Calum Scott, Rising Pop Star & Powerful Vocalist, Talks About His Excellent New Album, Bridges, And His Latest Songs

Calum Scott
Calum Scott
(photo credit: Tom Cockram)

Over the past seven years, British singer/songwriter Calum Scott has made the transition from being an unknown artist, to becoming a rising pop star with a large, international following. Now in 2022, he appears ready to take his career to the next level with the recent release of his excellent new album, Bridges (on Capitol Records), which is the follow-up to his gold debut album, Only Human.

As an artist, Scott has the impressive musical talent and classic pop style that is attracting fans worldwide. Notably, his first album, Only Human, reached #1 on the Apple Music chart in over 20 countries. Scott has developed a fanbase in several continents, from Europe and North America, to Asia, Australia and Africa. On his upcoming headline tour, he will be playing concerts in a wide range of countries including the U.S., United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Phillippines, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Calum Scott, who tells the story of his new single, “Heaven,” which is the final song he wrote for his album.

Scott’s new album, Bridges, showcases his powerful lead vocal performances, and his growth as a songwriter. The album is full of heartfelt, emotional songs, with beautiful melodies, soaring lead vocals, and classic pop music arrangements and production. In addition, the songs have articulate and personal lyrics, that show Scott’s honest, open and thoughtful feelings and perspective.

One of the key songs on Bridges is Scott’s new single, the romantic, blissful ballad, “Heaven.” This song has such universal appeal, that Scott has already sung duets and filmed videos of “Heaven” with international artists Lyodra (from Indonesia), Darren Espanto (Canada) and Hoang Duyen (Vietnam).

Other highlights on the album are the uplifting, uptempo anthem “Rise,” the midtempo cut “Run With Me,” which has a soaring melody in the chorus, and the ballad “Flaws,” which has a sensitive, empathetic lyric.

The 14-song Bridges album ends with two more highlights. Scott has recorded his moving interpretation of Greg Holden’s compelling song “Boys in the Street,” which is a heartbreaking account of a father’s struggle to accept his openly gay son. The album’s closing song, “Bridges,” is a stark, deeply personal song that contemplates suicide, but ends with a more hopeful, positive outlook.

Here’s the video of Calum Scott’s single, “Heaven.”

Scott grew up in Yorkshire, England, and he developed a love for music and singing at a young age. His initial breakthrough came in 2015, when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent TV show. Scott made a strong impression by singing a slower, heartfelt version of Robyn’s hit “Dancing On My Own,” which later became a hit single for him.

The success of his TV appearances and the single “Dancing On My Own” led to Scott securing a label deal with Capitol Records in 2016, and he subsequently released his debut album, Only Human, in 2018. That album contained Scott’s most popular song “You Are The Reason,” which became a hit in many countries. Notably, his video for this song has now attracted over 800 million views on YouTube, and his duet video of this song with pop star Leona Lewis has over 400 million views.

In addition to his new album, Bridges, Scott recently enjoyed international chart success for his lead vocal performance on Lost Frequencies’ dance/pop hit, “Where Are You Now.”

This summer, Scott is looking forward to launching his global concert tour, which starts in the U.S. in late July. Following 25 shows in North America, he will be performing shows in Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa.

Calum Scott Interview

We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Calum Scott. He discusses the making of his new album Bridges, and discusses his songwriting in depth.

DK: You’ve just released your album Bridges, which is your first album in four years. Can you talk about writing & recording your album in the midst of the pandemic?

Calum Scott: Before the pandemic in 2019, I was writing all year, and I was looking forward to taking one more writing trip to America in 2020. Writing music is definitely something that I enjoy doing, but performing live is everything. And I was excited to have a collection of songs to record for my album, and then get out and tour.

Here’s the video of Calum Scott’s single, “Rise.”

