English pop singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is taking the U.S. by storm this year. He came onto the scene last year with his hit single “The A Team,” and has amassed a great following since the release of his biggest record to date, +. Currently touring the nation on Taylor Swift’s Red tour, Sheeran topped off his successes with a performance alongside Elton John at the Grammy Awards, a set at the London 2012 Olympic Games closing ceremony, and a show in honor of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. He was nominated for “Song Of The Year” for “The A Team” at the Grammy’s, a track that has since gone platinum. Sheeran and Taylor Swift collaborated on “Everything Has Changed,” a duet off of her latest album, Red. He also penned One Direction’s new single, “Little Things.”
Sheeran is now in the midst of the Red tour, but he took some time to fill me in on the insanity of his year so far. Here is what he had to say:
2012 was an insane year for you, and you’re going to be spending a decent amount of this year on Taylor Swift’s Red tour. What are you hoping to bring to your live act this time around?
Actually, I’m not really too stressed about trying to capture anything but the attention of the audience. I’m just trying to put on a show full of energy and passion, put everything out there, and that will be worth it.
What was it like collaborating with Swift for her track, “Everything Has Changed?”
It wasn’t what you would expect with a song like that; it wasn’t kind of rushed. It was a very relaxing experience and we weren’t planning to write a song at that time. I can remember just sort of hanging out and penning up the song. It was a very relaxed process. She’s a great girl.
It’s pretty amazing to have had a Grammy nomination for a song on your first big record. Have you already begun writing new material for a second full-length album?
Yeah, I’m going to be working on it in the next year, in the next six months. The next album should be written by the end of the year and come out next year.
At what point did you decide that music could not simply be a hobby?
When I was in school, I would go to University Hall, where there was just music happening all of the time, and I made that choice. I never expected it to get as big as it has.
Do you think where you lived growing up influenced your musical tastes as well as your playing?
I think everything in my childhood and growing up [had an influence on my music]. I don’t know whether it was the place I grew up in or my dad’s record collection or the places that I went to. I’m not sure, but I think everything has had an influence or left a mark or effect.
What is the difference between how your music is received in England and how it is received in the States?
It’s been pretty similar. It’s taken in the U.S. just because of the size of the country and the way that it’s formatted. You have to get on about… If you get on one radio station, you’re kind of good, but then you have to get on all three. I kind of got on all three from the get-go.
In England, “The A Team” did well and got on the radio, where in America it took a year and three months for it to kind of peak. Yeah, it’s a lot different, but I’ve sold more in America than I have in England based on that single. I think it’s worked out very well.
How do you keep your voice fresh with the amount of dates that you are playing?
I just try not to think about it. The more you worry about it, the more it’s going to happen. I just try not to think about keeping my voice up and it works out fine.
Do you do a lot of warm-ups in your pre-show time?
Yeah, well not really. I kind of sing to myself. I’ve just never really had a warm-up.
Have you ever been to New Jersey?
No, I don’t think I’ve actually ever been there, only New York. We’re actually doing three shows there. Taylor has actually said that it’s a wonderful time with a wonderful crowd. So I’m looking forward to them.
With the huge performances that you have been a part of, such as at the Olympics closing ceremony and at the Grammy’s with Elton John, how do you stay grounded through massive success?
The Grammy’s were actually unreal because I played that with one of music’s biggest artists—it was an amazing experience. I kind of played and felt wonderful about playing, then I just sat back and witnessed the crème de la crème of American music talent. Like Mumford & Sons was amazing, it all kind of blew me away.
What career goals have you still left to achieve?
I’d say it’s a matter of what happens next essentially. I’d just like to put some more albums out and continue touring.
In what direction will your sound be moving in next?
I don’t think I have to worry about that too much; the more you focus on it, the more it’s out of your control. I think a lot of it will just be inspired by what I’m into at the present time. Yeah, it will just come up and whatever happens, I’ll be into it.
What is the best advice pertaining to the industry that you have been given?
Elton told me just to hear and work and tour as long as I can. His advice was with America, you aren’t just in and out, so you’ve got to do something to make yourself a part of it. I’ve been in and out of America since early 2012, and now it’s all starting to pay off. That was probably the best piece of advice to break into America, it seems.
Ed Sheeran will perform with Taylor Swift at the Prudential Center in Newark from March 27-29. For more information, go to edsheeran.com.