For a lot of musicians, this past 12 months has been quite a whirlwind both in terms of the plans they had for playing shows, and also for bringing out new music. Having found himself in a similar position, Callum Burrows better known to music fans as Saint Raymond, 2021 is finally one where he is able to finally smile with relief as other than a UK Headline tour planned for November, this April he also released his latest record, We Forgot We Were Dreaming.
Compared to previous releases such as Escapade or Young Blood, with the pandemic opening up opportunities to adapt and be more experimental with music, We Forgot We Were Dreaming is one of those records which is a testimony to a guy from Nottingham who is really evolving in confidence as an artist.
We caught up with the man himself to find out more.
Welcome Callum! How has your past few weeks been?
Yea really good, and the fact that we can finally hang out with people where you can sit in a mate's garden and enjoy the weather. It was very easy in the first lockdown not to do anything, but then as it continued it made me realise how grateful I would be to finally see people.
Who was the person you were most happiest to see?
That is such a good question but I feel so bad having to split up my mates. We had a little gathering the other day so I to avoid any arguments I am just going to say all of them haha.
What has 2021 been like for you as an artist up to now?
I would say I have struggled just because of not being able to do any live things. Even just going in the studio has been a bit sketchy so it has been a lot of Zoom which has resulted in missing out on the social element and fun side of music. Knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel has kept me going. I have a tour scheduled for November so the idea that could actually be going ahead is quite exciting.
How did you find having to adapt your writing style, especially as you said everything had to be done pre-dominatingly through Zoom?
Yea it was really difficult and challenging just because I am someone that thrives off social environments and just loves being in a room with people and hanging out, so having that side stripped away has been a challenge. It has just been learning how to adapt in the best way possible, even though I am not a fan of Zoom because for me as I said I much prefer to sit with someone and get to know them.
As the build up to We Forgot We Were Dreaming has got closer and closer tell us what that has been like? Any restless nights?
You know what I have so much time to think about it because of lockdown that I am just ready for it now. When the first lockdown came in it sort of pushed everything back, so I am just ready to get it out there that’s for sure.
What do you think working on this record revealed to you about your signature style as an artist?
I would say for me that I can trust myself to make a record, because I think previously I tended to doubt myself so it was good to be able to trust in myself and recognised what worked best for me as an artist. Everyone has got their own way of working, and it is really easy to be influenced by others around you where they are pointing out things you have done wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I am very open to taken things on board and listening to advice but at same time for me is believing in who I am as an artist.
Let’s look a bit closer at the record then, which has 12 fantastic tracks. Were there any tracks that really put you to the test when it came to the creativity and pushing those sonic boundaries?
Yea I think so! There are definitely a couple on it. For it is probably songs I wouldn’t have released before. For example, Wide Eye Blind in the past I might have thought was a bit too acoustic-driven, and the song Soft Landing is led by synth and little things like that. I have kind of been in a position where in the past I have thought to myself I shouldn’t do that because it won't sound like Saint Raymond, whereas on this record I have realized that as long as I am the driving force, and I am behind those key decisions, it will always sound like Saint Raymond which is something I might have been scared of before. The massive learning curve has been to not be scared and just write what I want to write.
Do you feel you are more confident to trust in the process of song writing?
Yea 100%! I am still learning; I will never not take advice from someone. I have great people around me who have had a lot more success than me so I would be stupid to disregard what they have to say, but at the same time I also trust myself a lot now more as a writer where I can walk into a room knowing I have been a leading force.
Now that the album has come out, what are the priorities, because at the end of the day you want to stay active but still give room for the record itself to blossom?
This record is a lot different for me because of the situation, because the last one was released at a time where there were festivals and live shows, with artists being able to do what they want. This new one however feels slightly different because it has come out at a time where its going to be some time until people are able to hear it live, so it is going to be an interesting challenge. It almost feels like the album is going to have a rebirth in November when shows can go ahead, so it is about trying to figure out how to keep things interesting through other means such as the power of streaming and how to make it different.
What have you enjoyed about having to connect to your fans in a different way?
I have done Instagram lives and stuff before, but the big one for me was a Facebook event. Someone said to me why don’t you set up a private Facebook page which is there just for people to talk to each other, a bit like a community, that to be honest I was quite weary about because I am not an avid Facebook user. However, it has been so rewarding for me because I can just jump on there, do a stream and chat to people. It has been really nice because it has been as real as it can feel at the minute. It is much rewarding for me as it is for other people because not being able to do it in real life is a struggle so yeah that is a big one for me.
Have there been any comments or feedback from your fans that have made you smile?
Actually yea there was one the other week when I was playing a stream. Someone left a comment saying, ‘I don’t think you quite know how much your music means to people’ and it kind of hit me a bit because I am just here sitting in my room playing these songs to people it can feel a bit lonesome, so when people take the time to write a comment like that it makes you realize ‘oh ok, there is substance to what I am doing!’.
You are currently sat in a room with a lot of beautiful guitars hanging on the walls around you, so if we imagine them whispering to you, what do you recon they would say to you?
I think they would probably say ‘play me more’ because I have neglected them for a bit haha! Coming into lockdown I spent so much time writing and making this record, but it also came at a time where I could step back a little bit and watch some Netflix. I will admit I shut away all creativity especially for the first bit of that initial lockdown, so I have been getting back into it, including getting onto Zoom sessions with other artists. So yea I would definitely say the guitars would scream to me ‘pick me up more’ for sure haha!
When you look at your journey from where you began to where you are now, what excites you the most?
Where I am now is that I feel I have this full creative freedom where I am willing as an artist to try things out. That really excites me going forward because knowing how people have reacted to this material, which sounds slightly different or it is coming from a different place because I am like, ok I have a bit more freedom to experiment and work with people that normally fans wouldn’t expect.
The big thing with streaming right now is that you can just put it online, where as before you would have to create a build up and wait, whereas now I could write a song with another arist or a DJ today, and by next week it will be ready for the listeners to check out. The demand for music is much higher than before I would say!
As we think about those dreamy Saint Vincent shows in November, what are some of those cities you just can't wait to go to?
Home town shows in Nottingham will always be my highlight. Also can’t wait to go back up to Scotland. I remember one time I played T In The Park and man the crowds there were just so welcoming. Everyone was in the tent, drunk and having a really good time. They know how to party, Scotland it always fun!
What type of party is a Saint Raymond party then?
When I am writing music it is always driven towards the live side, so for me I always enjoy being able to create that festival atmosphere at a show. At the end of the day I just want people to have fun. That is why I have never really wanted to go down the route of social distanced shows because I don’t think it would be true to me as an artist. I am not dissing it because I know it works for other artists but for me I much rather wait until a time where people are able to be jumping on top of each other.
As people are getting to check out the album what words would you say to really embrace the 12 amazing songs?
I think there are songs that relate to everyone on this record and situations I have been through myself, so lyrically and emotively there are songs on that people can connect too because they are real life situations, so I hope people are able to sense that resonance as they listen. Also from as I said I love the live, festival side to music, and I think that really comes across so yea I just hope people enjoy it.
Sending our thanks and well wishes to Callum! The brand new album We Forgot We Were Dreaming is ready to listen to right now, so if you are looking for something you can relate to, keeps you on your toes as a listener, but also creates that special party atmosphere of live music, then Saint Raymond is the guy for you!
To find out more about all the latest news visit www.saintraymond.co.uk
Article By Thushara S. Chandrasiri