Words: Steve Brown
Calum Scott is one of the nicest and most humble artists out there and ahead of the release of his special edition album, I had pleasure to sit down with him and chat about all things LGBT.
The charming singer from Hull shot to fame on Britain's Got Talent where he got Simon Cowell's Golden Buzzer and since then he has gone on to achieve internatonal success and his debut album, 'Only Human', is the biggest selling debut by a British Solo Male this year.
Now Scott is set to release a special edition of his album this Friday (November 30), featuring four new songs, including the moving LGBT anthem 'No Matter What'.
In an exclusive interview with Attitude, Scott - who turned 30 this year - opens up about what the song means to him, how his international fame has hindered his dating and whether he has reached out to Sam Smith following his split with Brandon Flynn this year.
‘No Matter What’, it’s a fantastic song and inspired by your own coming out experiences. Why was now the right time to release the song?
I’ve explained how ‘No Matter What’ is the personal song I’ve ever written and for me when I was writing the album, the album was never really the focus. It was just about writing good songs. And on that journey, I had written ‘If Our Love Is Wrong’, which is about how I came out to the press, ‘Hotel Room’, which is about when I fell in love with a guy who didn’t love me back. Who wasn’t even gay. I’ve fallen in love with straight guys, it’s a pattern.
But one of the things that I hadn’t written about was my coming out story. And so, I was working with a guy in America and he started playing piano and ‘No Matter What’ had started to plant a seed in my head.
And the way that the music sat and the way that I was feeling, it just all fell into place. He stepped out of the room and when he came back I had most of the song.
It was just an instantaneous as that. But it was for me, writing had become so much of a therapy, I sort of wrote it, it was like a diary entry, it’s on paper, there’s a whole sigh of relief with that song.
But it was not necessarily something I was going to put out. I had been so personal with all the other songs I had on the album, I felt like this was too honest, a bit too personal. Coz it was like a diary entry being published online, like too much of your heart, you know.
And so I left it off the album, put the album out and very quickly I regretted not including that song, because I had seen how well the album had been received. I said to the label, ‘Look, ‘No Matter What’ is an incredibly special song’ and they said, ‘Why don’t you test it live?’
The Beatles notoriously used to test material live, and so I started playing this song in my own headline shows, played it in America to thousands and thousands of people and to just see rows and rows of people crying, hugging their parents, on their own screaming and just really relating to the song, it was so magical, I came back to the label and said, ‘I’ve got to release this, I’ve got to have it out’ and they gave the opportunity to release a special edition of the album of which ‘No Matter What’ was the first on the list and it just seemed appropriate with this year, me turning 30, me just being more confident in myself that I just wanted to release it this year and seeing how it affected people’s lives, I just wanted it out there to as many people as I could.
Within four days it had 2million likes/shares/views on YouTube, that’s insane!
It’s still mad. All that kind of stuff, I can’t believe that many people watch it.
And you know, I never ever dreamt I would share this story, and yet millions of people have related to it already. The thousands of messages I have received has been completely overwhelming.
I think the music video goes hand in hand with the song. It’s a beautiful sentiment. It shows not only that this is an LGBT story but it shows that it’s a story about acceptance.
When I watched the video for the first time – the director’s cut – the boy not getting picked for the football team, I was gone then.
It just goes to show that it’s not just acceptance within the LGBT community but it’s just acceptance in general. Feeling like you belong somewhere.
Also, the relationship between parent and child, you know, it’s incredibly important, incredibly special, precious, so this song is far and wide in its reach. I am very proud of it.
You said it’s such a personal story but so many people have been able to relate to it. That must be amazing.
Oh my God, it’s overwhelming. The amount of times I’ve been in tears or welling up to the messages I’ve received just being like, people messaging saying they feel more confident, they’ve come out to the parents because of me.
I was in Hong Kong and a girl had an interview with me and then I heard from somebody that she was in the corridor pouring her heart out. I had to stop an interview I was doing, and was like, ‘What’s wrong? Was the interview bad?’ and she just said, ‘I just want you to know how much your songs mean to me.
When I listened to ‘No Matter What’ I was so inspired that I came out to my mum’, I asked her, ‘How was it?’ and she was said, ‘She loves me no matter what’. We were both in tears, I signed some stuff for her and gave her some things.
It’s people like her who really define to me what my job is. It’s to change to world to put some good into it.
Exactly, but not everyone has these good coming out stories.
Of course, the beautiful thing about ‘No Matter What’ is I tried to be very transparent and say that my mum was beautiful in the way that she accepted me, and I love you ‘No Matter What’ and I just want you to be happy.
