On a dark, cloudy and miserable Monday afternoon in central Newcastle, shoppers, commuters and students would usually walk past an Oxfam charity shop without a seconds thought...
However at 1PM on Monday 16th October, award-nominated, internationally recognised, Dancing On My Own singer Callum Scott made his way to the middle of a charity shop opposite a bus station, to partake in something called "OxJam".
He sang a series of 6 songs, from his own upcoming album as well as covers including the one that has racked over 230 million streams on Spotify alone. In that acoustic, open to the public set, the singer told me later that afternoon that he was reserving himself and his voice, conscious that he was only on the 3rd night of a nationwide tour alongside BRIT Award Winner Emilie Sande.
“I never look down my nose at anything, I never think I’m above anything. For me, whether in front of 20,000 people at an arena or 50 people in an Oxfam shop the connection is still the same.” Callum explained, while sitting on a tour bus outside the Metro Radio Arena.
His journey to the stage is different from most others. Just 3 years ago he was working for a recruitment firm in human resources, now he is about to drop his debut album. Callum sprung to fame after his audition on Britain's Got Talent earned him Simon Cowell's ‘Golden Buzzer’ and 128million views for his audition on Youtube.
“Other artists may have more of a ‘natural’ start whereas I had that one platform and that story and the song just had a life and journey of its own”. Since his release of 'Dancing on my Own' he’s made his way around numerous television studios both here in the UK and in the United States. He’s appeared on Ellen, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Dancing with the Stars and even performed at the Paralympic Closing Ceremony.
Later that evening his performance in front of 1000’s of people at the Metro Radio Arena seemed effortless. He gently spoke to a passive, calm crowd in between his songs giving the impression that this was a performance meant for each individual audience member; a difficult task in an arena of any size.
He played his new single, released November 17th, called “You are the Reason”. He described it as “the most special off the album”, holding the most meaning to him, “'Dancing On My Own' was me with a piano and me against a piano gives me a landscape as to who I am as a musician.” He references his single from the summer, 'Rhythm Inside', explaining that it showed, “I can do upbeat, I can do happy”, but the slower nature of his newest single 'You Are The Reason', is “because the second single needs to be true to who the artist is” and it’s a song made to be listened live to its powerful, bold and echoes 'Dancing On my Own'.
The performance of the Robyn cover that he ended up making his own was remarkable, a stand out moment not just of the evening, but of my year watching live music. It is rare to see an artist so stripped back, so simply staged carry a room of such size and magnitude in such an effortless way.
His voice and presence is not lost on a stage of that size. His vocal skills seem fluent as he pulls off a cover of a Beatles classic, pleasantly aware that he shares a record label with the worlds most famous band that he, like many, describes as “legends”.
A song that has been heard a million times before feels like it had been written exclusively for Callum to sing that evening.
As the evening continues one may critique an artist for deciding to cover Ed Sheeran's 'Thinking Out Loud', due to the overplayed legacy that the song carries it can be assumed that it is a lazy cover. However the vocal skill that Callum Scott holds is so impressive that a song that has been heard a million times before feels like it had been written exclusively for Callum to sing that evening.
His album will be drop at the beginning of next year and “it’s is a journey of the last 12 to 18 months and the rest of my life as well”. After he explained that his new job is a lot different from his old one I can only imagine he has a lot of material to have been inspired by, “I miss the routine, the structure. In this job you’re up then you're in America and then you’re doing a gig and back to the UK and then you’re doing a bit of promo and a bit of TV and then you’’re flying to Europe and sometimes you’re in a constant change of jet lag.” It was difficult to feel sorry for him.
He concludes, “I wouldn't change it for the world”
Callum Scott’s new single 'You Are The Reason' is released on 17th November 2017.