Calum Baird is an independent Scottish singer-songwriter, musician and artist-activist who tours regularly throughout the UK and Europe.
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Calum Baird is a Scottish singer-songwriter, musician and artist-activist, playing songs that tie together progressive and romantic themes in a folk music style influenced by Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Dick Gaughan, Phoebe Bridgers and Phil Ochs amongst others. Calum’s music incorporates a wide selection of instruments which takes his music into the indie-folk/folk-rock genres, also.
Calum performs regularly throughout the UK and Europe at festivals and events, as well as supporting causes and organisations with his music at home and abroad. Most recently, a tour of Germany in September 2021.
Calum has performed alongside Scottish musicians such as Dick Gaughan, Ewan McLennan, Arthur Johnstone and Maeve Mackinnon as well as Tobias Thiele (GER) David Rovics (US), Andy Irvine (Ireland), Ryan Harvey (US), Attila the Stockbroker (UK), Grace Petrie (UK), Mariela Condo (Ecuador) and many more.
In this same time, Calum has appeared and performed on national television and radio and has been featured in national and international press, and online media and blogs, including being featured in The Scotland on Sunday as their Artist of the Week.
Additionally, Calum wrote and composed the musical score for the award-winning feature-film, Exiles, written by Glasgow poet and writer, Victoria McNulty, and released in May 2021.
New Single – Some Call This Normal
Some Call This Normal blends energetic vocals, over the top of a thick acoustic guitar, slide guitar licks and an accompanying organ. The song also features an electric guitar riff in the chorus that crackles with a classic chorus effect. The track is meant as a song for our times and is for anyone and everyone trying to maintain a positive outlook amidst seemingly never-ending negative developments in the world from Covid to war to climate change – all of these crises and more are throwing up contradictions which are hard to keep up with and leave us feeling like everything is coming apart at the seams.
The Song’s Profile
The lockdown in 2020 and subsequent social and political crises and upheavals have had a profound impact on my music. My music has always had a political edge but my four releases since the pandemic began have been much more grounded in present goings on. Some Call This Normal, takes these issues and themes further by asking pointed but tongue-in-cheek questions about life today, its many contradictions and why we accept them as “normal”.
The music I have released since 2020 has received a high level of praise and publicity as well as being played across several different radio stations and shows in Scotland, the UK, Ireland and more, including on Jim Gellalty’s Amazing Radio show. 2020 culminated in my being named the final Artist of The Week for 2020 in the Scotland on Sunday (read here) while my single, Stranger Things Have Come and Gone (February 2021) was played on radio shows around the world, including Charlie Ashcroft’s Audition show on Amazing Radio and has had over 27 000 plays on Spotify. My song, Für Ewig, released in November 2021, has had 17 000 plays on Spotify and received international airplay as well. With Some Call This Normal, I want to keep as much of this momentum as possible whilst also adding to the themes the song engages with.
I wrote the lyrics to Some Call This Normal while I was out running in the summer of 2021 – it was a very stressful run as I had to store the lyrics in my head until I got back home! To help me do this, I sang the lyrics to myself to the tune of John Lennon’s song Nobody Told Me and then wrote them down. I was still working on Für Ewig, at this point and, so, I opted to keep this new song on ice until 2022. Some Call this Normal is, therefore, influenced by John Lennon’s style in Nobody Told Me as well as drawing influence from contemporary folk and singer-songwriter styles.
I experimented with a few different guitar sounds and playing styles before sticking with the version heard in the final mix. In fact, the recording process for this track is different to my previous work. I recorded the vocals and acoustic guitar parts of this single in my home studio and then sent this over to my friend and fellow musician, Tobias Thiele. I later added an electric guitar lick to the chorus as well as backing vocals in the final verse. Tobias developed the song in his studio in Funkenhagen, Germany, performing the slide guitar, bass guitar, organ and percussion as well as producing the final mix. Tobias and I have worked together for several years now in different ways and plan to collaborate on more music together in the future.
Some Call This Normal can be interpreted as a subjective, personal reflection on the negative developments that objectively effect us all and their increasingly stranger, darker twists and turns but, also, amidst this, trying to maintain a positive outlook that things can be different.
For the artwork, I took a globe ball that I bought some time ago online, cut it in half and then sowed the stitches myself by hand to imitate a world falling apart at the seams. Additionally, I added in a replica of signs you will see dotted around University campus’ during exam time, this is can be read as a call for peace and quiet – a pause, of sorts – for us all to take stock of where we are and ask if this is where we really want to be – is this really “normal”? Also, the artwork features a portrait of the German socialist revolutionary, Rosa Luxemburg, who, prior to her assassination in 1919, warned the world that humanity was at a crossroads faced with two options: socialism or barbarism? Given the ongoing pandemic, worsening climate change and conflicts in Ukraine, Yeman and Somalia – the first of these threatening to go nuclear – I am trying to suggest that this stark warning still rings true today by including Luxemburg’s portrait in the artwork. The song encapsulates the song’s anxieties but also its belief that another world is still possible.
Some Call This Normal is out on 29/04/2022 and will be available for streaming and download on all online stores.
Other news and upcoming gigs
This year, in addition to recording and releasing new music, I will be performing at festivals and events around the UK and into Europe as well. So far this year, I have played more than 10 live performances, including a rally in George Square, Glasgow, in February which demanded action on the current cost of living crisis.
In May, I performed at The Great May Day Cabaret in Edinburgh on the 1st alongside excellent Scottish and International poets and musicians. I also played with The Wakes for their sold-out gig in Saint Luke’s in Glasgow on May 6th and then at the Edinburgh May Day Festival on 7th May in the Pleasance.
I will be performing at an in-person launch of the Scottish feature-film, Exiles in at Webster’s Theatre in Glasgow in June. Exiles recently won the John Byrne Award and I composed the musical score featured in the film.
In July, I will perform three shows in Berlin, including one at the Fiesta de Solidaridad on July 23rd.
In August, I will perform shows at the Edinburgh Festival before travelling to Germany to play at the 2022 UZ-Pressefest in Dortmund, my second time playing there after four shows in 2018.