The affable everyman dabbles in grime, hip-hop, balladry and Latino love songs as he zooms down the middle of the road to world domination
In 2012, I interviewed Ed Sheeran backstage at Brixton Academy. There was plenty of evidence that his career was in the process of taking off – his album + had just spent its fifth week at No 1, he had sold out two nights at the 5,000-capacity venue and was already famous enough that he couldn’t smoke a cigarette out of the dressing room window without bringing the street below to a standstill. But there was nothing to suggest the level of success he was about to encounter.
That is, unless you were Sheeran, who already exuded an intriguing mixture of sweet-natured, self-deprecating charm and steely, vaulting ambition. No, he wasn’t surprised + had been so successful, even if everyone else seemed to be: “Because the music I write is like love songs with big hooks, I kind of knew it would end up where it’s ended up if it got the right radio play.” During the photoshoot, he claimed that he already had a career plan in place: two more albums, each named after a mathematical symbol, then an album of duets with huge names. “Then I’ll calm it down a bit.”