Ed Sheeran Dishes On ‘Divide’ & Writing For Justin Bieber

"I think it was quite hard to kind of pinpoint what song to go with to represent the album."

By Sarah Carroll

The world has been waiting for new music from Ed Sheeran for nearly two years, and this past Friday (Jan. 6), he surprised us all with not one, but two singles.

“Shape Of You” and “Castle On The Hill” immediately rose to the top of the iTunes charts worldwide and there’s an important reason why the singer-songwriter chose to release both tracks simultaneously

Related: Ed Sheeran Debuts New Singles ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on The Hill’

“I think it was quite hard to kind of pinpoint what song to go with to represent the album, so I thought I’d pick two that were kind of opposing ends of the album and release them at the same time,” Sheeran told Carson Daly on 97.1 AMP Radio.

“And also, since I’ve been away, the way that albums are being released are now you have to just kind of make up your own rules. There’s no rulebook to follow, so you just have to do things that people aren’t doing and I thought making two double A-side singles with two videos that go to radio at the same time, it’s a talking point. And even if only one of the songs works, it still got people to talk about them.”

“Shape Of You” has an upbeat tempo and was originally written with Rihanna in mind, while “Castle on the Hill,” reflects upon Sheeran’s upbringing in Suffolk, England.

“There’s a lot of positivity in my hometown, but like, there’s also a lot of sadness as well, whether it be people not coming back or people passing away or people not achieving what they could’ve achieved, so I just wanted to touch on it a little bit, I guess.”

Sheeran famously took a self-imposed year-long break from social media and he only has one regret about it.

“The only thing I missed was having a phone so I could take pictures of things because I didn’t actually document anything in my year, but other than that, I didn’t miss anything. I had a great year.”

“I don’t even own a phone anymore,” he continued. “I’ve got one of those little Nokia phones, but I haven’t got a smartphone.”

During Sheeran’s “time off,” he still managed to produce two of the biggest hit songs of 2016 – Major Lazer’s “Cold Water” and Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.”

“‘Cold Water’ was a weird one because I didn’t even know that song existed,” he admitted. “It was a song I must’ve half-written somewhere at a time where I was writing a lot of songs and I did it at Benny Blanco’s house and then I got the email from Diplo just being like, ‘Yo! That ‘Cold Water’ song is dope! Can I have it?’ And I was like, ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about!’ And then he emailed and was like, “Yo, Justin [Bieber] wants to hop on the ‘Cold Water’ song. Is that cool?’ And I’m just like, ‘What are you talking about?!’”

“Love Yourself,” however, was an entirely different ballgame.

“That was a song I had written for Divide. It just wouldn’t have made it and then Justin [Bieber] took it and did his thing on it and released it as a single and made it what it is, so going from a song that would have never been released to – it was the biggest song of last year, it just became Billboard #1 of 2016 of the whole year, and be nominated for Song of the Year at the GRAMMYs – it just shows you that you shouldn’t always write stuff off.”

As for his own material, Sheeran remained coy about when he plans to release Divide, but he did admit the album still needs some tweaking.

“I just have to edit some of the album because I didn’t think some of the words were cuss words, but apparently they are. It’s obviously not as honest as it was, but I’m sure you can fill in the blanks.”

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