Music has the power to alter the lives of people; it can change how they see things and even affect how they think, yet when it comes to Liam J. Edwards, not only did music help him, but it was the only thing that made him whole, it was comforting and soothing. In a recent interview with Mister Styx of Musicarenagh, Liam J. Edwards made some disclosures about his growing up, this is what he said:
“Music shaped who I was in the early years of my life. Growing up, I never fit in and struggled to make friends. When I felt lonely, I’d listen to music, sing, write and watch music videos and imagined doing that one day. It brought me massive comfort and hope even in my darkest of times, like when I came out. It was an extremely scary and painful experience, but music was there.”
More of such revelations were made during the interview, Liam revealed the first song he ever wrote was for a girl he had crush, this was when he was just 10 years old, but what really changed his life was when he took the time to reflect on his life, that was when the dream of songwriting was ignited.
His latest body of work Unnecessarily Complicated: The Epilogue is an EP with 5 songs on it, and this right here is a peek into his abilities. Following the success of ‘The Prologue’ in 2021, this new EP is a remarkable two-year labour of love, celebrating the strengths, triumphs, loves, and losses they’ve experienced on their journey as a young queer creative.
Listen to Unnecessarily Complicated: The Epilogue below
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What is your stage name
– My stage name is Liam J. Edwards
Is there a story behind your stage name?
– My real name is Liam McGlinchey, it’s an Irish surname. As proud as I am of my name and heritage I decided when it came to pronunciation, spelling etc a stage name was needed. I took my middle names John and Edward and made Liam J. Edwards. It’s a lot easier to spell but now everyone thinks I’m a Jedwards tribute act, out of the frying pan into the fire lol! I love my stage name and it’s always a fun joke to break the ice.
Where do you find inspiration?
– Everywhere. Inspiration is all around us we just have to feel it. If I had to narrow it down to one source, I would have to say experience. My experience navigating life as a young, queer and Welsh artist. From moving out, starting uni, making and losing friends, and all the emotions that come with trying to figure out what life is all about.
What was the role of music in the early years of your life?
– Music shaped who I was in the early years of my life. Growing up, I never fit in and struggled to make friends. When I felt lonely, I’d listen to music, sing, write and watch music videos and imagined doing that one day. It brought me massive comfort and hope even in my darkest of times, like when I came out. It was an extremely scary and painful experience, but music was there.
Are you from a musical or artistic family?
– I am blessed to come from an extremely musical and supportive family, but I owe my musicality entirely to my mam. She loved to play music from her youth around the house like Mamas and Papas, Aretha Franklin and ABBA. Not to mention, she worked hard and gave everything to make sure I could explore music.
Driving me back and forth to singing and flute lessons and concerts, attending all the good, bad (and atrocious) performances and supporting my decision to go to drama college. I will never be able to repay her for everything she’s done, and I am extremely grateful to have the family I have.
Who inspired you to be a part of the music industry?
There was no one defining person. But every time I’d go to a concert and see someone perform, it gave me an overwhelming sense of determination to one day get there myself.
How did you learn to sing/write/to play?
Like many of my fellow Welshies, I began performing in the Eisteddfod yr Urdd, a festival celebrating the Welsh culture in all its beautiful glory. Ever since that 5-year-old starting to sing, they were obsessed. At around 10, I discovered the beauty of songwriting and started from there.
Funnily enough, the first song I ever wrote was for a girl I ‘had a crush on’ (bless her). I wrote here and there but I really started taking it seriously over the pandemic when I and everyone else was forced to look inward and reflect. The minute things starting on track back to normality, I made it my mission to make music happen and here we are, grateful to the 5-year-old who dared to dream.
What was the first concert that you ever went to and who did you see perform
The first concert I ever attended was BBC Radio One’s ‘Biggest Weekend’ Festival in Swansea 2018. I got there at 7am and ran to the front when the gate opened. My eyes and ears were entranced by the array of music, visuals and performances from my all-time favorite artists like Taylor Swift, Sam Smith, Florence and the Machine and so many more. It was in that moment watching my idols when I knew, I had to be on that stage. Since then, I’ve made it my life goal to one day perform on the main stage of a BBC Big Weekend Stage, and every day I’m getting that little bit closer.
How could you describe your music?
Empowering. Unique. Unpredictable.
Describe your creative process.
The creative process for this EP was magical, the people I got to meet and work with that helped me find my sound and bring it all together made it the most fun I’ve ever had. It was also the hardest I’ve ever worked on a project but as much as it scared me, I knew that if I wanted to achieve what I wanted to I’d have to push myself further out of my comfort zone than ever before. Reaching out to PR companies, hiring graphic designers, choreographers, producers etc was nerve-wracking but looking back I’m so proud that I took that step to make the creative process behind this EP next level.
What is your main inspiration?
I’m so grateful to have grown up in a very musical household surrounded by so many incredible influences. The first artist who inspired me to write was Amy Winehouse, from 2011-15 all I ever listened to was her. The way she wrote, told her story, expressed herself was nothing short of monumental to me. I miss her every day and even though I will never get to thank her, the influence she had on myself and so many other artists will be forever. When I began writing pop music, some of my favourite artists and songwriters include Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Bebe Rexha and Rina Sawayama.
What musician do you admire most and why?
