- 03 Mar 23
"Thanks so much to Ed for trusting me to help him on his journey as an artist," said Dessner.
Aaron Dessner has shared a lengthy statement on Instagram, opening up about his work on Ed Sheeran's fifth album Subtract (-).
Sheeran announced the album earlier this week, notifying his audience that the 14 track record will be a reflection of his “deepest darkest thoughts.”
"For the first time, I’m not trying to craft an album people will like, I’m merely putting something out that’s honest and true to where I am in my adult life," the artist shared to his social media.
Dessner, who originally rose to prominence as a founding member of The National, teamed up with Sheeran for the writing and production of Subtract (-).
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Their collaborative journey began back in 2021 when Dessner linked with Sheeran and singer Taylor Swift to help produce 'Run,' a duet on the latter artists' re-recorded album Red (Taylor's Version).
"It was special for me to hear two old friends singing together and bringing the past to life," Dessner said of the experience – remarking that it was "an interesting way to meet someone, working on music remotely first before actually meeting in person."
The two met for the first time face to face sometime later that year at a restaurant in New York City, where they talked at length, opening up on topics such as "music" and "life".
"It felt so relaxed and as if we already knew each other," expressed Dessner in a caption to his social media.
Soon after, he began sketching out musical ideas for Sheeran, writing "I could really empathize with what he was feeling."
Sheeran had a turbulent year. In a handwritten note posted to his social media, the artist recently outlined the painful inspirations behind the new record. He wrote:
“Within the space of a month, my pregnant wife got told she had a tumour, with no route to treatment until after the birth. My best friend Jamal, a brother to me, died suddenly and I found myself standing in court defending my integrity and career as a songwriter. I was spiralling through fear, depression and anxiety."
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Dessner sought to help Sheeran turn this emotion to music.
"There's something deeply vulnerable and ultimately cathartic and therapeutic about shifting sadness and pain and anxiety into music," Dessner wrote in his statement. "This is what ‘subtract’ does so beautifully."
In January of 2022, the two met up in England and finished over 30 songs– 14 of which comprise the new record.
Dessner is very grateful for the experience working with the Grammy Award-winning musician and "couldn't be more proud" of the record he was able to help create.
(-) will be released March 5th and is currently available for pre-release.