- 20 Jun 19
Following the release of his second album, Staying At Tamara's - which included 'Shotgun', one of the biggest songs of 2018 0 George Ezra reflects on fame, acclaim, and the story behind his award-winning sophomore LP. In conversation with Peter McGoran.
I still remember that breakthrough success with the first album, Wanted On Voyage. In hindsight, I didn't handle it as well as I probably should have. Not in an extreme way, but I should have taken it all in. Instead, I took the approach of, "Keep your head down, keep your eyes shut, take a deep breath" and wait till it's over".
I'm not saying it wasn't amazing - I absolutely loved the experience - but I think what I've been aiming for every day with Staying at Tamara's is to be more present. I'm not overthinking things, not saying: "OK - I've an interview, then a gig, then a flight tomorrow. What time's the flight? What time's the next thing? And the next thing?" I'm more like, "OK, what's happening right now? I'm doing an interview. Good. I'm going to be in the moment during this". So far, it's doing me the world of good.
This is hard to say without sounding cheesy, but - I'm doing the thing that I always wanted to do in life. That's amazing. Everyone knows that - no matter who you are or what you do - some days you wake up and your first thought before you open your eyes is, "Fuck it, not today" or "What I'd give to be in my own bed right now". But for the most part, I absolutely love what's going on at the moment. More than that, I can appreciate how good it is being back in the midst of things, having not been doing it for a while. There was a lot of downtime between the first album and the second one - and I hated it! Whenever I didn't have anything on, I worried about the tiniest, most mundane things and became neurotic about stupid stuff.
For the first record, I inter-railed around Europe and that really helped me out. And I learnt, once I'd come off-tour, after the first album, "Fuck, George, you're really not being creative when you're at home". What I was doing, essentially, was waking up each day with a plan to write. I'd set an alarm for 8am like I had a normal job. I didn't need to do that. The alarm would go off, I'd go downstairs, have a bit of brekkie, pick up a guitar, try and write" And nothing would come. I'd say, "It's fine, George, don't beat yourself up. Try again tomorrow".
But after two months of that, it starts to wear you down, because you put your head on the pillow knowing you didn't do what you set out to do. And I think no matter what your goal is, if you set out to do it and don't achieve it, you feel a lack of purpose. I didn't like that. It was only after going to Barcelona and living for a month with a stranger - named Tamara, who I dedicated the album to - that a lot of the album's purpose and inspiration came to me.
When it came to putting the songs for Staying at Tamara's together, I didn't feel a huge pressure knowing that these songs would be sung in front of bigger audiences. It was more of an education than anything else. I still wasn't under the impression that audiences would be coming out to see me. Genuinely, I wasn't presumptuous. A lot of success comes down to luck, and I was very aware of that. I wrote the songs without that pressure, because I thought, "The success of this first album isn't normal. Don't think the next time you release music that this is going to happen again".
"The actual writing for the album was quite sporadic. I still write with Joel Potts quite a lot. We wrote with each other on the first record, and I've always loved our relationship. We decided to release 'Don't Matter Now' back in 2017, and then I played some festivals after that. Subsequently I wrote two more songs that were obviously supposed to go on the album - 'Pretty Shining People' and 'Shotgun' - and the shape came together. I was initially toying with the idea of whether or not 'Shotgun' should be a single. Looking back on everything that's happened with it, it's a really good thing that it was!"
Georga Ezra is playing Malahide Castle tomorrow night with Kawala and The Vaccines as his supporting acts.