A concert on the Central Coast more than a decade ago prompted Michael Edser to leave Australia.
Now the singer, who perfoms under the stage name Grayson, is living in Nashville where he is flat out working as a session musician, songwriter, as well as finding time for his own music, which includes a new single, Margarita.
Speaking to Fairfax Media by phone from his home in Nashville, Grayson explained how he came to be living in Music City after leaving Australia about a decade ago.
“It’s flown mate,” he said. “I love Nashville, but I miss Australia everyday of the week.
“It’s a big sacrifice being over here away from family and friends, but you can’t really do what I do in Australia.”
Grayson said the move overseas was prompted more than a decade ago after he grew tired of playing around pubs and clubs in Newcastle.
“I was playing in a duo called Grayson with my twin brother, and we’d had enough of banging our heads against a wall in Newcastle and the Central Coast. There was one night we played at The Entrance Leagues Club where our crowd was old people’s backs as they played the poker machines.
“I said to my brother halfway through the gig, I reckon I could get nude up here and swear on the microphone and no one would care. And that was kind of the defining moment for me.
“I’d been busting my arse, writing songs and working hard, and no was giving a damn or even listening to the point that we were playing to the backs of people playing poker machines.
“The feature noise on the poker machines was louder than our PA,” he said.
The brothers were even asked to turn their volume down so the punters could hear the sound of the poker machines above the music.
“I went home that night and I got on MySpace, which was the social network back in the day, and I started Googling booking agents in England and Ireland.”
After heading to the UK, Grayson got a deal with a label who got him back the following year to record an album, and toured with Australian artists including Jimmy Barnes, Vanessa Amorosi and The Whitlams.
His manager then advised him that he had to go to America, where he initially lived in California before moving to Nashville five years ago when he got a publishing deal with a company run by Garth Brooks’ guitar player Johnny Garcia.
Now, he spends most of his working days as a session musician.
“That’s my bread and butter now, when I’m in town I do a couple of sessions a week, I help produce albums and also help bring in work for the studio and the rest of the time I’m writing with people or touring.
“So I wear many different hats now, but it’s all come together nicely and I’m keeping busy. And in this industry if you’re not keeping busy, you’re going backwards at a fast rate.”
In the studio, he is working along some impressive session players, including Garrett Goodwin, who is Carrie Underwood’s drummer, Tim McGraw’s longtime drummer Billy Mason, and Alex Cordell who played guitar for Big and Rich as well as Gary Allan.
“There are days when I’m telling these guys what to do, which is quite hilarious,” Grayson said.
“But it’s also a moment where you think ‘I deserve to be here’.”