Calum Scott has come a long way since his first, portentous performance of Robyn’s hit ‘Dancing on My Own’ on Britain’s Got Talent years ago now. Now, the 29-year-old British singer/songwriter is ready to leave his ballad bags at home in the light of his experimental debut solo album which promises to cement that this gent is most certainly not a one-trick-pony.
Now a passionate advocate for world peace and friendly supporter of the LGBT community, Scott talks to TSA’s Rhiannon about finding his own sound, being more comfortable in his skin, and staying humble in the face of overnight celebrity status and a 2017 Brit Award nomination.
You’ve been chosen as Emeli Sandé’s main support on her upcoming arena tour. Can you tell us how that came about?
I think it was more to do with the pairing. I suppose the support acts that you choose must be relevant, in terms of sound it should be on a parallel and because I’ve now stepped up from just me and piano, up to a full band. In terms of sound I think we are quite well matched. Emeli has a huge voice and sings these massive songs and I quite like to think that I do the same. I pride myself on singing big, emotional sort of heart felt songs and I think it’s just to do with the pairing. Plus, me are Emeli are label buddies, I met her while she was doing some work over at Capital where we are both signed in LA. She is lovely I met her at the Brits as well. I think it’s just a great pairing.
You’re original song ‘Rhythm Inside’ is fast approaching 20M Streams worldwide. Was it difficult finding your own sound, especially after the outstanding success of your version of Robyn’s ‘Dancing on my Own’?
It was kind of difficult because you know for me I had gone from a normal Yorkshire lad who had applied for a competition. And then, with the success of Britain’s Got Talent, I think it just kind of came out of nowhere. I don’t think anyone was expecting the video to go viral and the song to be doing so well. When I met with my manager and we started working together, he said, “We should just put the single out for your fans because it has been requested on social media. They are all asking for it. People are saying they are all running out of data streaming it on YouTube.”
I just figured, well, obviously now I have my foot in the door, original material is the focus, so, I put out ‘Dancing on My Own’ as a single, and there was my mark on the music world. I could then concentrate fully on my original work. When I started writing my EP, ‘Dancing on My Own’ completely blew up and went seriously out of control. We thought that we were going to sell maybe 10,000 if we were lucky, he said we are now approaching 4.5m worldwide. It blows my mind every time he tells me stuff like that.
Finding my original sound was quite a weird process, I was already promoting the single ‘Dancing On My Own’ in Europe and America whilst I was still writing the album, so I was still trying to discover my sound. The things I have been through, this journey, and the people I’ve met along the way, have helped me write this album. A lot of the songs that are on the album, if not all of them, are very personal. So, ‘Rhythm Inside’ was kind of more because my fans have been so loyal and so patient since the show. I wanted to give them a little taste of what I have been working on. I wanted to show people I’m not just a one-trick pony.
I did a track with Matrix and Futurebound, called ‘Light Us Up’, which is this big drum and base song. When the album comes out early next year people will see the diversity through the album. They will hear the ballads, the heartfelt songs and they will hear the up-tempo ones that make you want to move around. I would like to be diverse enough where I can go play at a festival or at a theatre.
You’ve mentioned in a previous interview that you hope your new record will be an anthem for the LGBT community, can you tell us more about your new record and what kind of story or message it sends?
I’ve struggled with talking about my sexuality growing up, and then I was kind of thrust into it a little bit with the success I have had. It took me from a small town up north to a global audience and people were asking who I was dating and all that kind of stuff.
There was a bit of pressure on me to be a bit more open and honest about how I felt.
I started using my music as a therapy, and anytime I felt down or pressured I would put that into song. There are a couple of songs on the album that talk about sexuality. The opening song is about me coming out to the press. It’s a very personal song for me but it is an empowering one, and hopefully audiences who listen to these songs will be able to relate in a way. It feels like an anthem to sing it to feel more empowered by your sexuality and not feel like you should hide away and you can’t talk about it.
