MTV’s docuseries Nine Days and Nights kicks off on Tuesday night with its first subject: Ed Sheeran, the hit singer-songwriter whose latest turn for a touch of hip-hop has him nervous about whether he will “be a career artist, or [the guy who] had a very big album in 2011.”
Ahead of his June 23 release x, Sheeran steps in front of the MTV cameras for an incredibly personal look at his quick ascent. Here are 9 things viewers will see in the docuseries special:
1. Pharrell Williams compares him to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.“It’s interesting because he’s a singer-songwriter, and he’s kicking everybody’s ass,” says the producer, who collaborated with him for his album’s lead single, “Sing.” Viewers will see the entire story of the song: the two at work in the studio, a retelling of how that track’s catchy bass line subliminally got caught in Sheeran’s head, how he felt just before the song premiered on the radio, and what his face looked like as he read fans’ receptive tweets about the track. Of releasing “Sing” before “Don’t” at Williams request, Sheeran says, “I swear Pharrell’s got a foresight! … That hat or something!”
2. Taylor Swift admits her envy. The singer, with whom Sheeran toured as her opening act, tells the camera of “Lego House,” “I’ve never been more jealous of anything in my life; I love the way he incorporates rhythm pattern into lyrics … no one else is writing pre-choruses like that, or verses like that.”
3. Sheeran shares his London crib. He does his own laundry and dries it on the radio! He surfs the web while getting a tattoo! He also cringes a bit at the needle – he tells the cameramen, “You can just edit this and make me look like a badass, right?”
4. Eminem played a big influence. While the singer-songwriter has stuck mostly to the acoustic sound, Sheeran shares that Slim Shady was part of his introduction to hip hop, and the cornerstone influence for his new sound in “Sing.” He also discusses his first show in L.A. – a rap/spoken word gig in Inglewood, and “I’m the ginger white kid singing acoustic love songs.” Still, popping into out-of-the-box venues like comedy nights helped him to build is confidence in America and “stand out where you’re least expected.”
5. Cameras head into his hometown for the first time. Sheeran has never taken fans to his hometown before (see photo below), but brings viewers to his first job where he was washing silverware, and his school where his friend teaches (“I wouldn’t mind coming back to teach,” he says). The only special place not shown is his neighborhood pub, which director Michael Bonfiglio tell The Hollywood Reporter will air in MTV’s extended version on Saturday, June 14 at 8 p.m.
6. His childhood bedroom is covered in signatures. His yellow childhood bedroom, which is now filled with cabinets and other storage items, has brightly-painted yellow walls that were signed by all of his friends on his 16th birthday, and also has Swift’s signature as well. He also loved stealing empty beer bottles from gigs, and still has a Corona that was emptied by James Blunt in 2004.
7. Damien Rice shaped his fan interactions. Sheeran recalls how he saw Rice at a secret gig in Dublin when he was a preteen. “Literally, five minutes of his time has created my whole trajectory, my path, my life,” he says, later adding, “It takes no time to be nice. It takes more effort to be a prick.”
8. He’s still in awe of Elton John. As the doc shows Sheeran rehearsing with John for his Oscar party, the singer admits that it’s still “surreal” to be on a first-name basis with him, even though he’s incredibly close to John and his family.
9. Sheeran is set on starting a family. While the musician is currently pleased with his definition of success – ticket sales – and his skillset of being “selfish” and writing songs for himself that “women [can] cry and eat ice cream to,” he’s set on starting a family someday … soon. “In London, if there was a billionaire with a big house and a supermodel wife and a Ferrari, people would be like, ‘What a dick,'” he tells the cameras, noting to his manager that he’s only got about five years left in him to tout the globe alone. “The goal in life isn’t to release albums; it’s to have a family … Nothing worse than touring for twenty years and a massive bank account.”
Nine Days and Nights of Ed Sheeran airs Tuesday, June 10 at 11 p.m. ET on MTV. Watch the trailer below: