Interview with customer - Ed Harcourt
We are very lucky to have an amazing range of fascinating & extraordinary customers that we make clothes for. Some a lot of people know about, others they don't!
Over the next few months, we are going to do a series of interviews with some of our customers, finding out more about them as well as their sartorial leanings!
Firstly, we are chatting to Ed Harcourt.
Ed Harcourt is an English singer-songwriter. To date, he has released six studio albums, two EP's, and thirteen singles. His debut album, Here Be Monsters, was nominated for the 2001 Mercury Prize. Since 2007 he has been writing for other artists, including Sophie Ellis-Bexter and Paloma Faith, and has performed with Marianne Faithful and the Libertines.
Ed and I were also at school together and we were two of four who took Music A Level. I like to think that I taught him everything he knew!!!!
We recently made Ed a beautiful double breasted bespoke suit from a stunning cashmere / wool mix from Standeven Mills as a couple of bespoke shirts, & whilst doing this I also had the privilege of spending time in his studio and listening to some of his new material.
Ed. also very kindly wrote the music for our series of videos that you can find on our website entitled, 'Life is about Experience'.
1. As a performer, do you think it is important to look good?
Of course! I don’t understand people who don’t make an effort. Slackers. I’ve always been a fan of artists like Prince or Bjork or David Bowie who created colourful and off-kilter stage personas, re-invented themselves, incredible talents who also look happen to look iconic and amazing. But I’m also a fan of Sinatra and even Tom Waits, the dapper and also the quirky, shabby just got out of bed look….takes a lot of effort to look that crumpled.
2, What are you fashion influences?
I’ve always admired Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, they always look immaculate. He has that stick-thin shamanic preacher build where as I am a rather short stocky fellow, I still wear a suit but he obviously wears it better! Big fan of Oliver Reed back in the day. I do love a good tailored suit, never fails to put a spring in one’s step. Boots too, I’m coveting a pair of monkstrap boots at the moment, may have to sell an organ on the black market to buy them. I’m a little bit laissez faire regarding clothes, sometimes they work sometimes they don’t, I tend to throw on whatever I can find when I’m busy…but I refuse to wear trainers casually. And Crocs are the work of the DEVIL! Or God whichever way you look at it.
3. Why did you choose the fabric that you chose for your bespoke suit?
The opportunity to have cashmere combined with wool is just too good to pass up on. It’s just luxurious and feels so nice to wear. You did a damn fine job sir. The light brown houndstooth is a design and colour that can be worn on any occasion I think, the black paisley silk lining is an inspired touch I think. This is a glorious suit for all seasons!
4. Where did you get your love of music from?
Very early on I think, when I was just a wee bairn in the 80’s. My mum had all the Beatles records, my dad had a lot of classical and some folk and African music, He also listened to a lot Ravi Shankar! My brothers introduced me to everything from The Doors to Rolling Stones, basically all the classics…I really love so much eclectic stuff, today I’ve been listening to Chet Baker but this morning I had the Polish black metal band, Behemoth, on my headphones at the gym; yesterday I was listening to Jurassic 5, day before that Vaughn Williams. I love it all! And it really does seep into your subconscious then reveal itself whilst you’re creating new music, without you realising it at all.
5. Who is your style icon? and why?
Oh fuck I have no idea…..Rod Hull and Emu?
6. How has the music industry changed over the decades you have been involved?
It’s become a lot harder to survive. I try to do as much as possible to generate income. I’ve been lucky enough to get out of London and build my own studio and do everything there so I’m more self-sufficient. When I first started my solo career at EMI in 2000, I think it was on the cusp of everything going into a downward spiral with illegal downloads and the bottom falling out of record sales. If you manage to sell 50,000 units these days it’s a miracle. I also think with the internet and Sky and so many Netflix boxsets to plough through (which I love) , people aren’t supporting live music as much anymore and the gap between very rich, successful musicians and musicians has just increased tenfold. The huge success stories now in the music industry are much more savvy, much more shrewd as business -men/women. When did that become the norm? It’s slightly depressing. I mean I would love to be able to think the way they do but I just can’t. So I have to keep busy with many different projects and also make records for other people, which luckily I definitely enjoy but budgets have become a lot tighter these days unless you have a major label who actually believes in you. Which is rare.
7. You write now for the likes of Sophie Ellis Bextor & Paloma Faith, do you prefer writing or performing? and why?
To be honest, I’ve graduated into more of a studio hermit these days, I still like to perform every now and then, but my preference is now working in the studio, I like to have a steady output of material. Co-writing is very different to writing for myself, there’s usually a deadline, so you really have to dig deep right there and then..
8. When we were growing up, there were the likes of Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and the such, who moulded society and created identity in the youth! what has happened to this edge now a days and why has it seemingly disappeared?
I think with the new generation, is it Generation Z or millennials so to speak, they’ve become ( with the development and onslaught of the internet and social media) pretty inward and introverted. I think there is innovative and exicting music out there, you just have to look for it as it’s not really in the mainstream anymore.
9. What are the new projects you are working on?
At the moment I’m in the middle of my next instrumental record, which is completely different to the melancholia and intimacy of Beyond the End, this one is an sonic explosion of epic proportions! I had a song on the Moomins soundtrack with my band Colonel SuNs, we’re making a record in July and I have a new rock band called Loup Garoux which is dark and romantic and heavy as hell, I can’t really give anything away yet but the future looks very interesting indeed..
10. How was having a Family changed the way you write?
At the beginning, it was all light and joy. Now I’m just really, really tired.
Ha ha just kidding! It hasn’t really changed anything, although I find some of my recent songs tend to veer towards the concerned, mainly for my kid’s future, as the human race seems to be very quickly destroying the world that created it. Governments across the world need to wise up and fast, however it sadly may be too late.
11. What were your most important influences in music growing up?
I think learning the piano at an early age was the catalyst for catching the bug so to speak. After that I was pretty enthusiastic in attempting to learn every instrument possible. Listening to music and then emulating it was a passion, I had no interest in sport or maths, only English Lit, art and music. That was it for me. But having the classical training definitely helped place my mindset on the right path for where I am now, even though I sometimes believe it’s best not to use what you’ve been taught but go on gut instinct instead… During my teenage years, I remember music was all about rebellion and chaos, so Nirvana, Pixies, Guns N Roses, NWA, Jane’s Addiction, Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin were my go to bands, but then I discovered singer-songwriter pianists such as Tom Waits, especially his early records and that was the springboard for becoming a solo artist rather than playing in bands….
12. Give us one film, one book and one piece of music that we should all see, read and listen to
Film: Inherit the Wind, incredible film with Spencer Tracy about a trial in which a young teacher educates his pupils in evolution in Tennessee rather than creationism. Ahead of it’s time.
Book: The Sea Wolf by Jack London, a rip-roaring read, in which our protagonist, Humphrey Van Weyden, encounters Wolf Larsen, a charismatic yet brutal sea captain, who changes his life for the worse (perhaps better too)
Music: Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (Symphony No.3) by Górecki - this will stop you in your tracks, I recently heard Beth Gibbons from Portishead sing this beautifully, which is no mean feat as it is a hard piece for any singer to approach.