We interviewed singer Ed Sheeran while he was in Manhattan recently at the Atlantic Record offices.
Do you have any tours or concerts coming up?
I do. I go with Taylor Swift until September.
Do you prefer to sing alone or with someone else? And, if yes, who would it be?
I get to sing with Taylor. We did a song together. So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to that. I usually sing on my own.
What is your favorite song that you wrote?
I have a song called "Give Me Love" on my album.
If you weren't a singer, what would you be?
I'd probably work in a supermarket. I'm being honest. I didn't really apply myself at school. I wasn't a bad kid, just didn't really turn up. So I wouldn't have got the grades to do anything. Stay in school!
How does it compare with England versus the United States?
What I love about the U.S. is you really celebrate success. So if someone goes from zero to hero and works hard for it and reaches that pinnacle, you guys, like, really celebrate. In England we kind of like the underdog and never anyone successful -- they're really put down. For instance, someone like James Blunt, he's a singer. Anyway, he sold 13 million records worldwide and he was in the British army and he fought for our country, all of this stuff and then made an album and sold 13 million records and got some really, really tough time from the press and it's, like, we should be celebrating his success and the fact that he fought for our country and stuff like that, but fair enough.
What is your favorite song by another artist?
Have you guys heard "American Pie" by Don McLean? Probably that song.
Did anyone tell you that you should be a singer when you were young?
No. It was the last thing that everyone wanted me to do. I think because it's a dream that every kid has. You see singers on TV and you're, like, "I want to do that." In reality, it's kind of a dangerous job to get into. At a young age it's a big risk to take. So, no, it was never, no one ever said, "You should sing." They just encouraged music, I guess.
How many songs have you written so far?
Probably around 200 to 300. I write a lot of songs, not just for me. I just write a lot. I enjoy it.
Do you play an instrument?
I do. I play guitar, a little bit piano. My first instrument I learned to play was the cello.
What is your favorite hobby other than singing?
It sounds a bit weird, but I make Legos a lot. I really like it a lot. I like putting it together. Maybe I'm a little bit too old for that now.
What are the ups and downs about being famous?
I don't think there are any downs. I know there are some things that could be, they aren't ideal, but the amount of ups that you get from having success in something you love, it kind of drowns out every bad element of it, and I'd been wanting this forever, basically. So I wouldn't want anything negative to kind of get in the way of me enjoying it. Does that make sense?
What advice would you give to a musician?
Never have a Plan B. If you want something, make sure there's no other alternative. You just have
to get that much. Like, if you want to be a journalist, in the back of your mind don't say, "Oh, well, if this fails I've got this" -- just go straight forward and, however long it takes, you will eventually get it. Like, if you want it enough and you work hard enough, you will get it.
Is there anything you would like to improve on as a singer?
Yeah, I'd love to be able to sing like Beyonce. That probably won't happen. I'll keep working until I do though.
Do you get nervous before you go on stage?
It depends. I played Madison Square Garden, and I got very, very nervous, just because it's such a prestigious venue and it wasn't my show. So it's not necessarily an audience that's there to see me.
When was the first time you sang in public?
When I was 11. A song by Eric Clapton "Layla." That was the first time I sang in public. I was really nervous that day. I didn't want to go on stage.
Where were you and how did you react when you realized you were famous?
This only happened the other day. Because my records kind of sold quite a lot of copies, but I could still walk down the street about six months ago. But then I came to the U.S. and I was here about six months and I went back to England for a couple of things like for the Olympics and the Queen's Jubilee and stuff like that. But I was mainly here and I'm relatively unknown here, I'm still working my way up. Being here for a long time and being kind of exposed in England with the Olympics and the Jubilee I went home and I got to my flat and I worked in my flat one day and I was like I'm going to buy a DVD. So I got into the car and went to Westfield, which is a big kind of mall. And I have bright ginger hair so I stick out like a sore thumb. But I'd never really been in a situation where I've been mobbed or anything. I was in H&B, which is a record shop, to buy a DVD and I turn around and there's about 500 kids there with their cameras. And I'm like, "Whoa." That's probably about 4 weeks ago. So that was the moment where I realized I shouldn't go out alone anymore.
Did you have to push yourself to become who you are today?
Yeah. I think you have to really sacrifice a lot of things and not sleep a lot. Just always be up and strive, I guess.
What were your dreams as a child?
I wanted to be a train driver. You know when you're young and you want to be like a fireman. I wanted to be a train driver for awhile. That was a big dream. That's pretty much it.
How did you get your song on the radio?
I persuaded me and my record label persuaded every single station to play a song without drums in it and most of them didn't really want to play it. I think you have to have a small fan base to begin with especially my song isn't very radio-friendly in the sense that on the radio at the moment you've got lots of Nicki Minaj tunes, David Guetta, and Chris Brown. It's all dance music with drums and to stick in a song without drums it's very slow and mellow. Sometimes it doesn't work. Thankfully it's on radio now.