Absolutely loved talking with Ed Roman, solo-artist based on the eastern-side of Canada in Ontario – I couldn’t help but be pleased with the answers that have come back in this interview…much of this explains a lot of how I personally feel about musicianship in Canada, only much better put coming from the words and perspective of Ed direct. Always love talking to an artist that truly has something unique to offer & say – and Ed is exactly that. Check out the latest interview below, it’s loaded with fantastic, genuine & honest insight on everything from politics to music, to Ed’s latest album Letters From High Lattitudes!
Interview With Ed Roman
SBS: Fantastic to have you with us Ed! Appreciate your time & efforts in answering all these ramblings that I’m sure are about to follow, yessir I do – thank you very much brother! And I mean what I say – I truly AM glad that you’re here with us today Ed…because after everything I’ve seen, heard and researched about you – you truly seem like a musician for whom the magic is still fresh. You know what I mean brother? It seems like you absolutely, 100% love what you’re doing with your life, the music you make, the people you meet…I suppose what I want to know about first is, what is it about your connection to music that continually makes it exciting for you over the years as they go by? How do you challenge yourself and keep it interesting and NEW for yourself over time? What drives you?
Ed: Thank so much for having me today it’s a pleasure speaking with you man.. As corny as it sounds it’s life that drives me. I’m continually being pushed and pulled in my mortal coil by the things that I see happening everywhere around us. I’m a human being that lives in breathes on this beautiful planet and I know I’m not the only one that experiences the things that I do. I’m trying to summate the human condition in the day and age that I live in. This is why life and my music is always fresh to me. I’m greatly empathetic and respond on the emotional level to so many things. These emotions are inherent in my music and every time I play them I am once again move by the initial inertia. To me they’re like looking through photo albums in your life. You never ever get tired of seeing those old memories and at times look back at them with such fondness. Another great thing that drives me is anger. That doesn’t mean I’m in angry person but I allow it to flow through me in order to try to collate it’s message and allow to be the conduit for this anxiety. I’m continually being challenged by the information that is being shown to me. I have disdain for schedule and authority and it’s very easy for me to find power in my music every day as I wield it more like a weapon with language and notes.
SBS: For those out there that aren’t yet familiar to your music & sound Ed – how do you personally describe it? What is it in your music that you feel are the key elements that would easily identify it from other artists that make similar sounds?
Ed: I like to refer to my music as the kitchen sink. Pots, pans, dishes knives and forks all dirty and waiting to be cleaned. You never hear them arguing to one another about who’s taking up more space or who has more soap but nonetheless they are all there in that sink together. What I think most of Ed Heads in the world love about my music is the fact that my music is just me. I’m a simple person trying to convey an important problem. Many of us all have the same thoughts and emotions every day but don’t have a vent or conduit to be able to release their feelings. I was lucky enough to grow up at time when songwriters and storytellers could change an entire generation of people’s thinking because of their words. This is all that I ever tried to do. This is why I think people relate to me.
SBS: I know there’s a Canadian history aspect that runs deep throughout the new album you’ve just released, Letters From High Latitudes. I’ve seen it described as an homage to your home in Ontario – and obviously we could write about anything when we make music – so what made you choose to write about where you live and what you’ve experienced in Canada as opposed to say, something more fictionalized…or MORE songs about California, chics and cars…I mean…what GIVES Ed? Are you trying to avoid the mainstream? Canadian history isn’t sexy enough to sell – is it? Or does that even matter?
Ed: I am Canadian and damn proud of it. But I’m a citizen of this world. My experience happens to me in Canada or the United States or in Jamaica or in any part of the world for that matter. My writing is very reactionary and I tend to ask questions more than I state the obvious. Canada’s history is wide and just as important as any other country in this world. What I find sexy is telling the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts and the things that people talk about fall on deaf ears. Insecurities, ego and lack of education perpetuate the myth that we live with every day of our lives. I’m trying to shake the human consciousness out of the perpetual sleep when it comes to navigating the 21st-century. I like pretty ladies in bikinis though..
SBS: I’ll leave this one wide-open for you Ed. Why is it important for musicians to communicate through music? Is it a platform that should always be used to get a message across?
