British singer Calum Scott on his love for the UAE and a long-awaited new album

The artist spoke to City Times whilst on a recent trip to Dubai.

by Enid Grace Parker

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Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Published: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 4:35 PM

Last updated: Thu 17 Mar 2022, 4:45 PM

As an entertainment journalist, every once in a while you get to interview a celebrity who brings a sparkle to your day.

British singer-songwriter and one of Britain’s Got Talent’s most memorable contestants, Calum Scott, was in Dubai on March 12 to perform at Bohemia at Beach by FIVE with Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies (Felix De Laet). City Times managed to catch up with him ahead of his show for what turned out to be a fun and heartwarming conversation.

We were completely won over by Calum’s charming, unassuming demeanor, the respect and love he has for fans, his sense of humour, and his earnest, honest approach towards his music.

The You Are The Reason singer, who last performed in Dubai in January 2021 at Dubai Opera, shared with us how he had “fallen in love” with the UAE and was excited to be back.

“Especially with the kind of travel restrictions that we’ve been all under and the pandemic situation, it just feels so incredible to be able to travel, to be able to come back, especially to Dubai! I was here in 2018 to play Red Fest, and I’ve just loved coming back every time. It was very special last time to have my own show here (at Dubai Opera); it was a sold-out show and it was during what was a really rough time of the pandemic.”

He went on to praise the vibe from his UAE audience, calling them “a really respectful crowd.”

“When I played in Dubai last time, I managed to meet a couple of the people that were in the audience — they were from all over the world. I think Dubai is kind of a hub for the rest of the world. Everybody I meet is so lovely, welcoming, friendly and warm — I must admit, walking around here in the hotel, it’s as if I’ve known the staff all my life! And everybody loves their music here (in Dubai) so it’s always a pleasure to sing live!”

Dubai is also a city Calum loves exploring. He mentioned how he brought his mother to Dubai when he played Red Fest, and how it was “really amazing for her to see Dubai and to enjoy some of the sights and the food.”

“The last time I was here I went to the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall; I got to do some really exciting things — there was a drone show that was happening…there’s so much more in Dubai to do that I need to spend a week or two here just to enjoy it, but when I’m here I try and do as much as I possibly can. It sounds like I need a tourist guide (laughs).

Calum Scott fans in the UAE will be happy to know there’s a chance he may play an independent gig here soon.

“I’m hoping in the next couple of months to be able to announce my own show in Dubai again; I think we’ve just got to wait for the details but that excites me a lot. To know that I will be coming back to do one of my own shows, hopefully in much better circumstances… very excited about that, so keep your eyes peeled!”

Music inspired by heartbreak

Calum’s latest single, the bittersweet If You Ever Change Your Mind, is “inspired by heartbreak, like most of my songs are,” he said. The comments section of the video on YouTube is flooded with remarks like “who thinks this man has a miracle in his voice”, “he’s got one of the best voices I’ve ever heard”, “perfect timing, I’m in exactly the same situation”.

How does he feel to be so connected to fans through his music?

“The love from my fans is everything! I would almost argue that is what defines my success — having that relationship with my fans where they would write comments in YouTube about how these songs changed their life, or they’ve really needed to hear that song today, whatever it is. It’s the most precious thing I have in this business.”

If You Ever Change Your Mind, Calum admitted, was about “that kind of love where when you love somebody so deeply they leave a mark on you, and it’s hard to take that off.”

“I call it the tether between people. In the music video I’ve tried to recreate that with these incredible dancers that sort of brought it to life — there’s almost like a cable that was attached to their hearts; they couldn’t get away and they were trying to…”

He admitted he always writes songs from the heart.

“I think that is something that a lot of us experience — loving somebody so deeply that you feel they’re still attached (to you). I always write from that really honest, heart-on-my-sleeve kind of place and reading YouTube comments shows you that this isn’t just my story. The things that I write about aren’t just my own experience. We’ve all gone through these things and that is what makes that relationship with my fans so incredibly special.”

Taking the tempo up a notch

While known best for his love ballads channeling heartbreak, Calum has proved he can also dish out music to shake a leg to. His uptempo club track with Lost Frequencies, Where Are You Now, released in July 2021, is slowly but surely extending its reach around the world (it has over 45 million views on YouTube so far), and probably filling dance floors like the Bohemia event held at FIVE in Dubai.

“I had no idea that was going to happen! Me and Felix actually have a lot of history. We tried to get him involved in the Dancing On My Own remix (which was later done by Tiesto). And his own words were, he didn’t want to go near it as it was too big. The song was taking off everywhere and I think it was maybe a little bit intimidating for him, so he politely declined on that occasion. But he said he would love to get together in the future.”

Years later Calum received a message from Felix about his new track Where Are You Now. “He said ‘I’d love you to be on it, I’ve not asked anybody else to sing it’. So I put the vocal down on the track and he loved it. We performed the song in Romania, which was the very first time I’d met him and that was about four months after the release; it was a shame that we couldn’t do it (the track) in person but much like everybody, we had to adapt and do it online and on Zoom and stuff.

"It was a passion project for me and Felix, and it’s just gone on to have the most amazing journey. What blows my mind is that we released the song in July 2021 and it’s starting to have all these amazing peaks in the world right now; it’s crazy! It’s the same with You Are The Reason which I put out in 2018; it took almost a year for it to reach people around the world, so I think I’m quite happy with a slow-burner! It means that I can keep travelling around the world, coming to all these incredible places and performing it.”

An evergreen hit

From his repertoire, You Are The Reason remains “the big one” — Calum’s favourite song to perform on stage.

“It’s just because so many people know that song and it’s a true, straight up love ballad. When I was little I used to listen to my mum’s taste of music — Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Tina Turner, Elton John, George Michael. All these really big voices that sang with this kind of honesty and had these huge ballad moments. And so that’s kind of the style where You Are The Reason came from.”

Calum’s vocal stylings received some praise from a legend recently, and he revealed he’s anything but jaded when it comes to the music industry or his role in it.

“I had covered Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive for International Women’s Day, and Gloria sent me a DM on Instagram saying ‘really great job, all the best’ and I was like, really fan-girling! I’m still so gooey-eyed about the industry; I still love my fans, I still love talking to people like yourself and just spreading the word of Calum Scott… so, long may it continue (laughs)!”

A new album, he said, is going to be announced “very soon”.

“There is a whole host of new music which I’m so excited to share with people; I feel like this is probably the best work I’ve done yet. And fingers crossed, we will be able to announce a world tour probably towards the back end of the year. The pandemic hit everybody so hard — people lost livelihoods and lives; I’m just excited to come back with new music and to have an audience that has been there from day one for me.”

Calum had a special message for his UAE fans. “Shukran many times! I’m just so grateful for everybody who supported me. I’m a long way from home and to have fans here is an honour and a privilege. I can’t wait to bring a live show here with my band, and bring family out here to really experience what the UAE has to offer. I hope it’s going to be a much stronger and longer relationship with the UAE because I have fallen in love with it.”

Enid Grace Parker

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