English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran played for 31 million viewers earlier this week when he sang Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" at the London Olympics Closing Ceremony, backed by Nick Mason and Mike Rutherford. "I'm never going to get to do something like that again in my life, so I just savored every moment of it," he tells Rolling Stone. Now, Sheeran is about to get even more exposure: he recently recorded a duet with Taylor Swift for her upcoming album Red, which hits stores on October 22nd.
Sheeran, 21, learned Swift was a fan after she wore lyrics from his song "Lego House" on her arms during her Speak Now tour. Soon, Swift's management visited one of Sheeran's gigs in Nashville. "Two days later, I got an email saying she had been a fan for awhile and ‘Should we write a song?' So we hooked up and wrote two tunes, actually, one on the record and another that's still out in the ether somewhere."
The writing session took place at Swift's home. "We wrote a song on a trampoline, ate some apple pie and had a jam. It was very fun," he says. "It came in 20 minutes, really. It was a really simple song to write. We just had two guitars and strummed it out. I've heard from everyone in the industry how cool she is; she's got a very good reputation, but you never really realize what kind of person she is until you sit down and chat with her. She's just a very warm soul."
Sheeran has another new friend in Elton John: both played the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert earlier this summer. "'Indian Sunset' is a fucking amazing piece of music," Sheeran says of his favorite Elton track. "He's the best person for advice for me. There have been a couple of things recently where I've needed more wise industry knowledge and I can give him a call. The best advice he's given me: probably to release a single in between 'The A Team' and 'Lego House.' He was like, ‘A Team' is the one that kind of breaks you onto the scene and ‘Lego House' breaks you onto the mainstream commercial scene, but you need a bridge in between both, otherwise people would just think that I did ballads. So I released 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You' in between, [and] it seemed to work out well."
In September, Sheeran will hit the U.S. on the VH1 You Oughta Know Tour With Ed Sheeran. He plans to stay on the road through November 2013, including a bigger U.S. tour in January. "It's nice to really have to tour my ass off for things to work," he says. But he's already thinking about new material. "I've got about 20 tunes," he says. "It's going to be a similar direction to the last record. Obviously I'm growing up, so it might be a little bit more mature."