INTERVIEW: Calum Scott
Calum Scott first came to the attention of the public when he stood terrified on stage and brought an audience and judges to tears on Britain’s Got Talent. The clip of his audition has since had over 100 million views since on You Tube and the release of his audition song charted at No. 1 on iTunes in 11 countries. It’s now time to release his debut album and what better way to fanfare it than by doing a duet with Leona Lewis?
Dluxe caught up with Calum over the phone as he travelled back from his hometown of Hull and on to America- this is one busy boy- to find out where it all began and how his performance has had a fundamental effect on all aspects of his life.
So you’re keeping things real then being back in Hull!
I am, where possible, I just go where the label tell me basically, but Hull is where the family is and where I’ve grown up, it’s my hometown so I go back as often as I can.
Despite that you’re a long way from the nervous lad that appeared on Britain’s Got Talent, now aren’t you?
I am but I’m still exactly the same guy. I feel that coming into the industry a little bit later, I don’t know if it’s the Yorkshire or the Northerner in me, but just to remain grounded. I still get as nervous as well. Whether I perform to 5 or 5000 I’m still as nervous as I was back then but it reminds me that I love performing so it’s good to have nerves.
Is it right that the video of your audition has been viewed over 100 million times?
I know it’s ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous. I watched it back with my mum not so long ago. I got her a Google Home for Christmas and it’s connected to our TV so she’s forever saying “OK Google play Calum Scott” so there is constantly my dulcet tones coming through the TV. Stats like that, over 100 million, it’s hard to get your head around it. I keep thinking it must be robots, there’s no way over 100 million people have seen my face and my audition, it doesn’t happen to people like me.
What made you audition for the show in the first place? Had you been trying to break into music for a while?
Well it was my sister really. I’ve had a very musical life with growing up around music and I had a bit of a drumming career at the start. Never would have thought I would be up front of stage, that was like not on my radar whatsoever and my sister being the singer of the family, she had her singing equipment out and I tried imitating her through her equipment and emulating how she sang. I thought she was out, but she was in and rather than her saying that you know you’ve got a great voice maybe you should do something with it she just entered me into a competition without telling me! Britain’s Got Talent wasn’t until later, I joined a tribute band performing on stage with live instruments and I’d already posted Dancing on My Own that I’d recorded in my bedroom. When we’d applied for Britain’s Got Talent it was my sister’s idea again I don’t think either of us were expecting what happened next.
That’s really refreshing to hear because you hear a lot of criticism on talent shows that contestants are planted, and it has all been agreed beforehand
Yeah see this is the thing, I had applied for X Factor years before when Gary was on it and I’d got through so many preliminary rounds, but I just never got a call back. I didn’t get through I was so disappointed with myself that I thought I’d never do anything like that again. That’s why I joined a tribute band for a while and I started trying to write my own songs, I tried to start getting into the world of music on my own the old-fashioned way. But when my sister said let’s apply for Britain’s Got Talent and see what happens that was my moment and I’ve got a lot to thank her for.
I have to admit when I first heard that someone had covered Robyn’s Dancing on My Own, I was not impressed that someone had covered the song and then I heard it and really liked it.
Aw, Thank You.
What drew you to that song?
When I was trying to get my original voice, entering competitions I was relying on backing tracks and I wanted to do something a little different. I was just looking online for acoustic version of songs and I came across a beautiful rendition of Dancing On My Own and I knew the song anyway because I’m with you in that I love the original. I’d created a little studio in my Mum’s bedroom and just hit record. I played the first verse and chorus to my Mum and she was in tears. I knew I was onto something special, but I still never expected the reaction I’d got on stage at Britain’s Got Talent. It was crazy.
You say you’ve related to the song, have you been that person stood in the corner then?
Yeah, many a times! For me as a gay man, I’ve watched plenty of times my mates get into relationships as well as other people starting to date when you’re out and about. Growing up I put so much pressure on myself about my sexuality and accepting myself, so it was always difficult when it came to relationships. Even starting a conversation was incredibly tough for me let alone a date. That’s what I imagined as I started the song. Stripping away the dance backing you realise that it’s an incredibly heart-breaking song. it’s very relatable to me.
One of the things that was striking to me is that you didn’t change the gender in the song. That’s an incredibly brave thing to do when you are putting yourself out there as an artist and as a person, particularly if you’re struggling with your sexuality.
Yeah, it was completely intentional, I had every intention of keeping it the same and I wanted it to come from that angle. For me, it came out naturally like that probably just because of where I went to with that emotion it pulled me into that lane without thinking about it and then when I went to release it as a single it never struck me to change it. I thought I can’t deny who I am, and I can’t be dishonest with people.
You’ve actually written all of the tracks on your album.
Yes, all of them barring a cover of Dancing On My Own and I’ve got a Bob Dylan cover on there. Other than that, everything I’ve cowritten, all of my own input and my own concepts and experiences. I really wanted to be the guy in the chair; I thought it was important on my debut album to really write from the heart and from personal experience.
Dancing On My Own and You Are The Reason are very emotionally charged songs, is the rest of the album pretty much along those lines or is it a real mix?
It is a mix. As both singles have been ballads I am aware that a lot people will be expecting a ballads album but in fact there is a nice variety on there. I’ve written about personal experiences but that doesn’t necessarily mean to say that it is all going to be me on the piano singing about how my life is so difficult! I’ve tried to write things that are relatable, some of them are more born into pop songs and songs about empowering people and they’ve taking a slightly more different approach on the production. A sort of foot to the floor festival fee.
What track from the album are you most excited about people hearing?
. On the album, there’s a song called What I Miss Most which is about me basically being thrown into this adventure the last few years and just missing my home town, the people in it, the streets I used to walk down but not really knowing what I miss about it. The production’s incredible, the guys that produced it have done such an amazing job and it’s so fun to perform live, it shows a different side to me.
I’ve noticed in all the music videos so far, you’re pictured alone surrounded by couples Calum so are you the guy who’s professionally destined to be Dancing On His Own forever?
*Laughs* Professionally desperate!
Can someone please dance with the boy is basically what I’m saying!
I am looking for love, it’s one of those ones where it’s difficult as I’m travelling all of the time. Hopefully it’s not too long before I see Mr. Right on the horizon, even if it’s just dates and seeing how things go, I just want to have fun. I missed out a lot of my teens and twenties having this anxiety about my sexuality so it’s nice to be in a position where I’m free. I am signed up to Tinder as an FYI.
Calum Scott’s debut album Only Human is released on the 9th March.