Hit UK singer-songwriter Calum Scott opens up about his musical journey, new single, 'Biblical', his upcoming sophomore album, the ups and downs of the past year and settling in being a star.
Calum Scott - everyone knows his name. The singer that took Britain’s Got Talent stage by storm and broke the charts with his emotional rendition of Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own', but the Hull raised artist past six years has been an adventure no one else can share.
Admittedly struggled to find his own voice in music at a young age to being part of a Maroon 5 band, Scott believes, "I feel more Calum Scott now than ever before." After the succession of Britain's Got Talent, though never actually got signed to Simon Cowell, Scott knuckled down and went on to push 'Dancing On My Own', which led to his debut album Only Human. With picking up over 7.5 billion total global streams and a Brit Award nomination, Scott last three years has been a whirlwind to his next era.
This year Scott has only released 'Biblical', but behind the scenes, the well-established artist has taken a step back in a time of chaos and admits his upcoming album has taken him since 2019 to create. Though he has kept quiet, his latest work speaks volumes and gives us a taster of his sophomore album. As he relishes the moments of working alone and looking back at the hard times, but also good - Scott's introduction to 2021 might be late, yet his next chapter shows off his growth as one of the best.
Firstly, congratulations on your latest release, 'Biblical'. What has the past week been like for you, and what can we expect next?
Yeah, I mean, since the release, it's been amazing. It's been amazing to have new music, and it's been amazing to come back with a song that talks about measurable love at a time when I think we really need it. I mean, the last time I released music was back in 2018 for my album Only Human and my second single, 'You Are The Reason', so it's been three years since my last release.
It's different times, we're not able to travel around, and I love being in person with people, performing these songs, doing the promo, and really getting in the rooms of people and doing the hard work on the ground. And that's been challenging, but we've done things over zoom. And we've had opportunities to choose amazing venues and areas to do recorded performances which, has been amazing and an opportunity we wouldn't have had before. So, it's challenging, but it's been amazing.
And there is so much more to come. We've released 'Biblical' the instrumental because I know how many people have already been putting covers out. We also have the live version from the VEVO performance that I did on YouTube. And also, there might be another cheeky release with a certain someone on 'Biblical' soon. There's so much more to come, not even mentioning the album, which I'm so excited about.
Taken from your upcoming sophomore album, what was the reason behind the theme of exploring unconditional love, and why did you want this to be your first single for people to hear?
'Biblical' was pretty much my rescue song. I had left LA early from a writing trip to finish the album. We have been writing the album across all of 2019 and had started in 2020, and that was going to be the last sort of bulk of my writing trip, I was going to do two weeks in LA, two weeks in Nashville, finished the album. And obviously, we had to return home early from America. And when we came back to the lockdown, I came straight into it on my own. I live alone, so I was isolated. I found that I will struggle, I'm very much a people person, and I love having support around me. And, because of the pandemic, that was sort of impossible to do. I struggled with my mental health a lot and became quite destructive with it, and I had lost all the motivation for the album.
I had kept in touch with my manager, producer and some guys at the label, and my producer had sent me an idea - he just got in touch and said, listen, I know you're struggling, but I've got this amazing idea. I think we should work on it, so he sent me over the demo of 'Biblical' in its earliest stages. And I was like, that's it. That's the song. It spoke to me so deeply about measurable love, unquantifiable love at a time when we were separated from those people that we cared the most about. And when I recorded my vocal here in my home studio, in my hometown, I was so eager to work on it. There was so much emotion that I was feeling that sort of imbued itself onto the track. Then we got the opportunity to record the vocals at Abbey Road Studios in London; it was quite an emotional day, being the first time that I'd left my house since lockdown. It was euphoric to get in the studio again.
Having 'Biblical' in my catalogue had suddenly reignited the engines. The album started to really shape up, and it demonstrates the most growth in my voice, my development, and my song writing. I just wanted it to be the first thing people hear. It's ironically my kind of music, big ballad, emotional lyrics; sort of all the recipe of a Calum Scott song.
As we talk about your upcoming project and being your first music since Only Human, what secrets can you spill, and what can fans expect of your next chapter in terms of inspiration and sounds?
