George Ezra | Interview
I was always trying to work out a way of going to festivals for free and I’ve worked it out mate, I just play them, it’s brilliant.
For many, George Ezra came out of nowhere — for others, he was BIMM Bristol’s most promising alumnus. We chat with him about writing, honing and his rise to celebrated songsmith ahead of debut album ‘Wanted On Voyage’.
You’ve had a lot of material to play with when putting together the new album, how did you make your selections?
Putting it all together, I think you kind of just have to pick the songs that you think work. It’s hard; we recorded about twenty but obviously I can’t release a twenty-track album. The worst bit is actually picking the songs that don’t make the album, but I got there. I didn’t want it to just be twelve songs, I wanted it to feel like a body of work. The majority of the album was written when I was travelling around Europe. I was inter-railing and that’s when I wrote a lot of the songs, it’s not a concept album but you can tell they all came from a similar place.
It does have a very European feel on it, you can sense that just by looking at the track titles…
Yes, completely. ‘Wanted On Voyage’ itself comes from what people used to write on their hand luggage when boarding a boat. You’d put it on the luggage you wanted on your person; you wanted that personally by you on the journey. I love that idea. I love the thought of people travelling around listening to the album and them wanting it to be part of their journey. I like that.
Within the album there’s quite a spectrum of emotions, how do you go about making them sit so well together?
I think again it’s the element of honesty, anybody I think has two shades in them but some people’s will come out to different degrees. With that I feel it’s really natural for them to sit side by side, I think it makes sense. Production-wise you have to make sure you’re being true to the sound you’re trying to make, it needs to flow well, you can’t just jump. I never understand it when someone has an album that’s produced by five different producers, that’s never going to flow well.
There’s also a sense of surrealism within your lyrics, how do you come up with these scenarios?
I try to mess around with fiction and fairytale, and to be a little bit silly about it, or even just unrealistic. You live out reality, so if you’re writing a song then why not have some fun with it? You can still get out what you’re trying to say, but you can say it in quite a tongue and cheek way.
You’ve just been announced for Glastonbury as well, that must be very exciting?
Yes you really can’t make that up, it’s just amazing, brilliant that. You know what, people used to tell me how it was an amazing festival before I went last year, but you can’t gauge what it’s going to be like. It’s just mental, it’s amazing. I grew up going to festivals and I was always trying to work out a way of going to festivals for free and I’ve worked it out mate, I just play them, it’s brilliant.
When I first found out about Sound Of 2014 a lot of people were asking me who I wanted to beat… Music isn’t a competition.
You played the BBC Introducing stage last time, what sort of input did they have in getting you onto the festival circuit?
BBC introducing helped me hugely, especially the team in Bristol. Sam and Rich are just brilliant and I don’t know if any festival I get is ultimately down to that but, last year especially, they definitely put me in peoples minds for festivals.
Your friends and family play quite a big part in your music; that reflects on the album cover, right?
Seventy percent of the album cover is made up of family and friends yeah. I always wanted it to do it that way and then when we released it to the public I was thinking “is it necessary to tell them?” I thought we should; people need to know how important this all is to me.
You studied for a year at BIMM as well, what did you gain from the experience there?
It was good. Creative subjects and education are never going to be spot on and I think a few people waste their time there because they don’t get busy. Some people go and expect that everything is going to land on a plate for them. As soon as I started, I began to gig and do open mics, kept writing. I got on with the lecturers and they made sure that when they could help me they did — so I benefited greatly.
You were nominated for Sound Of 2014 this year, what did that mean to you?
If I’m honest — and I don’t want to belittle it — I appreciate it a lot, but I think it meant a lot more to some other people. I’ve always wanted to write and record music, whether I’m successful or not I don’t think is the thing. As long as someone is liking it that’s good, d’you know what I mean? What I struggled with was when I first found out about Sound Of 2014, a lot of people were asking me who I wanted to beat. That really put me off the whole thing because I don’t think music’s about that whatsoever. Music isn’t a competition; it’s something everyone can enjoy.
Check out the wonderful ‘Did You Hear The Rain?’ right here: