By Bethany Madden
After completing a Music degree back in homeland Australia, Ed Wells has continued his academic endeavours by coming to Durham to study Law.
Born in Hong Kong, Ed moved to Sydney when he was around five years old and, as in many cases, cites his parents as being responsible for an early interest in music. Starting out, as all the best musicians do, with a coloured xylophone, Ed progressed to piano lessons around the same time as his move to Australia. It’s clear that he holds his early piano teacher in high regard, crediting him with an early introduction to jazz music which inspired Ed to pick up the saxophone at age eight, and later moving on to guitar and song writing.
He eventually started to perform his own music back in 2013, after what felt like a natural progression, stating that “for me, it just needed lyrics”. Since the days of being too shy to perform (Ed accredits this to a girl in choir practice telling him that he couldn’t sing), he has certainly come a long way, having recently played in Newcastle for Sofar Sounds.
Of this first EP, Ed states that “my sound was quite different then. Still now, I suppose I’m still trying to find a sound that represents me as an artist”.
Ed cites Bon Iver and Anderson Paak as some of his inspirations and, upon listening to his latest single, ‘Close The Distance’, you can hear the evolution of his sound. While retaining his warm melodies, Ed has introduced some more electronic beats reminiscent of James Blake.
Simultaneously breaking into both the UK and Australian music scenes is no mean feat, especially with a Law degree to juggle on top of that. “I’m really interested in law. If music works out then yeah that’s great but it also just depends on how hard you work on things so that’s why I’m doing my best to work as hard as I can on the music, effectively full time still just to keep it ticking and keep that opportunity open”; it’s a good job Ed likes to keep busy. As a result, he has not yet had a chance to properly explore the North East music scene, but is keen to get back to playing some gigs when he returns home for Easter. The North East weather, however, Ed has experienced aplenty, in true Aussie style, Ed talks about how “I feel like I need a surf now. I’m looking outside in the morning and thinking, where is the sun?”
In the future, Ed hopes to play again in London and is also keen to explore the UK music cities such as Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester, having enjoyed many UK artists work, namely Tom Misch and Jordan Rakei. He hasn’t forgotten his Australian roots, however, “It’s funny; I’ve found that when I’ll be recommending music to mates over here, most of them tend to be Australian so I suppose that reflects quite well on what Australians produce in terms of music.”
Australia’s own Matt Corby and Sticky Fingers are some of Ed’s top picks, but he acknowledges the flexibility and opportunity of being in the UK, “You’ve got a lot more at your door living in the UK and basing yourself in the UK because you’ve got Europe next door, you’ve got all these cities in the UK which are perfect for touring. I just found that when I was here in 2014 playing, the scene in London was great. People would just go to gigs, they might have no idea who you are but they’d be out just because they knew the venue or something. Some of the shows that I played there were some of the best experiences that I’ve had doing music because people are there for the love of it, so you’re in good company really.”
Ed is always on the lookout for other musicians around Durham, saying that “If I hear that someone plays music then I’ll go and chat to them. That is one of the things I miss doing – playing with other people. Like the shows just before I left Sydney, they were some of the most fun because you’re just with your mates. Your afternoons are spent getting ready to play and yeah, it’s fun. Just hanging out with your mates for a job, which is cool.”
He’s got his sights set on Empty Shop for a possible future performance and is keen to polish up on his Jazz skills at their jam nights at some point in the future. In the mean time, his ideal venues to play are Glastonbury, Sydney Opera House and The Albert Hall; not a bad selection.
Make sure to check out Ed’s music, including new single Close The Distance on Spotify and Apple Music.
Photograph: Ed Wells