Entertainment Music

Thursday 28 August 2014

Q&A: Ed Sheeran

ON OVERNIGHT SUCCESS, HIS FRIENDSHIP WITH DAMIEN RICE AND HANGING OUT WITH JAMIE FOXX

Ed Power

Published 07/10/2011 | 05:00

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Not that it will surprise anyone who has seen your big ginger head, but we are informed you're of Irish extraction.

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Yeah, my dad is. We used to go over three or four times a year. We have loads of Irish cousins. My grandparents live in Gorey in Wexford.

As a kid you attended a Damien Rice show in Dublin. Did that influence your decision to be a songwriter?

Yeah. It was at Whelan's back in 2022 and I was 11. That was the first time I thought, 'right, I'm going to pick up a guitar and do it on my own'. That was the first spark of inspiration. I met him in the pub afterwards. He didn't have any advice but he was a nice guy, that was all I needed.

So last year you went to Los Angeles and became a bit of a face on the singer-songwriter scene there. How did you end up staying with actor/singer Jamie Foxx?

I headed off with guitar under arm to escape England. I wasn't expecting anything. It all worked out, which is nice. I played a lot of shows over there. Little by little I made a name for myself, for being this white-boy English kid. Jamie's manager said, 'come and be on his radio show'. So I did. And Jamie says, 'come stay at my house...'

What was his pad like? We're picturing a palace o' bling.

Yeah, it was essentially ludicrous.

You're famous for your grass roots fan-base. It must be a fantastic feeling being able to fill a venue before you've even signed a deal.

I can distribute my music independently. I can make a video for no money, put it on YouTube, tell fans about it on Twitter and Facebook. It's all good!

As long as your fans stick with you, what everyone else thinks doesn't matter.

That's the best way to be. You have longevity. If you find success from building your own foundation, you don't need the record company. Atlantic could drop me tomorrow -- I've still got the fan-base that got me here. They got me into the charts before I was signed. It's a better position to be in.

Does overnight success come at a price? We read somewhere you played 350 gigs last year. You must be shattered.

I'm really enjoying the journey. It's fun. I never expected it to happen like this. It's really cool, really nice. I'm glad people are connecting to the music.

Ed Sheeran plays Vicar Street, Dublin, on November 4. The album + is out now

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