Ed Sheeran paid his dues for singer-songwriter success

Ed Sheeran. (WENN)

Ed Sheeran. (WENN)

Jim Slotek, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:40 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - He's Taylor Swift's co-songwriter-of-choice and best pal. In fact, she recently credited him with giving her "the best romantic advice" of anyone she knows.

So we have to chide Brit singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran (with whom Swift wrote and recorded the hit Everything Has Changed). Is he nuts? If she ever straightens out her love life, her career might be over.

"I don't think that's ever going to end though," the 22-year-old Sheeran says, laughing. "We're very similar in that sense. We're hopeless romantics. I've had a lot of experiences in this past year and so has she. So the well hasn't run dry yet, songwriting wise."

But everything has indeed changed for the multitalented Sheeran, whose celebrity fans include Elton John and Jamie Foxx (who gave him his first break at his L.A. club The Foxxhole when Sheeran was living on a friend's couch).

Sheeran's collecting royalties for songs he's written for Swift and One Direction, and is about to release his second album, this one with legendary producer Rick Rubin.

And millions of moviegoers who may not know his music will hear his song I See Fire at the end of The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug. Considering the fire-breathing mayhem in that movie, I suggest an Ozzy Osbourne song might have been as good a choice as Sheeran's lilting, Celtic-influenced tune.

"It's interesting you say that, because the first idea I had for this song was something epic. But it seemed like, when I watched the film, my heart was pumping so much. It's so intense, I felt I needed a way to ease people out of the theatres."

That he writes his own songs takes people by surprise, "because it's quite a known thing that most artists these days don't. When he heard I See Fire, Martin Freeman - who plays Bilbo - said, 'I really like this song man, cheers. Who wrote it?' And I said, 'I did.' And he kind of did a double take.

"But at the end of the day, I see the publishing cheques."

The three years between playing the Foxxhole ("I was the only white guy in the room, and the host thought I was a roadie") and playing venues like Madison Square Garden amount to a lot of dues-paying in these days of overnight successes.

Does the fate of once-hot bands like The Jonas Brothers give him pause? "When it comes to longevity, I feel constant evolution and humility works, but also unhappiness. 'Cause anyone that gets happy and has kids and a family lose their drive."

As for the Jonases, Sheeran says, "I think they might have taken their eye off the ball. You always have to remember there's someone waiting in the wings to take your spot. Which is why I'll never complain in interviews. When I was young and I looked up to singer songwriters and they'd complain about their success, 'I'd be like, 'Well, I'll have it then.'

"There might have been a point where Jonases were huge and they were like, 'Cool, we can relax.' And Bieber was like, 'F--- that, I want that spot.' And he took it, and at some point, Bieber was like 'Cool, I can chill out now,' and One Direction were like, 'F--- that, I want that spot.'

"There are singer-songwriters that want my spot, and I might have taken someone's on the way up.

"And if it all starts to depreciate for me, I'll go have some kids."