Ed Sheeran interview @ TOFS

2011   |   Written by JHartnett Portfolio

When 20-year-old Ed Sheeran isn’t recording in the studio, he’ll be busy performing to sell out crowds or touring with music maestros such as Example and Devlin. James Hartnett caught up with the acoustic singer/songwriter before his sold out gig at The Old Fire Station last month to find out just what drives the man behind the music.

First off, congratulations on your debut album’s success. How did it feel hearing you reached Number 2 in the charts?

It was surreal – I wasn’t even expecting to hit #10, so to reach #2 was incredible. It was mental, I didn’t expect it to happen like that!

You’re background is folk and acoustic, but you’ve also delved into the more urban side of things. What style do you actually prefer?

I’m just a singer/songwriter really! I called my newest album Collaborations No.5 so people will look back at my last four albums and realise that that is just me, with the kind of acoustic music you’d hear from Jason Mraz or Damien Rice.

So what made you get into production with Example, Devlin, P-Money and other urban artists too?

I think a lot of acoustic music sounds quite similar, so I just kind of shifted across to the urban scene since nobody else was doing it – they embraced me too, which was quite cool!

I hear you’re quite good friends with Devlin and Example, and you’re also planned to go on tour with Devlin too. Does it feel surreal knowing you can just pick up your phone for a chat?

With Devlin you can’t actually do that since he doesn’t have a phone! I remember meeting Devlin years ago, and I bought his CD when I was 16 and now I’m touring with them so it’s a bit nuts.

You really rose to fame with SB.TVs YouTube video of “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”…

Yeah! That changed everything really, I got pretty much everything out of that – including all of my collaborations for the album and a tour with Example.

Your songs’ lyrics are powerful to say the least. What do you think of when you’re writing your tracks?

I guess everyday life drives me. I want to touch on subjects the way people haven’t before, like love songs. I just try to get interesting, quotable lyrics too.

You use a loop pedal quite a lot in your music. How did this come about?

Gary Dunne supported Nizlopi in 2005 and used one, and after I booked him for a house gig at mine he taught me how to use it. I bought one the next day and I’ve been using it ever since!

What’s influenced you to become a musician?

[Pause] I wasn’t really good at anything else if I’m honest! I really enjoy it – it’s a great way to get stuff out of your system. Because you put so much effort into your songs, you really throw your emotions out there – I never get into fights or get angry, I just get really chilled and I think that’s why.

How did you start in the industry?

I actually started as a guitar technician on tour with Nizlopi, and I learnt everything from them. When I was about 11 I started listening to Damien Rice and, more recently, Foy Vance and got a lot of inspiration from these.

You’ve just turned 20 and already you’ve made a name for yourself. Did you ever imagine you’d be this big when you started off?

I wouldn’t say I’m big yet! But I’ve definitely progressed, in no small way to my fantastic fans. I could be producing music and nobody would have heard of me, but it’s because of such great fans that I’m in this position and it’s going so well.

You’ve built a strong fan base from gigging. Is this a major part in terms of getting your name out there?

I’ve done over 1,000 gigs and you’d think after the first 600 or so you’d think people would have heard of my name! It’s really important to have a strong live show and not rely on recorded songs.

What would you say young aspiring musicians need to break through into the industry?

My mistake when trying to get into the industry was thinking I’ll get signed and make an album at 16 and it just doesn’t happen – you really have to work hard. Start at the bottom and work your way up to the top. Just gig as much as you can, write as many songs as you can, and go to live gigs so you can network more. It’s not luck when you meet someone; you’re in that position because you’ve put yourself in that position to work your way up.

You’ve just secured a six-album deal with Atlantic Records – is this a dream come true?

It sounds bad but I was going to do it anyway – with Atlantic though it means now I can do things on a bigger scale with a bigger budget. I’m in a really happy place, I’ve got people who really like my music and who let me produce the album I want to make and it’s a really nice position to be in.

As for your next album, what can we expect to hear and when can we grab a copy?

July! If anyone’s bought my last four albums, expect much of the same. The songs will tell stories, and they’ll be recorded better now I’ve got a bigger budget too and it sounds more like an Ed Sheeran album rather than the collaborations album in that it’s just me. There will be a few songs in there that people will know such as ‘The A-Team’, but I’ll feel like I’m cheating my audience if I just stick a few old EPs on an album and release it, so expect a lot of new material!

And a single too?

Definitely. The next one will be one that nobody’s heard of, from what will be my new album, as will my second, and the third.

And finally, what more can we expect to see from Ed Sheeran in the future?

[Creating a list with his fingers] An album, a few tours, every festival, Collaborations No.6 in two years time, and… I’ll just be about in a lot of places, so everyone come say hi!

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