The Fringe is dead. Long live the Fringe.

This time last year, I enthused that ‘Anything can happen in Edinburgh’. If only that were still the case…

Okay, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic - but the phrase certainly needs reframing if this year’s Fringe is anything to go by. Perhaps this is more apt…

‘Anything can happen in Edinburgh - if you can afford it’

Now don’t get me wrong - I’ve just returned from a wonderful few days at the greatest festival in the world, and I had a lovely time. I saw some Fringe classics (Out of the Blue, Sh*tfaced Shakespeare, Newsrevue etc.) and some great groundbreaking performers (Sad-vents, Bad Play and Aaron Simmonds, to name a few). All of it was great - full of the craftsmanship and quality I’ve come to expect from the festival over the last decade.

But I have to acknowledge that I was only able to attend because I had the disposable income to do so - and that’s speaking solely as an audience member. Ticket prices were high, the cost of food and drink was ridiculous and don’t get me started on the hotel. Just existing in Edinburgh during Fringe month has become a budgeting task of herculean proportions.

I do wonder what impact this has on the kind of shows that make it to the Fringe. When I said last year that ‘anything can happen’, I wonder how many of the limitless creative possibilities that I have come to expect as an audience member were simply priced out of taking a show up. 

I spoke to one performer who told me that their show had cost £5000 to put on. This was in a 90 seater venue - so fairly intimate in the scheme of the festival. Five-thousand pounds! Just to take a punt on your hard work - a real hit and hope scenario. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I certainly don’t have that money lying around to throw at anything - let alone a show that you may only just break even on. If you're lucky!

Aside from this, the nature of the content that was being performed at the festival was certainly not challenging the status quo. I recall years of walking up and down the Mile (which strangely had no stages for performers and is no longer the hub of the festival - a real tangential shift) and seeing tons of shows that at the very least poked fun at the political issues of the day. Brexit the Ballet. Trump the Musical. Petrol Prices: the Play (okay, maybe not the last one). The most satirical thing I saw was NewsRevue - which did take aim at some of the people who are responsible for the current planet-burning, compassion free hellscape we’re all bearing witness to, but was ultimately very safe. It satirised everyone. Perhaps that’s where we’re at with satire right now - but it doesn’t have to be this way. 

The new faces I did see pitched well and pitched effectively, with an angle of doing something innovative and challenging for audiences. But they were few and far between, which was genuinely disappointing. Where has the activism gone? 

I can’t stress this enough - I do not like to be one of those people who just complains about things, only voicing problems and sharing no solutions. But this to me has a simple solution - just fund the arts. ‘What does that look like?’ you say? It looks like it did 13 years or so ago, when value was placed on performance in Educational settings, local communities and beyond. Arts organisations and progressive schools are our last bastions of hope for putting the heart back into performance and creativity for everyone, not just the privileged. Without them, we’d be in a totally different place and they’re working hard to keep the dream alive. 

I know deep down that the festival can return to its former glory - a safe and inspiring space for performers of all backgrounds to showcase their art and tell their story. But right now, it’s a rich person’s game and it’s reflected in the art that’s being created - let’s put the arts back on the agenda and make it a priority for every community. If not, it’s only a matter of time before everything we go and see is ‘safe’ and ultimately pointless. Art shakes things up and makes things happen - without the Fringe, how else are we going to inspire the next generation to make their voices heard.

Oh Fringe, where is thy sting? 

Anything can happen in Edinburgh.

The Greatest City in the World

As I sit writing this, I'm on a train leaving Edinburgh - my favourite place in the world. I've been here for just over 24 hours for a flying visit, but it's been just enough for me to take in the energy of this beautiful City at this time of year. Not only that, but I can assure you I made the most of every second I had here...

Edinburgh is a beautiful place, filled with awesome people - but the Fringe really takes it to another level.

You feel like anything can happen there.

...and I mean that in literally any sense you'd like to interpret it. The Fringe is full to the brim of every kind of Art. Midnight variety shows, Musicals about Brexit, comedians trying out their freshest material. The air is full of life, as the best musicians gather to play in the streets with each other. People in costume stand on each others shoulders to shout about their poetry jam happening that day.

You could turn a corner and literally find anything going on. It's incredible.

But not only that, the Fringe has a culture of endless possibility. If you're happy to turn up and be guided by it, it will always lead you to something amazing. I try my best not to plan anything before I go up and let the Festival take me to where I want to go.

I did however, have a list of things I wanted to do - and I ticked off every single one...

1. Take in the Royal Mile

It's customary for me to do this as soon as I get to Edinburgh. If you look back through my social media, you'll see I pretty much post the same picture every single time. It fills my soul with joy to see the Mile in all its glory, filled with artists performing and promoting their shows to passers by.

