Writing Back to Music: Interview with Eddie Ink on new ‘Daydream’ album and celebration of sobriety.

Harrison interviews Eddie Ink on his latest classic blues album 'Daydream at Nightime', a celebration of his sobriety and the organisations "which caters for people on the edges of society".


Content warning: mentions of drug & addiction.


Tin shed / Nuff said;” the first words sung by blues troubadour Eddie Ink to the intimate crowd encapsulated his matter-of-fact approach to songwriting. His second record, Daydream at Nighttime, forgoes the anxiety of the artist's sophomore venture; at 75, the Eddie Ink act serves as a medium to express a lifetime of story and hardship actually lived, a scarce gem on the fringe of Melbourne’s assertively young music scene. On April 30, after a triumphant performance to the attentive room, I spoke to the resilient songwriter about Daydream, and his journey through community art organisations that brought him back to music. Performing with Amy, his Wild at Heart songwriting mentor, by his side, Eddie exemplifies the need to preserve the independent artist voices “painted over” by the continuing gentrification of Melbourne.


So where did the Eddie Ink moniker emerge? What motivated your shift into music at this point in your life?

Well it actually came about in 2004. Eddie Ink emerged from the alcoholic blur and drug abuse and everything, Eddie Ink was born then, as it were. Then I progressed into doing stuff with Roomers and Wild at Heart, which got me here.

As I said earlier I’ve been sober for 19 years. I’ve always been a writer, I’m a writer not a musician, I’m not really a guitarist either. I’ve always written—I ran my own amateur theatre company when I was sixteen and I’ve written plays. The last contract I had before coming to Australia was to write four episodes of The Bill, which I couldn’t do because I was coming to Australia. When I emerged in 2004 [as Eddie Ink] I did a little bit of stand-up comedy, which was a Five minutes of Fame thing. Now I’ve met the Roomers people, who run creative writing classes for rooming house people.


Could you tell us about what Roomers do?

It's a great organisation. They publish a magazine every so often. That’s when I started getting back into writing. With them I did Melbourne Writers Festival and ABC Radio National. From there I met the songwriting group Wild at Heart, which caters for people on the edges of society, with mental illnesses and stuff like that, so that’s when that started.


So your musical journey came from recovery?

Very much. The funny thing is that a lot of musicians get into the drugs after they’ve started the music. With me, the drugs started after the music. And of course age comes into it as well. I’m 76 next month, and I'm starting to feel that age… I hope I haven’t got dementia.


Your music adopts a folksy blues style. How did this come to be?

It’s the style I sort of got into as a player, because it’s three chords, it’s pretty easy. But when I went into the Wild at Heart Songwriters group, Amy (backing singer), she was one of the mentors there and I worked with her and that’s where I developed the music writing into more than three chords, and got some depth into it. The writing naturally matched up, the two came together, it was a natural thing. Blues is so basic, so uncomplicated. If you want to tell a story, use three chords. You can get the story across in just three chords, you don’t need all that other stuff. So really, the blues is storytelling—it’s a positive thing, not a negative thing.

My music is not really for young people. It’s for people who want something slightly different. A bit more of a Leonard Cohen. It's the words that are important, not the music. You have to have the music, because it is a music; it's the lyrics, the words that are the most important thing.


Your home in St Kilda is a recurring set piece on Daydream. What place does St Kilda hold for you as an artist, and in the album itself?

I’ve only lived there now for 26 years. It's a great place to live, you know; You’ve got two different tram routes, three supermarkets and you're living near the beach. I’m still living in a rooming house, you know, but the rooming house has really cleaned up. Some of the people who were really abusive have died now, so we’ve been left with the people who, you know, are fine to live with, so I’ve stayed there. Gael, off ‘Gael’s Song’, lived in the same rooming house. There’s still a nice mix of people sitting on the street drinking wine with their hat out for money, as well as people driving their Hummers and, you know, there’s a nice mix of the two.


Eddie stands as a testament to the importance of organisations like Roomers and Wild at Heart in bringing forth voices marginalised by the insularity of Melbourne’s music frontier. Daydream at Nighttime is Eddie’s formidable celebration of the work such community organisations do to convert struggles that may handicap artists into works of art themselves. Daydream and Eddie’s other releases can be found on Eddie’s BandCamp. Roomers and Wild at Heart can be found at the links listed below.



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