EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Calum Scott

Calum Scott has become a household name in 2016 with the success of his cover of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own. His soulful, serenading tones have become some of our favourite to listen to so when the chance came to have a chat with the man himself we couldn’t have been more delighted. We chatted with Calum about everything from music to results day to life advice and even performing in rooftop bars, read on to see just happened….

Hi Calum, how are you today?

I’m just driving back from Sussex to Hull so I have a nice long drive ahead of me so very happy to have you for the company. So very happy!

Massive congratulations on your brilliant performance at Boscombe beach last week, we along with much of the crowd absolutely loved it but how was it for you?

Incredible. You know like, I’ve never performed on a beach before. It was just so amazing to like walk up the steps towards the crowd onto that stage and to see so many people looking up at me and singing to my music. It was a very privileged moment you know and a completely different scenery singing some of my original songs as the sun started to go down was pretty cool.

You performed on the beach for the very first time but where would be your dream place to perform?

Ooooh, good question! I mean I’ve always wanted to play in like a stadium. Just because of the absolute scale of it. I went to see Coldplay play Wembley and just the scale of it was completely breathtaking. There were a couple of times I found myself looking at the crowd than looking at Coldplay because I was just absolutely astounded that all these people had travelled and paid money and were singing all the songs back to them. I just don’t know how they must have felt, they must have felt incredible. So like a stadium would be an incredible place to perform. I dunno where else!

A stadium is a really great dream place to play, let’s be honest!

You know what, as well I saw I’m a big fan of Maroon 5 and I saw one of their performances and it was on a rooftop. They played to a rooftop bar and it was all open plan and had a stage on this roof top and the sun was going down. It must have been somewhere like New York or somewhere, that looked incredible as they had the sunset in the background and they had the bar on this huge hotel rooftop. That looked pretty cool as well.

Hopefully, we’ll be seeing you at a rooftop bar or stadium very soon…

(laughing) Fingers crossed!

America looks set to be your next target to gain success in with your North American tour and debut US TV performance on Seth Meyer’s show. But how do you feel about taking on such a huge challenge?

I’m not gonna lie of course I’m nervous. The same sort of nerves I had when I first started performing to a big British audience it’s the same sort of thing. I sing with my heart on my sleeve and there’re no gimmicks, I don’t hide behind anything it’s literally me and the music. I think I’m subject to like I said I put my heart on my sleeve so I feel like I’m opening myself up. Of course, when you do that you want to be well received and feel like people are behind you, especially with America being so huge and having such incredible stars in the music industry in America. Of course, it’s daunting but I’d love nothing more than to travel the US and to perform to various US crowds you know from the East Coast all the way over to the West Coast and everywhere in between. But yeah I’m daunted by it but the excitement and anticipation to get there and perform outweigh the nerves.

Since Britain’s Got Talent you’ve been lucky enough to receive major label success but do you feel even after the initial disappointment of Simon Cowell not offering you a deal that it was a blessing in disguise?

I kind of believe that things happen for a reason and I kind of feel that I was gutted when Simon didn’t pick me up. I did feel like that was the end for me in terms of if Simon doesn’t want me then nobody’s going to want me but I guess I was kind of naïve back then. I’d gone straight from an office job and basically thrown into this huge world of the music industry and you know of course I felt like if Simon didn’t want me that was it. But what I realised after is that the most important thing in the music industry is obviously the music but also the fans. The fans listen to the music you make and they were so supportive and loyal after the show that when we put the single out independently. They were the ones that pushed it up the charts and got me recognised by America and ultimately got me signed by Capitol. So although at the time I was devastated and felt like that was it and that I just had to keep working hard and hoping that chance would come again it was the fans that moved mountains for me. I guess everything does happen for a reason, maybe it wasn’t meant to be that I was signed by Simon but I have such an incredible label home now. But that being said I still massively respect Simon and would still love the opportunity to thank him for everything he’s done to this point for me and you know it’s all love. It’s all love everywhere.

We’re glad there’s no bad blood between you two!

Of course, there’s not, life’s too short to be sat there in a mood about it. He’s busy, I’m very busy. I’m sure our paths will cross again and when they do I’m going to shake his hand and thank him for everything he’s done for me.

Onto debut album talk, you’ve spoken about recording your debut in LA, but what stage are you at with it?

