If you want to get in the studio with Ed Sheeran, bring Legos. At least that’s what longtime songwriting cohort Johnny McDaid, who is also a member of Snow Patrol, does.
The singer and his collaborators — McDaid and new-to-Sheeran producer Steve Mac — recently opened up about the quick, relaxed process that built the biggest hit of 2017, “Shape of You.” “Within 30 seconds Ed was firing melodies out,” McDaid told the New York Times for a video piece that dissects the monumental hit. “Ed writes like nobody else in the world. He has a picture of the song in his mind before he’s even articulated it.”
After years of working together, McDaid knows how to keep Sheeran focused. “His attention span can be fairly low,” shared Sheeran’s writing partner. “One of the things I did to try and keep him in the room when I would be working on a track, I’d have like a suitcase full of legos I’d pull into the hotel room and say, ‘There you go. You build that.'”
“Shape of You,” which became the most-streamed song on Spotify ever this year, has been on the Billboard Hot 100 since it dropped in January, giving it the most weeks ever on the chart, and is closing in on a staggering 3 billion plays on YouTube. (Sheeran’s catalog has also been keyed more times than any other artist this year on the streaming platform.) But the song wasn’t originally intended for the Brit’s most recent album. As the clip recalls, Sheeran was instead considering it for “a female harmony group, or as a male-female duet, or maybe a song for Rihanna.”
And altogether, the cut was penned and produced in 90 minutes flat. As Mac says: “It was the best hour-and-a-half of my life.”
For the full story, and to watch the video, head to NYT.