When Tim Edey walked away from Manchester’s The Lowry stage with the coveted BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Musician of the Year gong last year, few knew of the flip side of this upbeat, charismatic artist and the battle he faces with daily demons.
For despite being one of the most talented musicians on the planet and, according to BBC Radio 2 ‘s Mark Radcliffe, “the nicest man in folk” , Edey has had to overcome a life time of panic attacks, childhood bullying, a OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) diagnosis and a teenage mental breakdown.
The 33- year-old Kent-born musician even thought his career was over when, after 9/11, he couldn’t step aboard a plane – having to give up the opportunity of a major American tour with Irish singer Mary Black – and the fear then escalated to trains, buses and cars.
Edey, whose brilliantly eclectic new solo album Sailing over the 7th string is released on Monday, October 14, is open about his challenges and says music is the “therapy” and positivity he needs to keep on track.
After enduring bullying at school, it all started soon after his 15th birthday when he suffered his first panic attack. “I was hyperventilating and it was all downhill from then on.”
He is aware many of his fears – which have included a phobia of lifts – are irrational and even laughable. “Some of the things that happen are just mad – on stage I started repeatedly counting the guitar plectrums because I was convinced they were going to fall into my drink and I would choke.”
“When I lived in Dingle in Ireland a lot of the roads were very bumpy. I would get an idea that I had hit someone and began retracing journeys. The worst thing is having to continually check things like whether you have turned off the tap. You just can’t stop….
A keen sailor, Tim says that on a boat there is no escape from your fears. “Sailing a 28 foot boat alone, you are forced to confront each and every fear and thought and carry on.”
But Perth-based Tim is able to restore the balance by immersing himself in his music whether solo, session or in his duo with harmonica genius Brendan Power with whom he also won Best Duo at the 2012 Folk Awards. As one of the most in-demand musicians on the acoustic circuit he has played with many of the major players on the Celtic scene from The Chieftains to Christy Moore and Sharon Shannon and is soon to embark on an American tour with Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster.
Tim says: “There are different forms of OCD and it’s ridiculous because it’s all in your head. I have good days and bad days. I don’t think there’s anything to hide – there shouldn’t be a stigma about it-– a lot of people write to me about it who are in similar situations.”
Tim, whose partner is Perthshire singer Isobel Crowe with whom he has a baby daughter Ava, says: “It’s been a mad journey but I’m just thankful I’m able to play my music and keep things under control. OCD and anxiety often go hand in hand with creativity – the positive thing is my music. Music makes it right!”
Sailing over the 7th String – predominantly guitar music with a bit of box playing thrown in for good measure – is already being heard across the BBC airwaves and getting enthusiastic reviews.
It is released on the Gnatbite Records label on October 14 and is available at gigs and online at www.timedey.co.uk