In terms of spilling secrets, I mean, I don't really want to receive my unemployment form in the post (laughs away). So, I'm going to keep them to myself for the time being. But in terms of inspiration and sound, I've been incredibly lucky to be able to see how the first album resonated with people and watching the songs go on and have their own lives. It's been sort of life-affirming for me to see how the honest, sincere songs have resonated with people. And some of our songs have been used in incredibly poignant moments in people's lives. But have also helped people, and I think that's what drives me as an artist. I want to help people. I want to be there for those moments, like the first dance on a wedding day, when people grieve a loss or going through heartbreak. I want to be there for people when they're like that because that's when music truly shows its power. And I also admit, I want to make people bop around for sure, but I know my bread and butter is those very emotional, powerful songs that come from a sincere place. And that was the entire inspiration for the second album, is just collecting how I feel. It collected what I wanted to talk about that I haven't spoken about yet. And seeing it in a new, improved, more mature way from the first album. It's probably the best work I've ever done. I'm so proud of it, and I can't wait for everybody to hear it.
In terms of the sound, it's gone a little bit more organic, and the music I want to make is timeless music. I still worked with the producers and songwriters that I loved from the first album, and being able to go back in those rooms, watching the second album come together has been amazing.
Looking back six years ago with your appearance on Britain's Got Talent, what made you pursue music and what was the key inspiration that led to that stage?
Just reading that question, looking back six years ago, since my appearance on Britain's Got Talent - it doesn't feel like six years, feels like a lifetime ago. And so much has changed. I mean, my entire life has changed. I get to go all over the world where there are already fans knowing my music. And it's such an honour to be able to do that. This is a dream job. And it's something that came to me very organically. My sister and I had applied for X Factor a few years ago before Britain's Got Talent, but we didn't get through. That's when I was like, right, I am not going to do that again, I'm going to knuckle down. And that's when I joined the Maroon Five tribute band, no guesses how many people were in the band. So we started performing live, had a lot of things lined up. Then that year, my sister had mentioned Britain's Got Talent, please can you go with me, so I was trying to be the big brother and support her. I'd obviously rehearsed the song because I wanted to go and show what I could do too. But I was there for her. And I think that's why this has been such a whirlwind journey because this is not how I expected my life to turn out. I'm incredibly grateful and feel lucky to be able to do what I love.
The thing with song writing, I had not had much experience before being on the show, and I had to learn very quickly how to write music. So, when I started writing songs about going out to the club or when I tried to do songs, as other people do incredibly well, I couldn't do it. And it wasn't until I dug deep into my own life and things I've been through, the highs and lows, that's when the songs really started to take shape. That kind of informed my song writing, and I usually go into a song writing session and talk about what is on my mind. We're able to craft something beautiful out of painful situations. My inspiration for keeping going is seeing how this music resonates with people.
I saw two of my good friends get married to each other about a month ago, and I'd sent them 'Biblical' as a demo before we produced it. And before we recorded the final vocals, they had been searching for wedding songs for ages, and they were like Calum, we would love to use it. So shortly after the release, they got married, and I was able to stand and watch them dance to my song. It was so emotional and powerful. I felt so honoured and lucky to see that moment that they're going to remember for the rest of their lives.
I've seen video, after video, of other people doing that with my music across the world. So, it's that kind of stuff, is what I deemed to be a success. Those people feel so strongly about my music that they want to have it in key moments of their life. I mean, that's as close to magic as you're going to get.
With taking the world by storm with your stripped-back rendition of Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own', what was the reason behind singing this and did you ever think it would do this well?
My reasoning behind singing 'Dancing On My Own', Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own' was more to do about me trying to figure out my original voice and stumbling almost across that song. I was in my Maroon Five tribute band, and I wanted to know what my voice was. I'd been in local competitions, and I'd sang covers of songs by John Legend, Paolo Nutini, Ed Sheeran. Those kinds of male songwriters where I didn't impersonate them, but at the time didn't really know what my original voice was. I then started looking on the internet for some instrumentals of songs in a different style, such as acoustic versions, to give me a different soundscape to work with. I can't really play anything proficiently yet and couldn't at the time. It was difficult for me to be inspired by creating my own music. And I'd come across a couple of acoustic things and recorded them in the studio, started to put them out on YouTube and whatever. Then I came across this beautiful piano rendition of 'Dancing On My Own', and I'm a big fan of Robyn, and I knew the song, so I pressed record and sang it from memory. As soon as it came on (singing in the background), it totally set the tone. I very much related to the lyrics. I'm always the guy who never gets the love, always on the side-lines. I ended up singing my heart out and recorded a little version which I put to my mum, and she cried her eyes out too. It made me realise if we're both feeling emotional about the song, there's something special about it. And every time I performed it, it went down, so beautifully and that's been the case ever since.
That moment from being in a little spare bedroom in my mum's house to now performing in front of thousands of people across the world has always given me the same feeling. I've always been super grateful to the song, and Robyn, Patrick, and the other writer on the song but, also for the way people have taken my rendition and how they've resonated with it, has really meant the world to me. Without that song, I wouldn't be where I'm at now.