The Royal Mile

Every year I've been here has revolved around the Mile - whether it was helping to promote the first show I ever went up with 'The Dolls of New Albion' or sneakily performing with Out of the Blue as they busked on the mile. As I wandered up and down, memories of early morning coffees, standing in the rain and laughter came flooding back.

2. Catch up with Dan Morris/Seeing Boris III

Okay, so I did book one show before I came up - Boris III. But with good reason - my good friend Dan Morris (of 'Yule Love This Christmas' fame) is performing in it! I grabbed a coffee with him beforehand and we had a lovely catch up - then I was lucky enough to see the hilarious show.

Go and see Boris III!

The premise was based around Boris' time at Eton when he played Richard III but didn't learn his lines - and the hilarity that presumably ensued. The cast were superb and it was full to the brim with political satire - if you're going up before the end of the festival, I strongly urge you to go and see Dan in it.

3. Breakfast at Brew Lab

I had to grab a coffee and a croissant at my favourite cafe in Edinburgh - Union Brew Lab. This establishment was just around the corner from a flat where I stayed for two consecutive Fringe runs, so it was often a pit stop for fuel before heading to the Mile to promote.

The definitive almond croissant and flat white combination

Now I do not say this lightly - this combination of freshly baked almond croissant and a strong flat white is the perfect way to start a day. If I could have it every single day, I would. I will shortly be starting a petition to open a branch in Doncaster.

It also gave me the energy I needed to complete the next part of my adventure...

4. The Crags

Arthur's Seat and the Crags have a special place in my heart for so many reasons. To name a few; Filming the music video for 'Moon River' with Out of the Blue, taking my acoustic guitar up with friends to jam at the top, and of course the really emotional bit at the end of One Day.

A selfie at the Crags

Previously, I've walked to the top to see the sunrise - I've even ran to the summit (never again) and sometimes I've just gone to the Crags to take in the awesome panoramic view of my favourite place in the world. This time, I did just that and got some gratuitous selfies as I did - of course featuring the new Tea Break Club baseball cap.

5. Veggie Haggis

Since becoming pescatarian, I always thought I would miss out on the best part of Scottish cuisine - haggis. That was until I discovered that loads of places make incredible veggie haggis! I spotted a place near Potterow that was providing it with neeps, tatties and a delicious whisky sauce.

Veggie Haggis, Neeps and Tatties.

I, of course, added the can of Irn Bru - which was one of my Grandad's favourite soft drinks, too. You can't really have one without the other in my opinion.

Lennon and McCartney, Fry and Laurie, Haggis and Irn Bru. You heard it here first.

6. City Milkshake

This is yet another staple of any Edinburgh trip for me. After shows, the lads and I would often venture here to get one of their exquisite milkshakes to fuel a wander around the City to take in the atmosphere of the festival.

A glorious milkshake from City Restaurant

This particular one is a Biscoff flavour milkshake - which wasn't on the menu last time, so I naturally had to try it. Every bit as wonderful as you'd expect. 10/10 would recommend for anyone looking for a tasty beverage to wander around with.

In my case I headed to a few different places, including Calton Hill and the Meadows. All made better by the City milkshake of dreams.

A snap from Calton Hill

7. This glass of 16 year...

The final item on my list was potentially the most important - a glass of Lagavulin 16 Year in the Albanach. This combination of the best whisky in the Universe and the best place to drink it has been a wellspring of happiness, inspiration and nostalgia for many years.

This Glass of 16 Year...

I first tried this whisky in this very bar back in 2014 with my friend Sam. I'm not going to lie, I didn't instantly fall in love - but after a while I came to love it and it became a staple in my life. If I treat myself with whisky, it's always with Lagavulin - whether or not I'm at the Albanach.

It was sitting here and reflecting with this whisky that led to the opening lines of my song 'These Streets'.

'This glass of 16 year, told me that I'd find you here - but you're nowhere to be found'

These Streets

Being sat there with the glass made this lyric even more poignant this time around. As I gazed towards the door, I was expecting to see a familiar face - any of those who have joined me over the years in this remarkable place.

My Grandad used to say that when you walk in a place you love, you walk with ghosts. This is so true of Edinburgh. I know I was mostly exploring on my own, but the memories of everyone I've been there with were with my every step of the journey, laughing and sharing in the joy of being lucky enough to be there again.

It's amazing how lyrics written 4 years ago are still relevant (if not more relevant) to me and my life right now. I suspect I will feel this nostalgia every time I return to the Greatest City in the World.

