Musicians are always told to move to major cities like New York and Los Angeles to have a shot at making it big, but after folk singer-songwriter Darren Eedens performed he decided to try something unique: he left Toronto's eclectic, buzzing music scene to move across the ocean to a small city in Wales.
Technically, Toronto has a bigger population than the whole country of Wales, but that actually worked in Eedens' favor, as his music now makes a bigger splash in the scene. He's gone on to tour all over Europe, making a name for himself in bluegrass, Americana, and folk. And while there are certainly limitations of living in a smaller city, Eedens has had no trouble finding inspiration in his new environment – not to mention that hopping on a plane for a gig has never been easier or more affordable!
So, if you're wondering what goes into a big international move, or how living in a small city can actually be amazing for your music career, you'll want to hear Eedens' story.
Moving from Canada to Wales for your music career is no small decision to make! What was the inspiration and reasoning behind it?
I had decided a few years ago to take a stab at touring in Europe. Having only really been touring for a couple years and only in Eastern Canada, it was a bit of a big jump. With that tour, I really caught the bug for being on the road, and I was very well received in a number of countries such as Belgium, Germany, and throughout the UK. I started flying over for tours once or twice a year and began building a name for myself and played more and more with each trip.
Fast forward after a couple years of doing that and my partner wanting to study abroad, and we decided the UK would be great. The options were either Scotland or Wales, and I sort of fell in love with Wales on past trips, and made a lot of friends and fans that I would see on every tour. We heard that Cardiff had a great music and culture scene and was generally a great place to live. So we packed up our suitcases, grabbed a couple banjos, and before I knew it, here we were, and it has been amazing for European touring.
Was your music gaining any traction while you were living in Toronto? How does the scene there compare to Cardiff, Wales?
Toronto has an amazing music scene; whatever you can possibly be into, you will find it. There are so many talented people and great bands/musicians coming out of the city. Now I live in an entire country with a smaller population than the city I used to call home. I think I needed to get out of the hustle of such a major city. Cardiff is a capital, but doesn't feel like it. If I'm in need of inspiration or quiet, I can walk or bike, and before I know it, I am either by the seaside or walking through hills where the only thing around me is a few sheep. It has really helped me grow as a musician; I have written more and created more here than ever.I have played in more countries over the past year than I had in my entire career beforehand.
I had already gotten my name around in Wales before moving here, so it made the transition great. I was able to get here and have gigs lined up all over the country. Because it is a small city, it didn't take long for people to recognize me. I stand out as more unique here; not a lot of people are playing Americana, roots, bluegrass, and country music. Add in the Canadian accent and the fact I play banjo, and it has led to a good amount of work for people that want to put on a show a little out of the ordinary here.
It's a very music oriented city and country, and much like Toronto, there are many many festivals all throughout the year.