Gold Rush Kid (Apple Music Edition)

George Ezra

Gold Rush Kid (Apple Music Edition)

When it came to writing his third album, George Ezra was ready to fall back on a fail-safe formula. His first two—2014’s Wanted on Voyage and 2018’s Staying at Tamara’s—were propelled by travel (across Europe and in Barcelona, respectively), and the people, places, and things Ezra witnessed along the way. A mammoth walk the length of the UK was lined up to help unlock album three, but when the pandemic hit in 2020, Ezra, like the rest of us, was forced to stay put. “I was living alone in a flat in London without a balcony,” he tells Apple Music. “I did five weeks in that flat and had an awful lot of conversations with myself. [That time] made me realize how much I'd relied in the past on other people's stories. Because I'm not pinching other people's stories, you're left with your own, and that's great. It’s cathartic.” Gold Rush Kid, of course, houses the uplifting anthems that Ezra has built his career on (“Anyone for You,” “Gold Rush Kid”), a side of his music he will always cherish. But beneath those songs’ breezy charm lies Ezra’s most personal and horizon-broadening music yet. Born of those bracing conversations with himself, these are tracks about loneliness and yearning for love (“Sweetest Human Being Alive”), mental health (“I Went Hunting,” about Ezra’s experiences of intrusive, repetitive thoughts), the unexpected contentment he found in lockdown (“The Sun Went Down”), and just how much he wants to do all of this anyway. “The truth is, you love it. You've lived a life that you couldn't have predicted so far,” says Ezra. “I see it as a gold rush: Be the gold rush kid. ‘I'm proud of this record,’ ‘it's a personal record’ is the least sincere thing you hear artists say all the time. But I think this is a moment in time for me. At this moment, it felt like the right thing to do.” Read on as the singer-songwriter walks us through each track on his touching third album, including the four exclusive songs on this Apple Music Edition in Spatial Audio. “Anyone for You” “Often, when I listen to someone else's album, I end up skipping track one once I've listened to it once or twice, because it's like the artist is trying to introduce you to the album. ‘Anyone for You’ doesn't feel like that for me. It feels like it's just in. [During the 2020 lockdown], I was going through old journals and had pages of trying to figure out who Tiger Lily could be. A big part of the conversations I was having with myself was about how, from whatever age, promoting yourself felt very locked in. ‘This is who you are.’ It didn't take much to say, ‘Well, that's not true. There's a lot of you.’ That's true of all of us. Naturally, once we started writing it, it was always going to be a positive song. We’d invite people into the studio and with this song and you could just see their faces loosening up. It still does that for me.” “Green Green Grass” “I was in the Caribbean in 2017-18 with two friends I grew up with. We were in this tiny bar and this really loud music came up, you could tell it was far away. I excused myself and ran down these little streets. There were different sound systems, a lot of hugging, dancing, food. I went into a shop and asked what the party was for. They said it was a funeral day and that they were celebrating three lives they had lost in their community. For me it was like, ‘That's amazing. Whoever those people were, if they could see this, I bet they'd be so happy.’ I had the lyric from that point.” “Gold Rush Kid” “I was bumping into the idea of a gold rush a lot. There was one travel documentary I'd watched about these guys who panned for gold in India. They were finding the dregs that had been washed up from bigger operations, and I remember one of the lads being like, ‘This is our gold rush.’ I was also talking to [the album’s producer and Ezra's longtime collaborator] Joel Pott an awful lot about how I didn't see myself doing this forever. But then anytime I speak about that, or anytime I've spoken about that, I quite quickly come back around going, ‘But it's the best thing.’ It’s really fulfilling to write about [some of the more personal aspects of this song] in a creative way. It’s really obvious what certain lyrics are about.” “Manila” “The first three songs—although they’re independent of each other—are the same pace in the record. You kind of don’t take a breath until here. I love this song, and I fought tooth and nail for the guitar solo in it. I was listening to a lot of Khruangbin—this world, not just of rhythm, but of guitar tones, and I pushed for that. I love where we landed.” “Fell in Love at the End of the World” “This song was written well before the pandemic, back in 2016. We all thought 2016 was a fucked-up year, with Trump, Brexit, and it felt like every three weeks, another legend passed away. When we first recorded this, it was the one song that I can put my hands up and say, ‘We got that wrong.’ It sounded like a really rocky, Raconteurs-type song. Then we took it to the other extreme and dialed it back. It feels like this segue into the next part of the record.” “Don’t Give Up” “I just love the production on this. There’s a guitar part I had that I was playing in sound checks a lot whilst recording the last record, and I knew I wanted to do something with it. There were these nights that I couldn’t sleep, and I'd often play guitar and just see if there were any ideas. There’s a lyric about it in this song ['I don’t sleep too good and I work too hard']. It’s also the first of a few songs that came from that lockdown and longing and missing friends, missing family, and trying to figure out who you are amongst all those things.” “Dance All Over Me” “We wrote this song that was so Eurobeat-sounding, even with my delivery of the opening lyric. We would laugh about it: It was also disco-y, with bits that almost sounded like a Dua Lipa track. We kept coming back to it, scratching our heads, like, ‘Can we make it work?’ We were in the studio on a day where we had more or less finished all the songs, and I picked up Joel’s guitar, this old battered thing. You have to cite the Mark Ronson and Miley Cyrus track ‘Nothing Breaks Like a Heart.’ This song feels like new territory for me. It’s a really good feeling to stand next to it and say, ‘Yeah, it does sound like a curveball in a way, but it sounds like you.’” “I Went Hunting” “The name of this song is the idea that if you go looking for a problem, you're going to find one. If you want to find a reason that it's been a bad day, you’ll find it. But then, on the flip side, I could sense that something wasn't right, and I owed it to myself to turn the room inside out and try and find out what it was. One part in the second verse is ‘Imagine having a thought and then thinking it again, thinking it again, thinking it again.’ But some people have thought I said, ‘Imagine having a daughter.’ I’m genuinely gutted because I thought it was such a clear record and now I’m like, ‘You’ve fucked it.’ The lyric is about starting to understand a bit more about how your mind works and then realizing that maybe not everyone thinks in the same way. Because I think as a kid, I just assumed everyone did.’” “In the Morning” “This was written, more or less, on the same day as ‘I Went Hunting.’ It feels like they’re siblings. I was listening to a lot of records that were male voices using falsetto, and certainly in the first record, I wasn't confident enough to do it. And then you think, ‘You’re actually quite good at this. You should try it.’” “Sweetest Human Being Alive” “I think this is my favorite song on the record. I wrote it in the first lockdown. I was obviously very isolated. There was this moment where I was just walking through the flat with a guitar, playing a chord sequence I’ve had for a long time. I just thought, ‘Just fucking sing the truth.’ And it was: I'm looking forward to meeting someone. I remember getting really emotional, because it was really hopeful, but really quite lonely. [Once we recorded it] I thought, ‘Oh no, you’ve written a piano ballad.’ But I love it.” “Love Somebody Else” “I wrote this at the end of the last record, when I was the least happy and getting to the point where you think, ‘Whatever’s going on in your head, it isn’t fucking working. So go pin the energy you are putting on fixating over this on someone else.’ Which I appreciate isn’t healthy, but for a pop song, it’s OK. This song had a blank space for the longest time. The second verse is almost like a stream of consciousness, but it's my favorite verse I've ever written.” “The Sun Went Down” “During that first lockdown, there were also these really beautiful days where I was making myself do things such as no screens for 48 hours or no talking for 24 hours. I pulled this chair into the window because there was a bit of a heat wave going on, but I couldn't get outside, so I just sat there. I wasn’t speaking. I was reading. And there were all these feelings [in the previous songs], but there was also, just as clearly, this real contentment.” Apple Music Edition tracks “It was proposed to me that we reimagine some of the songs. I said, ‘Can we see what they would sound like if we give [the album’s string arranger] Tobie Tripp the stems: strip them back, replace things, let Tobie remix things that are in there?’ That, to me, felt like a sincere way of reimagining them. I think it's also a really good lesson in production of how many different ways something can sound. I genuinely didn't want to just do the singles. It felt like if you were given this space, do the ones that lend itself to this idea. Don't try and string up ‘Anyone for You.’ Tobie indulged in more creative license than I was anticipating, but it’s a beautiful thing now to have. Alongside everything else, there’s a huge ladle’s worth of impostor syndrome. There is still this sentiment of, ‘God, do people want to hear my music? Is this any good? Do these people want to work with me?’ And so it's not lost on me that these people do. I don’t jump for joy when I’m asking to do a cover, which will be born of insecurity and a lack of confidence. But a friend of mine who was once working with Jamie T said, ‘What do you think Jamie’s best song was?’ And I said, ‘Love Is Only a Heartbeat Away.’ I love his Carry on the Grudge record, and [the cover] sounds great.”

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