Belfast Telegraph

Ezra Vine - on broken necks and life in Britain

The New Zealand-born singer/songwriter, who plays here this weekend, talks about his recovery from a broken neck and adjusting to life in the UK

By Edwin Gilson

Q: You broke your neck after falling off a horse two years ago in New Zealand. How long were you housebound for?

About a year and a half. It was just the most disastrous of circumstances and nobody could have predicted it. It was incredible bad luck, and yet I'm actually quite lucky not to have damaged my spinal cord and become paraplegic.

It was a huge life change. It's very easy to lose focus, and I can drift into playing mind games with myself, but I have to keep telling myself that I'm through the worst of it. It could define me, but that could be positive in that I can say 'Look where I came from, and look at me now'. I've got a record deal, I'm making music, touring and loving it.

Q: Did you move to London partly to draw a line under that episode in your life?

Yeah, finding opportunity in Europe has really helped with that. I think a new life was definitely called for and, for me personally, it was all about getting out into the wide world from New Zealand.

Q: How have found the UK since moving from New Zealand?

Well, I've only been in London for four months so I'm quite like an island over here at this point, I don't know too many people. I've just been writing and playing a lot of shows, and the more I do that the more people I meet. Then it will start to feel like home.

Q: Are you still feeling any lingering effects from the accident, be they physical or mental?

The remnants of the injury still hold me back now – sometimes I get migraines, insomnia, fatigue and other things like that. Sometimes if I work a bit too hard, I won't be able to do much for the next few days. Those times are tough.

When I'm really under the weather, it feels like having a really bad hangover. After the accident I had lots of bouts of focus loss, just days and days of haziness. It felt like Groundhog Day, and it got very boring. I could only see my friends for about 10 minutes at a time.

Q: Have you written about the traumatic experience?

I've written a tune which is really like an 'I need morphine' kind of song, about being in hospital at 4am and suddenly being surrounded by nurses that were applying morphine to me. A very strange situation. It has changed my approach to lyric writing and the art of making music in general.

Q: Your press release claims you can play 16 instruments. Is this entirely true?

Ha! Well, if I was to count and be particular about it, I could probably just about play 16. But I think that may have been just a PR stunt!

It's a bit over the top. I play everything that's on the record, though. If I had all the time in the world, I'd learn the violin and lots of other instruments, but usually I just use guitar, bass, piano and percussion. All the basic stuff you need to get a track finished – that's what I do.

Q: How much contact have you had with your tour-mate Vance Joy?

We haven't met or even spoken yet! I'm looking forward to getting on the road with him though, and I'm sure once we have a beer and a laugh, we'll get along well.

Ezra Vine will be supporting Vance Joy at The Limelight 2 in Belfast this Sunday. For details, visit www.limelightbelfast.com

INTERVIEW: EDWIN GILSON

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