Interview: Saint Raymond
Callum Burrows, aka Saint Raymond, has exploded since we last spoke to him nearly a year ago. He’s toured with Ed Sheeran, his ‘Young Blood’ EP reached number 4 in the charts, and the title track was named Zane Lowe’s “Hottest Record in the World”. Now he’s off on a sold out tour of his own, his new album’s penciled for a summer release and, somehow, he’s still the same open, down to earth guy we met last year.
2014 was a phenomenal year for you, do you have any highlights?
These last few months have been such a whirlwind, all these moments kind of blur into one. I think there’s so many individual highlights, like the Ed Sheeran tour, getting play the O2 Arena four times. But for me, there’s always something special about hometown shows. I did a sold out show at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham which was, I think, one of my favourite gigs of all time. But it’s hard to pick one because it’s been such an amazing year.
You’ve got a sold out tour coming up, are you looking forward to going back on the road?
I’ve literally been counting down the days ‘til I get back out on the road. I just love the whole tour experience of getting to travel around places, and it’s kind of cool for me as well because I’m at an age where a lot of my friends have gone to university, so going on the road means I get to see them and hang out, which is cool. Although it still baffles me that I can go to places like Glasgow and people are turning up to see me. It freaks me out a little bit!
After the success of your EPs, you finally have an album coming out! Has it been a long process?
I kind of officially started writing when I was 16, but there were songs I wrote when I was 14 that have cropped up for the album, which is kind of cool. So yeah, lots of material to choose from, and it’s been a fun few years of writing new tracks for the album.
What was the inspiration for the album?
I’ve always written about real life. But for me it’s about encapsulating an atmosphere, I really love that festival sound, and the experience of going to a festival where you just have an amazing few days with your mates and forget about everything else. Things like being on Twitter all the time, which I’m a fool with, I think I do it too much, and it’s nice to have those times when you just get away.
I bet Twitter’s a different place now your following’s exploded!
I still can’t believe it. The notifications and stuff are just crazy. But I’ve never changed, or been ignorant of people, I always reply to as many people as I can and have conversations. Because I think the way social media works these days is that people value artists not just for the music, but for them as a human being as well. So I think it’s important you don’t get cut off that link.
Do you have any advice for other young people looking to establish themselves as musicians?
Social media really is key these days. But there’s a balance between being annoying on Twitter and just trying to promote yourself, there’s those people who cross the line, and I know that’s been me at times.
And you need to just go out and play gigs too. I spent three or four years gigging in bars where no-one would be there, and those are the gigs where you learn something about yourself, and discover yourself as an artist… If there’s 10 people you should still play like there’s 10,000: because those 10 people still deserve a really good show.
You said some of the songs you revisited on your album, you’d written when you were 14. Was it painful to go back and change them, or to cut them entirely?
Yeah, I think there’s songs at the time that you get really excited about and think are the best things ever, you just get carried away in the moment. But then it works the other way as well. There’s songs where you just think ‘that’s rubbish’, and you come back two years later and you see what was missing. The problem’s really that half of you thinks of all those days you spent in the studio writing a tune and nothing will happen with it. But if you didn’t write that song, then you might not have written that next song which will be on the album. So I think it’s one big learning curve.
Does that learning curve affect how you see other bands?
It’s really hard as a musician to not become a snob, and not go to a gig and say ‘oh his snares or toms sound rubbish’ kind of thing, but I’ve always made sure I haven’t been that person. It’s weird anyway though, because a lot of people won’t like an artist because they are ‘pop’ or whatever, but I’ve always been against that. If a song’s good you should like it. So I try to avoid all that stuff and just enjoy the music.
The flip side of being a music snob though, must be that you appreciate a wider range of bands. Are any getting you excited right now?
Yeah man, quite a few. There’s a Scottish band actually, Model Aeroplanes, they’re really exciting. Prides are another one. I think it helps that the mainstream world is taking on guitar music a lot more, so people are feeling a bit encouraged that they’re not going to be pigeon-holed as ‘just another indie band’ kind of thing, so yeah, it’s an exciting time for music!
Saint Raymond will hit Glasgow’s O2 ABC on Sunday, 8th February. Tickets are available here.