Class Of 2014: George Ezra

From lager-lout student to king of the open mics, this Bristol boy’s now living the dream - he’s even taken a bath at Andy Burrows’ house.

It was only at the beginning of 2013 that George Ezra was hosting his own, self-started shows at Bristol venues packed to the brim. Cut six months before and he was a guy studying music with an extraordinarily dubious haircut. Six months forward, and he’s being talked about as the next guitar-wielding, whiskey-voiced troubadour this side of whichever Dylan-soundalike has appeared over the past few years. This guy’s the real deal. And he’s packing humour alongside his newly-fledged, excitable songs. A lot can change in 12 months. Just imagine him come the end of 2014.

The Bristol residencies - were those your own little showcases?
I’m gonna miss those. I’d work with the promoter and they’d bring an act, and I’d bring a friend each time. It started with me going ‘please can you come’ to my mates. I was putting on the night and it was scary. I was putting up posters with my mug on them. ‘If this flops, I’m the fool’, I thought. The first one was almost horribly heaving, but I loved it.

What did you study in Bristol?
I did music for a year. And it was really cool. It got me to meet a load of like-minded people. But if you could’ve seen me. I decided to shave my head. I was bald, I put on a bit of beard chub. I was a mess. I was just going out on cheap lager. It does terrible things - it really does. I used to shave my head from time to time because it was fun, it feels good. I woke up one time, I was really hammered and I was like ‘shit, my hair’s gone!’ I was staying at my mum’s and she said, ‘George, you look shit.’ I’d hit the low point.

And then everything changed!
After that, later in the year I started gigging on my own. I remember having a realisation of ‘shit, this is what you need to be doing. You need to be gigging’. I was king of the open mics, jumping on any support. I feel like I’ve benefited from that so much. Open mics are awesome. There are some of the crappest acts there! In Bristol, it was loads of old crusty men with old harmonicas that are a bit out of tune. Weird poets and Spanish guitarists.

I’ve seen you tweeting a lot about Miley Cyrus.
Me and her go way back. I’m really fascinated about it. There’s a few things she could have done different, in my mind. This spliff on stage. If you’re doing it, walk on smoking it. Snoop Dogg would strut right on there, already lit. You can’t deny, if I’d written ‘Wrecking Ball’ I’d be a very happy man. I think chart music went through a bit of a dry spell. It was like ‘oh shit, this really is not very inspiring whatsoever’. Whereas I think now, there’s a lot of good stuff out there. Just embrace a tune. Oh man - I did something so stupid the other day. In Rise Bristol, I was buying some CDs and ‘The Black Album’ was sticking up. I’d never heard it before. So I took it home, and obviously I’d heard a lot about it but I hadn’t heard the album. And it got four tunes in and not one instrument had been played. It was just one vocal. And I was like ‘this is really ballsy, to release an album without vocals’. And then it got further in and then ‘Encore’ played and there was nothing but vocals. I’d bought the acapella version of the album. What a fucking idiot.

Do you have any secret skills?
The diablo. I’m actually pretty good at it. I’m a dab hand. I got one when I was di-average diablo purchasing age. Most people don’t see it through… Summer was always spent on the common. Everyone would just take a weird bunch of stuff down. And yeah, I got alright at it. Even this summer - I went and bought a paddling pool for eight quid, filled it with water and then when I was too warm, I’d diablo a bit in the shade.

Is that where you took your Twitter profile picture? That looked more like a bath.
That was at Andy Burrows’ house. I was staying at his on the sofa. We woke up and we were going to go into the studio. He said ‘do you want a shower?’ And I was like ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll be down in a second’. And then he went ‘fuck it, do you want a bath?’ I love baths. He called up, ‘George, your bath’s ready!’ which was really weird. That photo makes me laugh so much. What an idiot.

Taken from the December-January Class Of 2014 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.