Scottish singer and songwriter Callum Beattie releases his debut album, People Like Us, on May 15. The title came from a conversation Beattie had with his brother at a pub while explaining that he wanted to write songs and play to a large audience for the rest of his life. His brother claimed that “things like that don’t happen to people like us.” Indeed, it has happened to people like Callum Beattie.
Beattie’s music is raw, emotive and powerful – not only in his lyrics but also in his compositions. The album focuses on his personal journey; including his childhood, and moving from Edinburgh to London to Berlin and back. His latest single, “Ghosts In The Dark” came out today. It’s a melancholy ballad reminding listeners that no matter who or where we are, we’re all human beings with desires, hopes, and aspirations.
On People Like Us, Beattie said: “Firstly all the songs I’ve written on this record are autobiographical and hold insights into my life and upbringing. ‘Some Heroes’ a tribute song to my auld man for raising me. ‘Therapy’ a song about seeing your therapist a little bit more than you should have. All these songs I hold very dear to my heart and I hope other people can now hold them in the same way.”
Discover more about the personal stories behind Callum Beattie’s music, his recent participation in Sofathon Singalong, benefitting Music Venue Trust for grassroots venues in the UK, and what he’s most looking forward to when performing again.
Your latest single, “Ghosts in the Dark,” is a tender and touching ballad. What’s the story behind it?
“Ghosts in the Dark” is basically a song about feeling lost. Sometimes we are at our loneliest when we have people all around us and the song is really a metaphor for that. Getting lost in the humdrum of everyday life and living happens to the best of us.
“Ghosts in the Dark” is from your upcoming debut album People Like Us, which is about your collective experiences personally, and from moving to London to Berline, and back again. Which of these experiences has had the most profound effect on your songwriting?
I know it sounds corny, but I think they all have had a profound impact on my writing. This whole album is straight from my heart and is the culmination of over ten years of hard work, so I can’t overemphasize the importance of it to me. All my hopes and dreams are wrapped up in the record, and I hope that comes through to listeners, and I hope the emotions I felt all through the creation of it come through to fans and listeners.
What is your songwriting and recording process like?
It’s varied, to be honest. I’ve been very fortunate to have written with some amazing co-writers, but I’ve also written many of my best songs in complete solitude, so I have no hard and fast rules when it comes to writing. It’s a case of whenever and wherever the mood takes me! Being able to adapt to different circumstances (I believe) makes me a better writer, so I always try to stay open to new ideas. I write with both piano and guitar, so the process can differ greatly depending on how the tunes come to me.
You worked with Michael Ochs and David Jürgens on your upcoming debut album, People Like Us. What were those collaborations like for you, and how did they influence your songwriting for the album?
It’s always interesting to broaden your experience and work with people from different walks of life!
You try not to focus on all the great things people have done in the past, and just try to focus on what’s happening in the session you are in. I think all the writers I have worked with have had a huge influence on my writing, as I’m always learning. No matter how good a writer you are, there is always more to learn, so I try to always focus on getting the absolute most out of those relationships I am very fortunate to have.
You recently participated in the Sofathon Singalong, benefitting Music Venue Trust in the UK. Can you share with us your participation in the project, and if it will continue?
Of course, it was as part of Gigs in Scotland/King Tuts and was obviously raising funds for the Music Venue Trust. Those venues we were supporting are the very lifeblood of my career and are so important to everyone involved in music, from the promoters to the artists to the people buying the tickets.
During these extremely strange times, they need all the support we can possibly offer.
The one positive that’s come from this hellish situation is that it makes you realize how we can all support one another and do great things. I’ve loved the pulling together aspect of it, and I just hope that mindset continues long after the virus has passed. I’d love to be involved in more of those shows, yes.
Your experiences growing up have a tremendous effect on your music. Which genre of music and its artist(s) has influenced you the most?
That’s really true, the biggest influence in my musical upbringing was my dad, who introduced me to vinyl. Listening to music with him was such a big part of growing up, and it really sowed the seeds for me to become an artist. Even now, thinking back to those times is really evocative and brings back very warm and fuzzy feelings. I can remember the smell of the records as they were removed from the sleeves and the sound of the needle hitting them. We were financially very poor, but those experiences more than made up for it. You can’t buy that stuff. We listened to lots of varied music, but two key figures would have been David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen.
What do you hope listeners and fans resonate with your music?
For me, if the listeners and fans didn’t resonate with my music, there would be no point in doing it.
The hope that I can connect with the hearts of listeners is what keeps me going every day.
When times are tough, that’s my motivation. It’s all about creating that connection and my purpose in creating music is to use it as a medium to connect with other people. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than someone listening to my music and getting something from it that helps them through a certain situation. Love and emotion is what it’s all about.
Although gigs aren’t happening right now, what’s the first thing you’re looking forward to at your first gig coming out of quarantine?
I just miss people! The energy of a real live gig is just something that you can’t replicate.
I can’t wait to be able to look at a crowd and see their eyes, and feel that connection – what could be better than that? My dates have been rescheduled for December, but hopefully, I will have things happening in between. I miss hugging like nothing else – if I have an addiction, it’s that! There are worse things! The lockdown has also meant I have written a lot of new material for my second album, so I’m also really looking forward to letting people hear those new songs.
Who is in your top five bucket list of artists you’d love to collaborate with?
Stereophonics, Coldplay, Springsteen, The Killers, Rod Stewart