Hav­ing a laugh and do­ing it him­self

Lewis Ca­paldi Nov 10 and 11, Bar­row­land, Glas­gow, Dec 8 Iron­works, In­ver­ness

The Herald on Sunday - Sunday Herald Life - - Culture - By Na­dine McBay

The video to Grace, an up­lift­ing, sure-fire hit for Lewis Ca­paldi, fea­tures the West Loth­ian singer­song­writer pole-danc­ing to a room of unim­pressed pun­ters. When the cho­rus kicks in, the dead­pan 21-year-old is joined by a group of barely-dressed male per­form­ers who rip­ple and writhe around him. Smiles be­gin to crack the faces of the men watch­ing be­fore they shower the troupe in cash. Despite a lack of grace­ful dance moves, Ca­paldi is used to win­ning over au­di­ences.

The video is witty, re­fresh­ing and fun – traits shared by Ca­paldi who, despite hav­ing had “an in­cred­i­ble, men­tal” year re­mains a down-to-earth mu­si­cian used to work­ing in his par­ents’ shed in East Whit­burn, just a few miles away from Bath­gate.

When Bruises, his first re­lease, fi­nally dropped in March last year, the emo­tional track went on to make Ca­paldi the fastest ever un­signed artist to reach 25 mil­lion plays on Spo­tify.

Now signed to Vir­gin/EMI, his new track swaps the de­jec­tion of Bruises for loved-up tri­umphal­ism. Grace is about, he says, “be­ing with some­one who makes any neg­a­tive shit go­ing on in your life feel ir­rel­e­vant”.

Ca­paldi is cur­rently in Lon­don on a pho­to­shoot, a part of the job he says is “not for him”. When the record com­pany told him they’d be need­ing to film a video for Grace, he felt dread. A so­lu­tion was to make it fun.

“The record com­pany asked some di­rec­tors to come up with ideas, but none of them were ridicu­lous enough for me,” he says.

“I had been watch­ing Napolean Dy­na­mite, and at the end of it he does this dance which comes from nowhere. With this song, I don’t think any­one was ex­pect­ing me to do this and it’s prob­a­bly the most ridicu­lous thing I’ve done.”

A light-hearted at­ti­tude also in­formed Ca­paldi’s ap­proach to open­ing for es­tab­lished heavy hit­ters Rag N Bone Man and Sam Smith on their re­cent tours.

Per­form­ing to seas of thou­sands was quite a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence to play­ing the mod­est rooms of the cen­tral belt pub cir­cuit, some­thing Ca­paldi has done since the age of 12 as a solo artist and as part of “lots of indie bands”.

“It was pretty much been eight solid years of play­ing to no-one,” says Ca­paldi. “I spent most of my time in Bath­gate with a pop­u­la­tion of 16,000, and the O2 Arena has a ca­pac­ity of 20,000.”

He con­tin­ues: “I was look­ing out into all these peo­ple and telling them how ner­vous I was. Peo­ple seemed to con­nect with that. It was such a mov­ing

ex­pe­ri­ence and I feel like I’ve come out the other side a lot stronger in terms of what it takes to per­form to a room of that size.

“I thought that, even if I never get to do it my­self, to be the main act, that watch­ing Rory [Gra­ham aka Rag N Bone Man] and Sam do their thing ev­ery night was a use­ful ex­pe­ri­ence. They would play long sets and would al­ways smash it, it was in­cred­i­ble.”

Now Ca­paldi is do­ing it him­self, be­gin­ning an ex­ten­sive head­line UK and Euro­pean later this month. “Peo­ple ask how I’ve man­aged to do this and I’m like, ‘I’ve just been mak­ing it up as I go along’,” he says, not­ing that an al­bum is due in spring.

“Noth­ing I’ve done in the past two years has made any sense, so I’ve tried not to make any sense out of it. I may as well have a laugh with it and hold on for dear life.”

Grace is out now via Vir­gin/EMI

West Loth­ian singer­song­writer Lewis Ca­palsi

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