From Britain’s Got Talent to Global Success: Calum Scott’s Journey

In 2015, Scott took part in Britain’s Got Talent and is one of the few contestants who continue to inspire fans long after the big TV moment. Talking numbers, that means almost 29 million monthly Spotify listeners to date. Many of the old songs even scratch the billion mark, while the newer ones follow close after. Not without reason. And now the master of soulful songs has released his new album: Calum Scott seduces with “Bridges” into a dark world that slowly becomes brighter again through growing hope. The singer-songwriter talked to Title and explained how hard loving yourself can be in times of lockdown and how rewarding sharing your emotions with the world is.

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Title: It’s been quite some time since your international debut and especially since your cover of “Dancing on my own“ has been released. How has life been treating you in the meantime?
Calum Scott: I dreamed of doing the things I do now. And, you know, ever since that song life is just gone crazy. I’ve travelled the world and I’ve been on TV. I’ve been the radio, I played at festivals and I’m just released my second album now. It’s just crazy. Life has just been a huge adventure. 

Well, that sounds great. You’re living the dream. 
I mean, I am doing the job that I love and doing that everyday. That is the best thing ever. 

That’s what only one can wish for, right? So you mentioned your new album. And before we start to talk about that, I want to just go quickly all the way back to your earliest memories. When was the first time you kind of got in contact with music? Do you remember?
Geez. I mean, I studied music at school. I’ve always been a lover of music. And, you know, I was a drummer back at school. Never knew that I had a singing voice. I was very quiet in the back, you know, just playing my drums. I didn’t want to be in the front, I didn’t want to be singing. And it was actually my sister who discovered my voice for me and, you know, pushed me to, to discover it further. She put me to competitions and and then we applied for X Factor together and we didn’t get through. And then the following year, she wanted us to audition for Britain’s Got Talent. And I was like: No, I’m kind of done with that. And by that point, I was in my „Maroon 5 tribute band“, and I was quite happy doing that. And then we went through with it and obviously it’s online and you can see what happened. Life’s been crazy since then. I always saw music as a hobby. It’s just crazy that through all of our hard work and luck and timing and all that kind of stuff, I wake up happy most days. So it’s pretty crazy. 

So talking about your newest album: Are you happy with it?
I think it’s been a difficult album. The second album gave me an opportunity to figure out what I want to say. I’m not just some guy that’s been given this incredible opportunity in life – I’m now an artist now. And that kind of made me grow up a little bit, you know, kind of made me realize that I have to firmly believe in myself and my artistry. Some people messaged me saying things such as: I really needed to hear that song tonight or I’ve used “You Are the Reason” as first dance song on my wedding day or “Dancing to my own” got me through some really tough times. I think, you know, the first album really showed me that I need to really hone in on the second album. So it was a little bit of a process. And then we had the pandemic, which massively slowed things down. But I was able to finish the album during lockdown and managed to get to London to record some some sessions at Abbey Road Studios, the iconic studio in London. And then it’s just been a case of trying to publish it at the right time, because this was the busiest year and everybody wanted to release music. So it was hard trying to find the right timing and during that time I also questioned myself thinking: Could I write better? Is there something else I could say? But now, I think I’ve got it. I mean, it’s 15 songs. I’ve given everything I’m able to give on the second album, so now I am so excited to share that with the rest of the world. I mean, I’ve shared four singles already, so I’m just looking forward to sharing the rest of the album with everyone.

I’m putting you on the spot right now a little bit. Do you have a favourite track from the entire album?
Oh, it’s like choosing my favourite child. I think there are some really special moments on the album. I think, my cover of “Boys in the Street” by Greg Holderness is very emotional. At the end of the song,I actually had to try and hold it together because it was so emotional for me to sing. And there’s also a really emotional song on the album called „Bridges“, which is about a much darker time in my life. I tried to be super honest. So that’s probably a special one. But „Biblical” for me was was one of the songs that really helped me out of a tough spot during lockdown, because I was isolated on my own in Yorkshire, in England. At the time I was so convinced that people weren’t going to listen to my music, that I’d had my moment in the spotlight, and that was it. And I was going to have to go back to my office job. It is hard to pick, because they all have a little bit of me in them.

