Calum Scott is best known as the artist who performed a soulful cover of Robyn’s ‘Dancing On My Own’ on Britain’s Got Talent back in 2015. Since then, the Yorkshire-born singer-songwriter found himself skyrocketed into fame, with a debut album in 2018, international tours, and general success all-around.
But when the dust settled and he finally had time to sit down and prepare for his second album, COVID-19 struck the world, and put a halt to all plans he had in place. Instead, Calum has been spending the time during lockdown thinking about what was next for him as an artist.
“The first time I went out there, it was really just rolling with the punches, because I didn’t have a moment to sit back and relax at all. It was crazy – I was going from a flight to a train to a hotel room to a press conference, then singing a concert, and then back to another flight,” said Calum in a press conference.
“I only finally got time to think about what was coming next in 2019, and I ended up sitting at home and wondering to myself, what can I say now? I think I needed to mature and grow up a bit, beyond Britain’s Got Talent, and to be known as more than just the guy who covered ‘Dancing On My Own’. As an established artist now, I’m on a mission to show love and appreciation for the fans who got me to this place.
“I feel like my time away was a real reckoning of who I wanted to become. The first album was me finding my feet and what I wanted to say to people, and it was all a bit crazy in releasing a song, then an album, then touring. But now I’ve been given some time to write the second album, and just focus on being an artist. I think there’s a responsibility to my fans, to create music for people to feel seen and heard and represented, and help them cry when they need to.”
All of that is set to be represented in his upcoming second album, finally set for release this year, after delays from its initial release date slated for 2020, with his new song ‘Biblical’ giving fans an idea of what the album might be like.
“The music song is kind of tragic, sort of like ‘You Are The Reason’, where I felt like I realised someone wasn’t really for me,” he explains. “‘Biblical’ is more about how I haven’t found love for myself just yet, but the search goes on, to find that kind of love that’s ‘biblical’, which to me, is this idea of an unquantifiable, unfathomable amount of love. It’s infinite, like the love I have for my friends, my family and my fans, a love that’s hard to put into words.”
But Calum isn’t afraid to tell us that despite the highs of releasing the new song, the time leading up to it hasn’t been easy. “I think lockdown stifled my creativity, and all these things we usually experience in life, from travel to heartbreak, to jealousy and sadness, we needed to reconnect with them again,” says Calum. “And it was hard writing something beautiful, because I know so many artists who just didn’t want to write during this period.”
“And when I was isolated from friends and family for more than 2 months, I felt imprisoned in my own home,” he adds. “I missed travelling and meeting people and being able to hug them, especially after doing so much performing for 5 years. I got really hard on myself when writing the album, where I was tearing up and throwing away so much material because it felt like it just wasn’t good enough.”
“But when this song came up, it just made me feel so uplifted, and after recording it, it felt a lot like ‘Dancing On My Own’, which I showed to my mum and my sister and they started crying. If you can find songs that do that for people, it’s like magic. This was the magic song for me that rescued me from a pretty dark place.”
“Being in lockdown, I think people have felt the absence of love, and how painful it’s been not to see our loved ones. It sets the scene for the song, and being able to speak about love in such a huge way. I knew that ‘Biblical’ was the song I wanted everyone on every corner of the world to be singing over and over again, because it spoke to me that much.”
‘Biblical’s music video is an interesting one, where Calum sings the song while looking into an aquarium with people in it. It’s a surreal sight, as they play violin in slow motion underwater, or kiss, their movements otherworldly as they float, before Calum bursts through and joins them, an almost heavenly light shining down on him just beneath the surface.
“The cast and crew were working so hard to make everything possible. Everyone was so excited to do something they loved, and their energy made it so much more fun and enjoyable,” says Calum, on making the music video. “Plus, I guess you could say I’ve never been so overdressed to go swimming, with boots. jeans jacket, and jewellery. When I was underwater, it felt like having to swim against mud!”
“It was also interesting how when I was visualising the music video, I was already thinking of it as taking place somewhere in space, with this sense of being held in suspension. When we finally met the director, it was quite coincidental that he was thinking that it should be happening underwater. I guess we both had the same idea about how love makes you feel weightless, and to make the viewer feel like looking into this surreal world, this moment of affection that amounts to biblical love.”
With both ‘Dancing On My Own’ and ‘You Are The Reason’ as his two most popular songs, it’s no surprise that Calum has become known for his slow, soulful singing and powerful vocals, and he admits that happy songs just aren’t his thing. “I love upbeat pop songs, like how Harry Styles’ ‘Watermelon Sugar’ was my summer jam, but I don’t think I can write happy songs!” he says. “But at the same time, ‘Biblical’ isn’t a sad song. It’s slow, but it’s more about speaking of love in all its enormity.”
“I think everyone needs a song about love. I want my songs to inspire people, in terms of having right conversations, and to inspire compassion and understanding. Sometimes I get messages from fans saying that they feel more comfortable being themselves than ever, and that my songs have helped them. All these messages, it inspires me to carry on with this responsibility and mission, and really, if just one person listens to my music and goes ‘I needed to hear that today’, then I’ve done something right.”
Calum is perfectly capable of feeling happy as well, and thinks about the first time he held his own album in his hands, and how it made him feel. “It blew my mind. Just feeling it and reading the tracklist, then playing it, I kept thinking ‘wow, this is my album’,” he says. “And that’s a feeling that I feel all the time when I’m performing live onstage, when I’m looking at all these people who want me to be there to watch me perform, I’m just so grateful.”
“When the crowd starts singing back to me, you’ll find me ugly crying because I can’t believe people know this song, a song I wrote, and that they know all the words. It’s always going to be overwhelming, and that’s never going to change.”
For Calum, this second album has really been a chance for him to re-centre himself, and become more assured of himself as an artist again. “It was a chance for me to go back to my favourite producers and writers and create even better songs. ‘Biblical’ was written with James Bay, I worked with producer Fraser T Smith again, and John Maguire again, who worked with me on ‘You Are The Reason’. ‘Biblical’ is a song that shows how much I wanted to give my fans what they want, while also representing how much growth I’ve had in my performance, from vocal delivery to lyrics, and it sets the tone for the album. That’s why I wanted it to be the first thing people heard when I came back.”
“I think it’s always going to be daunting for artists to release music again after being away for some time, because I’m not sure if my fans are going to enjoy it. It’s like being at school and you bring home a painting you’ve done for your mum, and how that’s so different from if you did that as an adult, and whether she’ll look at your work in the same way she looked at it when you were a kid. I always put my heart and soul into my songs, and I think I’m always gonna be nervous, because I care so much.”
“This second album is still me, but like a version 2.0 of me. I feel like I’ve elevated my sound, my music, my lyrics, my performance. I’ve never felt more like Calum Scott than I do today, and I’m no longer just that guy from Yorkshire; I’m also a singer, a storyteller, and a writer, and it took time for me to grow into that. I hope that this second album feels less sad than the first, and make listeners want to just seize the day when we’re out of this pandemic at last.”
Listen to ‘Biblical’ here