Grayson is the stage name for Australian singer-songwriter Michael Edser – it’s a reference to his childhood street in the NSW city of Newcastle. He relocated to Nashville in 2011, which followed on from a stint in Europe where he toured with some of the biggest names in Ireland including Aslan, Bagatelle and John Spillane. He has also performed with Aussie legends Jimmy Barnes, The Whitlams and Vanessa Amorosi (amongst others) back home in Australia. These days Grayson writes and produces music for other people, as well as himself. He recently released a new single, ‘Margarita’, and brought it to the Tamworth Country Music Festival. We spoke a few weeks after that.
‘Margarita’ invokes beaches and summer, but Nashville is a long way from a beach – where does a Newcastle boy get his waves in Tennessee?
I feel landlocked all the time. It’s one of the worst things about living in Nashville – it’s a long way from the ocean – and when I first came to America I lived on Venice Beach [in Los Angeles] so I always felt I wasn’t too far away from home. Obviously when I moved to Nashville it was a whole different kettle of fish. We get down to Florabama once a year, which is on the border of Florida and Alabama.
Culturally it would be quite different for you. I do think Australians can get culture shock in the United States. But that Newcastle lifestyle … It’s a burgeoning city, in the last few years there’s been a lot of change there, but it is a surf town in so many ways.
Definitely. Everyone has a surfboard, everyone has a guitar. It’s a cool city. If I didn’t have to make a living I would never have left Newcastle – it’s God’s country. My dad used to tell me it had the best beaches in the world and it was a really cool place, and I just thought it was my dad being a proud Novocastrian, but honestly every time I go back it’s harder to leave.
While you were growing up in Newcastle, what did you listen to and when did you start playing?
I’ve answered this question a lot doing radio tours over the years – especially the country radio stations, they ask me what I grew up listening to, and I piss them off because I tell them that I listened to the Backstreet Boys, Googoo Dolls – everything that was on mainstream radio in Newcastle, which was three radio stations: KO FM, NEW FM and NX FM. And it’s still like that. And that’s one of the reasons why country music still isn’t as big as it is here, because if you want to be in Newcastle listening to country music, driving to the beach, you have to be streaming something – there’s no mainstream country radio station – and that’s were Australia is so limited. So I grew up with whatever was on radio, which was ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua, Backstreet Boys, because that’s all I knew – there was no internet to stream music. It was, literally, these are the biggest people in the world, this is what’s on NX FM, this is what I’m istening to.
And, of course, silverchair – one has to mention silverchair when talking to a Novocastrian.
As I got older I grew to love silverchair and what they achieved, especially in that time, was phenomenal. But when I was 15 or 16 I thought they were too heavy – I was driven to that more melodic, ballady kind of stuff. So I never was a huge silverchair fan, but as I’ve grown older I’ve fallen in love with their stuff.
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