Posted On 18 Aug 2014
Tag: BBC Sound Poll, Budapest, Cam Blackwood, Cassi-O, Chance The Rapper, Childish Gambino, Columbia Records, Delta Blues, Did You Hear The Rain, Drawing Board, EELS, George Ezra, Hollywood, Howlin' Wolf, JJ Cale, Keith Richards, Lead Belly, Leadbelly, Mississippi John Hurt, Muddy Waters, No Vacancy, Ry Cooder, Wanted On Voyage, Woody Guthrie
The British singer-songwriter, George Ezra made his second ever U.S. appearance August 13th, in Los Angeles at No Vacancy, a hip, secluded venue tucked just off the very busy Hollywood Boulevard.
The 21-year old was there to perform songs from his Columbia Records release, Wanted On Voyage, his debut album, produced by Cam Blackwood. The attendees enjoyed a fine selection of food and cocktails.
After awhile, Ezra strode onto the balcony-turned-stage, where he casually tuned his guitar and greeted the crowd with “Hi, my name’s George, and I’m going to play a few songs for you.”
With a voice beyond his years, he performed several songs including highlights “Cassi O” and “Did You Hear The Rain” (which features an amazing Delta Blues a cappella intro), as well as his current single, the hooky earworm, “Budapest”.
Following the performance, Ezra made his way through the crowd chatting and smiling for pictures. A co-worker and I even managed to snag one with the talented singer.
While truly impressed with his performance, seeing Mr. Ezra perform wasn’t enough. I wanted to learn more about him and his musical background. I was delighted to get an interview out of him!
Read below for all the goods!
Can you remember the exact moment that you wanted to be a performer?
I don’t think I could pin point an exact moment. It’s a teenage dreaming kind of a thought isn’t it? I never put much pressure on the thought, I never thought I could do it full time. So now, I consider myself very lucky.
What first inspired you to pick up the guitar?
The guitar was always a tool for me to be able to write and sing songs. I never wanted to be a ‘guitarist’. But I soon fell in love with the instrument. I still play the same few chords I first ever learned. They still warm me up.
Congrats on releasing your debut album! What’s that feel like?
Thank you very much! It feels amazing. Although I have an inability to realize what’s happening to me until about six months later! It will really hit me then.
What have been some of the most important lessons you have learned just from your early experiences of the music industry?
I guess to relax and be selfish. If I don’t love the music that I’m creating then what’s the point? I have to perform and put soul into these songs each night. So I need to love them.
Describe the experience of being included in the BBC Sound Poll of 2014.
If I’m perfectly honest with you, I had never heard of the list! Then I was told I was on it so I did some research.. It was amazing to know I was being included. But at the same time, some people were treating it as a competition, ‘who do you want to beat?’ I wasn’t into that side of it.
I am a big fan of your current hit single, “Budapest” and in fact, can’t get it out of my head! So, what’s the story behind the song?
A lot of my album and both EPs that I’ve released we’re written whilst I traveled through Europe on my own. Budapest was the only city that if I plan on visiting that I never made it to! I then took to writing a song, listing all the beautiful things that I’d give up for somebody! None of which I actually own to give up.
There’s a distinct blues style to the way you perform. Did you grow up listening to the blues? Are there any particular blues artists that have influenced your musical style?
I did listen to a lot of blues music, along with folk and a lot of it American. Leadbelly, Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt and loads more. I was overwhelmed by the honesty and heart put into this music.
Who are the guitarists you admire?
Ry Cooder has to be up there, Leadbelly & JJ Cale too and of course, Keith Richards!
Who are some newer musicians that currently inspire you?
I’ve been loving what I’ve heard by Chance The Rapper & Childish Gambino. It feels new & real.
You’re currently on quite a busy headlining tour, how’s it been going? What’s the support been like at each city?
It’s been great, thank you! It’s amazing how receptions change from city to city. I’m extremely lucky and have a very mixed range of ages come to the shows. I think that’s due to who I supported early on.
You took a voyage around Europe shortly after you signed your record deal, how did that influence your songwriting style and progression as a musician? Which experience really stands out from that adventure?
I learned early on that one of the most inspiring things for me is to people watch, I’m professionally nosey! And the trip was just a month long people watching extravaganza! I filled books with everything I was seeing, a lot of which seemed very mundane at the time but you read back over these things and it’s pages of characters and unsung stories, it was great.
You’re 21 now, and would have been 18-19 when writing these songs, yet the lyrics are beyond your years. What provided the inspiration?
People say this but they don’t feel beyond my years to me. I wrote them, they feel right to me!
What is your songwriting process like?
I have friends that are able to wake up and they’ll say ‘today I’m going to write a song’ sure enough they’ll do just that. Unfortunately for me, I can’t just turn it on, it takes as long as it takes and I can’t force it.
What do you think of using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, SoundCloud to encourage people to check out your music?
I love Twitter, I think it’s perfect for me. It means I can communicate with anybody that likes my music without any bullshit. Twitter isn’t serious. Twitter is fun. The internet is potentially one of the most important tools a young unsigned musician can use. It’s free! And it works.
If you could collaborate with any musician, living or dead, who would it be and why?
I’m a big fan of EELS, I’ve always imagined it would be great to watch E work.
When you aren’t performing or working on new material, what do you like to do for fun?
Luckily I spend my working time doing something that I love! So my free time I like to make sure I see friends. We just do what we always used to. Meet at the pub or by the river. Chat shit and watch the world pass us by.
Lyrically, what’s your favorite song that you’ve written and why? And what about your favorite song to perform?
I have favorite lyrics in different songs. I think one that makes me chuckle is
“‘I’ll fill your pillow case up with snakes
The man eating kind
Though you call yourself a woman
I doubted they would mind”
I go on to sing:
“You said you needed a hair cut
I recommended Mr Todd
Of all the men in this big bad world
He’s perfect for the job.”
It’s in a song of mine called “Drawing Board”.
What do you hope people take away from listening to your music?
I think if my music is associated with good times, memories or journeys, I’d be happy.