To say 2019 is off to a strong start for Lewis Capaldi would be an understatement, but for those still yet to come across the chart-topping Scottish singer, allow us to bring you up to speed.
Fresh from his Critics’ Choice nomination at this year’s Brit Awards, Lewis went on to top the UK singles chart for a whopping seven consecutive weeks with his hit Someone You Loved, putting his upcoming debut effort, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, among the year’s most highly-anticipated albums.
A month before his first full-length album has even been released, Lewis has also announced a string of arena shows in 2020, for which he made headlines when it was revealed that special measures were being put in place so that his fans with anxiety and other emotional difficulties – who ordinarily might be putting off attending his shows – can feel safe and comfortable in the crowd.
Already winning over millions with his music, Lewis’ refreshing candour and playfulness on social media has also made him very popular online, so we were pleased to say he was on fine form when he spoke to HuffPost UK about his mammoth year so far.
“It’s just been fucking weird man,” he told us, of Someone You Loved’s huge chart success (the first of what would be many expletives to come). “Do you know what? It’s been fucking stupid.
“I think, I’ve always been one to say ‘you can’t take it all seriously’, and if anything, this has all reaffirmed that for me. You can’t take it all seriously, because it’s not fucking normal.
“You’re watching [the song] grow and grow until it becomes bigger than… it doesn’t even feel like it’s my song. Do you know what I mean? It feels like someone else released the song and I’m just going around covering it at every radio station that I go to. I think if anyone says they expect that, they’re absolute bullshitting bastards, because it’s just fucking so, so weird... it’s so strange.”
We’re speaking to Lewis just a few days after his song has topped the chart for the seventh week in a row, something he admits to feeling “detached” from.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s my [achievement],” he reveals. “Maybe that will come later, maybe when the song’s dropped out of the top 40, and my subsequent singles all fail to chart and I get dropped. Maybe that’ll make me realise how big it was.
“But when you live it, it’s very weird, because everything’s happening at 100mph. You have to make a conscious effort to really enjoy it, and I’m doing that, but seven weeks at number one, it’s weird. It doesn’t feel real.
“You see the other songs that have all been up there, Despacito and all that… and fucking hell, I still live with my mum, do you know what I mean? These people are all fucking legit singers and I just don’t feel like I’m in that world.”
To those who have only become familiar with Lewis in the weeks since Someone You Loved has been number one, it might look like he came from nowhere and suddenly dominated the charts, and still aged 22, you’d be forgiven for branding him an overnight success.
In fact, Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent is more than a decade in the making, with Lewis first starting to gig when he was still just 11, performing covers of fellow Scottish acts Paolo Nutini and The View around local pubs.
At 19, he’d already been discovered by a management company, who were impressed with his covers on YouTube and SoundCloud, which led to the release of his 2017 track Bruises, which wound up topping Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist in the States, earning him the distinction of being the streaming platform’s fastest artist to reach 25 million streams without a label.
And yet, grafting to get to the position he’s in now for half his life, even Lewis himself concedes it’s been hard to keep up with how fast things are moving for him.
“it does feel sudden, even to me, who’s been living up for the last fucking 11 years of his fucking life,” he jokes. “So you can’t blame people for thinking it’s a new, sudden thing, to some people that’s how it looks.
“Whatever. As long as I’m here now, who cares? As long as you’re listening I don’t care if you think I started playing gigs yesterday, as long as you like the tunes…”
So, now that he finally has the success he’s been working so hard towards, how is he finding life in the spotlight?
“Um… it’s alright,” he remarks. “On social media and things like that, I talk about shitting and my pubes and all this stuff, and people don’t care. Again, you can’t take this all seriously, otherwise you’ll go fucking mental.
“As soon as this all starts to become your normality, as soon as being in any sort of spotlight becomes your normality, I think you’re in a very dangerous position. Because it’s not going to be there forever, do you know what I mean? And imagine getting so accustomed to being in that space that when it goes away, your new normal has fucked off?
