Interview: Saint Raymond – “I want everyone to be smelling and looking crap and drinking warm cider. That’s a festival to me.”
Callum Burrows, better known as Saint Raymond, is a down-to-earth 20-year-old with a talent that’s given him a life of excitement others his age could only dream of. Today, he sits in front of a huge Live At Leeds banner, cautiously sipping his coffee and greeting me warmly as I arrive. He’s playing one of the festival’s biggest stages later today and he can’t contain his excitement. “I love Live At Leeds, it’s wicked. I like these whole day festivals,” he says cheerily.
After signing a major record deal only two years ago, his blossoming career has included various EP releases, bags of praise from the likes of Radio 1 and tours with Ed Sheeran and Haim. It’s fair to say, he’s doing pretty well.
This boost of success may have come about in the past two years, but Callum’s been writing music since he was just a kid. “I wrote my first song when I was 12. It was a banger, it’s called Heartbroken. I must have been heartbroken at the age of 12! Proper serious stuff,” he laughs. “When I was 14 or 15 I started taking it more seriously. I’d do about three gigs a week at wherever would have me.
“One of the reasons I went with the name Saint Raymond, which relates to a place back home and my Grandad’s name, is because at an open mic night, it’s generally just Joe Bloggs, Joe Bloggs, Joe Bloggs. I fancied something different, something a bit more memorable.”
And as time goes on, more and more people are starting to remember him. Along with hard work, support from DJs like Zane Lowe has really helped Callum’s music spread. “It’s amazing to get that recognition. I grew up listening to Zane and discovered a lot of bands through him,” he says humbly. “Getting praise from someone you admire is something you don’t really realise is happening because you’re so… Not in shock, just taken with it. You don’t expect it. It’s mad.”
The acknowledgment Saint Raymond’s getting is astounding to say he’s yet to release an album. His songs have featured on TV shows like Made In Chelsea and even on the hit football game FIFA, but the album is what all his hard work is really building up to. “It’s actually finished and I’m very excited to finally get it out,” he says. “I’ve had three EPs and it’s always been great to keep releasing music, but the album’s something a bit more special and to finally release it… I’m so excited.”
Coinciding with the album will be festival slots all over the country, including performances at Y Not, T In The Park and Truck Festival. The ones he’s looking forward to most, though, are Reading and Leeds. After outstanding gigs at the partner festivals last year with tents packed to the brim with fans, he can’t wait to be back.
“Reading and Leeds last year were the highlight of my summer. It’s a cool festival – a proper festival. It’s gritty and it’s dirty. When you see places like Coachella where everyone looks perfect… I don’t like that. I want everyone to be smelling and looking crap and drinking warm cider. That’s a festival to me,” he says.
After an impromptu performance at Glastonbury last year due to London Grammar pulling out, there’s speculation as to whether he’ll return this summer and do it properly. A little twinkle appears in his eye when I ask him about it despite no official announcement as of yet. “I might be there, just wandering, you know,” he says with a smile. “Last year was my second time. I ended up at a party with Bradley Cooper. There was a VIP bit but I was there with my mate and a girl from Game Of Thrones took us to this party and Bradley Cooper was there out of his face. It was amazing. I didn’t speak to him… He was just dancing by himself.”
As far as his personal taste in music goes, Callum’s very open-minded. “If you looked through my phone, you’d go from Tyler The Creator to Ben Howard. I’m of the opinion that if music’s good, you should listen to it. If Taylor Swift’s got a good song, it’s a good song. I think people get too wound up in, ‘Oh it’s by so-and-so therefore it can’t be a good song.’ Stuff that. If a song’s good, it’s good. But yeah, I listen to loads.
“I love Lucy Rose. She followed me on Twitter the other day and I fangirled. I think it’s important that you stay as a fan of music. I hate when a bit of success goes to people’s heads. They forget the reason why they’re where they are. I don’t want to put this on myself but if I was like that and I have a crap year, that artist I ignored, I might have to support them. You should never look down on someone,” he says with sincerity.
Not just a shining talent, but a genuinely lovely and respectful guy, Callum is going about his life and career in just the right way. With a debut album around the corner and a huge headline show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire at the end of the month, this summer’s set to be particularly bright for Saint Raymond.