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Interview: Calum Scott talks about his growing confidence as he releases new album ‘Bridges’

The singer songwriter chats to us about crafting his new album.

Calum Scott
Credit: Tom Cockram

Calum Scott has established himself as one of the leading British male artists and with the release of his second album ‘Bridges’ today, he’s set to add to his already impressive success.

Coming four years after his debut album ‘Only Human’, ‘Bridges’ finds Scott growing in confidence and pushing his vocals to new and exhilarating places. You can read our verdict on ‘Bridge’ by taking a look at our five star review.

I spoke to Calum on the eve of the album’s release to discuss his growing confidence, talk about the difficulty of being so honest in his lyrics, and to find out how he’s feeling about his upcoming world tour…

It’s been a year since we last spoke and at that time ‘Biblical’ was just coming out. Now the album ‘Bridges’ is being released…

It’s ridiculous how quick time goes by. I thought, ‘oh this album’s ages away’ and (now it’s hear). It’s mad. I’m really happy. I feel like it marks a new chapter in my artistry. I feel more confident. I feel like I believe myself a little bit more. I’m just waiting for the world to see if they love it as much as you do Pip.

That’s one of the things I picked up actually is your confidence. You can really hear that in the vocals and you’ve come so far vocally since ‘Only Human’…

God knows I’m going to be able to sing all these live Pip, honestly. I need some sort of miracle to get through the tour (laughs).

You’re going to have to do a Kelly Clarkson and lower the key for a few songs…

(laughs) Exactly! (Songs like) ‘Run With Me’, ‘Rise’ and another song called ‘Cross Your Mind’… what I tried to do on this album is demonstrate the passion that I’ve got for this project, but also to just show people that I’ve been working really hard to grow as a songwriter and as a performer. I’m glad that you picked that up on this album mate.

Calum Scott
Credit: Jackson Ducasse

With ‘Only Human’ the two big tracks were ‘Dancing On My Own’ and ‘You Are The Reason’, and I feel like with ‘Bridges’ you’ve leaned into that big ballad sound more and you’re exploring it. That’s why I can hear that confidence, particularly on tracks like ‘The Way You Loved Me’, which made me cry a little to be honest as did a lot of the record…

(laughs) Ah bless you! You definitely weren’t crying because the album was still playing, were you? (laughs)

You know, I always cry to your music! I feel like you’ve really, really dug deep and you’re even more honest on this record than you were on the first one. How do you feel about being that vulnerable?

To be honest it was a big toss up really of whether I include some of these songs on the album, especially like the title song ‘Bridges’, which is painfully honest and very literal. It was a tough call because you do wonder whether you put too much of yourself in your music. I remember when I was thinking about putting out ‘No Matter What’ I was just so terrified of what people would think. Is it too honest? It does feel like a diary extract that I just ripped out put out to the world to read, whereas other songs like ‘The Way You Loved Me’, or ‘Flaws’, or ‘Biblical’ could be quite ambiguous if you wanted it to be. I’ve written those from personal experience as well, but you could very easily say that was a story about somebody else or that was about something else entirely. With something like ‘Bridges’ and ‘No Matter What’ it’s very clear that it’s about me, and it’s very clear what it’s about specifically. After tossing up whether it is the right thing to do or not, I think having seen some of the comments that I would get through YouTube, or my Instagram DMs, about how ‘No Matter What’ has helped them or how ‘You Are The Reason’ is their wedding song, or they played it at a funeral or whatever it is… these really special moments that people have with the songs, (I felt) I have to be honest again. Even more honest, in some ways. As difficult as it is, it’s connected me to my fans. My connection with my fans is the most special most valuable thing I have because it’s real.

I saw The Chicks on ‘The Kelly Clarkson Show’ recently and they said that the more specific you write a song, the more people it’s going to connect with. That is so true and it’s especially true with ‘Bridges’. I haven’t lived your experiences but these songs resonate deeply with me…

It means a lot that you say because that’s all you want as a songwriter. That’s where art meets commercial; trying to create something that’s specific to you, but do it in a way that speaks to people all across the world. We sit in the studio and it’s difficult to get that balance, because you don’t want to take away from the integrity of the song. You have to walk a tightrope of including a lot of yourself in there, but also making it so that people can relate to it. I suppose there’s some songs that are a little bit more open to interpretation and other songs are really on the mark. That’s the journey that I’ve tried to create with this album, and the ebbs and flows of it. I definitely want to put a lot of myself in this album, but I also want people to listen to it and make it their own story, and create their own relationships with those songs.

For example, ‘No Matter What’, a little story from when I went to America and played that song. This lady came over and said ‘No Matter What is my favourite song you’ve ever written. My little boy’s only five years old and he’s had three open heart surgeries in his life’. I honestly didn’t know where it was going because ‘No Matter What’ I’ve associated with my journey. I’ve only ever known that interpretation of it. Then this lady was saying how even though her son can’t run around the playground with his other little friends, she still loves him no matter what. That’s just beautiful that she has been able to take that interpretation from that song. That’s what I’ve tried to do with this album is, let people create their own relationships with the songs.

