‘I try to write on my low days… that is where the best music comes from’ – The Voice winner Craig Eddie
When Craig Eddie won The Voice he made a decision, he would champion the topic of mental health. Having lived through episodes of anxiety, depression and depersonalisation himself, it was something he felt it was important to do.
Consequently, those are the three challenges he has chosen to address with the release of The Outside, his first single since winning the prime-time BBC talent search in March with his song Come Waste My Time.
Falkirk bairn Craig was raised in New Carron and won the tenth series of the hit show after being coached by singer Anne-Marie who 'turned' for him on hearing him sing Make It Rain. However, The Voice is just the latest chapter of his story, one that started with the gift of a guitar from his granddad when he was just "12 or 13."
He recalls, "At the time I'd tried so many things, everything that a little boy could try, and guitar was the one I stuck with so it has all sort of worked out."
That wouldn’t be too surprising, Craig comes from what he describes as a "musically orientated family," but for the fact that as a child the 23-year-old could not imagine anything worse than having to perform in front of others.
He explains, "My dad is a singer, he sings at corporate events and weddings, so I was brought up listening to Stevie Wonder and stuff in the car. I suppose, being always surrounded by music, it became the path I was set on but the funny thing is that, as a child, I was really shy and the only really sang in my bedroom. I wouldn't even sing in front of my mum and my dad."
A pupil at St Francis' Primary and St Mungo's Secondary, even Craig’s teachers had no idea of the talent he was hiding until they saw him on The Voice.
"On the night of the final, my high school made a video wishing me luck in which my head teacher said they all had no idea that I could sing," he recalls, explaining, "That was because, although I knew I had some ability there, I just never had the confidence to let anyone hear me."
While Craig reflects it was his "solid goal" to become a musician from the age of 16, it would be another two years before he would overcome the anxiety that had plagued him throughout childhood.
"The biggest first step I took was deciding to throw myself in at the deep end. Up until then I was quite bad for pulling out of gigs at the last minute due to anxiety and I never really took the opportunities that arose because, again, I was so anxious. However, if you really want to do something badly enough, there comes a point when you just have to bite the bullet and face your fears."
Craig's moment of truth came when he played his first paid gig at the age of 18.
"It was in a little pub called Behind The Wall, in Falkirk, in front of 150 people. I hadn't really done any live performances before so it was scary; we were charging people to come and see me and I was really feeling the pressure. When it was over I knew it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; I remember singing one of my own songs and everyone sang it back to me. I did not expect that and nearly started crying on stage."
He continues, "That was when I realised that being in the moment, performing live, was worth going through the anxious, trembly feeling beforehand. That was when I also learned I could use the adrenalin to up my performance, until then I hadn't been emotionally intelligent enough to do that."
Still, it's a big jump from 150 locals in the pub to the eight million or so viewers The Voice can pull in and Craig gives a nervous chuckle before recalling those appearances.
"It's hard to explain. I never expected to be calm when I was performing on the show but I was definitely much more calm than I thought I would be – that might have just been my brain shutting off. It was like tunnel vision. I'm thankful that happened for every TV performance."
With his blonde hair and dark contrasting tattoos, Craig cut a striking figure on the telly and he reveals, "A lot of my tattoos have a special meaning for me. I have lyrics from Not In This Alone, the first song that I ever wrote on my arm, 'Light up everybody's little worlds,' and I have a plectrum with a little paw on it... I like tattoos with meanings."
Many reflect his love of music, "Whether it's producing, writing or just playing my guitar, music is an escape. Music and boxing are my big escapes. It is a weird feeling and hard to explain, but when I'm playing music or listening to it, it is almost like I go into another realm. It's my cure."
Ironically, it’s when Craig is at his lowest that he is also most creative.
"It comes from nowhere, that really low feeling. I'm not 100 percent there in knowing how to cope with it yet, I just take a few days to chill, watch Netflix and wait for it to pass. There are probably better coping mechanisms, it's just I’ve yet to find them. The most important thing is to talk. Ever since I started openly talking about my mental health three years ago it has helped me figure myself out a bit more and made me realise that the unique feelings depression and anxiety can give you aren't actually that unique, other people go through them too.”
He adds, “It's funny, after I won The Voice, at that high point, it was hard to go back to writing heart-break songs. So I try to write on my low days as I know, unfortunately, that is where the best music comes from."
The Outside, the new single from Craig Eddie is now available to download and stream