Today we finally got to do the Ed Sheeran interview we’ve been planning for a while now. Pete and I headed to his studio in London and sat down for an interview with the man himself.
It tends to meander at times as it was a very informal chat, but it’s nice and beefy, so enjoy.
So, you’ve got your new collaborations album coming up soon with Wiley, JME, Devlin, Sway, Wretch 32 and more. How long until that drops?
It’s out this Sunday actually. It’s all good to go, but if everything goes to plan I’ll be in the studio with Example tomorrow recording a bonus track for iTunes I wrote for him a while ago.
How’s it been working with artists like Example?
Amazing man, really amazing. I had the idea for the collaborations EP back when I was like 14, and it was a bit of an ambition for me to do a track with Wiley, do a track with Sway, do a track with Kano and do a track with JME. At the time, all of these guys were blowing up, and I was just new to the scene. Obviously it never happened, but when I did the SB.TV video they all started ringing me up, and JME was like “yeah, let’s do a track”, so it kinda came together quite easily in the end. I went on tour with Devlin with Example, and when I was in the studio Ghetts came down, and we made 2 of the tracks here.
How did all of the SB.TV stuff come about?
He came to see a show actually, I Love Live. Actually no, originally he tweeted asking what film to go watch in the cinema, and I had no idea who he was at the time, but one of my mates retweeted it, so I messaged him telling him to go watch Precious.
I know man, haha. But then we started chatting, and he said he liked my videos, so he came to I Love Life and we spoke a bit more, and ended up doing the video. It’s been nearly a year now, but he’s one of my best mates now. We’re actually getting a flat together in a couple of weeks.
That’s cool. Are you working with him at all at the moment?
We’ve got something quite big lined up that I can’t really talk about with a US rapper, but I’m not sure if it will happen at the moment due to scheduling issues for us both. He’s mega busy while he’s over here, and I’ll be in the studio pretty solidly for the next 3 months, so I don’t think it will work out unfortunately.
So are you working on the full LP for the next 3 months then?
Yeah, it’s the big one.
Are you releasing it through a label? I noticed you’ve managed to avoid them up until now.
Yeah I’ve managed to avoid it haha, but I’ve just signed to Atlantic.
Thanks man, it’s good.
So has that opened a lot of doors for you?
Yeah, I mean it literally only just happened, and straight away I’m on T4 Freshly Squeezed next Wednesday, which I never thought would happen. I was on No Hats, No Trainers, but this is the biggest piece of TV I’ll have done. I actually watch it, so it should be good to go. I mean, my PR guy just asked me the other day “What day shall we schedule you for Jools Holland then?”, and that’s a mad conversation to be having.
You were in the up and coming artists shoot for Roundhouse magazine quite recently with Yasmin, Jodie Connor, Bluey Robinson, and more. How was that?
Yeah that was weird haha. I mean it’s cool, but I hate photo shoots man. We got all dressed up in suits, and had to do all the makeup and everything… I don’t mind when I’m at gigs, or on SB.TV or things like that because that’s me being a musician, but when it’s a full on photo shoot… I’m not a very photogenic person. That’s why I’m not in the A-Team video for instance, except for a brief cameo. So when I arrived and they told me they were going to put me in a suit I was a bit uncomfortable. I never wear suits, I’m normally just wearing a hoodie and jeans. I’m not like one of these tortured soul artists who never wants to be famous, but I would genuinely prefer to just play live and record.
Were you always into hip-hop and grime then?
Yeah… I mean, not so much grime at it’s essence, because I remember buying Boy In Da Corner and really not liking it, but then really warming to it the more I listened to it. The first time I heard it I’d never heard anything like it, and I found it a really harsh listen, and I just shut off and wasn’t interested, but then I went back to it, and I found Playtime’s Over by Wiley, and that was when I sort of “got” grime.
It must be pretty cool working with Wiley after that?
Yeah man, definitely. So I went back to Dizzee’s album, and there’s not many albums that have come out since that are just good the whole way through. His was, and Sway’s, and Devlin’s album as well. Those 3 definitely stick out for me.
So that’s the epitome of grime for you?
Well I wouldn’t say that, I think they just mastered their craft on those albums. Lots of grime rappers are very good, and make very very good records, but it’s rare to come across an album which feels as complete as those three. They mastered it so much you can play the record the whole way through, and it’s so eclectic. I mean, it’s not just grime (well, Dizzee is), it’s a whole variety of genres.
Did you always plan to get into this scene then? Before SB.TV is that where you wanted to be musically?
Nah, SB.TV was a really weird time for me. I was signed to this really really big pop management, from the age of 15 up until I was about 18, and they were really bad for me. They just put me in the wrong direction completely, and I sort of went away into this pop singer songwriter territory. I left them in November 2 years ago, and had like 6 months thinking time where I worked out what I wanted to be, and then in the January I met SB and the video happened, and everything just exploded, and I was just like “Cool, that’s what I’m going to do then”.