So at the top of 2020, I was ready to finish the writing for this album, and then the pandemic struck, and that was tough because I had to leave my songwriting sessions to go back to the UK to isolate. So it halted me in my tracks, and then I came back to the UK and when I saw how everything was unfolding across the world, I lost my motivation. I thought there were bigger things in the world going on than me finishing my album. And so like everybody, I lost motivation and I put music to the side. It wasn’t until my producer, Jon Maguire, who I’d written “You Are The Reason” with, reignited the passion for me. He was like, “Look, I’ve got a song idea that I’m writing with (singer/songwriter) James Bay—see if this does anything for you.” Then I listened to their demo and I loved the way it was written and the poetry that they used. I just fell in love again with the writing. And that kickstarted me back into writing and we finished “Biblical,” and we wrote “Rise,” which is a song about motivation and about triumph…standing in the face of challenges and hurdles and picking ourselves up and carrying on. So these were the two songs I needed to write to reignite the engines.

DK: I like your new single “Heaven,” which has a beautiful melody and lyric. What inspired you to write this song?

Scott: “Heaven” was a song that I actually wrote after the album was done. We collected all these songs together and we were pretty happy with what we had, and we were ready to wrap it up and get the album ready for release. And the label was like, “Well you’ve finished the album…now would be a perfect time to just go in and write songs for the sheer passion of doing it. So I went to L.A. and I was free of the pressures of writing for a record.

I went into a session with one of the favorite writers I’ve worked with on the previous album, Hayley Warner. I said to her, “There’s no agenda…we can just write what we want to write. Previously with Hayley, I’d written tempo records, and we’ve always said that we want to write a beautiful ballad. She said, “I’ve been saving this idea for you. I know that it’s something that you’ll be able to execute. I’ve got this idea…Why would people call heaven something [that’s a higher place], if heaven’s what I feel that I have with somebody right now? And I thought…Perfect. When I heard that, I was instantly inspired and we started writing this song which I love, because we’ve been trying to touch on the idea of putting power in the relationship, rather than putting power elsewhere or anything else that you could be promised. It was saying, “What I have with you is more sublime or heavenly than anything else that I could ever have.” And I think that’s such a beautiful way of saying it.

Here’s the video of Calum Scott’s powerful version of “Boys
in the Street” (written by Greg Holden).

When we recorded “Heaven,” and we went with a producer (Fraser T. Smith) to really give it that big ballad vibe like “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri. I’m a sucker (laughs) for wanting to put everything—strings and keys and everything. On this record, we thought, “Well we don’t have a rulebook on this one. Let’s see where it takes us.” We were able to put this movement and tempo behind it, and we were happy with it. Then I sent it to the label and they were like, “This is beautiful. It’s gotta be on the album.” So we reopened the album and found a space for it.

DK: With “Heaven,” you’ve recorded duets on this song with several international artists. How did you decide to record duets with these different artists?

Scott: When we were looking to release “Heaven” as a single, the label and I were discussing that we hadn’t done duets on this album yet. Doing duets is something that I love to do, and I like working outside my comfort zone on something totally new, like I did with the Lost Frequencies collaboration (“Where Are You Now”). Previously I did the duet with Leona Lewis (on “You Are The Reason”), so I wanted to do it again with “Heaven.” The label suggested that because of my strong affiliation with Asia and my fanbase out there, that it would be worth looking into doing with Asian artists. We were able to put these four amazing duets together (with Lyodra, Darren Espanto, Hoang Duyen and Diana Danielle). I think these versions sound beautiful and powerful, and these artists have brought something magical to it.

DK: Two of my favorite songs on your album that haven’t been released as singles are “Run With Me,” which has a beautiful, soaring chorus, and “Flaws,” which has a unique lyric idea. Can you talk about writing these two songs?

Scott: It’s really nice that you know about these songs. I’ve been working on these songs for the album for the last three years, and until the album’s release, only a small group of people knew about these songs. So it’s really cool to hear people enjoying the songs that haven’t been singles.

Here’s the video of Calum Scott’s song, “If You Ever
Change Your Mind.”

