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TO SAY ED SHEERAN'S star is on the rise can be a bit of an understatement.
His latest album ÷ (Divide) features a whopping 10 songs that have all cracked the UK Top 10 Singles Chart; the record had the most number of one-day streams on Spotify when it dropped in March; and Shape of You from it has become the streaming provider's most played song.
Not only that, the Suffolk native is also the first artiste to sell-out Wembley Stadium without a band when he played to 240,000 fans over three nights in 2015.
The 26-year-old was in Singapore last weekend to kick off the Asian leg of his current world tour; and Saturday night's performance was his first after fracturing his wrist and elbow last month in a cycling accident.
"It's going to be a really special show," he said in a backstage interview before playing to a full house at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
All 10,000 tickets for the concert sold out in just 40 minutes when it went on sale in May, forcing the organiser to add a second gig on Sunday, which sold out just as quickly. At one point, top tier seats were commanding up to S$13,516.17 each on online resale ticket marketplace Viagogo - a whopping 54 times more than the original S$248 face value.
Singing and playing the guitar is something the ginger-haired pop star, who shot to fame with his 2011 debut + (Plus), has been doing since he was four. His 2014 mega-selling follow-up X (Multiply) saw Sheeran playing Singapore for the first time in 2015, and last weekend's back-to-back dates in support of ÷ (Divide) are his biggest shows here.
The tour kicked off in March and chugs on well to the end of 2018. By then, expect the hitmaker to smash a couple more records along the way.
The last time you played here, you sold out The Star which had a capacity of 5000. This time you will be playing to 20,000 people. How does that make you feel?
I feel it's going very well here and I'm very excited. Every time I come back to different countries, things just seem cto be growing and growing so I'm really happy that we're playing to such big crowds.
Even as the venues are getting bigger, it's still just you on stage. Is there a chance you will eventually tour with a band?
Yeah, there's definitely a chance. I think I'll always have a loop pedal in the show but I'll grow a band around it. I think that's where it's heading: making a show with lots of different moments where maybe there are two songs with a band and then one song in the middle with the pedal. But I think that's still five years away. I want to play stadiums everywhere using the pedal, and once I've done that then I'll go play with a band.
Does it get lonely being up on stage on your own?
No, because I've never not done it that way so I don't know any different.
There's a rumour that Taylor Swift's new song Dress (from her new album Reputation) is about you. (Both Sheeran and Swift are good friends, and the tabloids are speculating they might have dated before.) Any comments?
I don't think it is. If you read into it, she mentions someone with a buzz cut and I've never had one.
A lot of musicians write music that relates to their life. What's the protocol when it comes to writing a song about someone? Do you tell them first?
Not really, but I do have a conversation with them. If the song is about someone I've dated, then they usually know that art imitates life, so songs will come out. In the song that I just did with Taylor (End Game, also from Reputation), I sing, "You understand that the good and bad end up in the song". My job is to write songs about how I feel. I'm not always going to feel like I'm happy and in love. And I don't feel that I need to tell people that because people know when we first start dating that I'm a songwriter.
How much can you tell us about the next album?
Not much actually. I have a rough outline. There are about nine songs that I really like but it could all change tomorrow because there could be nine new songs that come in and replace them. There are about 40 which I haven't used yet but there are nine good ones that I like.
Is it going to be called - (Minus) since your previous albums are all named after mathematical symbols?
It won't be called minus.
So you're done with mathematics?
No, I've got two more mathematical albums. [LAUGHS]
Do you have a phobia of riding bikes after your accident last month?
No, I think that's the wrong way to live. I'm going to ride bicycles again, I'm going to ski, I'm going to go on skateboards. If I'm going to break my arm, then I'm going to break my arm, nothing's going to stop me from having accidents.
You had a gap year where you wrote ÷ (Divide) and went through a social media detox. How hard was it for you to do that?
I think it would very difficult for the younger generation because they know nothing but social media but (you and I) have lived without Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It was really easy for me because I could just revert to being a 14-year-old again and not really need a phone. But I'd say go into small battles like if you go out with your friends, don't bring your phone - that's the first thing you can do. Then the next step is to not sleep with the phone by your bed so you don't wake up and look at it first thing in the morning. Then only have your phone in places that you need it.
Was that how you did it?
No, I went completely cold turkey because that is the sort of person that I am. But I will never say to someone, "Don't ever have a phone", because there are certain moments you might need one. When going out with your mates to the bar or for dinner, you don't really need your phone so keep it in your bag or give it to someone else.
You've mentioned that each of your tattoos are related to personal memories: what's your latest and what's next?
I haven't planned the next one yet but the last ones I've got are four big squares on my back. When I have kids, I want to have their hand prints tattooed on so I am just making space for that.