But with my friends, I got the completely opposite reaction. I watched one of my friends tell the other guys in my group and not one of them called for me ever again and in that silence, and isolation that made me suppress myself for the rest of my life.
You know, even though I had that strength from my mum, as soon as I told my friends who, when you’re young your friends are everything to you, and I was abandoned I related telling people I was gay to losing people.
All my teens and twenties in the closet. I was terrified and it wasn’t until I found music and found a way to get that off my chest was when my confidence came around. I get both sides and I wanted to reflect that in the song.
‘No Matter What’ is an LGBT anthem, do you want to carry on writing LGBT music?
I had written loads of songs for the album, so I had written songs about everything. About the LGBT community, about bullying, mental health, family, friends romance, all things that inspired me, which is genuinely life.
So, I don’t think it’s necessarily I will write exclusively for the LGBT community. It’s a part of me so a part of my writing. But it doesn’t define who I am. I’m not the gay singer, I like to think that I represent everyone.
I just want to do good in whatever I do. I just knew that this was such a huge thing for me as an individual that it made sense for it to be the next single.
We are going through a queer artist movement at the moment, when you were on Britain’s Got Talent did you ever see this happening?
I remember, vividly remember, after that golden buzzer moment, I was sent through to Britain’s Got More Talent with Stephen Mulhern and we sat and his sketch was to design me the perfect girlfriend.
I was sat there cringing, I remember I felt sick, but I went along with it. I said to the producers afterwards, ‘I can’t do that because I’ve lied and people back home who know me will be like he’s gay, why is he lying?’ and that’s one thing I don’t wanna be.
I was always ambiguous but I never lied. Some people in the LGBT community can probably testify that that’s a way of getting around it.
You say ‘they’ just to try and get around it and it’s awful that we have to do that but we are coming, with this movement with people singing these songs, keeping this conversation live, we are getting to a point where, you know, I know a guy whose son is six/seven years old and having a conversation with his dad about two men loving each other is not even on his radar.
There are in love with each other. And I’m like this is what we need. If we educate the youth, this kind of hatred and inequality with disappear.
Exactly! You’ve just been on a word tour, when did you realise that you were an international superstar?
I’m still trying to take it in. Honestly, I’m still trying. Because I worked in human resources for eight years, my life was normal and as soon as I had that audition moment, my life changed in a huge way for me.
And I will get stats and numbers like that and I’m like gobsmacked. To know that the album is the bestselling British debut album by a guy, I’m like this is a joke surely.
To go to all these countries, I think that’s what really drills it into me when I’ve gone to South Africa, New Zealand, Asia, Singapore, Hong Kong and there are fans there by the hundreds – sometimes the thousands – singing my songs back to me.
Now for me, who never travelled anywhere beyond Canada and Spain and Greece for 27 years and now to be travelling around the world and have people there who know my songs, who know my story, that’s when I think I notice that I am deal with something bigger than Hull. And it’s incredibly special.
Travelling all around the world, does that hinder your dating?
Yeah massively. I was just saying to my hair and makeup girl that I was dating a guy really soul to the earth guy.
A painter and decorator. Very salt of the earth. Worked 9-5 and we were dating for a little bit but I knew I was going on a tour with Emilie Sande and that the album was being released the following year and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to spend the time with him and it got to a point where I had to tell him I’m going to be away and he didn’t really take that very well.
He would be like, ‘Oh you haven’t checked your texts, messaged me back’. In a situation like this I wouldn’t be checking my phone.
I’ve been doing this since 3pm today if I went straight to a show, I probably wouldn’t check my phone until tomorrow morning.
I think because of my movement and the work that I’m doing, you’ve got to find someone who is understanding and it’s hard because people don’t know this industry from the outside.
So it does hinder me, but I maintain that I want to find someone very normal and down to earth and they say that people in the industry should date people in the industry but I’m a lad from Hull, I’m very northern that way and I kinda want to find someone very normal but it does hinder me.
I even had a date in Australia, of all the places to find someone to date, is somebody 24 hours away on a plane, it’s tough. It’s really tough.
Do you find people are like ‘Ooh it’s Calum Scott’?
Yeah, there’s been a few times where I’ve been on Tinder and people think I’m a catfish and they are like, ‘Oh how do I know it’s you’.
It says on my bio, ‘I’m not a catfish this is really me’. But people say that’s what a catfish would say. I’m like, I’m never going to win.
Plus, you match with people who are like ‘Oh my God, is this you? I can’t believe I matched with you’ and that kind of, it doesn’t put it in a negative slant, but I don’t know whether they are talking to you as Calum or Calum Scott.