Ed: Music is the backdrop to our life. The words are the foot lights and beams of clarity that illustrate our existence today. Music is always been a vehicle to comfort the idea of what the words are trying to say. Even amazing melodies can conjure feelings and emotions but take the listener on a different thinking process. Spoken word can be just as effective because it carries the same cantor and robust energy that any lyric in any song could hold. I also find as a writer that music helps facilitate lyric writing as once again, it creates an emotional tapestry in the songwriting process. It’s highly integral an important for this to occur in our sociological situation. Dipping deep back into history the words and music that were created by so many people are now the allegory in our own lives. They help us carry on with our existence and educate us about our past. I’d say that’s pretty important.
SBS: Personally…I don’t know if it’s always necessary, but I certainly do think there should be a lot more music that attempts to educate than there currently is. Always been a big fan of thought-provoking music that has in-depth political and sociological connotations…and here I see on your page of course, that you’re of the same mind and making music with that intention. So I figure I’ll throw this out there…and if this is too much, feel free to cast this question aside, but you seem like the right guy to ask and right now in Canada, it’s certainly going to be the right TIME to ask someone like yourself…what’s the deal with Ontario’s love of Stephen Harper? Things are much, much different here in BC…I’d be hard pressed to find a single supporter in our progressive-province…but according to anything I read, polling information etc., he’s still doing A-OK over there in the east. How is that possible? I’ve lived on the west-side in BC my entire life…and I’ve yet to personally see a Prime Minister so detrimental to our way of life that it’s actually pretty shocking to see just how much we’ve let him get away with. So I suppose what I want to know from you Ed, from your eastern-perspective…how important is this upcoming election to Canada and why?
Ed: Every election is important. What people have to realize is that despite we live in a supposed democratic society, there are far to many things going on in crypto politics that most of the public knows nothing about. I come from a very political background as you know and my beliefs in public service are very strong. I hate the word politics and I hate the word politician. These people are public servants there to serve the public. With that said every four years we are inundated with political party agenda, ego bashing and things that are borderline out right slander. The public is placated by all of these promises and back-and-forth like ping-pong tournaments which at the end of the day mean nothing. What the public should be doing is looking at the last 4 to 8 years of political discourse in this country. You have huge percentages of people in unions that are pleading with ministers that are ignoring their needs. We have bills that are being passed in this country and backdoor deals that are being made that we know nothing about. This is not a government ruled by the people. It is a government ruling over the people with a corporate agenda. It’s becomes a complete waste of time and semantical in argument about who is an asshole, who did this wrong and what are we going to do about it. The reality is there is a corporate agenda that overrides are civil needs. This is why the situation and the circumstances work so well in favor of the lobbyists and corporate make up of back door politics. On a municipal level this country receives its strength. The hard work, money, Industry and so much more are because of the people on these levels. On the provincial level we still have this happening but it becomes convoluted and colluded as federal government mandates dictate their decisions. On a federal level there is so much corporate corruption and “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain tactics” that make it next to impossible for vote to mean anything. This country basically needs to be cleaned up and that would have to be a complete reform of the federal government. Will my Father was in federal politics as an independent in Ottawa he saw so much corruption even back in the 1980s. Things like members of Parliament renting out apartments that are paid for by our tax dollars and keeping the money for themselves. I don’t think anybody realizes that every MP in this country can have their family flown by Air Canada or trained on via rail anywhere in this country and our taxpayers expense. I may be giving you an earful but this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
In my father’s own words and I’m paraphrasing, son by the time you get to be my age the corporations are going to have their way with you. Get involved in your community’s and stand up for what you think is right and fight for the things that you think are wrong.
