Who’s The Next Ed?

© Ben Matthews

A few weeks ago I managed to grab 15 minutes with a singer I hadn’t chatted to for about five years.

I last interviewed Ed Sheeran at Latitude 2011, but before then we’d spoken semi-regularly for a few years.

This time around, I was to call him from my work. He’d be in the back of a car, on his way to what his press person (for radio… in the UK…) described as “other promo”.

That promo, of course, is for his third album, ÷ (Divide), which as I type seems intent on breaking every sales and chart record ever set, and probably some that haven’t been invented yet. Seriously, 16 songs in the top 20 – phenomenal.

Before the interview I wondered if becoming one of the biggest popstars in the world would make Ed a different person to chat to, but I needn’t have worried. He was a joy, and in what the EADT later described as a “wide ranging interview”, Ed discussed everything from his thoughts on the new album (the songs are “very eclectic and divided”), his plans for a homecoming gig (Portman Road “will happen”), the local music scene (check out Mullally), his plans for the future (making his own movie) and what he did with his pig sculpture (it’s “right next to the swimming pool”).

Once part of the interview had been aired, James Hazell asked me to go on his show to talk about Ed – and one of the questions he asked was ‘who is the next Ed Sheeran?’

I was able to name a couple of things I’m excited about – SuperGlu’s imminent trip to Texas, and Bessie Turner’s (yet to be aired) session for us – but with some further thought I’d say the chances are that there won’t be another Ed.

What he continues to achieve is the very definition of the word remarkable, and I think we should just enjoy witnessing it rather than worrying about who will be next. Ed is providing a Hollywood-blockbuster story of what the perfect mix of talent and perseverance can bring, but I’d be wary of using him as a benchmark for other people’s success.

But let’s hope he does inspire people to pick up a guitar and have a go themselves, or that more people do head out to our pubs and venues – whether it’s as a pilgrimage to Ed’s former haunts, or because they realise that there’s something wonderful about seeing the very start of someone’s musical offering.

And if there are any of those musicians reading this, Ed has this message… whatever you’re doing, be yourself.

“Use your insecurities as weapons which can be useful to you,” he said. “Remain individual. Write as many songs as possible and try and do as many shows as possible, but the way to stand out is being yourself – because no-one can be a better you than you. And also, first and foremost, you have to enjoy it.”