We’ve got some incredible tracks at the moment, we’re basically looking at the songs that I’ve got and choosing the right ones for the album. Obviously not every song that I’ve written so far is going to be on there but because the single’s done so well I owe it to the people who’ve believed in me from the start and have followed this journey I kind of owe it to them to write the best album that I can. So we’re spending time looking at the content and the songwriting and the tracks and just making the best decisions we can. I mean this is my first time doing this so I’m kind of vastly inexperienced in regards to other people so I would love to drop an album now but obviously there’s things we’ve got to do. We’ve got to make sure that it’s right. We’re at a good stage now I would say, we’re looking to release something before the end of the year for the UK whether that’s a single or an EP. Just to make sure that people don’t think that I’m spending TOO much time on the album. But yeah I’m doing what I can to make sure I get it out to you guys as quickly as I can because you know I don’t want the fans to lose their rag with me. Like ‘where is this album? It’s taking too long!’ and stuff so I’m doing what I can to make sure it’s as good as it can be but obviously under the time constraints.

Out of the songs you’ve already written, is there any lyrics or tracks which are your favourites?

There’re a couple of songs that I’ve written that are very special to me. I spoke to Attitude Magazine about one of the songs in particular which is very personal about me and my dad which is a really nice song. Again I don’t know if it’ll make the album but it’s a song that’s very special to me, I’m going to treasure it even if it’s not released. There’re various other songs that have that same sort of power but I can’t give too much away. There’s definitely some songs on the album that were written kind of early that I’m excited for to make the cut on the album. They’re just special you know, they’ve got that magic about them. It’s the same magic I felt that I had with Dancing On My Own. There’s definitely some good ones to look forward to on the album for sure.

Do you feel after the success of Dancing On My Own there’s any pressure on you to follow it up with your next single?

Oh yeah definitely. There’s pressure because of how well it’s done so for me to break on a ballad is very rare so I’m fortunate. Again I’m still quite a novice at all this but you know to have this much success from a ballad is pretty unheard of. So there’s all this pressure of it being like a bit of phenomenon with people like ‘oh my god this is such an incredible song’ and it’s done so well and it’s starting to go global now so there is a lot of pressure. But I suppose there is with any artist with any next material, I suppose the same as there was with Frank Ocean’s album, the same with Adele’s when there’s a period of time where the artists are writing there’s a lot of build up and anticipation. It’s tough because you want to deliver the best album or best single you can without there being too much pressure and too much sort of comparison of the last song or whatever. But music is a journey and I’ll do everything I possibly can to make sure this reaches the same level of success as Dancing On My Own and moves and touches people in the same way, that the single does now. But it’s a journey and as much as I’m anxious for it I’m excited to see what people make of it and if it isn’t up to people’s standards and expectations then I’ll work harder just to make sure. I don’t want to lose anybody’s respect or lose anyone’s love, I’m just trying to do the right thing but like last year my plan before the show was I was going to buy a new car and a holiday with my friends. Now the plan is to write my debut album so I just hope people bear with me and I’ll do what I can to make people proud.

We heard your own track, You Are The Reason on the beach, but what’s the reason you wanted to get into music?

The reason I wanted to get into music was because I’ve always been a music fan anyway. I’ve always loved music, I studied music at school, I studied it at college but it wasn’t until I saw my mates getting jobs and making some money, buying cars and all those sorts of things that I just sort of wanted to do that. The music course wasn’t going the way that I kinda wanted it to so I was kinda just wanting to do all that and getting a bit of independence like most kids do at that age. So I fell out of touch playing music, but I was never a singer I only started singing when I was 20 21. Music isn’t new but singing is still relatively new to me, 6 7 years of singing and I knew I always wanted to be in music but not where I wanted to be. Whether I was in music technology or as a musician but then 6 or 7 years ago when my sister entered me into a competition locally, and basically forced me on the stage that’s when I realised it was singing. That’s when I truly realised that was where I wanted to put my heart and soul into. As much as I love playing music and listening to it and trying to mess with it in terms of production I think performing it vocally just trumps everything else. You’re singing with your heart and your soul and you can visually see that it affects people. I guess songwriters and musicians feel the same about their own quest but for me, personally singing is what I’ve discovered I want to be for the rest of my life.

As we’re having this chat on results day for many CelebMix readers would you say to those unsure about what they want to do in the future should just wait and see where life takes them?