I try to be on there as Calum, it doesn’t say Calum Scott. And that’s how I want people to know me on dating sites.
I suppose one of the downsides is that my reputation proceeds me so I can’t make a first impression with somebody if they know who I am. It’s tough that way.
I would never not date a fan it’s just hard to know if the serenity there. So I think it’s one of those things, try and see and test to see how it will go. I’m still swiping away on Tinder.
For me, I deleted every single dating app. I was getting obsessed. Do you think they are a good development for dating?
There are positive and negatives in them. One of the negatives is that it goes away from going on actual dates.
Meeting people organically in a pub a bar, park, library no matter where it is. For me, I’ve always found that side of it difficult.
You never know who you’re going to meet. Some people could be offended if you think they are gay or make a move, so I think that sites like this, it gives people the opportunity to confidentially talk to men or women or whatever without the fear of rejection in terms of sexuality.
If you don’t match, you don’t match. I think there’s positives and negatives. I’m glad it’s out there coz it gives people who are not so confident to have the opportunity to still date.
As long as the real dates still happen. You can’t e-date forever. It’s gotta come back down to that real-life date and that’s something I do on Tinder.
I maintain getting to know each other face to face. The magic happens when you’re talking about that person face to face.
If you talking to that person of Plenty of Fish or Tinder or whatever then when you meet, you’ve done all of it. It takes away from the spark of it. You gotta be careful I guess.
When we last spoke on 2016, you said you weren’t as confident as your other LGBT friends. Do you still feel that way now?
I met him not too long ago and he said you look like a different person. Not so much in my attitude, but in myself.
I feel a lot more grounded and at peace with myself I suppose and knowing that the hopes and dreams I have for my songs are becoming a reality.
I think that’s what’s giving me a new sense of confidence. I have a calling now. I’m here to try and make a difference with my music.
If I show you my inbox and you read some of the messages. It’s such an overwhelming feeling to see my music as a medicine and that people can listen to it and feel better.
That’s the highest compliment I could ever have.
I did go check on the YouTube video for any negative comments, but it’s all positive. There is not one!
It’s mad. I’ve had negativity I’ve had people say this and that but I try not to concentrate on it too much.
I’m a sensitive boy and it would get me upset. Whether I’m confident or not, people personally attacking you is always going to be hard to take.
I’m not made of steel. But there is so much positivity that it outweighs the negatives so ii just concentrate that.
Family is a big thing for you, do you ever see yourself with a family of your own?
I would absolutely love a family of my own. When I was younger, I always had a vision in my head about it, that’s kind of what confused me.
I was young, and I was like well do I have to have a girlfriend to have kids and that’s what gave me that confusion.
Even with Tom Daley, he reached out and supported ‘No Matter What’ and messaged him and thanked him for the support.
And he was going to come to a gig but couldn’t get a sitter for Robbie and that made me think about adoption and how great they are as parents, same with Elton and his partner, and I just thought the view of family I had with a woman and kids and all that is scrapped and with this brand new vision of anybody could have a family and that’s so exciting to me.
I’ve always wanted a family of my own and to have my nephew I feel like he is my own flesh and blood.
I’ve got it in me to be a dad, and I think I would love to just care and raise a child. Maybe a couple.
It’s always going to be a goal. I’m far too busy, it would cost me an arm and a leg in flights but yeah in the very near future, but I’ve got to find a partner first.
You were dating Sam Smith a few years ago and this year he split with Brandon Flynn, have you spoke with him?
I haven’t. I kind of wanted to give him his space because me and Sam are friends, but we aren’t best mates. It’s not like I can just go, ‘Oh how are you since Brandon?’
People need their own privacy regardless of whether he is a singer and I am a singer, it doesn’t give me the right to message him. No doubt he has lots of support around him and he is still on tour and incredibly busy.
I don’t want to add that extra pressure. I know when you’re on tour you become a bit blue you wanna give your all.
Because I’ve slowed down I’ve started to become ill because you concentrate so much on your fans, when it comes to a break your body sort of [deflates] and all the illness come in and I had a bit of a panic attack last night because everything has slowed down, Christmas is coming and work is naturally less for everybody and in that slowness and gradual decline, I start to panic, ‘I’ve not got enough work, what am I going to do, are people not enjoying the song’.
I don’t mean to quote myself, but we are only human and there’s only so much that we can take. I haven’t’ reached out to him yet but I am there for him, he knows that. So we’ll see when he comes off tour and becomes ill like me.
The special edition of 'Only Human' featuring four new songs will be released on Friday November 30.