Aaron Dessner has opened up about his experience working with Ed Sheeran on his upcoming fifth album, ‘-‘ (‘Subtract’).
Sheeran announced the 14-song record earlier this week, saying it reflects his “deepest and darkest thoughts” in the context of personal turmoil.
“It’s opening the trap door of my soul,” explained the singer-songwriter. “For the first time I’m not trying to make an album that people like, I’m just putting out something that’s honest and true to where I’m at in my adult life.”
The National’s Dessner collaborated with Sheeran on the songwriting and production of the LP. In a new post on social media, Dessner recalled how he first met Sheeran when he helped produce his collaboration song with Taylor Swift, “Run,” from “Red (Taylor’s Version).”
“It was special for me to hear two old friends singing together and reliving the past, and an interesting way to get to know someone, working on the music remotely first before meeting in person,” he wrote.
Later, Dessner and Sheeran met for dinner in New York, where they “talked at length about music and life.” The message continued: “I felt very relaxed and like we already knew each other. Thinking about Ed’s music, I realized that I was hearing things in my head that I thought we could explore , musical ideas that would allow more space and bring out what I love about his guitar and his amazing voice”.
“I spent some time sketching these ideas and shared a folder with Ed. A few months later, in the winter of 2021, he started writing to them and sometimes sending them several song ideas a day, inspired by a very it was difficult. going through his life. I could empathize with what he was feeling and I wanted to compose these songs.”
Dessner and Sheeran then met in January 2022 to further work on the music, and “completed over 30 songs together in one week”, 14 of which comprised the upcoming ‘-‘ .
I couldn’t be more proud of this record and the vulnerability and honesty that Ed showed in writing these songs with me,” continues Dessner, “there’s something very vulnerable and ultimately cathartic and therapeutic about turning sadness, pain and anxiety into music, turning darkness into light in this way and sharing these feelings with others.”
“This is what makes ‘Subtract’ so beautiful and I can’t wait for you to hear it. Thank you so much Ed for trusting me to help you on your journey as an artist. the opportunity to make music with so many that’s friends, both old and new, and experiencing the way the community grows and grows.”
Dessner’s statement was accompanied by a series of images of Sheeran in the studio, which you can view here.
According to a press release, ‘-‘ is an acoustic record that serves as “the latest in the era of math albums [de Sheeran] which lasts ten years.” It’s out on May 5th via Asylum/Atlantic (pre-order here).
Within a month, my pregnant wife was told they were pregnant, with no chance of treatment until after delivery. my best friend Jamal [Edwards]My brother died suddenly and I found myself in court defending my integrity and my career as a composer. I went into a spiral of fear, depression and anxiety.
“I felt like I was drowning, my head below the surface, looking up but I couldn’t come up for air.”
Earlier this year, Sheeran told fans that a “tumultuous” time in his life had prevented him from engaging with social media, but he did not elaborate on what those issues were.
Meanwhile, Sheeran has reportedly refused to perform at the coronation of King Charles III next May.