Interview: George Ezra – On Dylan And The Future

We’ve been keeping tabs on young George Ezra for almost two years now, so it came as an absolute pleasure this week to finally sit down with the lad from Bristol, who was placed in the top 5 for the BBC Sound Of 2014, and has been championed by Zane Lowe as “one of the most compelling and powerful new vocalists around”. Simi Abidakun sat down with George just before he took to the stage at Oxford’s Art Bar…

The past couple of months seems to have been absolutely crazy for you, how have you been coping with that?

Really good, I guess the only thing that’s changed is that I get to play more often. It’s still just me and a guitar and I’m still amazed that I’ve got a twenty-two day UK tour that’s sold out. It’s a good feeling and I couldn’t have done that last summer. So something’s happened…I don’t know what it is but something’s happened!

The response to your two new singles Budapest and Cassy O have been phenomenal, have you noticed a difference in your fan base since releasing these singles?

Because of supporting Tom Odell, there seems to have been a boost in female fans. It’s really funny because my mum tweeted something and a girl that had changed her name to Tom Odell started following her! And my mum was like “George!! Tom Odell started following me!”…but yeah he definitely hasn’t.

I’m lucky because I supported people like Rae Morris, Lianne La Havas, Tom Odell and also I did Radio 1, so I think my audience is really quite mixed and you can’t ask for much more than that, it’s really good.

With the EPs doing so well, should we be expecting a debut album in 2014?

June or July, once the sun’s up around festival season I think. It’s all recorded and all done. We’ve recorded about nineteen songs and I can’t release a nineteen track album, so I’ve got to knock it down so I don’t know what’s on it yet.

A lot of people are drawn to your sound because of your incredibly big voice and the amount of soul you manage to encapsulate in your sound. Where would you say this stems from?

My mum listened to a lot of Motown and my dad listened to a lot of singer songwriters, so, I found the blues for myself. I guess it just comes from what I’ve been listening to, tried to sing a certain way, and found I could, so that’s my voice.

Who would you cite as the biggest influence on your music in the way you approach writing and playing live shows?

It is Bob Dylan and every time I say that I wish there was more of an original answer but that is it. He was the first person I listened to and got me into music and I think a lot of that is still important to me, because if I hadn’t then I might not be doing this.

What would a conversation with you and Bob Dylan look like if you met him today?

He’s seventy-two or something now, so if I said to him “I love your music” I’m sure he’s been hearing that for the past fifty years! So I’d probably ask him something quite strange.

You’ve started the year with your first sold out UK tour, how is festival season looking for you this year?

Hopefully three a week, I’d like to do as many as possible. I’ve just started doing a few gigs in Europe in the last two weeks and they seem to like me which is cool and they’ve got great festivals as well so it’d be good to get involved with some of those.

How excited are you to be on your first UK headline tour?

This whole thing? Yeah, not that I have to pinch myself, I’m aware that I’m here, but I know there’s a lot of people that want to be doing what I’m doing and I appreciate how lucky I am every day.

Finally, I’m sure this question has been burning the minds of a lot of people out there – what exactly is ‘Petan’?

Yeah!! It’s just one of those words I made up because it’s very nice to use. I want to get people using the word ‘petan’ and see where they put it. Start using it and tell me what it means, find a way where you like to say it!

Questions from Simi Abidakun