Lewis Capaldi on unemployment, fame, and his unbridled love for music

Lewis Capaldi on unemployment, fame, and his unbridled love for music


Lewis Capaldi ­– the singer-songwriter who has brought us instant hits like ‘Bruises’ and ‘Rush’­ – has catapulted into the spotlight so fast you’d think he’d forgotten how to breathe.

“It would be typical that the first time I come to Australia is in the winter, but I’m excited,” he says. Australia, too, is excited for his run of shows this month, including an appearance at Splendour In The Grass.

Capaldi must have been born under a lucky star. It’s been just over a year since he released his debut EP Bloom, and since then life has become a massive whirlwind of tours, charts and acclaim. “It’s been mad,” he says. “Things have been very fast and very busy – my feet haven’t really touched the floor.

“But then, without this, I’d be unemployed, so this is good. I’d take this over being unemployed any day.”

Artists such as Capaldi are a wonder. He’s experienced an extremely rapid state of success and he’s only 21 years old – most of us didn’t have our heads screwed on this tightly at that age. Getting Capaldi to think back to even two years ago, he’d never envisioned being in this position today, with streams of his music well into the millions. “At this point two years ago I was doing music as a hobby,” he says. “At the risk of sounding like a dickhead, the transition from hobby to career was very seamless.

“There was never a point where I was like, ‘Okay now I’m going to make this my career – music’s been a hobby of mine since I was nine years old, part of my day-to-day life and eventually, my job.

“I would’ve been very happy to make enough money to pay rent. It was never something I thought would get me to New York, where I am now, about to play a headline show to over 600 people. It’s exciting but it’s very fleeting.”

Capaldi is very aware that it could all go away just as quickly as it arrived. “I’m just having a bloody good laugh,” he says. “If in a year’s time I’m working in a shop someway, I’ll look back on it and go, ‘That was a good laugh.’”

Capaldi has a genuine humility about him, one that’s translated into his heart-wrenching and unyielding music. What’s brilliant about Capaldi is that he sings with the experience and soul of someone four times his age, making it sound like he’s lived a life ten times over.

That the clarity and honesty within Capaldi’s music resonates with so many people is quite the surprise to him. “When I write songs – maybe less so now because I know there are people listening – I was writing [just] to write them,” he says. “You never expect for someone in Portugal, for example, to come up to you and say they’ve connected with a song as much as they have.

“Where people come up and say [about my music], ‘It’s got me through such a hard time,’ it’s a bit of me not knowing how to react. It’s still such a new thing.

“I don’t know how to articulate the gratitude I have when people do that, but when I’m writing new songs, it’s definitely something I think about, that I have an audience that will hear what I’m writing about.”

Up until this point the music was, for Capaldi, a reflection of himself. Now suddenly it’s out to be interpreted by the masses, and as he writes new material, his music becomes an entirely new shared experience.

“I don’t think you can afford to change too much,” he says. “It’s something I think about when I’m writing, but usually after. You can’t afford to think about it too much for the sake of your sanity.”

Music as a shared experience is the ultimate joy Capaldi says he could want from what he does. “That’s the best thing about it, that it becomes something that’s not just mine.”