With a smash hit song riding high at #1 on the U.K. charts for seven weeks, almost 800m global streams on his music and two sold-out tours in Europe and North America – all before the release of an album – you would think Lewis Capaldi would be on cloud nine. Yet despite all this success, the cheeky Scottish singer/songwriter remains incredibly humble, saying that he’s “enjoying it while it lasts.”
We had a chat with Lewis a few weeks ahead of his debut album release to talk about “Someone You Loved”, imposter syndrome, living with mum, those hilarious Instagram Stories, and his love of performing live.
Talk me through the name for your debut album – Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent.
So, the album name was based on a song that didn’t make it onto the album in the end due to time constraints. The song is just me saying that sometimes I get so worked up when I’m writing or recording a song because I want to make it good and not make it terrible. Nothing’s coming out and I just feel shit at my job. I don’t think that’s exclusive to just making music, because it can also apply to a relationship or going to the fucking gym, but in the pursuit of wanting to do something well, I feel like 70 per cent of the time doing that thing that I’m shit at it. When you achieve what you wanted to achieve, you go, oh fuck! I hated myself for 70 per cent of it, but we got there in the end.
What were you were going through when you wrote and recorded the album to influence it?
I broke up with my first proper long-term girlfriend. We’d been going out for over two years and we broke up just as I was starting to kick things off with my music. I didn’t mean to write a breakup album, it wasn’t intentional, it just kinda happened. The breakup wasn’t malicious in any way, it was quite an amicable breakup. We’re still friends. I found that the songs I was writing were very much less, ‘you broke my heart because you’re a horrible person’, or ‘I fucked it up because I did this’, but more like, ‘I’m really sorry this didn’t work out. See you later! Hope you find someone you love and stuff and hopefully I’ll still do my thing as well.’ They’re ‘sorry we broke up but I hope you have a lovely life’ sort of thing. Other songs were influenced by the fact that I was experiencing all this fucking mad stuff and having big changes in my life like always being away, releasing music. Some songs are about my insecurities and this imposter syndrome thing I’ve got. It’s basically me breaking up with someone and then having the best two years of my life. It’s not the best album in the world. It’s okay. It’s a solid album. I like it a lot and we’ll see how it goes. People who don’t like it, don’t worry. It’s just my entire life’s work.
“Someone You Loved” spent 7 weeks as a U.K. number one and you’ve had almost 800m global streams on your music. That’s insane! How do you feel to have that under your belt before even releasing an album?
Yeah, it’s not a normal occurrence. It’s very, very strange. It doesn’t really feel like they’re my achievements at all, it feels like they’re someone else’s. This all feels like it’s happening to someone else and I’m just watching. It feels like I’m just going around and playing a cover to all these radio stations. I’ve never thought that these numbers were possibilities. They weren’t even goals. My goal was to play King Tut in Glasgow. I did that in January 2017. That’s why I like playing live. When you see people coming to the shows, that’s when it feels like a real thing. So far, I seem to be doing okay. I try not to take it too seriously, so I don’t get too caught up in everything and I’m enjoying it while it lasts.
You released the song back in November 2018. Did you have any idea how successful it would be?
It was only finished in October  but I started writing the melodies in April. I didn’t have anything to write about, so I thought, fuck it. It stewed for a bit, then I picked it back up again in October, finished it and put it on the EP that came out in November. It wasn’t meant to be a single at all. But thank fuck we put it on the EP because I can’t bear to think what would have happened! The thing that’s quite cool about Spotify and Apple Music and stuff is that people pick their own singles. It was part of an EP called Breach and I had another single called “Grace”, which both did okay and I was buzzing with that. Last minute we got this song [“Someone You Loved”] on the EP and people just fucking gravitated towards it. We never viewed it as a proper single because of how well it did as a track on the EP.
What did it mean to you then and what does it mean to you now?
I just think of the royalties now [he laughs]. Nah I’m joking. Whenever I’m singing a song I don’t go back to that emotional place I was in when I wrote it. It’s fun when I sing it. Playing it at a gig and people are singing along, it’s hard to be in your feelings. The emotional response comes from the audience. They’re the ones thinking about their relationship, I’m just selfishly loving the response [he laughs again].
It might be your most popular song, but is it your favourite (of those released so far)?
Yes, because it’s my most popular song [he laughs]. There’s a song out on at the minute on the album called “Fade”. If I could have showed me that song at fifteen and said, you wrote this fucking song with [Grammy award-winning producer] Malay, who you’re such a big fan of, it would have blown my little mind. That’s probably my favourite one I’ve released so far. It’s also probably one of the less popular ones… because I’m hipster.
You’ve got a US headline tour (kicking off June 1st) locked in before you’ve even released the album!
It’s mad. I’m excited. The shows are sold out. I really wanna put in as much time as I can in America. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s over summer as well so I’m sure we’ll be getting pissed.
Your life for the past couple of months – touring, promoting music – has been almost non-stop. Have you managed to find time for yourself in between the madness? How do you like to wind down?
Any time I have off, I go back to Glasgow in Scotland. We’ve been coming back and forth to America which is pretty hectic, but whenever I’m back in Scotland I’m doing something like rehearsals or promo bits. It feels like being home to me. I’m finding time to decompress. I’m still living with my mum and there’s nothing more grounding than your mum washing your underwear and chastising you because there’s stains in them.
Do you think you’ll stay in Glasgow or move elsewhere?
I don’t know. I’d like to have a base in Glasgow for sure. I haven’t thought about it too much. We travel so much and it’s nice getting the chance to see different bits. I really like Copenhagen; I think it would be fucking class to live there. I do enjoy being in New York as well. To be honest, I probably won’t be able to move anywhere for the next two years because we’re going to be touring this album constantly. Ask me that question again in two years and I’m sure I’ll give you a different answer.
Your often hilarious, honest and sarcastic Instagram Stories have given you a great reputation for not taking yourself too seriously – one of the many reasons your fans adore you. How important do you think a strong social media presence is for artists today?
Nowadays you have to [be on social media]. That’s just the way it is. I’m 22 years old, I’d be using social media anyway. What I’m doing is no different to what I’d be doing if I wasn’t a musician. It just so happens that every once in a while, I post about a gig I’m doing because I have to. But I think it’s important because people want to know where their stuff’s coming from. They don’t want to find out that that the people they’re getting their music from are – excuse my language here – cunts. I get a lot of people that seem to be complimenting my social media ‘strategy’. And I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about ‘strategy’? I talk about my pubic hair and going for a shit. There’s no strategy there. There was a rumour that I had a comedy writer help with my social media. If I had a comedy writer, it wouldn’t all be stuff about farting, it would be a bit more intellectual Why would you not want to have a portal of communication with the people giving you a fucking job? I just use it [social media] to take the piss. That’s why I talk as much shite as I do. I was a bit apprehensive to put myself out on social media. I didn’t want to ruin the music by letting people know that I’m a fucking idiot [he chuckles]. There’s so much stuff on there [Instagram] that is very filtered down and polished up; not real things. Then there’s someone plunging their own shit in a toilet. People are gonna be like, oh that’s fucking different! That wasn’t my intention, that’s just unfortunately who I am as a person [he laughs].