||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2014)|
|Birth name||Edwyn Stephen Collins|
23 August 1959 |
|Genres||Alternative rock, post-punk, new wave, indie pop|
|Occupation(s)||Singer-songwriter, musician, record label owner|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, bass, violin, synthesizer, sampling, drums, harmonica|
|Labels||Setanta/Epic Records, Heavenly, AED (Analogue Enhanced Digital) Records|
|Associated acts||Nu-Sonics, Orange Juice, The Drums, Aztec Camera, Roddy Frame|
Edwyn Stephen Collins (born 23 August 1959) is a Scottish musician, producer and record label owner, widely known for his 1994 song "A Girl Like You". Collins formed the musical group Nu-Sonics in 1976, which later became Orange Juice, and has pursued a solo career since 1985. Collins was cofounder of the defunct Postcard Records label and cofounded the Analogue Enhanced Digital (AED) Records label in late 2011. Collins has also worked as an illustrator, television actor, television producer and record producer. Collins is an Ivor Novello Award-winner.
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Formed in 1979, Orange Juice was signed to Glaswegian independent label Postcard Records, which Collins cofounded with Alan Horne. The Orange Juice single "Rip It Up" is considered a hit, as it reached number 8 in the UK Singles Chart; the song was their sole Top 40 single and biggest commercial success. In 1985 Orange Juice disbanded; after some difficulty finding a record label to sign with, Collins began his solo career a year later, after signing with the Elevation subsidiary of Creation Records.
Solo career to 2005
Collins worked with Robin Guthrie, from the Cocteau Twins, and produced two singles for the Elevation label, but, after both failed to enter the singles chart, the label was closed in 1987. Collins and McGee also experienced a "falling out", and the former was without the backing of a music company.
At the request of passionate Orange Juice fans in Germany, Collins recorded his next album at a small German studio, with the aid of producer Dennis Bovell, who had worked with Collins in Orange Juice, and Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera. The album, entitled Hope and Despair, was released in 1989 by the Demon label and achieved success as an independent release. Demon also released Collins's next record, Spartan Hellbent on Compromise (1990), which was not as successful as its predecessor. Demon and Collins then parted ways and Collins embarked on a lengthy hiatus.
Collins built his own recording studio in 1994 that was used to record his third solo album, Gorgeous George, which he also produced. The studio, located in West Hampstead, London, UK, would become the West Heath Yard Studios that Collins would use for his future record label, AED Records.
Collins released a 1994 single from Gorgeous George, "A Girl Like You", and it became a hit in both the UK and the US; the song was featured on the film soundtracks for Empire Records and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle. "The Magic Piper (of Love)", a 1997 single that appeared on the soundtrack of Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, was also released.
In a BBC 6 Music radio interview on 18 February 2005, Collins said he felt unwell, but ascribed the nausea and vertigo to food poisoning. Two days later, he was admitted to intensive care in London's Royal Free Hospital after apparently suffering a major cerebral haemorrhage. After suffering a second haemorrhage he had an operation on 25 February 2005, which was followed by a lengthy programme of neurological rehabilitation owing to right-sided weakness and difficulty with speech. The aphasia he suffered allowed him to repeat only four phrases, over and over again: "yes", "no", "Grace Maxwell" (his wife's name) and "the possibilities are endless".
Collins released his sixth solo album, entitled Home Again, in September 2007 on Heavenly Records. The album was recorded before his illness but mixed after his discharge from hospital. While still recovering, Collins returned to singing live, including playing a gig at The Arts Theatre in London, UK. A tribute song celebrating his return was recorded by the indie pop band The Candy Twins.
A BBC Scotland documentary, Edwyn Collins: Home Again, narrated by Franz Ferdinand frontman Alex Kapranos, was broadcast on 19 May 2008. Filmed during 2007, it followed Collins's progress in recovering from his illness, and his first return to live performance at the BBC Electric Proms. Collins then performed at the Glastonbury Festival, which was broadcast on 28 June 2008 on BBC Two, and at T in the Park on 10 July 2009 (Collins's first ever T in the Park).
On 2 October 2009 Collins's wife and manager Grace Maxwell detailed her "running battle" with Warner Music Group and MySpace over his right to allow fans to listen to "A Girl Like You" for free on his MySpace page.
In November 2009, at a gig in London's Bloomsbury Ballroom, following a tour of the Scottish Highlands, Collins's singing was contrasted with his slow speech: "[W]hen he started to sing, his baritone proved as powerful as ever." On 20 February 2010, he joined The Maccabees onstage at Brixton Academy for their encore, performing vocals on a rendition of "Rip It Up".
