On the first day of his UK headline tour, George Ezra mulls over his recent rise to success in a back room at Norwich’s Waterfront venue. Calm and collected, you would never think that Ezra was about to head out on a 7 week sold out tour across the UK and Europe at the tender age of twenty. Ezra has been a busy man since his performance at BBC Maida Vale in January 2013; it is from around then that he found a buzz starting to surround him. In addition to this, he was recently awarded 5th place in the BBC Sound of 2014 poll making him a top artist to look out for this year. Despite the huge amount of attention he is now receiving, when asked what has changed most for him he says “nothing has changed really, I’ve always been doing interviews and gigs, just more now.” Refreshingly down to earth, Ezra expresses his gratitude to his fans and says how it is “nice knowing that people are interested in what I am doing.”
The bulk of ideas for Ezra’s songs have come from a summer travelling round Europe by himself. On his travels, he filled journals with details of places he visited and people he met along the way. These journals became the driving force and inspiration behind his song writing for the debut album. One of Ezra’s more well-known songs, ‘Budapest’, has received substantial Radio 1 airplay and even been used in some adverts and commercials. However, interestingly ‘Budapest’ was one of the places Ezra failed to visit on his travels.
With his debut studio album recorded and due to be released around summer time, anticipation and support for Ezra is rising, particularly with the release of his EP ‘Cassy O’ scheduled for mid-March.
During the recording of the album Ezra recalls how “we forgot everything; we forgot how to talk to people. I was useless.” The insanity of 13 hour days from November to January undoubtedly took their toll on Ezra. However, after a relaxing break over Christmas it was straight back to work for the young vocalist.
Gigging, first and foremost, is the thing Ezra says he loves most about being a musician and states how he feels “strangely at home stood in front of people, which is weird, but I enjoy it.” He continues to be amazed by the response he receives from his fans when performing, “people sing along, even I forget the lyrics sometimes, people singing them back to me, it’s wicked!” Things like this are a reminder that although Ezra is an incredibly talented musician, headlining gigs is something that will take him time to acclimatise to. When I asked him his dream duet or artist collaboration, Ezra said “my answer would be Elvis, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”
Growing up George listened to a lot of indie bands such as the Libertines he says, but has been influenced by a number of different genres such as acoustic and blues, giving a unique sound to his voice. The statement ‘old before his time’ has been used a lot in other interviews, his distinct tone sounds far more mature than a twenty year old’s, and for this Ezra really stands out from the crowd.
For those who follow Ezra on twitter you may be wondering what the hashtag ‘petan’ actually means, this reporter certainly has been curious. If you were thinking it stood for something in particular then you would be wrong, in fact, it is completely made up. It started off as a word Ezra used back home with his friends and seems to have caught on, now Ezra hashtags it in most tweets and fans use it too. ‘Petan’ key rings were even for sale on the merchandise stall at the gig to the delight of many of his fans.
So what’s the next step for George Ezra? With a whirlwind of gigs and the release of his debut studio album, 2014 is set to be a jam-packed year in which we will undoubtedly see a strengthening of Ezra’s fan base and reputation. Oh – and getting ‘petan’ into the dictionary of course.