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Be inspired every day with Living North
Callum Scott
February 2018
Reading time 6
From Yorkshire boy to viral superstar — Hull’s Calum Scott speaks to us about his debut album and headline tour

After his Britain’s Got Talent audition went viral in 2015, racking up over 140 million views, Calum Scott hit platinum sales in the UK with his first single, a cover of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own. He has performed on some of the biggest stages across the world, including The Ellen Show, and has signed with Captiol Records and Virgin EMI. Now, Calum is ready to release his debut album, Only Human, and embark on his first UK and Ireland headline tour. 

Congratulations on the album, you must feel miles away from standing on the Britain’s Got Talent stage. How have things changed?
It doesn’t even feel like my life, so much has happened since then. Things have changed massively, I’ve gone from a normal lad doing a 9—5 job, to travelling the world, singing my own music to audiences across the world, visiting places I’ve never seen before — I’m speechless. I’m doing everything I’ve ever wanted to do, my dreams have come true.

Your audition video has over 146 million views now, thats over 100 million more than the original song.
Oh wow, that’s crazy. The lyrics Robyn wrote were heartbreaking, but you don’t get to hear it because it’s poppy and it makes you want to dance around and sing out loud — I don’t think you get to hear the lyrics in their purest form. When I slowed the song down, I guess my interpretation just captured people; they heard the lyrics in a new light.

You’ve signed with Capitol Records in America.
That was my first time in America, as a humble Yorkshireman going out to Hollywood to talk to one of the most prestigious record companies in the world was a bit of a shock. Their clientele includes The Beach Boys, Sam Smith, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra — legendary artists — and now I’m a part of that.

And you were recognised by Nile Rodgers?
To be introduced to him was surreal — the stuff he’s done has been huge. He stood there talking to me, and when I was introduced Nile says ‘Yes, I know who he is’, and my jaw hit the floor.

During your time in America, you performed on some pretty big shows including The Ellen show. How was that?
The stage manager walked me to the stage, and as I walked up to the mic stand he goes: ‘Don’t look Ellen in the eyes’. And then I started panicking, thinking what if she comes over? Where do I look? As the curtains were about to pull away, the stage manager yells ‘Only joking!’. I also performed on Seth Myers and Dancing With The Stars; it was a great honour that they were performing to my version of Dancing On My Own.

Won’t Let Me Down is my favourite track on the album.
I had to give tribute to my sister on the album, as she’s the reason I started singing in the first place. She inspired me, supported me and she’s the reason I got on stage in the very first place, so I had her to thank. She was going through some rough times, so I just wanted to pay tribute to her, and there was no better way of me doing that than saying to her I will always be there for her and be her big brother.

What are the other inspirations behind your songs?
Life; everything I’ve done really. From my sexuality and embracing this side of myself, to empowering other people. There’s a whole variety of songs on there, it’s not just ballads, even though I relate to that style very much. It’s me expressing my life and personal circumstances through song and production, in the hope that somebody can listen to that and be inspired, and hopefully give them the confidence to face whatever it is they need to face in their life.

How did you find your original sound?
I started entering singing competitions and singing karaoke tracks because I wasn't ready to sing my own music back then, so I was relying on tracks you could get from karaoke sites. It made you sing like the original singer because it’s in the same style. So when I was finding inspiration for my own voice, I came across this beautiful arrangement of Robyn’s Dancing On My Own and just put my voice to it; when I played it to my mum and my sister I knew I was onto something.

And songwriting?
When I started songwriting, that was my opportunity to tell my own experiences and stories through my original songs — I suppose that is what every artist aspires to do. For me, I had to really dig deep and talk about circumstances that are very personal to me — it brought out a passion in songwriting that I’d never had before. I started to enjoy the process, it became very therapeutic and the words just flowed out from that point. Now I have an album of my own experiences. Hopefully it will help other people — I’ve been involved in every aspect of the album so I can tell my own story, and it means a lot to me that I've got an album that’s full of me and full of my writing.

What’s your favourite track?
There’s a few that are special to me, but You Are The Reason is probably the most special. It’s a timely song with what is going on in the world at the moment, I think everyone could do with a bit more love, and so hopefully I can do that through my music. What I Miss Most is my favourite to perform live because it’s so upbeat and nostalgic.

You’re going on tour in April — will this be the first time you've performed a lot of these songs live?
I was very lucky that I got to tour with Emeli Sandé in her arena tour at the end of last year. I had an amazing time performing to an arena full of people, and that included songs from the album, which seemed to go down really well. My headline tour will more or less be the entirety of the album, and songs people have never heard.

The tour includes two nights in Hull — how does it feel to perform in your home city?
The last time I performed there I came off the stage in tears. There’s nothing quite like performing in your home town. I have a couple nights there this time which is going to be amazing, and my sister will be joining me. She took a big hit on Britain’s Got Talent — I got through and she didn’t; it was a bitter pill for her to swallow. Now I'm in a position where I'm able to help her more than I ever could, I am able to invite her to all these shows and meet celebrities, and even got her into some songwriting sessions, so it’s really going to be very special — my mum is going to be bursting with pride!

Who’s your music inspiration?
Of all time, it’s got to be Michael Jackson, he’s an incredible singer and songwriter. He wanted to write songs that would change the world. It might be cheesy and corny, but he was aspiring to more than just writing songs and performing, he was wanting to change views and attitudes, and I think that’s so admirable. That’s something I’ve tried to do in my songwriting, to inspire people to be brave and embrace who they are.

What other plans are on the horizon?
The tour and the album will keep me pretty busy, and then I’m looking to get right back into album number two. I’ve been speaking to a couple of different artists about getting into the studio together, so there’s a lot I can be getting involved in; I’m also featuring on a couple other artists’ albums this year.

Calum Scott’s debut album Only Human is available 9 March.
Calum will be performing at Newcastle University on 14 April as part of his UK and Ireland tour.

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