Losing Sleep, Collins's first written and recorded album since his 2005 illness, was then released on 13 September 2010 in the UK. The album was recorded at his own West Heath Studios between November 2008 and May 2010, and was produced by Collins and Sebastian Lewsley. Collins and Lewsley first met in 1992, while Collins was producing former Subway Sect frontman Vic Godard's album The End of the Surrey People and Lewsley was his assistant. For the album, he collaborated with The Cribs' Ryan Jarman and Johnny Marr, Franz Ferdinand, The Magic Numbers singer Romeo Stodart, The Drums and Roddy Frame. Lewsley explained the recording process of Losing Sleep in 2010:
We did each song in a day ... and a day consists of about four hours. So there's a real expediency about how it's recorded. The whole attitude of the album is just doing that. Not indulging anyone. Not having any band sitting round for days and days. "Have you got a guitar part yet? No? Just do it. You've got a coupla hours." They [Collins's collaborators] all looked quite petrified but they did it.
In 2009, during the making of Losing Sleep, Lewsley observed Collins gradually regain his musical proficiency—Lewsley explained: "The studio is more of an instrument again for Edwyn.” The cover art for the album features a collection of bird drawings that Collins started working on in 2005.
On 30 September 2010 Collins and his band broadcast three live songs from the Royal Beacon Hotel in Exmouth for BBC Radio 2's "Radcliffe and Maconie Show". (Stuart Maconie is a former music journalist and his first NME article was a review of Collins's 1987 gig at the Manchester International.)
On 30 July 2011 Collins performed at the Indietracks festival that was held at the Midland Railway, Butterley, UK. During the 2012 Kendal Calling event Collins sang "A Girl Like You", with Roddy Frame on guitar and Tim Burgess on backing vocals.
Collins's eighth solo album, Understated, was released in March 2013 on his own AED Records label and was critically well received, with God Is in the TV stating:
Understated is more than just another step to recovery, it is indeed a fine record in its own right, and utterly life-affirming. It’s also perhaps the ultimate testament to the healing power of music. He lost the ability to read, write, and lost movement in half of his body, but what he didn’t lose was his gift for coming up with an ear-catching tune, as is proved here. It will make you smile, it may even make you cry, and it's an album that reminds you how good it is to be alive.
Relationship with Roddy Frame
Frame has maintained a long-term friendship with Collins, since they were both signed to Postcard Records in the 1980s—Collins was 21 years old, while Frame was 16 years old when they first met. Collins and Frame collaborated on the Aztec Camera album Stray, including a live performance of the song "Consolation Prize".
Frame performed with Collins in November 2007 during Collins's first concert after his recovery from a serious illness, and the pair played again at the Glastonbury Festival in June 2008, on the Park Stage, and at the Purcell Rooms in London, UK, in September 2008.
Frame's fourth solo album, Seven Dials, was released in 2014 on Collins's AED record label. Frame explained, following the album's release, that he had been inspired to make an album with a full band after his positive experience playing with Collins in 2007 and 2008.
Collins has also worked extensively as a record producer with other artists, including Terrorvision, Vic Godard, Robert Forster, The Cribs, and Little Barrie. In 2005 Collins produced the Cribs album The New Fellas and co-produced the 2013 album Clarietta, by Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs, with Lewsley.
In addition to his music career Collins also produced and starred in the Channel 4 television show West Heath Yard. Collins released his first book of illustrations, Some British Birds, with Morel Books in 2009.
Awards and honours
In 2010 he received an honorary masters degree from the Buckinghamshire New University, in recognition of his "strong influences and contribution to the national and international music industry over the last three decades".
On 21 August 2010 Collins attended the Helmsdale Highland Games as the chieftain, an honour also previously bestowed on his grandfather.
In September 2014 Collins announced on his Twitter page that he is a socialist and in favour of Scottish independence. He said "Friends: me- a socialist, and internationalist. No SNP, not me. But I'm for the future, not the past. Changed my mind. I'm for #YES".
- Hope and Despair – Demon, 1989
- Hellbent on Compromise – Diablo, 1990
- Gorgeous George – Setanta, 1994, UK No. 8, US No. 183
- I'm Not Following You – Epic, 1997, UK No. 55
- Doctor Syntax – Setanta, 2002
- A Casual Introduction 1981/2001 – Setanta, 2002 (collection of Orange Juice and solo work)
- Home Again – Heavenly Records, 2007, UK No. 90
- Losing Sleep – Heavenly Records, 2010, UK No. 54
- Understated – AED Records, 2013
- List of Scottish musicians
- List of 1990s one-hit wonders in the United States
- List of number-one singles in Australia during the 1990s
- Empire Records
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