In the past two years, Scottish singer/songwriter Lewis Capaldi has made the successful transition from being an unknown newcomer, to becoming one of the top young stars in the United Kingdom. Currently, the 22-year-old artist, who is known for having a powerful, soulful voice, has two singles in the Top 10 on the U.K. charts, and a third song in the Top 15.
The breakthrough for Capaldi has been his emotional, compelling single “Someone You Loved,” which recently spent seven weeks as the number one single in the U.K. His follow-up single, “Hold Me While You Wait,” debuted at #4 on the U.K. chart and remains in the Top 10. On top of this, his older single “Bruises” has re-entered the chart.
The success of “Someone You Loved” is helping to establish Capaldi as an internationally-known artist. The single is now having an impact in the U.S. and is moving up the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Someone You Loved” is also a hit in Ireland, Australia, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand and other countries.
Three weeks ago, Capaldi released his long-awaited debut album, which is called Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent (on Virgin EMI/Capitol Records). This uniquely-titled album immediately reached #1 in the U.K. and Ireland, achieved gold status, and it’s become the fastest-selling album of 2019 in the U.K. Capaldi co-wrote all of the songs for the album.
Capaldi has just embarked on a U.S. tour for June, which started in Boston and includes sold-out shows in New York City, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle and San Francisco. Most of the fans attending these concerts are seeing Capaldi perform for the first time, and he’s playing these U.S. shows with a full band. After he completes this June tour, he will touring Europe this summer. Then in September, Capaldi will return to the U.S. and perform in many other cities.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Lewis Capaldi. This is our second interview with him; we did a 2018 article with him following the release of his first EP, Bloom.
DK: Congratulations on your great success with “Someone You Loved” this year.
Lewis Capaldi: Thank you very much…thank the Lord. Since January, it’s kind of caught a life of its own and I’m just holding on for dear life (laughs).
Here’s the video of Lewis Capaldi’s hit, “Someone You Loved.”
DK: With your hit “Someone You Loved,” what inspired you to write this song, and how did you collaborate with (hit songwriters) TMS and Romans on the song?
Capaldi: I had the melody for the song…it was done and ready to go. At that point, I was at the end of writing my album. I felt I had reached the end, in terms of writing songs about an old relationship (laughs). I had been writing songs [about that relationship] for quite some time. So I decided not to finish that song, and parked it.
Then I was lucky to get with TMS (the writing/producing trio of Tom “Froe” Barnes, Ben Kohn & Peter “Merf” Kelleher) and Romans, and we were working on this other song which was upbeat and very pop. I said to them, “Look, I’ve got this other idea as well,” and I showed them the song I had with the melody. Then I said, “I don’t want to write about the same break-up. I want to write about the feeling of losing someone in general, and have the story be broader so that people could make their own story of it. And from there, we got this idea, and we were able to write it very quickly.
DK: I like the video for “Someone You Loved,” which is very emotional—it’s about a person having a heart transplant. Was it your idea to film a video about an organ transplant?
Capaldi: Yes, I came up with the idea and had the story for it. I learned that in the U.K., there’s this opt-out part of organ donations. It now encourages you to become an organ donor. And for me, it started to raise my awareness. There are organ donation organizations who are looking to raise people’s awareness.
DK: You’ve recently released your debut album. How does it feel to release your album, after two years of releasing singles and EPs?
Capaldi: It feels like a relief. I was getting to the point where I was thinking that I was [sitting] on the songs too much. But I’m excited that it’s done. And now that the album is out, it’s amazing to see the reaction from people about it.
Here’s the lyric video of Lewis Capaldi’s hit, “Hold Me While
DK: Your album has a unique title, Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent. How did you come up with this title, and what does it mean?
Capaldi: The title is actually in reference to the process of recording an album. There was a point when I was making the album that I was down on myself, and things weren’t going as well on the music business side of things…some of my songs didn’t do as well as people were hoping. And I felt like…Oh God, is this gonna work out? Then I wrote this song called “Figure It Out” that was initially supposed to open the album. And the first two lines in the song are, “Broken by desire to be heavenly sent, Divinely uninspired to a hellish extent.” Those two lines summed up the feeling that I had, of having the desire to be good at something, but sometimes feeling like you’re just shy of your goal. This song isn’t quite right yet, but I would love to put this song out later.
DK: Your new single,“Hold Me While You Wait,” is also doing well. Can you talk about writing this song?
Capaldi: I wrote “Hold Me While You Wait” in L.A., with Jamie Hartman and Jamie N Commons. That was a song where I had the verse and the pre-chorus, and then I kind of got stuck. And Jamie Hartman helped with the chords and stuff. That song is about a girl that I had a relationship with, where you don’t really know where you stand with her, and she’s trying to make up their mind on whether or not they want to be with you. And you’re kind of in a helpless position like, “Look, I want to be with you, so if you don’t want to be with me, at least while you’re making up your mind, let’s be together in this moment.” For me, it’s a song that I wrote about my own self-doubt, and the insecurities that I have within myself.
DK: Besides the songs we’ve discussed, what are your other favorite songs on your album?
Capaldi: I really like “Hollywood’ and “Headspace”—they are two of my favorites. I wrote “Headspace” when I was 17; it’s the oldest song on the album. I’ve always had this special feeling about it…it’s the perfect song to end the album. And “Hollywood” is jaunty and happy—it’s a change of pace for the album, and people really seem to enjoy it.
DK: You said that you wrote some of the songs in Los Angeles. Do you come out to L.A. a lot, and what are your experiences about being in L.A?
Here’s the video of Lewis Capaldi’s song, “Grace.”
Capaldi: I came out to L.A. for three trips—one was a longer trip, and two were quite short. In L.A., the bar is so high in terms of songwriting and musicianship. You think, “Oh I better bring my A game.” Plus it’s sunny all the time—it makes you kind of want to get up and write, instead of when it’s gloomy and you want to stay in bed.
On my longer trip, when I was in L.A. for a month writing, I was kind of by myself. And it was the first experience of my music taking me to somewhere else for that period of time. It was amazing to be there, but there was also the feeling of having to write really good songs while I was there, since I’d come all this way. But I do love it in L.A., and I’d like to spend a lot of time out there making my second album.
DK: You’re about to start a major tour in the U.S. What are your thoughts about this tour?
Capaldi: I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited. I want to come and see what happens in America and try my hardest over there, to see how far we can take things. I’m excited to play those shows, and it’ll be good to come over and do shows with a full band. It just opens up more dynamics and really shows the full range of the songs.