A captivating rallying cry released on his own imprint, Lil Bear Records, via MTX
In early 2020, 24-year-old singer songwriter, Calum Foad, decamped to LA determined to return with a bunch of new songs that reflected his progression as a songwriter and the classic 80s synth-pop influences that shaped his formative musical years. Sure enough, and with a nod to Vince Clarks\’s work with Erasure and Yazoo!, the new songs such as ‘High’, ‘Chemical’ and ‘Make You Cry’ quickly flowed out of the sessions with co-writer and producer, Nate Merchant (Jason Derulo, Flo Rida, Sam Martin). Delving into un-chartered waters, the uplifting ‘Hope’, Calum’s first ever ballad, which was newly recorded despite being written several years previous, became the first release of the trip\’s labours.
“The song was recorded and produced completely by chance. I played it acoustically to Nate, while recording in LA and he loved it… a month later the Coronavirus – which at the time seemed to be an outbreak confined to an obscure region of China – would escalate to a global pandemic and the song’s lyrics would become a common theme. Following people being ‘locked down’, in a way unseen since world wars, the song has taken on a meaning beyond being about fighting to achieve aspirations, goals and dreams – it’s about retaining hope.”
It takes a certain level of grit to forge a career as an independent singer-songwriter in this day and age. If not before, then unquestionably more so, now the prospect of making any live income – the mainstay of a modern-day musician – is temporarily on hold. In an industry facing radical disruption, the threshold for entry has very much heightened. Not that it changes much for Reading-native, Calum who makes sure that whatever the weather, his gifts for songwriting and performing drive him forward. Combine a unique mix of hard resolve and entrepreneurial flair with a striking, older-than-his-years voice and you have the foundation upon which a career is being carved.
An accomplished guitarist by age nine, Calum grew into his teens listening to the driving sounds of Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Good Charlotte. Offset by an affinity for the nostalgic ethers of the 80s – “Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’? Incredible”, he adds – it’s clear to see that his idiosyncratic sound – one that flits between upbeat and evocative pop – is testament to an artist comfortable in his own skin. As a teenager, with a quiet confidence belying his years, 2011 saw him take a chance and reach out to record producer, Dan Weller. Piqued by Calum’s approach and raw talent, worked on his first self-release – a well-received debut EP ‘Flaws’ with Weller at the helm. Galvanised further by this success, Calum then reached out to multi-platinum and Grammy-nominated producer Marc McClusky (Weezer, Sia, Motion City Soundtrack).
A brief stint in NYC working with McClusky saw the birth of the triumphant ‘You & I’ in 2017, which led to Calum’s first TV appearance on ITV’s ‘This Morning’. A year-long, national school tour ensued before the 2018 release of ‘Rollercoaster’, through US based label services group, AWAL. The single embraced a markedly smoother, euphoric, synth led edge to his, so far, quintessentially-youth pop sound.
“Music for me is the mechanism of telling a story, every lyric has a clear reference point in my life. Fundamentally, I write songs I want to listen to and if others resonate with them then that’s a bonus,” he explains.
In 2018, Calum went on to reap multifaceted support across the music industry, from retailers to radio stations, brands and festivals. He was second to headline at Reading Pride that year, a performance that confirmed his flair for working larger crowds. BT Playlist came onboard to feature his music alongside brands such as EE, New Look and Legoland, amassing upwards of a million in-store plays to date. Endorsements from the likes of world-leading Sennheiser further boosted his ever-expanding network. The trajectory continued into July 2019, where Calum played to a sold-out Henley Festival as main support to ‘Björn Again’.
After cementing a deal with new management in summer 2019, Calum established his \’Lil Bear Records\’ imprint through \’MTX\’, as well as signing publishing deals with MTX Songs (UK) and the prestigious Downtown Music (US). Focus then switched to songwriting, Calum worked with a host of collaborators, generating a clutch of new songs and a clear sonic direction. Although hopes of performing live over the summer months have been temporarily dashed, the new recordings will be brought to his fans on all streaming services in the coming months, rather appropriately kicking off with “Hope”