Me, enjoying my Tea Break in the 'This City' t-shirt!

So with my list complete, it was time to head home - but not before I got a picture of myself in a t-shirt with a piece of artwork inspired by this place. If you love Edinburgh as much as I do and you'd like your own, you can get one here.

Thank you, Edinburgh. My batteries are fully recharged and ready to make the next thing that inspires me.

You've reminded me that in the right place and time, anything can happen.

The most honest music I've ever made...

I can't tell you how good it feels to have music out after all this time - I know it's been a long, long time... thank you for being so patient. I hope it's been worth the wait!

What a month it has been! At the end of June, I announced the release of my new album 'Geoff' - my first release since January of 2020. I couldn't wait to share it with everyone.

I wanted to make an album that feels and sounds real. In a post-truth world, I wanted to tell stories that are honest - make music that’s proud to show its flaws. So I recorded it at home, with a piano and a guitar. I used a cupboard for a vocal booth, a bedroom for a mixing space.

Put simply, it’s just me. The aptly titled ‘Geoff’ came out on the 11th of July - but of course my Tea Break Club got to hear it first! It was so lovely to share it early and hear what everyone thought before it was released. There were so many touching and lovely reviews from the awesome community I'm building around my music.

Here are just a handful...

When release day came, I'd forgotten how amazing it is to see people listening across the World in places I've never even been! I can't thank you enough for tuning in - I can’t begin to tell you how much it means to independent musicians like me. Every stream is a worth at least a smile.

If you'd like to listen to the album, you can stream it in all your favourite places here!

'So what's next, Geoff?'

You, presumably reading this

Well, first of all - you haven't heard the full story of 'Geoff' or even entered into half of the Experience I've built around the album. Over the next few weeks, you can expect loads of bonus material and content - starting with this artwork I've built around the album.

'Geoff' is a very personal album and every single song has a full, rich story behind it - the inspiration, the writing process and of course how it actually turned out! With that in mind, I wanted to create an individual piece of art work for each song as well as the album cover itself - each one telling part of the story in some way.

Can you match each piece of artwork to the song? Now there's a challenge...

In the next week or so, these pieces of artwork will be available to buy in various forms - so you can get a keepsake for your favourite song!

Every time someone buys my merchandise or artwork, I do a classic Alan Partridge style celebration - you have no idea how good it feels to be supported by you.

As you may know, you'd have to stream a song 5000 times for it to support an artist in the same way buying a t-shirt or art print would. Awesome artwork, stylish clothing and the joy of knowing you're supporting honest, original work - what could be better?

But in the next month or so, you can expect something really special - if you're in the Tea Break Club, that is...

Before I sign off, I have just one more thing for you. As I was making 'Geoff', I knew I wanted to tell the story of how it came about in a new and exciting way.

Those of you who've been following me for a while will know that I used to Vlog - in fact it started with a series called 'A Song In Seven Days', which is still available to watch on YouTube. I documented the songwriting process of 12 songs in a classic Vlog style format.

I learned a lot about storytelling in that time. It was a very direct way to show you exactly what I was doing to build and create my music - essentially like little documentaries...

So this time, that's what I'm making - a documentary all about the story of how the album came to be. I won't tell you too much now, so as to spoil the surprise - but rest assured that it's coming soon!

So once again, thank you for listening - what we've shared in the last month has been really special. The above review sums up exactly how awesome you all are.

You're the best - I'll see you on our next Tea Break.

Much love,

Geoff x

How've you been?

Hey, it's been a while hasn't it? I just wanted to touch base with you and check in. I hope you're all well.

I know it's been a good year or so since I put out any new music or any other content for that matter. Honestly, I couldn't tell you exactly why. I know there are myriad reasons that require no explanation whatsoever - but I can't quite put my finger on why it is.

All I can tell you is that the urge to create and share my story has come back - I know that for sure.

'So, what's new with you, Geoff?'

You, presumably reading this in 2021


Well, the first big change for me is that I've been working with the incredible XP Schools Trust. You may remember back in 2019 that I was working with the students at XP/XP East in Doncaster on a documentary called 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?'. In fact, you can watch it here...

Since then, I've been working full time with all of their amazing schools as part of the Comms Crew - a group of awesome people who work as the conduit between the beautiful work the students produce and the communities that the schools have built around them.

It really is the best job in the world. It's such a privilege to work with schools and students who put compassion, activism and equity at the heart of all the work they do. I've even started teaching a bit of music at XP, too. It's ace.

If you don't know about XP, I strongly recommend you read this book.

Moving Out

So, I've got my own place. I moved out of my parents' house in 2021 and am just about settled in. I've set up a studio space and there's a piano in the living room - I've got everything I could possibly need.

