Calum Scott, singer and songwriter chats with Kevin Cooper about his time on Britain’s Got Talent, writing about his sexuality, his debut album Only Human and his forthcoming headline tour of the UK.

Calum Scott is an English singer songwriter. He found fame when he was encouraged by his sister to enter the 2015 TV show, Britain’s Got Talent. Since Simon Cowell pressed his golden buzzer which enabled him to secure an automatic place in the live show, he has not looked back.

Forming a friendship with Leona Lewis, they have released a duet; You Are The Reason which was penned by Scott to honour his grandmother.

About to release his debut album, Only Human and to embark upon his first headline tour, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.

Hi Calum how are you?

I’m very well thanks Kevin, how are you?

All is good thanks and before we go on let me just thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

You are very welcome, in fact let me thank you for your time in speaking to me (laughter).

It’s my pleasure, and I have to ask you, just how is life treating you at this moment in time after your One Show appearance with Leona Lewis?

Oh mate, life is treating me so well. As you say I recently performed You Are the Reason live on the One Show with Leona (Lewis). In fact that was the debut performance of the song on TV, and I have to tell you that it just felt magical. The song was dedicated to my grandma and I was just in tears. It was so very emotional but such a huge moment. I have to be honest with you and say that life at the moment is just crazy (laughter). The album Only Human has a release date of 9th March; the tour starts on Friday 13th April so I simply couldn’t be happier.

On the subject of the album I have to say that I have been playing it for the past few days and I love it. I think that it is a great piece of work.

Oh thanks pal that means a lot mate. That really does mean a lot.

Are you happy with it?

(Laughter) the thing is that I am a perfectionist so had the label not said “right Calum you need to start to think about wrapping this up” I would still have been writing songs for the album now (laughter). I am one of those people who will always be thinking ‘I could write something else’ or ‘I could write something new’ but by doing that I now accept that you lose the rawness of the thing once you start to get too overprotective of it. However, the album is now my little baby so I am going to want to protect it whilst making sure that it is the best that it can be. Taking everything into account, even the fact that I wrote over seventy songs for the album, which I then whittled down to the fourteen songs that you can hear, and for what I wanted from this album with it being my debut, and with it being in the vein that it is, I actually think that I have got the balance right. So in answer to your question, yes, I am very proud of the album.

You are signed to Capitol Records, the home in modern music to some of the biggest legends, both past and present. Does that bring with it any added pressures?

(Laughter) does it indeed (laughter). I think that because I was signed to Capitol Records, the same label as the likes of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Frank Sinatra, all of those real legends, I was very conscious of that right from the word go which made me want to do the very best that I possibly could. Plus this is my debut album and I really had no idea how to make a record. I was simply in the moment, enjoying everything, wanting to do the best that I could. We finally put the album to bed towards the end of last year and everything is now ready for the release and I am having to come to terms with having to wait very patiently now (laughter). However, I couldn’t be happier.

Having said that are you a meddler by nature; could you have gone back to the album and fiddled about with it?

(Laughter) oh god yes. As soon as we signed off on the album I was like ‘can’t we just’ or ‘can I redo that’ and they simply said “Calum, no” (laughter). Thank god they did as well because I would have committed murder for the chance to just go back into the studio and mess with everything (laughter). As I said earlier the album is now my baby; I want to polish it and make it as good as it can be but there are sometimes when you have to simply take a step back and look at it from a different perspective. You have to leave it raw and emotional and I am now finally very happy with the way that it is.

And just how was it working with Fraser T Smith?

My god, you only have to look at the people who Fraser has worked with. He has worked with the likes of Adele, James Morrison, Tinchy Stryder, Stormzy, Sam Smith, CeeLo Green and Gorillaz to name but a few. So for me to find myself working with him was a dream. I was able to just sit and talk to him about the sound that I wanted and he was amazing. He knew that this was my first album, he knew that I wanted to make it the best that it could be, so he held my hand and led me through the process. Also he wasn’t afraid of telling me “Calum you have got to take a step back and look at the album from a different perspective. You have got to remember that the fans have never heard these songs the way that they are, so you making slight changes they are not going to know” (laughter).

He said that if anything, it would be far better for the album to be more natural and rawer rather than being too polished and having me go over everything very clinically. He pointed out to me that my sound is rawer and a very heart on your sleeve kind of thing so he really did kick my backside and made sure that I signed off on the album (laughter).

With just a few days to go to release date, are you now biting your fingernails just wanting to get the album out there?