SBS: I will say this (as I slowly back away from the political questions and back towards the music) – I am, and always have been, extremely jealous that you live in Canada. I know…I know what you’re thinking…I live in BC…I AM in Canada, right? Well you see Ed…that’s where you’re wrong…from a ‘world’ perspective. Because you’re all so busy over there going to pretty much every major act, artist & concert from all over the globe – you’re probably also all much too busy to notice that in fact, it’s ONLY because they’ve stopped in Toronto that they can call it their US/Canadian Tour! The amount of music that you guys get to see & hear vs. what I have here in Vancouver is MIND-BLOWING there is that much of a difference. And again – I figured you’d be the guy to ask as you’re familiar with Ontario to the point to write about the province itself in your music…so truly – what is the pull of Ontario when it comes to the rest of the world’s perception? Is it as simple as geography Ed? Of course there are more options towards the middle, and I’m stuck on the west-coast…so I can kinda get that…but I think there’s more to it than that and I’m straight up accusing ALL of Ontario of harbouring some sort of magic that we just don’t have out here in the west… I’m rambling…Ed…take over on this will ya?
Ed: Haha ha ha ba ha. Just so you know Ontarian’s feel the same way about British Columbia. I will say this about Toronto. It’s a very friendly place with a lot of amazing people in the town that exist there is staggering. We’re very lucky to live as close as we do to the New York border and we get so many incredible musicians coming up from the United States. The unfortunate thing is the public is greatly apathetic about their approach to music culture and participating in it the way they did 25 or 30 years ago. This is why so many Ontario artists are crossing the border and finding work in the United States. This is been going on for a long time and it’s nothing new as far as the music industry is concerned. I’ve sold more CDs and toured more in the United States then I am in Canada. I can’t even get played on Canadian Radio or find decent work in this country. This is why all Canadian should feel ashamed of themselves. It’s our culture that keeps our environment healthy. Think of all the times in the past or during a major war or conflict or some amazing United Nations event occurs. Who do they call? Musicians, poets, dancers. Why? Because we exemplify in illustrate the day and age that we live in. We are the living moment of our existence in time. Without these things we don’t have this information in a beautiful and organic way moving through our culture. Archaeologists will go back to dig sites and rummage through the earth and they will come across shards of pottery with depictions of the daily lives of people from that time. Art is a photograph of our lives and last for centuries. BC rocks though dude.
SBS: What has changed for you musically, in the writing, in life…in between albums Are You Ok?, Oracles & Ice Cream and the most recent Letters From High Latitudes? Music tends to leave an autobiographical stamp upon it over time, sometimes purposefully, sometimes not; when you look back at your catalogue now, is that something you feel you can hear? What have you accomplished now on the most recent album Letters From High Latitudes that say, the version of Ed Roman that originally started out to make Are You Ok? might not have been able to make, create or write back then? What’s evolved in the music over time, what’s changed & grown?
Ed: Absolutely fantastic question my brother. It is exactly what you say it is. As we grow music rose with us and as the music grows hopefully we do the same. It is an ongoing process trying to figure out who you are and how to get inside of the straitjacket of music. It’s an ongoing process and I see it changing and growing with my life as I move on through it. I’m still driven by passion and that has never changed so so long as I maintain my spiritual connections with my surrounding environment, I too will progress. I’ve definitely learned how to control my speed and I’m not so worried about shouting and yelling all the time. I found as I’ve grown older it’s the quiet things hidden in small spaces that people are attracted to. Things don’t have to be is complex but they still have to be as honest. This never changes for me but the music does.
SBS: I’ve also read that, even though the album of Letters FromHigh Latitudes hasn’t even had enough time to gather DUST on its cover since being released, that you’ve already got a NEW single on the way! This particular release seems to have a special-intent however; being released on November 11th, 2015 – it goes on to read that you’ll be donating the proceeds to veterans charities…tell us what inspired that! What’s the new single all about and what made it important for you to step out & give something back regarding all this?