What I would say and obviously this is the perfect conversation with regards to the GCSE results this week is if it’s not glaringly obvious what you want to do with your life, and you don’t have a vision of where you see your life going bear in mind for me I was studying English Language and Media Studies at school at college and Music Tech. I dropped Music Tech and found myself in a day job for 8 years until I discovered singing until I thought ‘you know what, I’m just going to give it a try’ I still didn’t know. I had all sorts, I was going to be an IT guy, I was going to try my hand at physiotherapy, I had all sorts of different plans for my life but it wasn’t until I really gave singing a go, where I thought this is something I could do for the rest of my life. So I think with other people if it isn’t glaringly obvious to you what you want to do then there’s no stress, there’s no pressure. You just discover what’s for you, like try something new try something you’ve never done before. Do something you’ve always wanted to do but never felt confident to do, just try it. It’s better to have tried and to discover you don’t want to do it than it is to always wish you had. So that would be my advice. Getting very philosophical but that’s genuinely my advice. There’re so many things in life that you could do and I think from what I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter people are getting so upset about their grades, I heard it on the radio today. It’s just a snapshot of where you are right now, of course, they’re important but for those who haven’t got their grades or the grades they want it’s literally a snapshot in time. In a year or two years time, you’re going to be in a different place anywhere, so my advice is to just keep believing in yourself. Try all sorts of different things and wherever your passion is or your heart tells you to go just go there.

That advice might be some of the best we’ve heard, which’ll also no doubt connect with a lot of our readers even if they didn’t get GCSE results today.

I hope it helps everybody, I was in a day job for 8 years and it wasn’t until I really thought ‘I’m going to give it a try and cast aside all my inhibitions about singing that people might not think I’m very good or whatever I just cast it aside. I just believed in myself and my sister really believed in me and pushed me to do it and it was then I found what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I hope that advice resonates with people because especially for me my sister is maybe two weeks away from giving birth to her first baby and I think of it as my little baby nephew and him growing up and getting his exam results and getting upset about it. It just breaks my heart as yeah it might not be the grades you want or expected but it doesn’t mean it’s gonna ruin the rest of your life you know. People just need to believe in themselves and not just the paper that they get their GCSE’s on.

Taking it back to music, but can we expect many of your new tracks to have a similar vibe to You Are The Reason?

You Are The Reason was another ballad, did you like it by the way?

We really loved it, it was super catchy too which is a plus!

Good, good. To be fair You Are The Reason to me is like the wedding song with it being so emotionally powerful in terms of the lyrics as you’re literally telling someone else they are the reason. I think that it’s beautiful but it’s another ballad which I can’t fault. I love them!

We’re with you on that, everyone loves a good ballad

People do love a good ballad, everyone needs a ballad in their life at some point. I’m still going to keep in tie with that emotional imagery, I’m singing real songs about real stuff so want that emotion. But I do want some upbeat stuff, I’ve written a few upbeat demos of songs that are maybe a little bit different to what you’d expect from me. Obviously, I’m not Pharrell and I’m not going to come up with a song like Happy because I’m just not that cool. But definitely, I’ve got some up-tempo stuff and beat stuff as I don’t want to have a full album to make you cry. I do want to see people moving around and dancing and stuff, so I’ve catered for both. Hopefully, it’ll be a nice varied album.

But don’t forget that nice big dose of ballads… Everyone loves them.

Of course, I can’t get away from that. They’re my go to! Pianos, sad songs I just love it. I can’t help it I’m a sucker for a sad song.

You’ve got a lot of touring coming up in the coming months across the UK and America, but what else can fans expect from you in 2016 and into 2017?

2016 is very busy as you’ve said. I’ve got my first American TV debut with Seth Meyers which is going to be incredible, I’ve got the North American tour in November which is going to be mind blowing. I’ve got the Jamie Lawson tour in October, supporting him which is going to be amazing. He’s such a lovely guy, I’ve met him already and can’t wait to get on the road with him. Obviously writing the rest of the album, there’s a whole lot more exciting stuff which I can’t really say too much about. But working with some incredible artists and songwriters and yeah watch this space. Hopefully, we’ll be able to announce some more very soon, there’s a lot going on it’s very busy. There’s a whole lot of stuff going on and it’s very very exciting. I know it’s kind of been a little bit slow and it’s been Dancing On My Own, Dancing On My Own but there’s definitely things in the pipeline and I hope people are excited. There’s so much more to give.

Thank you so much for your time Calum, enjoy the rest of your drive home.

Thank you so much, it’s been a pleasure. I’m gonna be sat on my own for another two hours so you’ve made that half an hour very nice thank you!

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Written by Nicola Craig

Lover of all things pop, a boyband or two, and discovering new artists to get hooked on. You'll usually find me at a gig, truly living my best life without a care in the world.

Contact: nicola@nicolacraig.co.uk