“The same thing Taylor said to me was the same thing Pharrell said, same thing Chris Martin said, is just the same thing: Constant humility, constant evolution and be a sponge, soak up your influences,” Sheeran told ABC News' Juju Chang in an interview for “Nightline.”
The 23-year-old British “Sing” singer has done well taking that advice to heart, pulling influences from two other iconic Brits, Paul McCartney and Elton John, into his approach to music.
“Elton John is someone who has done everything right in his career, and everything wrong in his career,” Sheeran said. “He made so many mistakes that he could talk about freely and that’s good advice.”
Sheeran has quickly evolved from just a guy with a guitar to opening for Taylor Swift and selling out New York City’s Madison Square Garden as a solo act, not once but three times.
Sheeran said he is much more at ease when he’s headlining his own show.
“I don’t really think there’s pressure when people have come to see you because they want to be entertained,” he said. “They’re not expecting to be impressed. They come to be like, ‘We like your music, play it for us,’ rather than, ‘We’ve never heard of you, show us what you can do.’”
He’s set himself apart by being brazenly honest in his music, penning incredibly personal lyrics, some of which, like his songs "Lego House" and "Don’t," are about relationships and heartbreak.
“I think it’s nice to get something positive out of a bad situation,” Sheeran said. “I’d say that’s the way I’d look at it. I’m not trying to be bitter in any way. I just wanted to get something good out of that situation.”
Despite his messy red hair and the colorful tattoos that cover his arms, Sheeran is a sort of a humble “un-rock star,” focused more on the producing new music than his image, which makes him all the more appealing to fans. People magazine named Sheeran to the “Sexiest Man Alive” list in 2013, but the singer-songwriter brushed off even that.
“I’ve never seen myself as a sex symbol, and I think if I didn’t play music no one else would [see me that way] either,” Sheeran said. “We’re attracted to people who are good at things. So being in that People magazine thing is very flattering, because it means people think I’m good at my craft. But I would never say that I’m a sex symbol.”