Depending on who you speak to, you will hear that Ed Harcourt was raised by wolves, he grew up in a Russian orphanage or discover that he was once part of a travelling circus - which perhaps explains his Coulrophobia. Truth is, he was born in the seventies (“the year punk broke, days before The King was dead”), and lived with his parents in East Sussex. Over the years, he has become a well-read, well-dressed, well-travelled English gent and a songwriter of some repute.
Of his six albums to date, one was Mercury nominated and the rest have picked up an array of plaudits from the music press. He’s composed film scores, toured with the likes of REM, Wilco and Snow Patrol, performed with everyone from Patti Smith to Nick Cave, and his CV is littered with co-writing credits that include the likes of Paloma Faith and Lisa-Marie Presley. Most recently he’s been working with Beth Ditto, Marianne Faithful, played piano for Lana Del Rey’s forthcoming album, as well as produced and co-written Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s new album, which was released in January 2014 and has been awarded a silver disc in the UK.
Taking a break from penning songs for pop starlets and orchestrating movie soundtracks, Ed Harcourt will return to the stage this summer to scorch hearts with his melancholic piano-pop. He will be performing a smattering of gonzo-lullabies from his charmingly weathered and trunk of songs.
In January 2014, Harcourt released a new record entitled ‘Time of Dust’. The 28-minute long mini-album was described by one critic as “cinematic hip-hop”, by another as “post-grave”. On naming it the week’s must hear album, the Guardian’s Alexis Petridis talked of the album’s “gothic grandeur”. Elsewhere, comparisons have veered from Eels to James Blake via Elbow and that Tom Waits chap.
Thirteen years ago, Harcourt’s career began with a mini-album named Maplewood, “Time of Dust feels not unlike its distant cousin,” says Ed. “I’ll soon be heading into the studio with Flood (Nine Inch Nails, PJ Harvey, etc) to work on an album of evil songs, but before I set sail for the edge of the world, I wanted to break people in gently. Think of Time of Dust as a piece of the map I’ll be using to navigate the fog and fire. Or maybe it’s the creak of the floorboard before the wolf pounces?”
2013 was a busy year for Harcourt. From co-writing and producing a new album for Sophie Ellis-Bextor, to festival appearances at the likes of Glastonbury, Latitude, and a headline slot at End of the Road, his dog-eared diary has never seen so much action. Recently, Harcourt has been musical director for Burberry’s London and Shanghai Fashion Week parties and also was MD for Beck’s Song Book at the Barbican; he’s composed soundtracks for three movies due in late 2014, recorded collaborations with Rae & Christian and Nouvelle Vague’s Melanie Pain, and brewed his own beer (an ‘Edwardian Brown Ale’) with Signature Brew, which after the initial test run of 3000 bottles sold out, the production is being ramped up. 2013 also saw the release of his sixth studio album which was recorded in just six hours at Abbey Road entitled Back Into the Woods, and then there was that #WIZARDBOUNCE “album” which he gave away for April Fool’s Day...