George Ezra is #6 in The DIY List 2014, a look back at the year’s best albums, one-off shows, festival performances and achievements outside of the norm.
Before 2014 really got going, George Ezra was the guy with a few good songs and one brilliant Twitter handle. He took various pictures of himself in baths. #Petan - his hashtag of choice - was only just beginning to spread. Now, that made up word graces the front of a drumkit that finds itself on some of the country’s biggest stages. “This year, I did the Lexington in January,” he says, trying to place a marker on how things have gone. “And now a year on I’ll be in Brixton Academy. It’s mental.”
Debut album ‘Wanted On Voyage’ has sustained popularity like very few other records this year. That could be down to the train journeys with fans, his ability playing live, or even his sheer persistence at creating half-decent hashtags - the guy’s had one hell of a year.
He cites a recent appearance on The Graham Norton Show as a clincher for that coveted UK Number One spot, even though things didn’t go quite to plan. “I fucked up Graham Norton. I thought you just did the song and went to the couch. I finished the song, started skipping over to the couch - they had to mic me up.” Sat next to Denzel Washington and Peter Capaldi, he saved another awkward moment for the third guest, Gemma Arterton. “She was really pretty. And I kissed her on the cheek politely. She went in for one and I went in for two. It’s on the footage. So my friends laughed at me.”
“Ian McKellen said, ‘Can you play any nearer my house?’ I was like, ‘Well, it doesn’t really work like that.”
Given the way he describes these situations, George gives the impression of someone who’s managed to balls up the last twelve months. It’s hard to imagine it going any better, though. Part of it’s down to the crowd that flocks his way (“adults, students, mums,” he sums up). Celeb endorsements help too, like Sir Ian McKellen’s appearance on the ‘Listen to the Man’ video. “He said to me, ‘Are you playing in London anytime soon?’ I told him about Shepherd’s Bush. And he said, ‘Can you play any nearer my house?’ I was like, ‘Well, it doesn’t really work like that Ian. Even if you are Gandalf.’
“He was lovely,” George remembers. “I knew him from watching Lord of the Rings only four years ago. I had to act with him, but you can tell he’s an actor. Watching it back, you can tell that he’s nailing it.” Some of 2014’s sprung up as a surprise, but there’s enough perspective to see where things are heading in the future. “How I see it is, Christmas is coming,” he excitedly observes. “Next Christmas, this will be petering out. America at the moment feels to me - and I could be completely wrong - like where Europe was a year or eighteen months ago. If that goes to plan at all, then I’ll be there.”
‘Wanted On Voyage’ is out now. Photos: Emma Swann. For all DIY’s end of year coverage, head here. This interview is from the December 2014 / January 2015 issue of DIY, out now.