“Open your heart and let the sun shine in” from The Secret Language of Birthdays by Gary Goldschneider & Joost Elffers
“After noticing that Ed’s birthday was still available for the project, I decided to reach out and ask if he would participate. He replied with a “So you want to photograph me?” followed by a yes… I so was thrilled!! We messaged back and forth to come up with an idea for the photo and agreed to photograph him in his home, alongside a collection of amazing pinball machines that he fixed himself. I had a blast chatting about the machines and all the amazing art work he has around his home. Better yet, I was so glad I got to interview him for the project and share a few laughs. Ed is a pleasure to be around. Always guaranteed to make you laugh. ” – Camila G
Image by © Camila Gargantini
An Interview with Ed
The answers below were transcribed from my interview with Ed Robertson – Camila G
Q. What is the best memory you have from a previous birthday?
A. I’ve had a lot of good birthdays. One of my favourite birthday memories is… I was in NY, I was alone in NY for my early 30’s and I decided to order a massage to my room in the hotel, so this woman comes up and I said “do you mind if I put on some music?” and she just kind of nodded, didn’t say anything and I put on a record by a friend of mine who is a Toronto artist, visual artist and musician songwriter. He is one of the best songwriters I know. He is one of the best painters I know. He’s total renaissance man, Kurt Swinghammer, and he did a record that is a tribute to Valentina Tereshkova who was the first woman in space. She was a Russian cosmonaut. And so I am getting a fantastic massage in my hotel room and after 3 songs the masseuse says to me [Ed speaks in a Russian accent] “his whole record of Valentina Tereshkova”? [laughs] and I kinda turn around and said yes and she goes “she’s great woman. I worked with her in Russian military hospital” and I had no idea this woman was Russian. I had no idea of the connection, and I put on a record she would never have known about by a little known Toronto artist that was a tribute to one of her heroes.
Q. How about the worst? And why?
A. I think… does it mean I’ve led a charmed life that nothing bad comes to mind? Maybe I am just eternally positive and don’t focus on the negatives… ahh… let me see… I don’t have… there isn’t a bad birthday memory that comes to mind… [after I was about to ask him the next question he stops me] wait, I’ll tell you… here is a birthday memory that was troubling for me. I remember when I turned 35, which was ten years ago now. I said to my childhood friend that I grew up with…. I said “Dude! This is freaking me out! I am half way to 40 now!” and he said “Correction! You are half way to 70!” and that… that really freaked me out.
Q. What was the present you’ve received for your birthday that surprised you most?
A. One of the coolest presents I’ve ever got was from a fan who has been a fan of the band since the very beginning. I remember the first time I met her… it was when we released the first record out in Vancouver… she lives out there and I’ve seen her in every tour. She is a hardcore fan and has been, forever. So, I am fan of games. I am a huge fan of games, all kinds of games. Pinball is an obvious one but I love board games, I love cards games, dice games, I like ALL games. A huge favourite of mine is Scrabble and I am a Scrabble freak. I’ve even narrated a documentary about Scrabble one time, [laughs] I’m like… so into it. So, it might have been my 40th birthday, she gave me a hand quilted, a quilt!, like… I don’t know, 9 foot by 9 foot quilt that was a Scrabble board and she had hand sewn all the individual letter tiles that were all, had Velcro attachments so you could play Scrabble on a lawn with this massive Scrabble board. My wife was like “How the fuck do I outdo that?!?! What the hell am I supposed to do?”… [laughs] so that was a pretty great gift.
Q. Is there a food or dish that you insist on eating on your birthday?
A. You know, I don’t… I am sort of a BBQ nut so you can see I have two different smokers in the backyard [he looks back at the yard], I have a Big Green Egg and pellet smoker… I am pretty nuts about old school Southern BBQ so it is very common for me to do a brisket, or a pork shoulder or some big heavy meat dish…
Q. What do you believe is the most important aspect of celebrating a birthday?
A. Being grateful. I think, you know, maybe to me that is the most important aspect of living a life… is being grateful for your opportunities, for the things you have. But I look at my life now and I just feel like I am grateful that I do something I love, I am grateful that I still get to do it, I have a wonderful family, lovely wife, it’s… I have a lot to be thankful for and when another year rolls around, to me it is just like “ok, still here, still doing it”…
Q. Do you have any traditions or thing you always do to celebrate a birthday? What is it?
A. I always get myself something and pretend it is from somebody else. [laughs] I get myself something that is wayyyy more extravagant than anyone would spend on me and then I pretend, I am like “Ohh… isn’t that nice? So and so sent this in the mail… it is really nice” [laughs]. So that is sort of a tradition of mine…