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Interview with Ed Sheeran, Feb 2009!

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Ed Sheeran interview IP1 magazine February 2009, Ipswich, Photography by Jen O'Neill

As you’ve probably heard by now, big-haired singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran is fast becoming Suffolk’s next big thing, vying for top spot in the iTunes album charts alongside some insignificant artist from America called Rihanna. Quite an achievement, I’m sure you’ll agree – one that the local music scene, but most of all Ed himself, should be very proud of.

Two years ago, IP1 interviewed Ed for a special music feature that we ran in the mag, highlighting the glut of great musicians around at the time – acts such as Elfred & The Uber Peas, No Added Sugar, SleeperCell, GBS, DJKC and Dreamline.

It was clear to us then that the Suffolk music scene was starting to hot up and it’s even more evident today this is the case. Stories like Ed’s, coupled with the recent rise in interest of acts including DELS, The Cads and Ria Ritchie (to name a few), prove beyond doubt that Suffolk is no sleepy backwater when it comes to the production of great British music. We’re very proud to be a part of that, and you should be too ...

Interview with Ed Sheeran, IP1 magazine, February 2009

On a chilly evening in McGinty’s beer garden I find Ed Sheeran, sipping on a pint of beer. He’s due to be headlining tonight’s bill at the pub’s music venue The Blue Room as a favour for an old friend. But people are waiting until Ed is on before they turn up, so he agrees to play a short set at the start of the gig to warm things up and after a few phone calls the place starts to fill.

Ed is 17 and grew up and went to school in Framlingham. After a few guitar lessons,  and plenty of self-teaching, he started recording his own songs aged 14 and is now working on his third album. In 2008 he was named the ‘Next Big Thing’ – following in the footsteps of fellow Suffolk bands Rosalita and The Kabeedies.

So what is Ed’s music like? In his own words: “It’s like soul vocals, hip hop beats and acoustic rhythm on the guitar.” Listening to Ed’s songs on his MySpace page, they seem quite poppy and polished. But on stage tonight – by his own admission – it’s a more “raw, energetic live show.” Using loops and samples – and inviting other local artists, including DJ Beehive and Porchy, on stage to sing with him – the songs take on a different style that sets Ed apart as an artist who really can play live.

Ed gave up school to go into music full time; a decision that his family backed. “I think I got all I could out of education. I’m not saying it’s the best thing to do for anyone to drop out and pursue music. It was a real gamble; but it did work out and I don’t regret it at all. As for a back up, there is no back up. I think that’s a good thing because if I work hard enough there’s no way to fail. Even if the career I want doesn’t happen I could still be a songwriter, sound engineer or A and R scout.”

Spending a summer as Nizlopi’s (famed for JCB Song) guitar tech gave Ed a leg-up into the music industry and taught him about performing live. Ed told me that it was Nizlopi’s work ethic that inspired him to set himself the target of performing 200 gigs in 2008. By the end of the year he reached 186 – not bad considering he only set the target in August. This number includes support slots for Nizlopi and Australian singer-songwriter Gabriella Cilmi. Ed said, “It’s fantastic to do. It gets you out to a completely new audience who have never heard of you, so it’s amazing to play to 400 strangers.” A stark contrast to one of his early gigs at a pub in Suffolk; “I was about 14 when I played to the bar staff and was told to ‘turn it down’. How rock ‘n’ roll, eh?”

Ed moved to London for the gigging opportunities as well as producers and publishers, but said that he misses Suffolk and would like to work with local bands. He said: “It would be great to get a local buzz. There’s Underline the Sky, they are awesome people and an awesome band as well, and a producer called Hygrade from Ipswich; I would love to work with him too.”

For 2009 Ed plans lots more gigs and a lot more work. And for the future? “There are lots of milestones along the way that would be great to achieve: headline a major festival, go platinum and play on Jools Holland.”

By the end of the night Ed has put a lot into this gig – evident from the sheer amount he is sweating. He’s clearly not afraid to work hard, and isn’t going to let his age stand in his way. He seems down to earth and a nice guy who isn’t afraid to share centre stage with others. He really could be the next big thing.


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