Interview: Ed Sheeran

Ed Sheeran speaks to Time Out Singapore about his bicycle accident, new music and best friend Taylor Swift

About a month ago, British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran got into a bicycle accident and injured both his arms. As a result, he had to cancel five shows from his Asia tour including those in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Thankfully, he's made a speedy recovery and is now in Singapore to kickstart this leg of the Divide tour. We caught up with him before the first show to find out how he's doing.

Hey Ed! How are you feeling? 

It still aches but I'm able to play shows now, so I'm happy about that. Tonight is going to be a good show.

Do you have a phobia of bicycles now?

No, I think that's the wrong way to live. I'm going to ride bicycles again, I'm going to ski, I'm going to go on skateboards. If I'm going to break my arm then I'm going to break my arm, nothing's going to stop me from having accidents.

Do you have more time in Singapore since this is where you start the tour?

Yeah, I've been here for two days and I haven't slept at all because my jetlag has been terrible. But I've been to the big outdoor food markets and I went to that big boat that's on the towers (editor's note: he means Marina Bay Sands). We also went to the Four Seasons and had some Chinese there.

I'm being taken around by one local guy – I only know one guy here – and he's Malaysian so I don’t know if he knows all the best places.

The last time you played here, it was to a crowd of 5000 people. Now you have two sold-out shows at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. How does that make you feel? 

Good! Feels like it's going well here. I'm very excited. Every time I come back to different countries it just seems to be growing and growing, so I'm really happy that we're playing to such big crowds.

Now that the shows are getting bigger, will we see you playing with a band one day?

Yeah, there's definitely a chance. I think I'll always have a loop pedal in the show but I think I'll grow a band around it. I think that's where it's heading – making a show with lots of different moments where maybe there are two songs with a band and then one song in the middle with the pedal. There'll be all sorts of different things but I think that's still five years away. I want to play stadiums everywhere using the pedal and once I've done that then I'll go to a band.

Does it ever get lonely on stage? 

No, because I've never not done it that way. So I don't know any different.

You’re touring with Lauv – how's that been?

Great! He's really cool. I just met him today. He's managed by a close friend of mine and I really like his music so I got in touch and asked him to join the tour. He's had a bit of hard luck, though, since the shows were cancelled so he didn’t get to do half the tour. But we'll make up for it.

There's a rumour that Taylor Swift's new song Dress is about you. What do you think?

I don't think it is. If you read into it... It's not. She mentions someone with a buzz cut haircut and I've never had a buzz cut.

A lot of artists write music that relates to real life. Do you tell people that you're writing a song about them? 

Not really, but I do have a conversation with them. If the song is about someone I’ve dated, then they usually know that art imitates life so songs will come out. In the song that I just did with Taylor, I sing “you understand that the good and bad end up in the song”. My job is to write songs about how I feel. I'm not always going to feel like I'm happy and in love. And I don’t feel that I need to tell people that because people know when we first start dating that I’m a songwriter.

What can you tell us about the next album?

Not much at the moment. I've got a rough outline of it – I’ve probably got about nine songs that I really like. But that could all change tomorrow if I think of nine new songs to replace them. There are about forty that I wrote I haven’t used but nine I really like.

Will it definitely be called minus or subtract?

Err it won't be called minus but I'm not done with mathematics yet. I've got two more mathematical albums.

When you had a gap year to write Divide you unplugged from social media – is that something you recommend? How difficult was it?

I don't know. I think it'll be very very difficult for this new generation because they’ve known nothing but social media but you and I have lived without Facebook, Instagram and Twitter when we were growing up. It was easy for me because I could just revert back to being fourteen and not need a phone. I’d say to start small. Going out to a bar with your mates, or dinner, you really don’t need a phone then. Or don’t sleep with your phone by the bed so you wake up and check it. I went completely cold turkey because that’s the kind of person I am, but I would never say to a person "don’t have a phone".

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