On the radar: Lewis Capaldi

Lewis Capaldi

Just recently, kids up and down the country have been sliding around in puddles of spilt beer, screaming along to Lewis Capaldi’s hefty, emotional pop songs. Tracks such as his streaming monster Bruises (84 million Spotify plays and counting) might not seem suited to such activities, but the 21-year-old Scot has turned into something of a live superpower. In just over 12 months since his debut London headline show at the 100-capacity Waiting Room, he’s graduated to a sold out 02 Shepherd’s Bush Empire and two nights at Barrowlands in Glasgow, not far from Bathgate where he grew up. “The last time I saw a gig there I got a fine for peeing outside,” says Capaldi, sitting down with Music Week during a rare spare moment. “Since we released Bruises [in 2017] it’s felt like a barrage of amazing stuff happening. I can’t put my finger on it.”

The year began with a spot on the BBC Sound Of 2018 list and he’s since won a place on Radio 1’s Brit List, too. After releasing Bruises independently, Capaldi – who, if you’re wondering, is distantly related to the former Dr Who, Peter Capaldi – was picked up by Universal Germany, and works with Virgin EMI in the UK and Capitol in America. “It’s amazing,” he says. “I feel like someone will tell me at some point, ‘Right you, you’ve had your fill, that’s enough.’ It’s just weird!”

The self-deprecating Capaldi began gigging aged 12, and did his first co-writing session at 19. He likes a joke, but this is all he’s ever wanted. “I don’t imagine other labels would let their artists talk as much shite as I do. They’re letting me make the music I want to make.” Capaldi is referring to his Twitter feed (example: ‘I love that bread is like a wee container for ur food that u can eat’), but there’s a more serious narrative unfolding here. This young songwriter has come of age in 2018. “I feel more confident in myself, what I do and who I am,” he says. “It’s a cliché but I do, before I was living in a small town and kicking about.”

Now, his name is written on the stairwell of legendary Glasgow venue King Tut’s, part of a list that stretches from Oasis to Arctic Monkeys to Paolo Nutini. “You had to be fucking loud for people to even hear your songs,” he says, remembering his days singing in pubs. “Because I did it for so long, I’m used to people not giving a solitary fuck and me having to win them over.” There can be little argument that Capaldi has been doing just that, and he’s looking forward to more of the same, starting with channelling his innermost emotions into a debut album that’s due early next year. “I would hope that people have connected with the songs,” he finishes. “Doing this keeps me out of unemployment, which is also lovely.”

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