“All my mates were like, ‘You’re going to be like One Direction.’ I was the favourite to win for weeks and then the show ended… It was brutal. You’re left with no communication from anybody and the thought of going back… It was such a huge comedown after all that.”
Calum Scott is relaying his post-Britain’s Got Talent experience. The frontrunner for much of the show’s 2015 incarnation, following the highest of compliments from one Simon Cowell (read: words of high praise and the rare use of the Golden Buzzer); he’d later miss out to dog trainer Jules O’Dywer and her border collie, Matisse.
Still, the numbers he’s since accomplished don’t exactly spell missed opportunity: over 1 million single sales in the UK, 10 weeks spent in the Single Chart’s Top 5, No.1 on Itunes in 10 countries. The figures are telling (and consistent), while he’s elsewhere since claimed a Best British Single nomination at the Brits and the rather distinguished 2nd Biggest UK Breakthrough Single of 2016 title, all following his cover of Swedish pop star Robyn’s “Dancing on my Own”.
“I was the drummer back at school, was never one to be the front man but she forced me to get on the mic,” he later clarifies of his sister Jade’s encouragement. “I refound the music and joined a tribute band (Maroon 4) which helped me cut my teeth performing live.” Following his stint on ITV, he contacted the music lawyer he’d been previously assigned and returned to London; the independent release of “Dancing on my Own” in April 2016 was the result.
Part of a Yorkshire contingent that includes Everything But the Girl, The Housemartins and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge – namely that of one time Hull resident – Scott’s success is a hugely different beast to his geographical counterparts. The embodiment of ‘viral’, the wide stretching success of “Dancing on my Own” led to essays pondering the original track’s cult appeal, while Scott’s rendition simultaneously introduced it to new audiences; last September he was invited to perform at the Paralympic Games closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro.
Perhaps most importantly, it led to his being tapped by big US labels such as Capitol, with whom he has signed a three-album deal (the first fruit from which arrived back in the autumn of 2016, with the self-penned single “Rhythm Inside”). “It’s unbelievable,” Scott asserts over the phone from New York, “I was walking around their building thinking that Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Nat King Cole, all these incredible artists have recorded here and now I am making my album. It’s a very privileged position to be in.”
Currently putting the finishing touches to his debut album with Fraser T Smith, a producer whose credits include contemporary heavyweights like Sam Smith, Adele and Stormzy, the “ex-trolley dolly at Asda” enthuses: “He’s a legendary producer, and when we met he really understood my vibe, so we wrote together and produced most of the album.”
A big deal for anyone, sure, but for an individual whose first trip to America was tagged with his record agency meeting, something seriously major.