With “Run With Me,” when we were making the album, I was thinking about the journey I wanted to take people on. I wanted to have this moment with the songs where it was almost something that you could fill a stadium with…something that’s epic and huge. I’m a big fan of Coldplay and Snow Patrol—those bands have these epic, huge moments. So we started writing “Run With Me” up in Wales with my producer Jon Maguire, and it’s a simple chorus, but it elevates and lifts and the song goes on this journey. It has the mentality of “I’ll go wherever you go” or “We’re in this together.” With the chorus of “Run with me, Jump with Me,” and as the song flows into the final chorus, it has this epic journey that I absolutely love.

“Flaws” is a song that I wrote in Nashville. Most of my sessions are kind of therapeutic; it allows me to express how I feel about anything I’ve been through. For this session, I was talking to the guys (Jon Maguire & Jordan Schnidt) about my sister being really down on herself, and especially about the way she looked. She was feeling self-conscious and down. I said to Jon, “These flaws make people who they are, and I love everything about my sister, whether she has flaws or not. I’ve got flaws, everybody has flaws. But that’s what makes us who we are.” Then we started writing along the lines of that, sort of paying homage to the song “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera, and trying to instill some confidence into people. And this song speaks further than me or my sister, and how we feel. It’s more to do with the generation of people coming up with social media, and how sometimes it can make people feel. People look at Instagram and think that life’s perfect. That’s why we wanted to write a song that spoke to that, and show the importance of loving yourself, flaws and all.

I think that’s what is beautiful about songwriting. Especially on this second album, these songs are all very personal to me. And when you put those songs out there for the people to hear, it becomes other people’s stories and then it becomes personal to them. That’s one of the things I love about music and the way it travels, is that when you go to a live show, you experience that all together at the same time. Everybody has a unique attachment to that song in some way or another. So especially with a song like “Flaws” or “Bridges” or “Boys in the Street” that have a much more powerful meaning, it just makes me feel we’re doing some good in the world. Hopefully, the songs are not only for people to enjoy, but also comes with a message and potentially have the power to make life a little bit better.

Here’s the audio of Calum Scott’s song, “Run With Me.”

DK: I think your album ends strongly with the last two songs, “Boys in the Street” and “Bridges,” which are very personal and emotional. Can you talk about these songs?

Scott: Thank you. I definitely wanted the album finish in a strong way. When I was doing the track listing, I wanted to find a way to leave people at the end of the album…just feeling moved. There’s a collection of songs at the end that have that power. “Boys in the Street’ was written by Greg Holden. He did an incredible job about telling a story about real pain, and longing to be accepted and be loved. It’s a tragic but beautiful story between a son and his dad, and the song takes place over a full lifetime, The dad doesn’t accept his (gay) son, and it takes him to his deathbed to finally accept that his son just wants to be loved regardless of what sexual orientation he has. It’s about being accepted and loved. When I sing that song, there’s not a dry eye in the house.

I wrote “Bridges” with Jon Maguire and Danny O’Donoghue from The Script. With Danny, when he started writing the music, I connected with him so easily. I told him the story of “Bridges” and he was so supportive. It was a darker time of my life (contemplating suicide). It was a time where I was really struggling with my self-confidence for many different reasons. And very literally, I was questioning if I could go on with my journey. It’s a very literal song about that, and I needed someone like Danny who could help me articulate that. And with songs like that, you wonder how much of yourself you should be putting in your music and how much you should keep to yourself. It was a real struggle after I’d written that song, as beautiful it was, and how therapeutic it was to get that out of your system, I wasn’t sure if it should go on the album because how personal it is. But just as the music on my first album resonated with people, I had no doubt that a song like this would really help somebody who’s feeling that way. And so that informed my decision. I decided that I have to be honest, I have to be strong, and I have to put it out there for people who will hopefully take something away from that.

DK: I like how “Bridges” ends with a positive theme about crossing that bridge and moving forward with your life. It’s a positive way to end the album.

Scott: Yeah when you’re writing the song, you have to pay close attention and make sure that it’s hopeful. Because at the end of the day, you want people to walk away and feel that there’s hope…there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. What was a darker song now stands as a beacon of hope and strength. There’s a way to get on top of those feelings and to walk away happier.

Here’s the link to Calum Scott’s site:

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima