Ed Sheeran’s super loop

Ed Sheeran’s super loop, Chewie 2. You’ve heard of it, you’ve seen it and now you want to know all about it, right?

Sorry, it ain’t gonna happen (thanks to some gnarly NDAs) – but we can tell you as much as possible about the process that saw We Are Mobile First bringing our Barcelona tech to the biggest thing out of Framlingham, England – Ed Sheeran – when we built his completely customized loop pedal, the Chewie 2.

Jonny Jenkins contacted us to help him bring his vision of the next version of Ed Sheeran´s infamous Chewie live stage loop pedal to life. The original Chewie Monsta was much loved – and much speculated on (here) – but by the time Jonny reached out, it was sorely in need of a technical update.

Chewie Monster, meet Chewie 2

The original Chewie revolutionised Ed’s live act, but we don’t think Jonny would mind us saying that it was a bit of a frankenmachine, ingeniously hacked together from hardware and software to do a job that had never been done before. It became such an integral part of Ed’s show that the time had come for it to be updated, customized and polished to make it as much of a personalized piece of kit as one of Ed’s guitars.

We had worked with Jonny before on software development, but Project Ed was something else completely. It had to be technically perfect, musically flawless and incredibly bloody reliable. I didn’t spend much time wondering what might happen if it went fubar halfway through the first set when Ed was headlining Glasto, but the time I did spend wasn’t pretty.

Robot Ed and the kebabs

So began the project. The major challenge – apart from the need for precision and reliability – was that the software component needed to deal with infinite audio layers without compression. It was a little outside our usual comfort zone of mobile apps, but motivated by a private testing session with Ed himself, we had a working product in under 3 months (within our magical MVP timeframe for mobile projects).

Testing – apart from being our carrot on a stick – was a major component of the project, mainly due to all the pressures we mentioned above. We mocked up an automated hardware test harness (which we named robot Ed), and eventually met the legend himself for a live testing session.

Without wanting to gush, let me just say that Ed and his team deserve every ounce of the title of legends. We had a chance to meet the awesome sound techs that help make the show tick backstage and, of course, the man himself. He’s so dedicated that during the testing session we had to actually ask him to stop for a break. He was such a machine that he played for hours – but we finally managed to get him to stop in exchange for a tasty kebab, giving us a chance to make some necessary technical adjustments.

The Chewie 2 – a thing of beauty

Now, six months later, the Chewie 2’s been on tour all around the world and used at almost all of Ed Sheeran’s live performances. It’s proved to be a rock solid piece of his act and we couldn’t be prouder of the role we played in what’s definitely been the most rock’n’roll of our projects so far.