To be fair, that is the first time that I have heard how close we are to release date within a time scale so you have just put the fear of god into me there (laughter). That is not long at all. I have to be honest with you and tell you that it is scary. I have been working on the album for the last year and a half, right from when I first starting writing the songs, so this has been a journey for me. I have been in every writing session, and every song that I have written for the album is really quite personal. There are songs on the album which talk about my sexuality, which was really traumatic for me when I was growing up and really hard for me to come to terms with.

There is a song on the album about me falling in love with a straight guy who didn’t love me together with all of the things that I have gone through personally. I have written those songs in a bid to try and inspire other people so even though I am as nervous as hell when I think about other people finally hearing the album, there is also a sense of relief together with a sense of pride in the fact that I have finally conquered my fear of talking about my sexuality and also talking about very personal circumstances but for the benefit of hopefully inspiring other people, especially young, confused people who just need that voice of reason in their ear. So hopefully I can be that storyteller.

At this point I would now be saying to you “I like this track” or “I like that track” but with this album I can’t say that. I feel that each song is as strong as the next and that they can all stand alone.

Oh that honestly means the world to me because hearing people who have listened to the album, and knowing what their reactions are goes to remind me that there is a whole world of people together with a whole world of opinions that are going to come out of this album. So bless you for those kind comments. Every song means something very special to me; whether it is the upbeat up-tempo feel-good ones, whether it is the stripped back heart-breaking ballad ones, I really have poured my heart and soul into this album. This is my baby; I am never going to get another shot at a debut record, and so for me to hear you say that puts the biggest smile on my face.

I welcome every sort of opinion, even if it is criticism, then it is welcomed. The album is essentially art that I am putting out and it is there for both the good and the bad, and I am already thinking about album two. As nervous as I am, I am so bloody excited, I really am (laughter).

I know that I said I can’t pick any one song on the album as my favourite, putting you on the spot, do you have a favourite track?

(Laughter) that’s a bloody good question, if not a little unfair (laughter). You know what, there are a few songs on the album which really do stand out to me. As I have said earlier, every one of them means something to me but there are a good few on there that really do stand out. You Are The Reason is a song dedicated to my grandma which talks about the love that you feel for the special people in your life who make life worth living; a love conquers all sort of situations. There is a song on the album called Won’t Let You Down that I wrote about my sister who was going through a rough time with her ex-boyfriend and it was me basically saying to her “I will always be your big brother and I am always going to be here for you”. I am sure that millions of people will be able to relate to it, not necessarily in a sibling sense, but someone who is prepared to put their arm around you and be there for you.

There is a song on the album called If Our Love Is Wrong which I have written about me coming out to the press, and just how terrified I was of what people would think of me. In the chorus it is me coming out and saying “do you know what, if our love is wrong, then I don’t want to be right”. I wanted the song to be empowering and to make people feel confident about who they love and who they are. So there are definitely a few favourite songs on the album but I have to admit You Are The Reason is a very touching song for me personally. This album is designed to celebrate human emotion in all of its forms. We are only human after all, we are born to feel, and the world needs a bit more love and hopefully I can be the storyteller with this album.

Okay, tell me why I should buy the album?

(Laughter) you know what, I am still the same normal Yorkshireman who dreamt of being in this position of writing the album and touring the world with it, when I was sat in a nine to five job back in Hull. I am the same guy with the same dreams and ambitions and I have written from the heart. I have written about the circumstances that have happened to me but with everybody else in mind who I can hopefully inspire to be happy with who they are, who they want to be and with who they love. The world that we are living in at the moment is turbulent and there are a lot of horrible things going on.

I would like to think that this album is a celebration of love in all of its forms together with human emotion in all of its forms, to embrace human emotion and to not discount that; we can’t help how we feel. This album to me can hopefully be a soundtrack to people’s lives, weddings or funerals, the good times and the bad times. I kind of want this album to be around in the same way that all of the greats are still around, people like George Michael, Prince, Whitney Houston, all of these incredible singers who have also written songs that speak to our souls. This for me is an introduction to me as an artist and as a person together with everything that I have grown up with.

Being a northern lad who has struggled with getting to grips with who I am, and just to try and inspire people and to try to put a bit of good back into the world. To quote one of my biggest idols, Michael Jackson, he wanted to change the world with his music. I would very much love to walk in those incredibly huge footsteps. I would love to try and follow that philosophy and try to inject a bit more love back into the world.

How did the duet with Leona Lewis come about?

It was really natural to be honest with you. We were introduced to one another by a songwriter who we have both worked with over in America called Diane Warren who has written some massive songs such as I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing for Aerosmith and Paloma Faith’s Only Love Can Hurt Like This which will give you an idea of the scale of artists who she has written for. Both Leon and I have worked with Diane and she said that she thought Leona would be a perfect choice for the duet so I gave her a call (laughter). We then started a dialogue via email where I sent her some of my work and she sent me some of hers and she wrote back after listening to You Are The Reason saying “this is absolutely gorgeous, can I be involved”.

