Calum Scott on new album Bridges: "I had to give this much of myself away"
When it comes to artists who've truly transcended their telly talent show roots, Calum Scott's up there with the best of them. Since reaching the final of Britain's Got Talent back in 2015, he's racked up UK chart sales well into the millions.
Following the success of his recent Top 5 Lost Frequencies collaboration Where Are You Now, Calum's back with his second solo album Bridges and a heart-wrenching lead single, Boys in the Street.
Now, as he prepares to tour the record worldwide, we catch up with Calum and find out how writing from a place of vulnerability's now his non-negotiable.
Hey, Calum. How are you feeling in Bridges release week? Excited? Nervous?
I’ve been writing these songs for two or three years, so it’s exciting to be releasing new music, but you do feel like you might be letting the birds fly the nest too early. It’s your secret then, suddenly, it’s released. I’m very excited for what these songs will hopefully do for people, though.
This album's been a while in the making. Was it written over lockdown?
I managed to get a lot of songs away in 2019, then was going to release the album in 2020. But I had to come back from America early in lockdown, back to Yorkshire, and it wasn’t a good time for me.
I don’t like to complain too much, because people lost so much, but I get so destructive with my mental health if I’m not kept in check. I started to rip stuff up and get imposter syndrome massively. I’m my own worst enemy, really. It wasn’t until a couple of months into lockdown, when a producer sent me an early idea for Biblical, which I then finished with James Bay. That me got back into it; it reignited the passion.
Your latest single, Boys in the Street, is beautiful. Why did you choose to cover the Greg Holden track and put your own spin on it?
I can relate to the pain in that song and the longing of wanting to be accepted. It’s the same principle as a song from my first album, No Matter What. It showcases the pain that a lot of us go through, but tries to inspire some compassion and understanding. Boys in the Street is like a life lesson in three minutes. You walk away from that song thinking ‘finally, I feel represented,’ but also ‘I can’t believe people have to go through that.'
How does Bridges differ to your debut?
I feel like it’s an elevation from the first. I didn’t go into it thinking ‘I have a concept in mind.’ It’s not like I’ve had a kid or anything’s changed my perspective on life, it’s just another snapshot in time. The second was harder to write. The first album, you have a lifetime of inspiration for. The second, you have a year and a half. It was almost like a coming-of-age thing. I had to dig deeper this time. I pulled on heartbreak, losing somebody, relationships.
Ultimately, the hardest decision was the put Bridges on the album. It was about a time in my life when I was really low. But I saw people using my songs from the first album as a medicine or a coping mechanism, went back and forth thinking ‘am I giving too much of myself away?’ and decided I had to put it on there. If it does what the first album did, in terms of helping people, that’s all I ask. I just want to have a positive impact on people.
It made me grow up; I realised this isn’t just a dream come true for me any more, I need to take myself as a serious musician. I feel a lot more confident now; a lot stronger and more hopeful. I’m still vulnerable, though. I still cry a lot.
Watch Calum Scott's Boys in the Street music video below:
Thank you for working from such a place of vulnerability. It's important for artists to show that side, behind the gloss and glamour...
I think what I’m trying to promote is talking about your mental health; being open about it. I’m pretty good at it now, but there was a time when I wasn’t. That’s part of the Bridges story. There was a time I kept it to myself, repressed it and things only got worse. Hopefully a song like that will speak to lots of people.
No Matter What was more specifically about my journey to becoming myself and self-discovery, but mental health speaks to everybody. No matter what lifestyle you lead, where you live, mental health doesn’t discriminate. Just because your favourite artist looks like they’re living their best life, everybody has their bad days.
You must be buzzing to get back out on the road to perform the new tracks?
I’m so excited about this tour; getting back into rooms and performing for people. I just supported The Script on tour in America and seeing faces in the crowd, singing songs back to you, is amazing. That magic happening in that room is undeniable.
Is there a particular song you're most excited to perform?
Bridges is a standout for me, but in terms of performing live I’m so excited about those I’ve released as singles. Rise and If You Ever Change Your Mind are those uptempo, motivational songs. Then there’s Biblical and Heaven, which are a case of standing behind the mic and delivering the song. Run With Me’s a bit of a dark horse on there. It’s a kind of Snow Patrol-inspired stadium song which develops into this huge song. It just keeps growing in size. I’m manifesting myself performing it live at Wembley Stadium. I mean, I’m going to have no voice left after performing it, but it’s one of those exciting stadium-fillers.
Calum Scott's album Bridges is out now via Capitol Records.