In times of Covid-19, countless lockdowns, album and single pushbacks and the ever so prevalent pressure to always be on top of your game no matter what, it hasn’t been the easiest mission for musicians all around the world to keep up a happy face and deliver their best. When the whole globe lunged for artists to keep it entertained, a lot of them turned away from the countless eyes watching them to get some weight off their shoulders. But not so Nottingham-based indie-singer Callum Burrows, aka Saint Raymond, who throughout his career and specifically the past months has been using not only his music, but also his platform as an artist to speak up about the important topics in life and offer a space to heal and grow for himself and his dedicated fanbase. Because at the end of the day, that is all that matters.
“I think what people forget with music and art is that they are open spaces to talk about mental health. I’ve always just written about what’s going on in my life. So, when I write about specific topics or from a certain place, that’s how I feel at that time. It’s something I’ve tried to address and to tell people that nobody should ever feel ashamed to talk about it,”, explains the 26 years old British artist, who spent most of his time during lockdown gearing up his powers and talents for the release of his latest album ‘We Forgot We Were Dreaming’, a record glistening with heartfelt indie-ballads and catchy guitar tunes.
Just like with his first album released back in 2016 – the hit record that pushed the singer to the forefront of artists to watch out for in the future -, Burrows used the space the new album offered to write his heart out and take his listeners on a journey through his life and everything he has been experiencing. One that has massively changed over the years, as he admits: “I’d say there’s no set theme to the new record. I wrote my first album when I was super young, from the age of 16 to 20, and it’s now been six years since then, so the new album looks at life from a completely different perspective. So I wouldn’t say it has a certain theme, but it’s the story of my life over the last few years. The title comes from a lyric that I had written down while I was working on the album. A couple of the songs are about relationships and trying to rekindle them, and the title stems from the idea of when you try to make things work with someone, and you get into this slight dreamy state where you pretend that everything’s alright. But the reality is that it’s not.”
While relationships, love and all things close to the heart have always been a running theme for the singer, the production of his sophomore album granted a massive jump from his debut, both in terms of location and its approach. “For my first album, I went to LA, which was really fun, but completely different. And for the second one, I rented out this big house in Bath together with my producer and we just went and made it in our own time,”, Burrows remembers. “There wasn’t any pressure to it, we just worked our way through it, which made it feel like we were never working on an album, but rather hanging out as mates and recording some tunes.”
It’s this way of creating music that is based on freedom, unleashed creativity and pure love and admiration for the process that has slowly been taking over the industry and has also led the young musician to rethink his work habits and how he looks at today’s music world: “When you‘re young – and I’m not saying don’t take advice from people, because I think you should absolutely take all the advice – but on my first record, I was very young and there were a lot of fingers in the pie, so to speak. Whereas this new one is a lot more like the record that I wanted to make, because I listened more to myself and what I really wanted.”
But this new, refined take on the creation of his second record did not just end its impact there, but can also be heard on one specific song that had Burrows tip his toes into the production side of things for the very first time, as he proudly states: “There’s this song called ‘Only You’ that I just wrote by myself and recorded at home when the album was already done. I liked it so much that I sent it to my manager and my label and they all wanted it to go on the record. Normally I’d take ideas like that one into a session where I’m working with someone else. But with this one, I was like, I’m just going to record it and see what people think and if people think it’s good enough for the record, then cool. It ended up being the first time I’ve ever produced a song that got released. So that was quite nice, having produced a whole track for the album.”
Next to the heart-wrenching ‘Only You’, there is one more song that holds a very special place in the singer’s heart and has slowly but surely become an absolute fan favourite, specifically thanks to its ardent meaning. “There is this track called ‘Alright’ that was built around mental health struggles and the act of encouraging people to speak up. It is like the lyrics say – “it’s alright to not be alright”. It’s okay to feel a bit down, but it’s also really important to talk about it,“, the artist explains and further dives into the touching story behind the merch that was specifically created for the stunning hit. “There was this guy called Ross who came to a lot of my gigs and was a massive music fan. We sadly lost him recently and his mum got in touch to tell me that they were going to play the song at his funeral, which was very, very hard to hear. So I thought I needed to do something with the song, and we decided to make some t-shirts with those lyrics on them, and we actually sold half of them during the first show of the tour. We gave all the profits to the mental health charity Calm to encourage people to speak up and seek help if they need it.”
It is yet another monument for what has always pushed Burrows to the horizon and turned the talented indie-performer into a gleaming light within the music industry – he cares and is not afraid to show it. Whether that is by still buying the physical copies and Apple Music streams of albums that he enjoys the most to support fellow creatives, or by taking the time to stay behind and talk to his dedicated fans and even hang out with them in a local pub after his live shows. And no matter if he is playing for a crowd of 200 or 1500 people, he is always out to give his performance everything he has got, each and every single night. Because at the end of the day, that is why the singer has decided to be part of today’s electric industry – to create and enjoy what he brings to this world and to take his listeners with him on this crazy and unique ride that may have downs as well ups to it, but in the end always ends in the world becoming a slightly bit better.
Written by Laura Weingrill