beatles to The Carpenters. I used to want to be an artist, specifically a cartoonist but music became more of a passion as I got older. I lost that passion slightly when I was married but since I am about to go through a divorce I am tapping into that side of myself again. It’s very therapeutic and healing.
Yes, I hear that a lot that artists use their music and songwriting as some kind of therapy.
Definitely the case.
Would you say your songs are autobiographic then?
Perhaps so. Like earlier in my show where I did an improvisational song during my set as a way to express something that was on my mind. Sometimes I end up liking it and keeping it as a song. So in a sense yes, a lot of my songs are about love, long distance, early stages of romance and break ups. I also have written songs about other topics though but mostly love songs and I love worship music so would like to maybe write songs in that genre too.
Is there a song you would call “your most personal/intimate” song?
I wrote a song called “Haunted” that I really love the lyrics too, it speaks to the idea of being haunted by the ‘what ifs’ and ‘could have beens’ and the memory of someone, the steps in overcoming that and moving towards healing a bruised heart. It’s not the most cheeriest of songs, but I like it as it speaks to some truths and struggles that people face when they come to the end of a relationship and are trying to move forwards. I like the song saving my Lindens too though that’s more cheerful about saving up money to be with the one you love “I just can’t wait to we can meet, really meet..” speaks to a lot of love stories in this digital age. “there will be no poseballs, and no lag, and no crashing of any sims, it will just be me and you together, me and you like birds of a feather”. Second Life Love Song in a nutshell.
Haha, yes! A hymn to Second Life love.
I also like the line “a picture creates a thousand words but none that I can read”. I wrote that when looking at photos I had taken in Second Life of me and my ex and was trying to come up with things to say about us. Sometimes a picture speaks more to our hearts then it does to our minds. Same thing with music, it can touch us in ways we can’t explain. It can bring us back into the past or it can heal old wounds or celebrate in the joy of life. It’s like a tapestry woven into the fabrics of our life.
That sounds very poetic.
I think I am a much better lyricist then I am a musician. A part of me is considering writing poetry alongside music, just so I can write more without being so caught up in the music. I wrote some lyrics recently that I really like but the melody needs some work.
Oh, that brings me to the question, when you sit down to write a song, which elements tend to come first melody or lyrics?
And how do you work on the melody then? Getting inspired by the words?
Yeah, usually I try and find a melody that matches with the lyrics. I tend to write at the same time, however it’s the lyrics that drive it. If the lyrics are the wheels, then the music is the track and my singing is the engine.
Thats a good way of looking at it.
I am quite imaginative, I often make sense of the world through imagery and I think that comes out in my songs. I believe our imagination is a powerful tool and we kind of forget it when growing older. We see kids use it all the time, playing house, pretending to be doctors, vets, cowboys and cowgirls. They are exploring the world through their imagination and making sense of it. We tend to lose that as we get older, I guess that’s why I like Second Life as imagination can run loose in here.
Because we can be 25 here forever?
That too. We are as young or as old as we can make our avatars look as is the case with my friend Morf whose avatar is an old man. I used to do themed shows with him as sidekick instead of having a dancer. It was great, he is a very talented visual artist and a Second Life mesh designer. He helped me create my tip jar. We met online on Justin TV, then Second Life and we also used to live together in RL when I was in the States. That’s another great thing. I am on the other side of the world and we can still connect, play games and hang out. So yes, I love the representations that people have of themselves in this game. I have this little place in Bellisseria here because I love the community neighborhood vibe and chose the houseboat because of my desire to explore. I also loved that the creator called it Moonshadow, like my favorite Cat Stevens song.
“Stevens wrote this about finding hope in any situation. Be present and joyful. See life as it is, right now, and don’t compare it to others’ lives, or other times in your life. Every moment in life is rich and unique; whether we are aware of it or not, we are always leaping and hopping on a moonshadow – the inescapable present moment. If we are wrapped up in our whirlpools of worry and concern about what could be, or what has been, we are missing the richness of life as it is.”
Read that summary online, I didn’t write that but it’s true. Especially right now with the Corona Virus Second Life provides a place to escape and feel a connection and listen to music without worrying about the day to day stresses of life. I feel like it’s a much more productive and sociable way to spend your time then watching Netflix. But allowing opportunities for self expression and it enriches real life.
I don’t think it’s especially Second Life, it’s the internet itself. Here in Germany we aren’t that digital we could or should be. I guess that changes everywhere in the world now. People find ways to connect, we are social lifeforms. As I said before there are artists streaming on Facebook, then you can find online theatres or people set up pages to help their neighbourhoods. And these are just a few examples.
Yes, that’s wonderful. In a time of social isolation, we have discovered social inventiveness, finding new ways to bridge the gap of loneliness and create community. I recently started to tag my posts with #stopthespread #listentoEd. I think it’s important for people to know that being at home doesn’t have to be boring, there are lots of musicians out there being out of work but finding new ways to share their talents online.
I think that’s a good wrap up of the situation at the moment, Ed. Thank you so much for taking your time for this interview and of course for the music you share with us here in Second Life. Looking forward to hear more of your shows on the grid.
Thank you for interviewing me, I really love that you are highlighting the Second Life music scene in your blog. It’s been great chatting to you.