Lewis Capaldi on new chart-topping album, mental health and that Netflix doc
Scottish music star Lewis Capaldi talks to Scene about his new chart-topping album, his mental health, the reaction to his Netflix documentary and more...
LEWIS Capaldi's music has dominated the airwaves and the charts, and his honest revelations about mental health have earned him a legion of supporters beyond the entertainment sphere.
And, following the release of the Netflix documentary Lewis Capaldi: How I'm Feeling Now in March this year, the Scottish singer-songwriter was lavished with more praise.
At just 26, he's a Grammy nominee and a Brit Award-winner, has released a chart-topping debut album and, in 2020, it was revealed that his track Someone You Loved was not only the best-selling single of 2019, but also the UK's longest-running Top 10 song of all time by a British artist.
Now, Capaldi's second album, Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent, has just hit Number One in the wake of its hits Forget Me and Wish You The Best.
However, speak to the Glaswegian musician and there is refreshingly not a hint of an ego present.
"It forced me again to address a lot of things within my life and within myself that I'm addressing and I'm still working out," he says of the recent Netflix documentary charting his career to-date.
"Even when the documentary came out, I didn't expect it to be as big of a thing, because I thought I'm just a singer. I'm not a Bieber or a Coldplay or an Ed Sheeran – I don't feel like there's a vested interest in my day to day life.
"I get left alone for the most part, which is lovely, I'm not complaining about that. If Harry Styles did a documentary I'd be like 'that makes sense, I'd love to watch that'. So when people reacted to it the way they did it was incredible."
The documentary has, he muses, helped him feel closer to his fans.
He explains: "There are way too many documentaries, and I say that as someone who has got one, so I was like 'We're entering a crowded space here'.
"I almost feel closer to people that listen to my music now because you've shared something with them. It feels like 'Okay you've seen like a side of me that up until that point, I was intentionally keeping away, family and all the rest of it'."
Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent was, for the most part, written in his parents' shed during lockdown. The album follows his 2019 debut album Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent, which emerged as the UK's biggest-seller of 2019 and 2020.
Additionally, the singer is also touring, heading to Australia and New Zealand in July, with August dates in the diary for the Reading and Leeds festivals and a sold-out visit to Belfast's Vital in September.
"It was a weird time," he says of lockdown.
"I had some shows planned up until October 2020 and then I was going to go travelling for a bit and chill out and look about and see things. Then obviously that wasn't the case, I was just in my parent's gaff."
He adds: "It's weird for everyone, it was a global pandemic, we don't really have many of those. It was bizarre. I don't know how it impacted the writing, I guess it just made me feel like 'Oh, I have to do this now'.
"It was the only thing that I could do really was sit in and write, so that's why a lot of the stories come from a very similar place. I probably would never have written about my mental health, having not been in that situation where you ruminate for so long and there's nothing to do and everyone's in the house.
"That's when you start to actually address some things because you're forced to, so I think that's been a factor."
Last year he revealed that he has Tourette's syndrome, and had previously received Botox treatment in his shoulder to help control his tics.
Opening up about the diagnosis during an Instagram Live, he explained he was still learning about the condition, which causes a person to make involuntary sounds and movements.
He spoke openly in the Netflix documentary about his mental health, and when asked about it, doesn't mince his words.
"I was worried with the documentary as well about it becoming, because documentaries, at the end of the day, are like propaganda," he says.
"There is this weird thing of being like 'look how amazing this person is' so I really tried not to get involved in editing it, you just need to let it be because otherwise you can smell it a mile off.
"The thing with mental health in the music industry is it's a massive thing and people are talking about it way more now."
He cites his appearance on Steven Bartlett's Diary of a CEO podcast as "the first time I've ever felt like people understood what I was talking about when I was talking about mental health because everything I'd seen online or spoken about by other people, I just couldn't relate to what they were saying.
"And that's not me saying that other people are being disingenuous, I've just never really seen someone pinpoint what I was talking about, or what I felt like at least until I said it and then I had other people online, being like 'Oh, I do this exact same thing as he does', it was almost therapeutic for me to be like 'Oh, I'm not mental, other people are experiencing this'.
"The pool of people in the world who are going to make a documentary about their mental health is so small. Don't look to celebrities for your kinship in your struggles with mental health, it's the people around you that going to understand what you're going through more than anything else.
"That's what I found, rather selfishly I guess, what was essentially an extremely expensive therapy session in making the documentary. I am not special at all in my suffering and that's a very comforting thing."
Asked about the new album and his thought process going into it, he's clear on the messaging: "I just want to write good songs. I think that's my aim all the time."
"Some of the reactions to some of the songs has been really special. I'm glad to have it out. I didn't chart a musical path, I just let all the songs be what they were going to be and that's why I think you get that the classic 'me moaning about relationships'. Stuff about mental health, and you get a song that is very 80s.
"So it's a bit of a smorgasbord. I didn't really have any musical itch I wanted to scratch in terms of style, I just wanted to write good songs."
:: Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent is out now. Lewis Capaldi plays Vital in Belfast on September 3 (sold-out).