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Interview: The Lost Hours

Poignant lyricism and silk-soft vocals symphonise To Be Alone – the dreamy new single from Leeds-based singer-songwriter Callum James Hamilton, aka The Lost Hours.

What begins as a contemplative, minimal arrangement soon evolves into a gentle indie folk anthem, exploring the parallels of hope and fear.

I had a chat with Callum about the impact of influential singer-songwriters, honesty within lyrics and how to escape a writer’s block…

Hey Callum! Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

My name is Callum James Hamilton. I’m a 20 year old  singer-songwriter from Leeds, England. I am the sole songwriter and musician behind my latest project The Lost Hours.

I moved to London at the age of 18 to pursue a musical career. Whilst there, I wrote a very personal set of songs which helped me secure a record deal to indie label High Tribe Recordings.

The Lost Hours name was inspired my the small hours in the morning where I used to do all my creative work away from the distractions of the day. 

I really love your new single To Be Alone. I feel the sentiment of the song will resonate with a lot of people. What was the writing / recording process like?

The writing process was really organic. It was one of those cases where the song comes to you like an old friend; it feels like you’re starting where you left off. Although I had fragments of melodies and musical sections, I had no lyrics to accompany. The familiarity I felt after composing these melodies resonated with me. It felt close and personal, so I knew I had to be true to myself and capture this moment with honest truth in my lyrics. 

Recording-wise, I was inspired by the late John Martyn’s song Small Hours. I wanted to capture the woozy delays and the ambience in the recording. We wanted the record to feel close to the listeners, so we incorporated some field recordings.

The song builds throughout. We didn’t want an ephemeral release, it had to build naturally into the climactic ending you can hear. This required hours of fine tuning, the right instrumentation and the parts they play. I hope we achieved this. It makes me feel something, so I hope that feeling reciprocates itself.

The single is a taster of your upcoming EP. Can you tell us more about that?

Yes, the EP does incorporate a lot of the sonics used in this track. We released this first because it’s a stylistic bridge between my old material and my new.

The EP is eclectic mix of John Martyn-inspired acoustic slap rhythms, angsty vocals and bubblegum melodies. It’s the most personal set of songs I’ve written. I tried to be honest with myself and I think it reflects on the record.

I see you cite Joni Mitchell and Nick Drake amongst your influences. If you could tour with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?

For the purpose that they’re touring right now, I would choose The 1975.

I think without doubt they are one of the greatest live bands on the scene right now. Visually and conceptually, its flawless. I’d hope to one day have a live show like that. It’s an experience in itself and it resonates with audience.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as a musician?

Last year, I found myself in a musical rut. I was in a place where everything felt old, nothing in my music excited me.

I spoke to my manager, Bnann, who is a very successful songwriter. He told me not to fear straying from my musical lane. Try writing over drum loops, experiment with guitar pedals, sing melodies into auto tune, write songs over latin rhythms. Anything that takes you out of your comfort zone is going to benefit your creative process. I now have an EP of tracks that I love and make me feel stylistically individual.

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