From personal experience, I’ve learnt that there are several levels to the fangirl. Some spend £40 on merch that they’ll probably never wear, others frantically tweet their live reaction to a new music video: I boarded a 24-hour long flight to Australia to see George Ezra perform live. Okay, so it was primarily to visit my sister mid-gap year and not an actual 10,000 mile trip just to catch a 90-minute set by the Hertfordshire-born songwriter (which, incidentally, he had to reschedule), but you get the sense of how high my fangirl level is.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and back on UK soil I’m nervously sitting by the phone waiting to chat to the man himself. Terrified that perhaps he won’t live up to my (admittedly fairly high) expectations, my fears are soon quashed as I hear the cheerful voice that I’ve listened to for three years ask how I am.
As we glide through some initial small talk, we discover a shared love of binge-listening to podcasts. “I was saying to someone recently that if I hadn’t found podcasts, I reckon my second record would have been done, like, six months sooner,” he tells me. “I was just obsessed!” The second record in question is the highly anticipated follow up to his hugely successful 2014 debut, Wanted On Voyage.
Following a massively busy couple of years – the result of said release – Ezra tells me how he woke up after the record’s last tour date and realised that for the first time in 18 months, he had no work commitments. This lack of direction after nearly two years of touring left him feeling lost. “For the first time in my life, I started to feel a bit anxious about things going on around me,” he explains. “I think 2016 was quite a full on year for all of us but coming out of being in the bubble of touring as well, and then being thrown into this world where everything was going awry, I just felt like I was worrying about things that certainly weren’t in my power, and then that was effecting even the most mundane things in my life.”
It is this feeling that, initially unknowingly, formed the core idea behind his upcoming sophomore album. After spending a month in Barcelona not really thinking about songwriting, he met Huw Stephens backstage at Latitude festival and was asked if he’d been writing about what was happening in the world. “I was like ‘No, are you mad? That is not my job!’” he laughs. “Then I got home and listened to the demos of everything I’d been doing and I was like ‘Oh, actually in a way I kind of am.’ I didn’t realise but a lot of them were songs about escaping and dreaming and taking yourself away from things going on. Subconsciously, I’ve been writing these songs that kind of remind me to relax a little bit.”
This is evident in the record’s lead single, “Don’t Matter Now”. An upbeat pop banger, it’s all about focusing on embracing the goodness in a world that often feels like it’s up against you. I ask Ezra if this is a thought he hopes people take away from the as-yet-to-be-titled upcoming album. “I hope that it makes people smile, I think I’m always aiming for that,” he replies. “The thing I love about music is when I look over my life and certain records soundtrack periods of my life and they’re not even my favourite records, it’s just like ‘Oh yeah, that was the sound of my summer in 2016.’ I love the idea of my music soundtracking people’s little adventures.” And having travelled from London to Australia and back again, I can tell you there’s no better accompaniment.
Photography - Bartek Szmigulski
Fashion - Thomas Ramshaw
Hair - Elliot McQueen
Makeup - Nina Jackson
Fashion Assistant - Meg Edmond
Rollacoaster Magazine Autumn/Winter 2017 Issue