Is that your focus from now on then?
Nah definitely not. I’ve done my collaborations now. It was a project I’ve always wanted to do and the opportunity presented itself, but now I’ve done it. The people I did the tracks with are all people I really like musically anyway, so I’ll carry on working with them, but I’m not an urban scene act. My album will be a singer songwriter album, and when it comes out I’ll probably be put in the same boat as Paolo Nutini rather than Wiley.
Yeah, because Loose Change seemed a lot different to the more recent stuff you’ve released. Is that more of your long term route?
Yeah, that’s what the album is going to sound like. Probably a bit more raw, because that was quite poppy.
Whenever your name crops up, people seem to discuss looping. How did you get into that?
I was a big big fan of Nizlopi when I was younger, and there was this dude supporting them called Gary Dunn who used a loop pedal, and I was completely blown away by it. He was doing a house gig tour and I booked him for my house, and he taught me how to use it, so literally the next day I went out and bought one. I didn’t really like the idea of being in a band, and it gave me a more full sound. I think my biggest secret that I don’t show a lot is that I’m a bit of a control freak, and I’m very particular about my work. I’ve been in the studio with my producer guy for a while, and I’m so precise about what I want I think it would just turn into a band with me at the front anyway, so I’m best off doing it by myself. It also means if the loop pedal fucks up I’ve got no scapegoat other than myself, which is always a good thing.
In the next year, if you completely blew up, who would be the ideal person to collaborate with?
As weird as it sounds, I honestly wouldn’t want to. I’d love to further down the line, but in the next year I want to make a name for myself, because I’ve done a lot of collaborations for that project. Probably for the next two years I’ll do bits here and there, but I just want to be me really. Maybe further down the line I’d love to do a duet with like Adele or John Mayer maybe.
Have you ever tried your hand at producing?
Yeah, all the time. I’ve just done a track for Fugitive actually, called Home, who’s a really talented dude. I do that a lot, because producing isn’t really what it used to be back in the day. Back in the day it was fiddling with buttons, but now producing is me getting a guitar and doing a riff, then doing a drum beat over it, which to me is writing, and every musician writes, so in that sense I do a lot of producing, because that’s just making the backing beat.
Would you ever consider doing your own production then?
Well I was actually meant to do this one myself, but I’ve been with the same guy for 2 years now and it’s never really failed so far. I was just going to take the leap, but I thought it was a bit risky for the first album. Second album I’ll definitely be on it though.
Who do you see being the next big thing in 2011?
I think Devlin will continue to grow, and he’s really going to hit the mainstream. No one out of my friends knew who he was when I was on tour with him and Example, and now all of them are mad on him, so he’s really permeated the student crowd. Wretch 32 seems to be on everyone’s watch list, as well as Jamie Woon. He’s brilliant. I used to support him when I was like 16 and just moved to London, he’s the first person I supported. There’s a guy called Random Impulse who I think will probably blow up quite big, because he’s simply got the killer formula. If you were to mix the Arctic Monkeys with grime you’d have Random Impulse, and he plays a guitar. Recently we’ve been flooded with urban music, and indie’s been nowhere to be seen, and I think they’re going to make a big comeback, and he’s in a really good position to help bridge the gap. Yasmin as well.
Yeah, she seems to be everywhere at the moment.
Her next single is going to blow everyone away. Her current single is good, but the next one that Labrinth has produced is phenomenal. It’s not released for a while, but it’s going to smash it. It’s a pop song but it’s really dark, and the production is sick, and the vocal melodies and riffs are really good.
Labrinth is going to go seriously next level in the next year.
Yeah, I think he’s going to be a serious innovator in the next year. He’s already starting his own record label. He doesn’t go out a lot, he prefers to just stay in the studio really. He’ll release a solo album that will be really successful, but as soon as it drops he’ll back in the studio making more songs.
So do you think he’ll be a new Mark Ronson type of artist?
I’d say more like Pharrell to be honest. Everyone’s going to want to work with him. He’s just going to drop a Jay-Z song or something and everyone’s going to go wild.
What’s the next steps for you then?
Well the collaboration album’s out very soon, and in the next 4 months I should be releasing the first single off the album. The second single I think people are going to get quite excited about though, and it’s going to have a bigger promotion push behind it, so I’m hoping that will catch people’s attention.
Have you got any tours lined up?
Yeah, I should be doing a headline tour to coincide with the single in May. I’m taking my friend Kal Lavelle, and I’ll be getting local support acts at each stop. It’ll only be really intimate gigs though, because I’d rather get 100 people there who really want to be than a bigger venue of people who aren’t so interested. I want to have a tour that’s really intimate.
Thanks a lot to Ed for sitting down with us. It was a really great interview, and he’s one of the nicest artists I’ve had the pleasure to meet.
What did you think of the interview? And who would you like to see us interview next? Let us know in the comments or on Facebook!