I’ve always been inspired by Michael Jackson, my all-time favourite. Not only is he incredibly talented, he tried to use music to heal and change the world and I think that’s beautiful. To use something that you love in a way to change peoples mind sets or to help and heal the world with your music. I have had my issues and hiding away feeling ashamed and not being able to talk about my sexuality to now talking to all different LGBT newspapers, magazines and press and being so open and feeling so liberated. To know that my album has got songs on there to potentially help other people, it just means that every tear I have cried and horrible situation I have been through, if it helps one person, then it means that it was all worthwhile.
It is like there is a lot going on at the moment, a lot of devastation and hatred and the world needs a bit more love and hopefully I can bring that.
When on Britain’s Got Talent, was it what you imagined it would be like?
O-M-G. It was so far away from what you think it’s going to be. You can rehearse, but you can’t prepare for it. When I was on there with my sister, as soon as she was told no by Simon and he said she had a bedroom voice, everything just came crashing down for me. Everything I prepared just got swallowed up in the drama of it all.
Every time I have given advice to people who want to go for a show like that, I’ve always said go for it. If it’s something you enjoy and love it’s the perfect platform to be seen by millions of people. I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for such a platform like that. Just prepare yourself because it’s an emotional rollercoaster, especially with BGT: it’s over in three performances, where as X-Factor can potentially be ten weeks or something. It’s hard because you go from being a relatively modest, unknown person to having this spotlight on you. This is why I’ve tried so hard to keep my feet on the floor to try and see family back in my home town often. It is a rollercoaster. It isn’t real life and then after the show finishes it’s done and you know that’s that series finished with, and if you haven’t been fortunate enough to get a deal out of it then you’re thrown back into the world and its harsh. At the end of the day if you’re doing something you love anyway then you never lose, you’re just trying to show it to a new audience.
What was the strangest thing about going from normal life to stardom?
Plenty of things. I have travelled the world, seen places I never thought I would see, which has been such a massive honour, and performed in all these different countries.
You know, I think for me the biggest thing is the fans. I did a small show in Hull last night for SoFar Sounds which was aligned with a charity that help raise human rights, Amnesty. We did a small intimate sort of secret show in Hull, to maybe less than 100 people and I had already said to them, last night performing in my home town, that, when I did my headline show in Hull earlier in the year, it was one of the best I have ever done, simply because you are surrounded by all these fans that are from your home town.
Don’t get me wrong I love all my fans from across the world but, obviously, being in your home town and on your home turf it’s something special. To wake up in the morning and see all these beautiful messages from people that just adore you it is a very humbling feeling. To have all these people that are literally waiting on you hand and foot. That’s why I make a lot of time for my fans. I have a couple of group chats on twitter where its fans that have grouped themselves together and made friends with each other, through me, which is beautiful. They come out in full force for my gigs, they all go live so they can watch each other’s stuff. I feel that across the world in the States, in Europe and Asia, to go from a normal life, the best part of my life is in Yorkshire, this tiny corner of the world, but to then be known globally and having fans in all corners of the world… its truly humbling. It’s something I will never get my head around: how many people have your back and want to see you do well. It’s beautiful.
What are you looking forward to about playing in Glasgow?
Every time I come to Scotland, I have said it time and time again: the Scottish have one of the best crowds to play to. The Scottish love their music and every time I’ve played in Scotland (I’ve played in Glasgow a couple of times and Edinburgh) people just go crazy for it. People don’t hold back. They are not going to sit quiet, they are going to cheer and clap.
It spurs you on as an artist. You give that little 1% more that you can and I’ve always had such a smile on my face performing for a Scottish crowd. Honestly, I am not even joking. I cannot wait to get back to Scotland, and to perform in an arena – Jesus Christ. I’ve performed in a couple of places in Glasgow to a modest number but never to this size of crowd, so I cannot wait to sing to 10,000 Scottish people. It’s going to be a dream come true for me. I can’t wait for it.
Calum Scott is supporting Emeli Sande on tour and will be coming to SSE Hydro on 15 October.