It’s really nice to hear a little bit of the insides on some of your songs. So can you take us through your song creating journey? What does a typical working day look like for you? Do you have like an agenda that you follow or is it more trial and error?
Probably all of it. It depends on what I’m searching for. I remember when I was done with the album and at that point it had 13 songs and I was like: I’m done. Everything I want to say is here. Then I wrote „Heaven“ and shortly after that I wrote another song – and the label encouraged me to put them on the album as well. I’m glad they did because those two songs are different from the other ones on the album in certain ways. 

Usually I have something on my mind that I want to get off my chest. And sometimes that’s heartbreak. Sometimes it’s just missing someone. A relationship, my family members, friends, you know, my mental health, all that kind of stuff. I’ll go into a session kind of trying to get something off my chest. Usually it is kind of seeing what works. To be honest I’ve written some terrible songs. Sometimes when I’m writing songs, they don’t necessarily turn out the way I want them to. I mean, some of these songs need to go in the bin, never to be seen by anybody. It just depends on the mood I’m feeling that day.

But so as you said, a lot of your songs are about heartbreak, your mental health. And I feel like mental health and self-love especially is a huge topic in the last few years with Corona, with lockdown and everybody staying at home. Having to enjoy your own company can be really hard.  And also your songs feel super personal and vulnerable. So when and what was the last time you learnt something about yourself and self-love through your artistry?
I would say that I’ve never felt more Scott than I do today and that’s because of the journey I’ve made with the album and the journey I’ve made as a as a person as well. I think this album definitely did hold a mirror up against me and it just made me see myself, who I’ve developed into, who and what I need, what I needed to do to grow into the person that I want to become. I think self-love needs to be practiced a whole lot more. Because you are with yourself all the time. And I think if you can be best friends with yourself and you can learn to love yourself for the things that you don’t like as well as the things that you do like. I think all that stuff needs to be practiced more, me included. I definitely think this album helped me achieve a better understanding of myself, and I probably feel a bit more confident because  it’s very easy to get sucked into that and thinking: „People don’t really like my music. I’m not very cool, you know, all these kind of things. But then whatI did was I tried to own myself for who I am. 

I thought ballads might not be cool for some people but there were cool for artist like Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Michael Jackson and all these amazing people that had these incredible voices and incredible careers. They sung like absolute angels and I think, you know, they translated emotions into lyrics in a way that made you really feel something. Those songs stuck around and stood the test of time. And that’s kind of what I’ve tried to do, and especially with this album. I tried to sing my heart out and be honest and to be vulnerable. And that’s paid me back because by being honest I lifted weight off my shoulders. And I just think so many people pull themselves down and make themselves feel awful. There’s already so much horrible things going on in the world without having to pull yourself down as well. Everybody is beautiful and deserves to be loved and most importantly, love themselves. 

What do you find easier writing about your personal feelings or sharing it to the world?
Oh, great question. I think when I write about my feelings, I have to dig into my memories and take me back to that time and place. That can be quite draining emotionally. I was really emotional because it was very visceral and it was very present. Writing becomes a therapy. So in some ways it’s a great practise. But sharing it with the world is equally as hard because by sharing it, you kind of rip the diary page out of your diary and publicly show it to people. So I think it is it’s just as difficult. But I think sharing it with the world and having positive responses back and for people to be vulnerable back to me – That to me is the closest to magic you can get. I just think it’s such a special thing that I have with my fans where people feel safe to be honest and tell their stories. And sometimes I’ll read my YouTube comments and I’m just in floods of tears. One time a gentleman had written a comment saying that he has been worried that one day one of them might turn to him and come out saying they are gay. He said that he wouldn’t want that for his children. But after listening to the song and watching this video and hearing those lyrics, he said it made him realize how stupid it is to think that because he loves his kids no matter what. I’m was crying thinking: That is what I want to achieve with my music and that’s the progress I want to be part of. Sometimes you are overwhelmed by the honesty and the sincerity of these messages.

Thank you so much for your time!