The past two years have been banner ones for ginger-haired English folkie Ed Sheeran, whose unassuming little single “The A Team” – from his debut disc “+” – earned him two Brit Awards, a coveted Ivor Novello and a Grammy nomination; he performed at the 2013 Grammy ceremony backed by Elton John. He recorded and toured with another marquee-topping benefactor, Taylor Swift, then started his new R&B-influenced followup “X” (pronounced “multiply”) with assists from Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Johnny McDaid, plus Rick Rubin, Benny Blanco and the red-hot Pharrell Williams. On Sunday, he won a Best Male Video trophy at the MTV Video Music Awards for “Sing.” Now, at 23, he is a coliseum headliner.
Peter Jackson personally picked you to compose the closing-credits song for his “The Hobbit-The Desolation of Smaug.” How did you get word?
Well, New Zealand is a very small place, really. So I was doing a radio show there one morning, and the girl that was the host was friends with the Jacksons. So she wanted to take us to his Weta Workshop – she said that she could probably get us in there, so we could see what was going on. And that was that.
What did Jackson want for the song, “I See Fire”?
Well, because there was such an intense ending to the film, he wanted a song to kind of ease the audience out. And that’s a song that I can’t really explain that much – it happened within an hour, and I didn’t really think too much about it. It was an immediate reaction to watching the film – I saw it without a lot of CGI in it or any music – and it all just came tumbling out.
You scored another closing-credit coup – “All of the Stars” for “The Fault in Our Stars.” Did you write it specifically for the movie?
Yeah – it was another assignment. So you have to choose what you want to convey, and how you want to say it. Because the whole point in the end-credit song is that you’re essentially being let out of whatever you’ve been in. So the “Fault” ending is very heartbreaking, so you want a song that lifts you up a bit. That’s why that track is a bit more mellow.
And you penned the “X” cut “Tenerife Sea” about feeling uncomfortable at the Grammys?
It was a very odd atmosphere, where everyone was out for themselves. And I found myself being competitive, as well, and pissed off that I didn’t win, which felt very unhealthy. When you go to an awards show in England, it’s a smaller industry and scene, so you really feel like you’re a part of something. And even if your mate wins, you’re happy for them.
IF YOU GO
Where: SAP Center, 525 W. Santa Clara St., San Jose
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26
Contact: (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com