In July 2018, we spoke with Lewis Capaldi as he began his first headline tour in the United States. Now, the singer has hit #1 with his track, “Someone You Loved,” on the Top 40. Read on to learn where he started and how he got there.
As soon as you meet or listen to 21-year-old Capaldi, there’s one thing that is extremely apparent: he exudes passion. As soon as he’s asked about music, he immediately opens up, sharing details about his life as a Scottish singer-songwriter. With a history of music, Capaldi revealed that he’s been writing songs since he was 12, performing for small bars and pubs since he was old enough to be up on stage.
“I got into music because my older brother was always in bands when I was growing up. So I was essentially copying him. He’s six years older than me. I was 9 and he was probably 15, so he was 15 and because he started to play guitar and be in bands, I just like almost in a bratty way, ‘if he’s going to learn guitar, I want to learn guitar.’ So I started practicing guitar, playing and then writing songs, again, because he was writing songs. They were fucking terrible. He started playing gigs, so I started playing gigs at 12. We used to go always to bars and I’d have to have hidden in the toilets at pubs and then play my set before I got kicked out. I did that for eight years until I was 20,” he said.
Growing up, Capaldi would write songs based off of what was popular at the time, what he liked the most and what he resonated with as both a listener and an artist. With influences across the board, Capaldi listened to almost everything but continuously fell back on pop music. His extensive listening history caused him to draw influences from everything under the sun, including mainstream pop, indie-rock and even hard rock.
Lewis Capaldi elaborated, “When I was 12, there was a band called Busted and they were like a kind of One Direction with guitars. Kind of like 5 Seconds of Summer. And [I listened to] my brother’s band and Blink-182, so that went for a while. When I was 9, I was listening to a lot of heavier music than I was supposed to be because I was copying my brother. He was listening to Slipknot and Avenged Sevenfold. When I turned 12, that’s when I started listening to Blink-182 and Busted came along. They were making pop music, but with guitars and I thought that was so cool. When I started playing shows, Ben Howard was a huge influence on me.
[Howard’s] music has gotten less and less commercial and I think that’s what he wants to do. His first album was very acoustic and lyrical and folky, that was kind of a big influence on me. He’s a guy with an acoustic guitar and he’s writing all of these songs that are kind of poppy and they ended up on the Charts in the UK. There’s also a Scottish artist called Paulo Nutini, he kind of had an amazing first album that was pop music. Then he went away for three years and then came back with an amazing album, it was folky and Scottish and it was just amazing.
I didn’t start listening to full-on pop music until I was almost 18. So if it was in the charts, not the charts like the album charts, but if it was the singles charts, I would completely shun it because I didn’t think it was cool. When I was younger, I listened to like Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys and indie-rock music. […] So now I’m more into indie-rock bands, which is cool.”
Capaldi’s own style of music has launched him into the public spotlight, drawing major label attention, performances around the world and even a few of the top music festivals in the world.
“Festivals, in general, are amazing experiences because it’s cool to see people walk past and you can see the moment when they hear you sing and they want to walk over and stay,” he said. “The real success is pulling those people in and seeing them from a distance perk their ears up and walk over.”
While festivals bring a large crowd, Capaldi has also performed to thousands, opening for artists like Niall Horan and Sam Smith.
“I say this in a few interviews, but Niall Horan is the nicest guy I’ve met in music, just the way that he carries himself is ridiculous. He’s just so nice. Sam Smith is the same. When [Smith] performs, it’s like a two-hour-long show and he’s just smashing all of it vocally. He’s definitely someone who I can learn from too. His show is just to a T every single night. For me, I don’t really move around a lot on stage yet, so headline shows are still a little bit weird for me because I’m not used to doing them yet.
I’m used to sitting up there with a guitar and trying to make people like me and enjoy my music. For that as well, [Niall and Sam] are really good at making it a show. And there need to be aspects of a show. And mine right now is very much more a gig. So hopefully at some point, I’ll add those elements in. Maybe the next American show. For the time being, I’m going to be staying put,” Capaldi said.
Read the rest of our feature with Lewis Capaldi here.
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Check out the latest video from Lewis Capaldi for “Bruises” here.