“I think you have to just remember that none of this is, like… real, if you will. That maybe sounds a bit dismissive, but it’s all very fleeting. It shouldn’t become your normality. Every time I get the chance to go up home, I go home, do you know what I mean? To my mum’s house. That’s what your normal is, and that’s definitely what my normal is.”
Indeed, while many people in his position would already be letting success go to their heads, Lewis’ attitude is considerably more rooted in reality.
He explains, matter-of-factly: “This is thing, the way the music industry works and stuff, I’ll be lucky if my second album or even this album, if it does well. Things move so fast nowadays, you’re lucky if you get four years tops, in music. And I think you should go into it knowing that and enjoying it for all that.
“As long as you go into it knowing that ‘this probably isn’t going to last forever, let’s enjoy it while it does’, I think that’s a good space to be in.”
And enjoy it he definitely is, most notably at his first time at the Brit Awards in February (“it was class, man”, he recalls), where he was recognised in the Critics’ Choice category, which was won by fellow singer/songwriter Sam Fender.
Interestingly, though, Lewis says that his favourite parts of his job are the more “mundane” tasks, which make it feel more like work to him.
“Say when you get up to do morning TV, I find it quite amusing,” he reveals. “Like, you have to get up at 5 or 6am, and you’re fucking shattered… and I quite like that… I quite enjoy that a lot of it does feel like I’m working, it feels like a job, and all the showbiz-type stuff, feels very quick and very brief.
“But maybe that’s just me saying that, maybe if you asked someone that was actually a proper singer, they would tell you otherwise.”
He continues: “For me, I quite enjoy what I find to be the normality. I love when we’re doing radio liners where you have to go ‘Hello, I’m Lewis Capaldi, and you’re listening to…’, whatever it is, and you have to do 400 of them for all these different countries, and then you have to sit there and record every single one of them. I think it’s quite funny.
“Like, to imagine the biggest people, like Drake and Ed Sheeran, you can imagine them sitting there and doing that at some point in their career, and I think it grounds it all… I think we can put it all up on a pedestal at some points, and it takes all that away, and brings it all crashing down to earth. And I quite enjoy that. I find it quite funny.”
He adds: “I’m not going to sit here and go, ‘going to the Brit Awards wasn’t fun’, because it was fucking fun. I got steaming, and it was a good laugh, do you know what I mean? So I’m not going to say ‘oh you know, it’s not really my scene’, there was free booze there, it was my scene. It was mad!
“But this is the thing as well... [going to the Brits] was my most showbiz moment, right? But even then, just before we were about to get out of the car… the car before us was Little Mix or someone, and people outside were like ‘fucking yes, man, I love Little Mix’! And then I open my car door, and it was like ‘...there’s that fella’.
“What would be perceived as a very showbiz moment, just came crashing down, and I fucking love that, I think it’s hilarious.”
Lewis says his family and friends (who he says are mostly “pals from school and up the road”) are responsible for keeping him grounded, noting: “In my family, we kind of show affection by slagging one another off. And it’s the same with my friends.”
“The minute you think you’re important in any way, shape or form,” he continues, “you’re in a bad, bad fucking way. If I went back to West Lothian, my fucking small town in Scotland, thinking I was the big ‘I am’, or thinking I was in any way important, my friends and my family would let me know that I absolutely was not. So I don’t have to worry about that at all.”
There’s a pause, at which point he apologises for “belching on the phone to you there”, before he adds: “Like, if I came back wearing a hat – a hat, like a fedora or something – my friends would never let me hear the end of it, do you know what I mean? Even mundane stuff like that.
“A good-natured slagging will always stop you getting ideas above your station. And that keeps you right.
“I feel like as long as you’re sound, people will be the same, and you’ll be alright. Don’t be a wanker, and you’ll be fine. If you operate with that at the forefront of your mind, you’ll be alright.”
Lewis Capaldi’s debut album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent is released on May 17.