George Ezra’s singing voice sounds like that of an old soul, and speaking, he’s as equally charming. In a city full of Australian vernacular, the sound of his proper English accent is striking. The young man was born in Hertford, England, in 1993. His first EP, Did You Hear The Rain? surfaced late in 2013, followed earlier this year by a second EP Cassy O’. Now, he delivers to us Wanted On Voyage.
Some background: ‘Wanted on Voyage’ is an old term. On long boat journeys most luggage would go into the cargo holding area below the deck. Sometimes you wouldn’t see it for months, but luggage ‘wanted on voyage’ stayed with you, and Ezra hoped that his music could accompany people on their travels, as it did on his.
So far it has. He has had enormous success globally, with people worldwide singing along to his swoon worthy tune ‘Budapest’. However, he is no one hit wonder. His voice is distinctive and mature while his songwriting is varied. Here he shares some of his thoughts on the last couple of years.
About music as a ‘real’ job:
If I’m honest, I still feel as though someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to get a real job. I still feel extremely lucky that I get to do this everyday. I don’t think I’ve ever had a thought that this was going to happen and I think music is consumed in a different way these days. It’s fast moving and I am aware that [the album] came out very quickly and I’m just enjoying it.
About music growing up:
There was always music in my house growing up. My Dad plays guitar and sings, just for fun, and there was always a radio on or a CD being played. There was never anyone telling me to practice or anything like that, I just loved doing it, so I was always doing it.
I buy CDs. When I was 14 I got a job in a cafe and I used to buy records, but then, new releases on vinyl were too expensive for me. I couldn’t afford them at the time. I was only working one day a week and so I started buying CDs, and now, I always buy CDs.
Growing up there were lots of bands that my friends and I would listen to. The Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend and Kings Of Leon; they were just coming out. I’d also listen to a lot of Van Morrison, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie – all of those guys – I love them.
About his album:
About 70% of my album came from a little trip I took around Europe, travelling on trains by myself. I wrote down everything I was seeing in my little notebook and wrote songs about it all and then I met a guy called Cam [Blackwood] and he produced both of my EPs and then the album with me and we did it in his little studio in London.
Cam Blackwood [producer] and I lived together for three months. We were in the studio from about nine till nine every day, or ten till ten over three months, and then we would have Sundays off. We just got into the studio and would see what we could do. Cam has done an album with Alabama 3. He’s done a bit with London Grammar too. We recorded about twenty songs. After we released the second EP, and with the deluxe album, we pretty much released all of the recorded tracks.
The whole point of the EPs was to get people used to me having a band and being more produced because I was gigging so much just by myself. I think that all the EPs go hand in hand. I think I need to leave it a few years and then listen back to make more sense of it. I find it really hard to realise what is going on at the time of writing.
About songwriting in Wales:
The thing is, I’ve been playing live by myself for about three years now. The idea of sharing it with someone scares me a bit. Maybe one day. I wouldn’t know with who, though. The songs that I’ve written so far are for me. I never write them thinking that they are for someone else. If I was to collaborate with someone live, I’d like to write with them as well.
A friend that I was introduced to in a pub a few years ago, he and I wrote the album together. We go away to Wales in the middle of nowhere for a week at a time. You have to have the fire on for hot water and no one can reach you on your phone. It’s perfect, and, we just write together. Honestly, it is beautiful. He likes to drink lots of red wine, and I like to tuck into a few beers and we just write songs.
About the point of it all:
You’ve got to be completely selfish. You have to spend so much time with this job. If I don’t love it, then there’s no point of me singing it or recording it, or releasing it. Really, you have to record what you want to hear and hope that other people enjoy it too.
It’s weird because I’ve been really busy for the last two or three years. I’ve been a busy boy, but now it seems as though I am busy in a completely different way. It is fun busy with gigs and things like that- I’m not just playing to bar staff.
About touring and fans:
I like social media and to observe. I think it is a good way for me to be in touch with my followers and in an honest way as well. There’s no rubbish or rhubarb… oh well a lot of it is just nonsense, I chat a lot of rubbish, but I think they’ve grown to love it.
I 100% choose who comes on tour with me. I try and get friends, or friends of friends because you’ve got to spend a long time with them on the road so you’ve got to like them, and you’ve got to like their music, most importantly. I tour with a band now, but what I like to do is, in any city I’m playing in England, I get any friends that I have in that city to come back stage before and after a show. It makes the whole thing a lot more relaxed and fun.
I get a bit nervous before a show, but good nerves. But sometimes, there’s been one or two gigs where I’ve gotten really nervous beforehand, but it is always fine in the end. When you’re watching The Jools Holland Show it feels like there is a real atmosphere in the room, and the amazing thing is, when you play there, it is a real atmosphere. It was great to play there and it went really well.
I feel blessed. The nice thing is, if I only ever get to release this album, at least I have, and I’ll always have that.
Enter here to win a signed CD of his album Wanted on Voyage.
Ezra will return to Australia in December to play the Falls Festival