It's very strange not to be writing and working in the room there anymore. Everything you've ever heard from me was produced in that room and it was very sad to leave it behind. That said, I'm ready to make new music in a new space - it's exciting.

'That's great! So, what now?'

You, presumably reading this in 2021 slightly later than earlier.

I'm glad you asked. The short answer is I'm going to start making music again.

Over the last 18 months, I haven't really looked music in the eye. When I have it hasn't been for very long. This has actually taught me more about how I want to progress and what I'm going to do differently going forward.

I'm going to keep things simple.

I'm distilling my music down to what's most important to allow me to express myself without any resistance. This to me means more raw, unpolished and ultimately less perfect work. I want to be able to create without judgement and share the story of how I created the work.

I'm still working out what this is going to look like, but I can assure you you'll be on this journey with me every step of the way.

You're a part of the community I've built around my art. I can't do this without you!

Which leads me on to the next part of this new chapter...

The Recordsmiths

You may or may not know that I have a Record Label - The Recordsmiths. I started it in 2017 built on the premise of supporting and nurturing independent and authentic musicians with an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.

This is our website -

We released our first album in August 2017 - 'Here, of all Places' by the Usual Ones (a band I'm a member of).

The album was a truly collaborative effort. Musicians, designers and marketers worked together to make an album that we're all exceptionally proud of to this day.

Since then, The Recordsmiths has been the vehicle for all of my releases as a solo artist (#ASongInSevenDays, Taking My Time etc.) and I've also been working with the incredible Heather Young on producing her own songs and she is set to be the third official artist with us.

But aside from Heather, I've mostly produced these works on my own with help from Alex Byard-Cooke - the greatest drummer in the universe.

We set out with the vision to create authentic work collaboratively - but for all kinds of reasons this hasn't happened in a while.

It's my goal for the next year to build back this community around The Recordsmiths and make it grow even further!

In the coming weeks, I'll talk about this some more and how you can get involved in this - I just wanted to share where we are right now.

In the meantime, shall we put the kettle on?

I fancy a cuppa.

Much love,

Geoff x

I've Just Seen A Face...

If you haven't heard it already, here's my version of The Beatles' song 'I've Just Seen A Face'...

I've wanted to cover this song for a long time. I remember picking up the album 'Help!' during my first year of Uni and totally falling in love with it - but also strangely knowing all the words to the songs...

I was brought up on The Beatles in every sense. My earliest memories are of watching their feature films with my Grandad and getting to know their music inside-out. I can really vividly recall the skiing scenes and the ridiculously sense of humour that makes the films so charming.

When I started listening to them properly again at 19, it all felt very familiar but there were new layers there - things I'd missed as a child. Within their vast back catalogue there is so much humanity; love, loss and everything between.

The difficulty I have as a result is that I want to cover every Beatles track - and believe it or not there are still some I'd love to put my spin on. So naturally it could be a while before I work on another, but rest assured it will happen...

Blue skies with a chill in the air...

Spring is on it’s way - there’s no doubt about it. The days are getting longer, brighter and more hopeful. Soon we’ll be sitting out in the sun without countless layers and warm drinks to keep our spirits and temperatures up - oh how the time flies!

It’s been a long Winter and even now it feels like it’s hanging on for as long as it can summon the strength to do so. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve optimistically underdressed over the last few weeks - just one more layer and I wouldn’t be shivering. It’s been harder to get going in both a proverbial and literal sense. Rhaegar (my 28 year old car) has been struggling with the colder temperatures, but we’ve just about made it through together. 

Today feels different. Today is my favourite kind of day. The wonderfully rare combination of blue skies and a chill in the air. There’s nothing quite like it.

I can recall the first time I realised this, when I was 16 years old. I was stood waiting for a bus with a good friend of mine and we were both suitably wrapped up. As we stood talking we could see our breath - and there was a bonus layer of frost on the ground, too. Since then, days like this have always demanded my happiness.

Through Rhaegar's Sunroof

I’m not one to overanalyse experiences of simple beauty, but I think I’ve come to realise why this is. It’s the literal feeling of change in the air - Winter being left behind and making way for the Summer that’s just beyond the horizon. Mindfulness teaches us to acknowledge that behind even the greyest clouds there is blue sky. On days like this, it might be bitterly cold and harder to endure, but the cerulean canvas is right there in front of us.

So I’ll take a slice of that optimism to go. I’ll open Rhaegar’s sunroof and play those Summer songs I’ve dearly missed. To quote Fountains of Wayne - ‘Don’t take it so bad - you know the Summer’s coming soon…’