Last time we spoke with British singer-songwriter Calum Scott, he shared the inspiration behind his single “Heaven”, his special collaboration with 4 Southeast Asian artists for their own respective versions of the song as well as how much he’s changed as an artist since his “Britain’s Got Talent” days.
Recently, we got the opportunity to speak with the singer again along with one of his collaborators, actress and singer Diana Danielle who represented Malaysia on the song “Heaven”. In this interview, the two artists shared which lyrics from their duet means the most to them and why.
1. Could you tell us more about the collaboration with Diana Danielle?
Calum: Diana and I are on the same label, Universal Music, and I have always had a strong relationship with Asia. Asia has been such a supportive loyal fan base for me. The support in media has been incredible across TV and radio and publications. Not only to mention the fans who have been incredible. So, I just wanted to give back, you know. I took this opportunity with “Heaven” to shortlist some artists on the label in Southeast Asia.
We picked four incredible artists to create four very unique versions of the song, and Diana has brought such a beautiful magic to this song and kind of has just made it grow and change in a way that is just so beautiful. I didn’t see it coming when I wrote the song. I didn’t think, “Oh this might become a duet or maybe at one point in the future it might have this other life”. I didn’t think, I just wrote the song and then Diana’s just brought this beauty to it that I’m so fond of, and so glad to work with such a talented and well celebrated lady in Malaysia.
2. “Heaven” was such a pleasant surprise because fans got to hear not 1 but 5 versions of the song. How do you usually know if a song needs another voice on it?
Calum: I know when I wrote the song, it was kind of just, free from the pressures of writing an album, and I just got to enjoy writing music, which is rare because in this industry, you’re working towards something. And Diana knows that all too well. It’s very rare, you get to be able to do it, just for the love of it, because of course what we do is a hobby first and foremost, we love what we do, but when you become an artist, then you start working towards goals. I think when I wrote “Heaven”, it didn’t have a goal. It was just me writing the song because I love writing music, and so I didn’t think too hard, I didn’t think this could be a duet, I didn’t think that this is going to be a single, I just kind of wanted to write and let it just pour out of my heart.
When we discussed with the label about making the song a duet, I still didn’t think, “Oh, I could hear it being a duet”. I was just kind of interested and excited to see what would happen. When we gave the song to those four artists, and we started receiving the songs back, I was just like, oh my God, this feels like it was written to be a duet. That’s the really exciting thing about music is that it can take all shapes and forms and how you would see in one lane, it suddenly starts to grow and change. I think what Diana has done to this song is just add this new element to the song and a new layer.
It becomes something slightly different. I think that’s the power of magic. The magic of music is that it just creates, it changes form and changes into this brand-new thing and Diana’s voice on the song is incredible. She sings with such sincerity and such authenticity. It really feels that it comes from our heart. That’s what I always want to do, I want to work with other artists that have that real passion, you know, and I think you can hear it a mile away that Diane is incredibly passionate. And this comes across in the music.
3. (To Diana) How was your reaction when you found out you were going to be on a song with Calum Scott?
Diana: I took it calmly. It was something fun, and then suddenly, it becomes real. It transpired into this larger than life project. So of course, I grabbed on the opportunity, although I was like shaking while everything was happening because when the label actually told me and broke the news like, “Okay, how about an opportunity to have a collaboration with Calum?”
I was like, “I know I don’t have many Calums in my life but which one are you talking about?” Because it almost felt like it was not real. Like which Calum, which one? So, yeah that was the reaction, and then I came back to Earth, and I thought, okay, you know what, I really have to work hard on this. I can’t let myself down, and I don’t want to let Callum down. Hearing what Calum said today just makes me want to cry because it still feels surreal. I haven’t met you (Calum) yet, so it almost feels unreal.
4. So you were literally in “Heaven” when you heard the news. For the both of you, what’s one line from the song that means the most to you and why?
Calum: I think that for me personally, I always gravitate to a song when the first lyric brings you in. For example, for me like, with “You are the Reason”, ‘there goes my heartbeat, cause you are the reason’. It’s just such a beautiful way to pull people into the song. I think it’s the same with “Heaven”, “I used to count the stars in the sky, now I count the ones in your eyes.” We look towards the sky, and we say, ‘oh my God, this is beautiful’, and you know, what a beautiful creation, and then to be able to then take that power and put it in somebody’s eyes, and just to. Say all those things to somebody, you know when you’re looking at them. It just feels so magical to have that with somebody you know, so for me it’s just the opening line of the song. It’s beautiful.
Diana: I never intended to understand this song as a mom, but with music, you get to interpret however way you want. Actually, when I was trying to remember which lyrics that I love, I was about to cry, like a moment ago, I was like “no, no, this is not it”. But, “take me higher than I’ve been, got me questionin’ everything I knew”, as a mom, your kids will take you – again I’m going to start breaking down – but they will take you higher than you will ever realise you’re capable of. And they make you question about the decisions you make and your life choices. So that’s why this song hits me differently because when I look at my kids, it’ll makes you question and challenge the things you do and it makes you become a better person and more responsible.
5. Calum, you said that your new album “Bridges” allowed you to be more of an artist compared to your first album. Could you elaborate on what you’ve learned about yourself as an artist and as a person while writing “Bridges”?
Calum: I think on the first album, I didn’t really believe in myself too much. I think it was probably because I used to work in a human resources office, and I would be sat at my desk, and I’d be typing away and I would dream of doing what I do now. Which is why it’s so surreal for me to be talking to my fans and receiving this support in Malaysia, having duetted with a Malaysian artist, on a single from a second album, just feels totally crazy that I’ve got this opportunity to do it. I think when I had the first album, I almost felt a little bit like, we have this expression in the UK called ‘a deer caught in headlights.’ It means when you’re travelling in a car and an animal sees the headlights and he’s a little bit sort of struck you know, and I feel like that’s kind of how I felt.
I didn’t really believe in myself, and maybe felt like a fraud, I suppose. When I started writing the second album, I think that’s when I started to realise that actually, I’m an artist, like I’m a singer-songwriter. This is my career. This isn’t just a dream come true. This is real life. And that made me just believe in myself more. I felt more confident, so you can hear that there’s a new sense of strength in this album, there’s hope that I didn’t have in the first album. It has allowed me to grow in terms of my song writing, my vocal performance. Everything just seems to have evolved a little bit. So, it’s really helped me as an artist to be more honest, and to be more vulnerable, and to be more raw. I think that’s kind of what’s made me grow to the next level.
6. Since it is Pride Month (when we spoke in June), which song on the album do you think represents Pride to you?
Calum: It’s got to be “Boys in the Street”. It’s a cover of a song by Greg Holden. It’s a beautiful song, just about love and acceptance and about wanting. To be loved by the people that created you. I think it speaks to Pride Month, it speaks to everybody. It speaks to people who may have a rocky relationship with their parents, but it just speaks about acceptance. I think that’s something that I speak highly of and represent in my music, and it’s a pleasure to contribute to that community, and it (“Boys in the Street”) is a song that every single time I sing it, there’s never a dry eye in the house.
Everybody is so emotional when they listen to that song because it’s a very real, emotional kind of tragically beautiful song. And it just fits so perfectly on my album, because that’s the kind of music that I make – tragically beautiful. So, I just asked for Greg’s blessing, and I was able to include it on this album. So, I’m very happy that I was able to include that on what is a very special album.
Stay tuned for our full interview video!