That’s the power of music. Once you put a song out there, it may mean one thing to you but your fans will take it and it might mean something totally different to them. That’s what’s so incredible…

Oh, thank you very much!

Calum Scott - Bridges
Credit: Capitol Records

Once I’ve stopped weeping through the album, one song that I’m drawn to is “I’ll Be There”. It’s a little more uptempo and the kind of positive life-affirming song we need after the pandemic. Tell me a little bit about that track…

100%. It was written in that space of being in and out of the pandemic. From the first album to the second, I’ve definitely grown. I believe myself on this second album more because I was given an opportunity to write a second album. It wasn’t just like, ‘oh it’s a dream come true. I’ve got this opportunity to write an album’, this is serious stuff… I’m a music artist. I definitely had more strength writing this second album and “I’ll Be There” was one of those songs where I felt like I was in a position that I was strong enough to be able to put my arm around somebody else and say, ‘I’ve got you on this one. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through, and I know that you can handle it, but if you need me, I’m right beside you’. I really enjoyed writing that song because it empowered me. There’s many times I’ve felt a victim of my own mental health and this time I used it in a positive way. I felt real confident writing a song basically saying, ‘I’m strong enough to help both of us’. I’m glad that you like that one. I think you’re the first person that’s said that was one that they were drawn to. You can probably hear me smiling. It’s just mad (because) for all this time it’s been ‘Dancing On My Own’, ‘You Are The Reason’ and ‘No Matter What’, they’ve kind of been the standard ones and then ‘Where Are You Now’ with Lost Frequencies, but to hear somebody say my favourite is “I’ll Be There” it’s mad. Really cool, though!

I really like what you did with Greg Holden’s ‘Boys in the Street’ too. I mentioned earlier in the call about your vocals and they are so emotive on that track, and convey so much. You’ve really made the song your own. What was it like to reimagine it in this way?

You’re so lovely. ‘Boys in the Street’ is a song that I’ve wanted to cover for a long time. It was a song that I’d been shown in a session when I was writing the first album. It’s a song that I can relate to in terms of the power and the emotion and the pain of that song, but I definitely wanted to write from my own perspective. Now. I had to be careful with this song because I had a really positive experience with my family coming out, but it was my friends that abandoned me. Even though I couldn’t relate to the father-son relationship, I very much related to the pain of just not being understood, not being accepted and not feeling equal. I massively connected to the song. I had it on my playlists for so long and I just really wanted to cover it. I tried covering it in 2019 in New York but it didn’t really work so I put it on the back burner. During the lockdown after I finished the album, I just had a bit more mental space to work on other things and that was one of the first things that came up. I sat with my musical director at the time, and he’s a sucker for keys and strings just as much as I am which makes us a perfect pairing. We crafted this really beautiful soundscape and rather than having the octave jump in the vocal, what I did was try and characterize these two people in the story by the vocal performance; that vulnerability and the pain of the boy versus the almost aggressive nature and misunderstandings of the dad.

I also tried to convey that visually in the music video as well, which is another step out of my comfort zone, performing right down the lens. That was so uncomfortable to do. Once I’d recorded the audio for I got in touch with Greg himself and asked for his blessing and sent him. It’s been lovely. Even in the short space of time since we’ve put it out at the beginning of the month for Pride Month, me and Greg have had a couple of experiences now. I performed at the Royal Albert Hall and got him to record a greeting to people at the show. With Greg’s blessing, I’ve had a few really beautiful moments with the song and hopefully we’ll have many more with it. I think it’s a song that’s really gonna change people’s perspectives or make people feel that they can relate to the song like they did with ‘No Matter What’.

Calum Scott
Credit: Jackson Ducasse

You’re heading out on a huge world tour. How are you feeling about that?

We start at the end of July in America, all the way through America, Europe, UK, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. It’s gonna be insane. I mean, 2018 was my favorite year of life (because I) released an album and toured around the world. You can imagine where my heads at for this second album and second world tour. It’s insane. What a lucky boy I am! 

You mentioned earlier about how you don’t know how you’re going to sing these songs night after night, and you’re about find out aren’t you?

(Laughs) The thing is, when I was touring with The Script in America, I lost my voice for two shows and I was absolutely devastated because I’ve never done that before. I think it’s just because we’re all a bit out of practice and we’re all a bit shaky. It was a timely reminder really that I needed to get back on my vocal training. Hopefully it won’t come to that again. If you’ve seen one of my live shows before, you’ll know that I just try and give everything for every single show and just perform it like it’s my last time. I can’t say I’ll be able to go easy on these shows because once I get on stage and see the audience, it’s my favourite thing to do. Fingers crossed I hold out for the rest of the year.

Calum Scott’s album ‘Bridges’ is available now. Watch the music video for ‘Boys in the Street’ below:

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