He’s no stranger to awards shows, but Ed Sheeran appears to not be the biggest fan of the events.
After he performed his new single “Shivers” at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, the English singer-songwriter appeared on Audacy’s The Julia Show do discuss what it’s really like to be in that room.
“The room is filled with resentment and hatred towards everyone else and it’s quite an uncomfortable atmosphere,” he confessed in the interview. “In England, our awards shows are just like, everyone gets drunk and no one really cares who wins or loses. It’s just sort of like a night out. All of the artists are sweet people, but they’re surrounded by entourages that want them to win too, so it’s one artist surrounded by 10 people and another artist surrounded by 10 people, and everyone is kind of giving each other the side eye. … It’s a really horrible atmosphere to be in. I always walk away feeling really sad, and I don’t like it.”
Sheeran — who was nominated for four VMAs at Sunday’s show, including video of the year for “Bad Habits,” but went home empty-handed — clarified that his comments weren’t specific to the MTV awards show but extended to a longer list of American events. “It’s just lots of people wanting other people to fail and I don’t like that,” he said.
The 30-year-old artist has a lot of experience at U.S. awards shows, having won four Grammys, seven Billboard Music Awards, two VMAs, one American Music Award and four iHeartRadio Music Awards. He’s won some big ones too, including a Grammy for song of the year (for “Thinking Out Loud”) in 2016, a VMA for artist of the year in 2017 and a BBMA for top artist in 2018.
Sheeran added that the atmosphere doesn’t become any better at the afterparties, because it’s not just musicians and their entourages in the room, but also influencers. When he hosted the 2015 MTV Europe Music Awards, Sheeran recalled telling the artists, including Duran Duran and Macklemore, that they could have only one plus-one at his dance party that he hosted after the show at the top floor of a hotel.
“And it was just a good atmosphere. It was really, really nice. Everyone had fun, everyone was drinking beers, playing pool. And it wasn’t like a ‘who’s bigger than who and who won the awards that night,'” he mused. “So I did that after the VMAs this year — I just rented out a dive bar in Brooklyn, and Camila [Cabello] and Shawn [Mendes] came down. Jack Harlow came down. It was cool.”
He spoke to Billboard on the red carpet of the VMAs, chaperoning his artist, burgeoning pop singer Maisie Peters, and discussing what he’s learned from her. “For me, I think it’s wonderful having someone like Maisie, who’s a generation down from me, seeing how she write songs, how she speaks to her fanbase, and it’s a totally new level of doing things that I couldn’t do myself because she’s grown up with it,” he said. “She knows how to work her fanbase. It’s the same with me in 2011 and Twitter. It’s the same with her amazing fanbase now.”
Sheeran has been prepping the release of his fifth studio album = (Equals), due Oct. 29, by putting out singles “Bad Habits” and “Shivers.” The former has climbed as high as No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Listen to Sheeran talk about awards shows below.