When I read that email I was like ‘involved, you can be as involved as you like love’ (laughter). She sent me back what she was thinking and my jaw hit the floor. I was simply blown away that somebody like Leona Lewis, this superstar, is working on one of the songs that I have written, it was just a very surreal moment for me to hear her vocals on a track that I had written. We have gotten together since and I have to say that she is such a lovely lass. I feel like I have known her forever. When we were together doing the promo for the song at one point we had to be separated because we were messing around; it was like being back at school.

The thing that I love about our relationship is that it is all very genuine; it is all very natural. At no point was it the label saying “you guys should do this”, there was no marketing strategy, I just said to the label “check this out guys, this sounds incredible, I would love to work with Leona” and they were just like “oh my god we will take your lead on this”. It is now a beautiful friendship that has been born out of it as well which is the beautiful thing about collaborations; you create magic, and you create relationships together with creating something for your fans to enjoy both in the relationship which you share with the artist, as well as the art that you are both producing.

I have to ask you, why did you go down the Britain’s Got Talent route and not The X Factor?

I had applied for The X Factor a few years before when Gary Barlow was a judge on the show. I managed to get through all of the preliminary rounds, and after that the production company said that they would send me an email; bearing in mind that this was way back before I had even started exploring my voice. It was a big jump for me to do it but I went ahead with it; again it was my sister’s initiative (laughter). We both went along; I got through all of the preliminary rounds and then I got an email out of the blue saying ‘sorry we can’t possibly take everybody, so at this time we are not going to take you through’. I think that because I was younger, and because I had only just started getting into my voice, I was actually disappointed with myself.

I honestly didn’t think that I had given enough. At that time I thought ’I never want to do that again’ and it totally skewed my view of the show. Not because of the show specifically, but the fact that I felt that I had let myself down on a big scale. So I went off and decided that I was going to do it via the traditional route, the way that The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and all of those traditional hard working bands did, they made some music, they went out busking, they would hand out flyers, get invited along to play a few songs, the traditional rock and roll to do it. So I joined a band and started to get some live experience; I started writing my own songs, and then a lot further down the line, my sister had mentioned to me ‘why don’t we apply for Britain’s Got Talent this year’ (laughter).

By that time the structure of the show was different. I knew that I was going to be one of those artists who went on and wanted to do the choreography bit (laughter). So I went for Britain’s Got Talent and I don’t think that anyone was expecting the outcome, I certainly wasn’t (laughter).

Are you looking forward to touring the album?

Oh man, of course I am (laughter). This will be the first headline tour that I have ever done here in the UK and I pleased to say that it is nearly all sold out. When the album is released there will be another surge for tickets so I think that the tickets sales across the whole tour are currently looking very healthy. I am hoping that we will soon be getting a few sold outs. I would love all of the venues to be sold out but listen, there could be ten people in there and it wouldn’t make a difference. I would still come on and put the best show that I possibly could do. I am really looking forward to it, I have got a few surprises up my sleeve, I won’t give too much away but hopefully I want to do a set list that I haven’t done before and yes, I am really looking forward to it. It is going to be my first headline tour in order to debut my album; it’s crazy (laughter).

I have been reading the reviews from your time spent over in America and it would appear that they like what it is that you are doing?

Yes they do. I have been over to the States where I have already been on Ellen, Dancing With The Stars, Good Morning America, and this year we are aiming for Saturday Night Live, James Cordon, The Late Late Show and we have big dreams for America. At the minute everything seems to be going down a storm. I did a headline show over there last year in some really beautiful venues. I have fans over there in every state, its crazy (laughter). So I really can’t wait to go back there and hopefully take a little of the magic back over there to America. Over here in the UK I am feeling the love so much. The UK tour is high up on my dream list to tick off.

On the album you have covered the Bob Dylan song Not Dark Yet and I have to say what you have done with it is fabulous.

Thank you very much for saying that. It was just me trying to tribute an absolute legend and poet who I am never going to write songs of his calibre. However, I have come to terms with that quite easily (laughter). Bob Dylan is an absolute visionary so it was important for me that I paid tribute to somebody of that calibre. I did try to record my own stripped back, haunting version of quite a sad song about dying. I really do think that it works back into the album, it is part of being human, it is the end and as we have discussed, the album is about celebrating everything.

On that note Calum let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today and I will catch you here in Nottingham at Rock City on Friday 20th April. You take care and bye for now.

Thank you so much Kevin, it’s been a pleasure speaking to you. I am so looking forward to seeing you in Nottingham. You take care and I will see you at Rock City.