Calum Jones (19) is an engaging young singer-songwriter from the Highlands of Scotland. His lyrics are emotive and thought-provoking as his musical style is drawn from folk, indie, pop, traditional & Celtic rock influences. He performs at festivals regularly and is well known for winning over crowds with his enthusiastic banter, sing-along choruses and positive energy.
In our Q&A, Calum talks about his journey as a musician, from his favourite performances to the creation of ‘Ready or Not’ as well as his plans for the future. His single ‘Ready or Not’ will be released tomorrow, Friday 18th of October.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician?
The live shows are definitely my favourite, but I love everything that goes along with being a musician, writing new music, recording, meeting fans and collaborating with other artists. All of it helps me find new ideas for songs and new ways to work within the music industry.
What was your favourite performance so far?
It’s really difficult to choose a favourite show, I’ve played so many over the past few years. One that really stuck with me was when I supported Glasgow’s Brownbear at the drouthy cobbler in Elgin. It was a really intimate gig – the crowd was inches away from me and the interaction was incredible! That day was when I found the confidence to involve the crowd and it really helped me take that next step into becoming a performer rather than just a singer-songwriter. Another one of my favourites was when I headlined the Free-Range stage at this year’s Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival. The crowd were totally up for a party and by the time I’d finished the first song, there were people queued up out the gates to the stage trying to get in. It was amazing having so many people dancing along and singing my choruses back to me.
Who are your musical influences?
I’ve got a really wide musical taste and I listen to everything from rock to jazz, folk to traditional music so influences come from loads of different genres. Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters are a huge influence on my writing, and I relate to him a lot as I also came from being a drummer to fronting my own shows. My current playlist includes Foo Fighters, Hunter & The Bear, George Ezra, Freya Ridings, Tracy Chapman, John Mayer and too many more to list.
What is your favourite part about your new single?
My favourite thing about the new single is definitely how it has taken a step towards the new rockier style that I’m starting to write in. It has a lot more pace and drive to it as well as incorporating a more guitar-driven feel. I feel like this is the perfect single to bridge the gap into the edgier route that I’m planning to take next year.
What inspired the creation of ‘Ready or Not’?
I wrote ‘Ready or Not’ during a particularly creative point in my writing this year. I’d been writing a lot regularly and was coming up with ideas for at least 5 or 6 choruses a day. When I nailed the guitar lick for the track I knew that it could definitely go somewhere and finished it within the hour. It was a very natural song for me to write and I think that definitely helped to get the feel right.
How has personal experience influenced your writing?
I would say my writing does come from a pretty personal place and how I’m feeling at the time definitely impacts on the tonality of the song. If there’s a specific topic that I’m passionate about at the time then it will definitely end up being incorporated.
What is your writing process?
My process varies depending on where I start. Some days the music comes first, I could come up with a guitar lick or a drum part that I like and then build the song around that. There are other times where the lyrics come first and then I’d find a way to write music that helps support the message and really get the emotion of the lyrics across. I’ve got a document on my laptop filled with lyrics ideas that I jot down as I come up with them. I drop them in if I feel like something fits the song I’m working on.
What are your plans after this release? Any exciting performances or other releases coming up?
After ‘Ready or Not’ is released I have another few singles lined up to come out across the end of this year and into the start of 2020. There are also a few lives shows dotted about in local music bars throughout the winter months. As the festival season has just come to a close, things are starting to relax a little and it’s time to settle down and start writing again.
What advice would you give to other young musicians out there?
The best piece of advice I could give is to make sure that whatever it is you’re doing with your music enjoy every minute of it. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable or limited in what you’re doing with your music because then you can’t really give it you’re all. And if you love it never give up, keep pushing forward a little bit at a time.
(Bonus advice: always try to include the question in your answer. It really helps!)