Ed: Well I know I may receive some flak from some of my pacifistic friends but I’m OK with that. I’ve met so many people in the last couple years of my life working all over the United States that are veterans that are suffering. They gave their lives, arms, legs and some cases their mental health to protect their citizens. I have great respect for these people and in the same breath I can say I have no respect for government that puts these honest hard-working people in harms way for no reason. The lyrics of the song are really inspired by my brother who’s been going through a lot of things in the last couple years of his life. I see a dual purpose to these lyrics and one could interpret them in many ways. What I am hoping for is that the language helps people navigate to the idea The killing your brother is wrong and there are other ways to wield weapons that are not bullets and missiles and have far more power than any machine or army. There is a lyric in the song that says ” we jump through a hoop while someone is consorting. I’m going to lay one down. I’d tell you the truth but you think I was performing. I’m going to lay one down” so often are blind faith and ego driven fear makes us act and behave like tyrannical animals and act on the moment as opposed to questioning before we take action. We jump through these hoops that people force us into and meanwhile behind the scenes there playing with our very lives. When we talk about what these things are and for some are well documented truths. Yet despite we convey this information people refuse to believe us. I remember my grandfather rolling up his pant leg and showing me the hole from the bullet that passed through it. When looking at it I could almost feel the pain of it running through my body down to my feet. He would look at me and say, do you see this Edward… Remember this is from a rich man’s game. All I can do is hope that people by the MP3 and that the proceeds can go to help as many people as it can as well as the lyrics change the way we feel about each other.
SBS: I can see that from all the different awards & hardware you’ve won over the years that performing, writing, donating your time, efforts & music has been something that comes natural to you and is often recognized for the work you put in. I could list them all here Ed…you know I could – but you ALSO know that every time you try to open the door on the room that holds all these trophies that it’s getting harder & harder to open that door – there are awards everywhere! But perhaps there is a moment, or a couple of standout moments, that really resonated within you and continue to inspire you to this day. Tell us about some of the highlight accomplishments you’ve had along the way Ed! Tell us a story or two bro!
Ed: I’m very grateful for you to take notice and is much is I am appreciative of the accolades and the awards what matters to me is my connection to people. It’s wonderful to be in an audience and having your name called. Standing at the podium and thinking so many people for helping you as they should, but I’m all about continuing to do. I will until they put me 6 feet under and I’m pushing up the daisies. What is so important to me, maybe so different to somebody else but the highlights of where my music has been able to take me is to some of the roughest and most non-traversed places that this world has. It’s my connection to people that have nothing that makes me feel like my rewards are paying off in a much greater spiritual way. I’ve seen some looks on children’s faces, when I’ve taught the music and or at the end of my experience been lucky enough to be able to give them a guitar. I know that that moment of faith from a stranger goes further in someone’s life then just an award on a shelf or a plaque on the wall. These are the greatest rewards I can have as a human being. You bastard you made me cry.
SBS: Have you felt like you ever had to compromise anything about your music in order to get it made? As an indie-artist we often enjoy freedoms that the mainstream doesn’t…but that doesn’t mean that we don’t run into the occasional roadblock or situation that requires some change in order for the music to continue…it happens. What obstacles has your music faced throughout the years Ed – and how did you manage to get past it for the music to continue on?
Ed: One of the greatest obstacles I always find as an artist working in the independent field is maintaining a simplistic life in order to do what I do. If I told you how much money I’ve spent over the last 15 years you’d asked me why I am even doing what I’m doing. I’m going into debt so many times and I’m still in deck today but I keep moving forward because I believe in what I’m doing. All I’ve ever wanted to do was be able to function, pay my bills and recoup any money that I’ve spent on my project. If I was lucky enough to make $10 million from what I do I give 99% of it away as I have everything I need my life. A loving wife, wonderful family and some of the best friends I could ever have. The greatest obstacle then becomes perpetuating what this is. I try to find other artistic ways of utilizing my life. I’ve taught music for over 25 years in order to supplement my income, prostituted myself out as a sidemen numerous times and played and cover bands for years. I’m also an avid gardener of all kinds of things vegetable. This is where I find a great deal of solace and the ability to circumnavigate bees difficulties when they approach my life. It’s very important to have multiple conduits in order to vent what these frustrations and problems might be.
SBS: As far as I can tell – you’re also somewhat known for your sense of humour within your music as well…tell us a little about that. Is a Canadian sense of humour universally funny to those in other parts of the world? While I’m thinking about it…in general, with an album like Letters From High Latitudes and its direct relation to all-things Canadian…is there still something that someone from Britain, or Sweden, USA…anywhere else in the world really…can those people still relate to what you’re saying through the lyrics and find a way into your music? Perhaps that’s where the humour comes in most handy? How does it all relate to the song-writing Ed – make some sense of all this if this ramble is still possible to be decoded!
