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Singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran returned with two new singles this month after a year-long self imposed hiatus, and is now ready to hit the road.
With his third studio album Divide set to be released on March 3, Sheeran sat down with longtime friend and BBC Radio host Zane Lowe to discuss his year off, what expensive purchase he regrets, where he had his most surprising fan encounter in 2016, what’s to come in 2017, and why he’ll eventually leave music.
Here’s what we learned.
He still has his royal scar
Sheeran opened the interview by joking with Lowe about granting the BBC host the only long-form interview. “Everyone else gets 15 minutes of ‘how did you get that scar on your face’?”
He gave up his smart phone for the year
Deciding to take a break not only from social media, but from his smart phone as well, Sheeran confirmed that after an initial difficult first two weeks, he managed to use only a flip phone for 2016.
He’s ready for fatherhood
“I wanted to be a dad, like, last year. I’m ready, let’s go—tour bus babies, little fat, chubby babies that just walk around.”
He’s planning a break from music when his future child starts school
“When they hit 4 or 5 [years old] and start primary school, I’m just out,” said Sheeran. “I think [Bruce] Springsteen took an extended break when his kids went to school. I think that’s going to be me. I think I just want to set up a little studio in the countryside—which I have done—and just have new artists come down, write songs with them, produce with people.”
He’s in love and spent six months traveling with his girlfriend
“This has been the first time I’ve actually had the time to fall in love properly,” said Sheeran. “So the catalyst of taking a year off was also the fact that my partner quit her job in New York—which she’s now got back in London, which is really cool—but we were just basically like, let’s quit our jobs and have a year of forming a tight bond. So we went traveling and spent every day for a year together.”
He’s never been happier
“I’ve probably had three days apart from her in the last year…but we’re very, very strong. I’ve never been happier. I’ve never been more comfortable. I’ve never been more inspired. I feel like everything’s fallen into place, and it’s fallen into place because I’ve given it the time to fall into place.”
His cheek wasn’t his only casualty in 2016
While on vacation in Iceland, Sheeran suffered first degree burns on his foot that were so severe he had to be airlifted to a hospital and receive skin grafts.
He learned to ski
Before recording a new song with James Blunt and Ryan Tedder, Sheeran’s longtime friend Blunt taught the singer how to ski.
Divide was pushed back twice
Sheeran was initially going to released Divide in September 2016 and then November, but with the US election dominating the media cycle and Bruno Mars and The Weeknd both releasing massive albums at the end of the year, he decided to wait until 2017. “It feels like a clean start this year…I’m very confident in this year. This year is mine.”
He has a fear of heights
Although New Zealand was one of the (literal) high points during his months of travel, Sheeran admits that bungee jumping in Queensland was such a traumatic experience it caused nightmares.
An arena tour is coming
Ed confirmed that he’ll be going on an arena tour in 2017, while 2018 will features only outdoor gigs.
Get ready for the ‘Summer of Ed’
Sheeran closed the interview by saying there are a few things he’s doing this summer that he’s yet to announce, but they will be the biggest moments of his career. “I feel like this is where my career really begins. All the rest has been a set up.”
Check out the full interview below and click here to listen to “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape Of You,” Sheeran’s first two singles from Divide.