Eddie Ayres: Danger Music
Eddie Ayres’ new book, Danger Music, tells a story of remarkable personal change and growth. It’s a memoir set against a backdrop of war and set to an eclectic soundtrack of Bach, Beethoven, Abba and the traditional music of Afghanistan.
Three years ago, Eddie Ayres was Emma Ayres – a seasoned adventurer, accomplished musician and much-loved broadcaster at ABC Classic FM. In 2014, during a period of personal struggle and depression, Emma quit her job and went to teach cello, viola and double bass at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul. It was during her year in Afghanistan that Emma realised she needed to become Eddie and, after returning to Australia, Emma undertook the transition to become a man.
In conversation with Jon Faine at the Wheeler Centre, Eddie discusses his remarkable life and career in music, as well as the travels that have seen him cycling across the remote Taklamakan Desert in China, teaching double bass in Kabul and playing viola in the Hong Kong Philharmonic. Catch up on a rich discussion of culture, adventure and gender.
Eddie Ayres learnt the viola as a child in England, studying in Berlin and London before playing the viola for eight years with the Hong Kong Philharmonic. As Emma Ayres, she moved from Hong Kong to Australia to present a long-running and extremely popular breakfast radio programme on ABC Classic FM, while teaching music privately and professionally.
When Emma hung up her headphones at the end of 2014, there was a public outpouring of emotion. This tattooed, intelligent, warm and witty woman had made her way into the hearts of many Australians. What the devoted audience didn't see, however, was Emma's daily struggle to live within her woman's body. For 16 years, she knew that she was transgender but to take any action seemed impossible. Emma believed there was too much to lose – family, friends and her career.
In 2016, Emma accepted a position teaching cello, viola and double bass to Afghanistan's children at the world-renowned Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Amid the chaos and unpredictability of life in war-savaged Kabul, Emma realised she had to accept her future and returned to Australia to begin transitioning from female to male. In 2016, Emma became Eddie.
Danger Music is Eddie's second book following Cadence: Travels with Music, published in 2014.
After seven years as a lawyer, Jon entered radio broadcasting in 1989 to produce and present Radio National’s Law Report.