Ed: The reason people say it is in homage to my hometown is for number reasons but they are not just restricted to this localized area or this country. As I mentioned I am a citizen of this world and if I have felt something or gone through something in my life somebody must have as well. I live at the second highest elevation in Ontario. The proverbial fool on the Hill who sees the sun going down. The lyrical content of letters is universal. It may be uniquely Canadian as I am always posting that fact, but really it migrates to so many different places around the world. Everywhere from Germany, France, Thailand, India, The United States, South America, Mexico, Canada and just about everywhere on this beautiful blue ball I’ve had people come to me and thank me for writing music. I’d say that it has a universal appeal.
SBS: Let’s give you a fun hypothetical! Suppose you’re the ambassador for Canada one day…and there’s some sort of bizarre program put in place that is going to beam out THREE albums that represent Canadian music at its best. I know that’s tough for a music fan like yourself Ed…but let’s face it – we only would have gone this far if the entire human race somehow depended on this…so no pressure at all – but you’ve been chosen and it’s all on you now to save us all! What three albums from our country’s music-history do you feel truly define the ‘Canadian’ style, attitude & sound? And of course…why?
Ed: Stomping Tom Connors. “Going back up north when the weather gets warm”. This is a truly iconic artist and the song greatly exemplifies the feelings that most Canadians have about our weather and the importance of our love for the summer. It is like a lilting soliloquy for the lament of the season.
Neil Young. Helpless. This is truly another iconic number which almost paints a Rembrandt ask like photo in your imagination. It truly tells the story of a small town feeling in this great nation of ours. I swear you could almost hear geese honking.
Eugene Levy. Next to you. This is a little known song by comedian master Eugene Levy that was featured in the film but more so during the credits of the film “A Mighty Wind”. It is a hidden gem in the Canadian industry as far as songwriting goes.
I’m going to give you four just because I care..
Rush. Closer to the heart. A philosophical an in-depth look at the questions needing to be asked. From masterful lyrical writer Neil Peart. It definitely transmigrates on a universal level which then makes it uniquely Canadian.
SBS: Websites my friend! Yep yep yep…it’s that time…we’re nearing the end here Ed, as much as I’d like to pick your brain all day long, I better make sure to get the online info from you so the fans will know where to find you at. How much time do you end up spending online anyhow? Any chance the fans can get a hold of you through the social media boards or find you online somewhere if they wanna reach out?
Ed: Dude it’s been a blast. I laughed I cried. I’m on social media far too much and that’s that. Always willing to talk shop or Philosophy with anybody out there. That goes for politics is well and farm agriculture. You can always get me on the World Wide Web at http://www.edroman.net where you will find many of my social networking buttons. Check me out on YouTube at Special Ed Roman and you can also get the Ed Roman App for free on iTunes. It’s good for your Android or iPhone or iPad devices.
SBS: Brother Ed…THANK YOU so much for your time and putting up with all my rambling questions! Feel free to take this next space for a ride yourself my friend – you can ramble all you like here in this next space with no judgements whatsoever! It’s the SBS ‘Open Floor’ here at the end Ed…so please my friend, anything we didn’t get a chance to talk about that you would have liked to have mentioned, by all means please do – or anything else on your mind that you’d like to share. The floor is yours Ed! Cheers man – hope our paths will cross again in the future!
Ed: Hey man it was a complete pleasure talking to you today and I can’t thank you enough for such a wonderful interview. I also like to think my incredible manager Michael Stover and Michael Jack for all of their hard work getting this project and other projects to where they need to be. We work together like a small but efficient team that keep our noses to the grindstone and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.
Our minds are like parachutes… They work best when they’re open. I try never to take anything at face value and I am deeply moved by the human experience. Empathy not apathy is what keeps us moving forward. It should make you laugh, it should make you cry and most of all it should stir your soul into taking the right kinds of actions in your life. Embrace the bad and harvest the good from it. Life is like a garden. Tend it..