From amassing over 7.5 billion streams to travelling the world, what has been the star moment of your career, and how would you describe your musical journey?
From amassing over 7.5 billion streams, what has been the star moment of your career? I mean, that is a silly number. There have been incredible moments in my career, proud moments. Signing my first record deal was incredibly special. I flew my mum from the UK and my dad from Canada to witness it because I knew it was one of the most special moments of my life. And that was incredibly powerful, going into the Capitol Records building, singing into Frank Sinatra's microphone, and signing my deal with all these incredible people was a real standout moment.
Another moment was putting my first album out, having my own album in my hands. A collection of songs that have meant the world to me. There are also too many amazing moments. Every time I'm on stage feels like an incredibly proud moment. Because I'm a little bit older, 32, and I got into the music industry in my mid-20s. I feel like I have a great appreciation of the industry and the fans who have supported me, and all the people, including yourself at Vibez, who have given me all these opportunities. It has allowed me to be much more hyper-aware of what everybody does, which contributes to my success. And for me continuing my career in music, as much as there are big standout moments, I count every day as a blessing that I get to do something I love. But I think releasing my first debut album was one of the most surreal and proudest moments in my career.
I think adding to that about describing my musical journey. It's been exactly that. You know, there's been ups and downs. When I was on the show, I was like, this is unbelievable, and then you start going, oh my God, I'm talking to Simon Cowell and talking about the final and him being supportive and backing me, and maybe this is it. Then when the show ended, I wasn't signed by Simon; it was devasting. The door closed, and I had to go back to Hull. I knew I didn't want to go back to my human resources job. I wanted to do what I just spent a couple of months in this absolute dream, a whirlwind of emotion and adventure with music. Being discovered by all these people, broadcast to millions of people on TV and having that moment going viral. I knew I didn't want to go back to my council job. So, I knuckled down, worked really hard, met my manager, pushed 'Dancing On My Own, and then got signed.
It's been very much a journey. Also, being able to come to terms and settle into my artistry, and as for me as a music artist, I get imposter syndrome a lot. But especially on the second album and writing it, really helped me mature and realise that I am a music artist. I'm not Calum from Hull with the human resources job anymore. I am Calum Scott. I feel more Calum Scott now than ever before.
Whilst for many the past year has been a hard one, what have you personally learnt to overcome challenges within the music career?
This year has been tough for everybody. People have lost lives, their businesses, their livelihoods. And I think that's why I was so demotivated to finish writing the second album because there was much devastation going on that it didn't feel right to be writing an album at that time. But what it did do, is it stopped me in my tracks, I'd been writing my second album since the start of 2019. And, you know, I'll write another one, that sounds great. Another one, that sounds great. Another one, that doesn't sound as good as another one. And you don't take stock of what you already have. I think that goes for work, personal relationships, it's very easy to take things for granted. And to not see the value right there and the moment because life is moving all the time. You're here, there, and everywhere. Especially with my job, what the lockdown made me do was look at the music I had written that was incredibly special that I had sort of discarded as I was on the search for that one song. It made me look back and take stock of what I'd written and made me mature and grow. It pushed me outside of my comfort zone. I had to write remotely, write on my own, all the things I don't like doing. And arguably, two of my singles, 'Biblical' being one of them, was written in circumstances that were preferable to me. So, there's been some rays of light during the lockdown and during such a horrible time.
But mostly, it's made me realise not to take things for granted, spend more time with friends and family and enjoy every aspect of the job. Because not being able to travel around the world and see my label over in LA, all that kind of stuff, it was tough. So, I think it's made everybody take stock of what they have and appreciate everything a little bit more.
Finally, with your next era around the corner, how excited are you to delve into it, and what do you dream to happen next?
In terms of what's coming, I mean, I'm so excited. Even with 'Biblical' alone, there's so much planned in the next coming weeks. We also just released the instrumental because we keep seeing people doing covers of the song, and we wanted to actively encourage that more. It's a very surreal 360 moment to see people covering my songs and in the way that I covered Robyn's.
Also, not to mention, there's an entire album to come. There are key moments across the rest of this year and into the next. We've got such important, special things to come. I can't tell you exactly what - might be a couple of duets, who knows. But even with the last Frequency song that we've just released. Felix and I. That's been so amazing to jump out of my project and to do something different and fun and something that's not gonna make people cry. There's so much to come.
I'm praying that the world opens a little bit more as well. The vaccines are really taking effect, and that we can sort of come back to some form of normality, even if that's some wat a bit of a new normal. I want to get back out. I want to be on the road again - performing live is where I come to life.