Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran remembers playing a sold-out show in London in 2011, after which he had "no phone battery, no money, no friends and nowhere to go. So I was doing well in a sense, but not so much," he says. "I could have asked myself: should I continue doing this or get a normal job and live like a normal person? But I continued, and the next month, everything took off."
It took off spectacularly. Sheeran has since then had massive hits across the world with his albums + and X (Multiply), which was nominated for a Grammy for Album Of The Year (for 2015) and won the Brit Award for British Album of the Year 2015. His songs Lego House and Thinking Out Loud have become love anthems for pining teenagers across the world. He has also written hits for One Direction and Taylor Swift.
Sheeran’s popularity was evident as he played as part of The Fly Festival in Mumbai last week. The venue was flooded with teenage girls in their best "music fest" outfits – flowers in their hair and crop tops on their backs. He took to the stage in a blue kurta. "This is my first time in India, ever," he told the crowd. "I know nothing about how well you know my songs. So if you know the words, sing along." They didn’t just sing, they screamed out loud.
In person, Sheeran appears older, more sorted, than his 24 years. For the son of a professor and jewellery designer, it’s been a long ride from being homeless in Los Angeles in 2010 (he just crashed at flats of various friends), to touring as Taylor Swift’s opening act all over the US.
He doesn’t believe is settling for less than his dream. "Never give yourself a Plan B, because if you have no back up, there is no possible way you can fail. You’ll just go at it till it works," he says. "It’s darkest before the dawn."
With dawn has come a great deal of fame, fans and fortune. "Everything I believed in and wanted to do, I have done, however mental it may be," Sheeran says. "Two years ago, I said I want to play at Wembley Stadium in London. This year, I am doing it three times. It’s when you say it out loud, people think you are crazy. But you can’t care. The worst thing you can do is get halfway to that and then leave," he says.
Right now though, he is riding high on the success of Thinking Out Loud, which he describes as the non-cheesy love song. "Someone once told me if you can write a happy song and not make it sound cheesy, everyone will love it. There are too many sad songs out there, and I have written half of them. It was time for some fun."
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From HT Brunch, March 8
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