There are so many musicians that I admire, local and global. If I had to choose one that inspires me over all others it would have to be Dua Lipa. I’ve been such a massive fan of hers ever since she released ‘New Love’ back in 2016. The way she’s grown over time into the artist she is the most inspiring thing to me, and how she constructed the era that was ‘Future Nostalgia’ got me through some of the darkest times of my life. Her music, visuals and live performances are nothing short of iconic, one of the highlights of my young life was seeing her front row in Cardiff’s Motorpoint arena in 2022.
Did your style evolve since the beginning of your career?
Massively. I started my career at 19. I was still finding my feet and figuring out what my sound and brand was. When it came to my style, I used to think more was more, I used to add more layers to things like my music, artwork and performance clothes. Now, after learning from multiple mentors and learning that sometimes less is more, everything changed. My style became more confident, clean and polished, as seen in my recent artwork for ‘The Epilogue’ and social media posts promoting the work.
Who do you see as your main competitor?
Honestly, myself. I (like many of my fellow artists) am my biggest fan and worst critic. I find myself constantly comparing myself and beating myself up. Especially over the little things like if a performance didn’t go as well, a post doesn’t get a certain amount of interaction and other trivial things. Thankfully, with help from my therapist I’ve learned I need that this behavior is not only negative, but totally unproductive to bettering myself as an artist. Every time I find myself acting like this, I tell myself “What more could u be doing? You’re doing your best so what more can you do?” and it brings massive comfort and realization that we’re all on our own paths and need to be a lot kinder to ourselves.
What are your interests outside of music?
As much as music is my first love, when it becomes your whole life, activities outside of it are essential to avoid going insane. In my free-time I love to be with my friends and family, playing with my nephews and enjoying the simple things. I also thoroughly appreciate my own time which I spend time reflecting and allowing myself to feel what I’m feeling. Also watching TV (especially my comfort shows), building LEGO and swinging my lightsabers pretending I’m a Jedi. I am a massive geek and an adult child.
If it wasn’t a music career, what would you be doing?
I’ve always wondered the same. In school, almost as much as music I loved studying history and English. I’m not sure what career path I’d be on but it would certainly be in those areas, perhaps a librarian or university lecturer. As nice as those options are and as much as I tried to force myself to consider them as an option, they couldn’t match the passion I had for music.
I can’t imagine myself being truly happy doing anything else, it’s important to have other hobbies outside music but when it comes to a career, music is the one. There are however other passions I have that I’d like to explore like acting, voice work and presenting, I’ve dabbled in these areas before, and have found great joy in them.
What is the biggest problem you have encountered in the journey of music?
The biggest problem I’ve encountered thus far is the lack of respect for pop music in the local scene, especially queer-pop. One thing I have experienced multiple times in gigs, open mics, songwriting events and radio shows is being called “just a pop singer” and after performing “Not bad for a pop singer”. I not only find this extremely disrespectful but also hypocritical, as I know for a fact if Taylor Swift or Dua Lipa hit them up asking to open for them they’d be buzzing! Pop music is expressive, beautiful and fun! More than anything it deserves to be celebrated in the local scene as it is globally.
If you could change one thing in the music industry, what would it be?
There are so many things that I wish the industry did differently, two distinct things come to mind. Firstly, I would change the influence of certain social media apps on the industry. It can be extremely distressing for brilliant creatives to place all their energy into learning about algorithms rather than creating and basing the worth on how many views/likes it receives.
Secondly, I would like the leaders of the industry be those who care about the music rather than how they can make money by profiting off hard working creatives. The industry is a near impossible journey to navigate, but all we can do is take it one step at a time and never let anyone take our worth away from us.
Why did you choose this as the title of this project?
The title ‘Unnecessarily Complicated’ came from a bad time in college. A teacher decided that he had some sort of personal vendetta against me, I was running 5 minutes late and walked into my class to hear that teacher saying very unkind things about me to another teacher. I confronted him and he tried rationalizing his actions, I tried to make things light of it by saying “It’s all good, I’m just Unnecessarily Complicated”. It was a lightbulb moment. Before most of the songs were written, I knew this was the title, it summed me up perfectly while also taking the mick out of those who tried to hurt me.
Then I had the idea to split the EP into two volumes, ‘The Prologue’ to represent the beginning of my journey navigating the industry. Now there’s ‘The Epilogue’ signifying the end, having found my sound and style and ready to take the industry by storm. While our journey never ends, I am ready to start a new path now that ‘The Epilogue’ is out in the world.
What are your plans for the coming months?
I have a couple gigs across the UK here and there, one super exciting one is a Queer Pop Night in The Jam Factory in Hereford on November 25th. As well as shows and music, I’ll be continuing to work towards completing my degree as a classical singer. I’m sure as Christmas approaches there will be so many concerts so keep an eye on my socials for a wide range of music and shows!
Do you have any artistic collaboration plans
– Nothing set in stone as of yet. I just finished an incredible collaboration with producer Millie Blooms, which will be revealed end of next year. In the meantime, my DMs are always open and I’m always down to collab with fellow hard-working musicians and creatives who love what they do and have something important to say.
What message would you like to give to your fans?
– Thank you. Thank you Thank you THANK YOU. Wherever you are, I wish I could give every single one of you a big cwtsh. To everyone who has streamed, watched, added to playlists, shared my work, spread positivity and came to my shows, I am eternally grateful. You give me the motivation to keep going and make the best work I can make. I’m looking forward to growing together and I hope I can and continue to make you all proud.