Lewis Capaldi | Interview

From the 4-year-old boy singing “We Are The Champions” karaoke in France to being one of BBC Music’s Sound of 2018 longlisted acts following staggering success in the past few months, Lewis Capaldi is indefinitely one of the most extraordinary talents of this generation. With two sold-out headline tours and the recent release of his gorgeous EP “Bloom”, I had the privilege to explore the mind behind the authentically cathartic voice himself.

Lewis & I sat down in an empty VIP room above the main stage where we could hear Freya Riding’s angelic voice subtly interlacing the air – wearing a navy blue hoodie with the strings tied in a bow, he commented on how much bigger the venue was than he anticipated. Legs dangling over the couch, we began a dynamic conversation about the wildly fast-paced year that has gone by. Lewis still finds the astronomical success surreal following the release of his first single “Bruises”, a tune penned with James Earp whilst in London: “That shouldn’t have done as well as it did – best-case scenario, we were thinking somewhere in the 3 million mark.”

“Bruises” was simply a last-minute addition to the setlist when Lewis performed at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut earlier in January, one of the most celebrated music venues in the world. Truly proof of the saying “Last but not least”, somebody filmed the performance and posted it on Twitter – it went mini-viral with thousands of retweets, and it was only then when Lewis changed a few of the lyrics and released the final version in late March. The ballad subsequently destroyed Spotify, and it has also just been featured on the TV show, “Riverdale”.

“More people have listened to that song [Bruises] than there are people in Scotland”

“It feels like somebody’s gonna realise one day, like, “Oh shit, that wee boy shouldn’t be like, how did you manage to…” and then someone’s gonna tap me on the shoulder and go, “Right, you almost slipped through the cracks there, but get back to Scotland!” 

Millennials, like Lewis himself, are at the forefront in shattering the stereotype – that is, self-entitled, lazy, and useless – imposed on our generation through this kind of hard work and humility.

“I hate the fact we’re seen as the lazy, whiny generation, which is not the case at all. There are so many young people out there now doing such amazing things, and I think it’s just bubbling under a little bit. And in the next 2 to 3 years, we’ll really see our generation properly come into the room and do all these amazing things – I think it’ll push it out of the mainstream a bit more that millennials are useless.”

“I hate the fact we’re seen as the lazy, whiny generation, which is not the case at all – there are so many young people out there now, doing such amazing things”

We began discussing his incredible EP, “Bloom”, which consists of four beautiful compositions – predominantly (though unintentionally) piano-based despite being a guitarist, Lewis explains how hearing the blend of his voice with the keys “really stirred something in me”, and that “…the fact I don’t play it, that I don’t feel I have an understanding of the chords and stuff, makes it more interesting.” He describes how fulfilling and integral it is to progress as a songwriter, irrespective of external validation; exploration of instrumentation offers this individual path of discovery. And his favourite chords and/or chord progressions? Amy Winehouse’s “Addicted”, and the F major to F minor transition in the chorus of his own song, “Fade”.

Speaking of, “Fade” is Lewis’s favourite track off his EP – but not in terms of being better than the others. “It was the whole kind of: when it was written, who it was written with, how quick it was written…it was just all very indicative of how mad these past 6 months have been.” He draws out a mental timeline for me – age 12: walking. Teenage years: a gradual, slow jog. The period between 17 to 19 years old: running. Finally, hitting the age of 20: full-on hyper speed. Everything beforehand was merely a transitional warmup to implement all the knowledge learnt into the greatest showtime of his life, and he hasn’t slowed down ever since. I inquired how school fit into this chaotic schedule, and Lewis explained that before going to college for a couple years to study music, he was planning to study sound production, which required a B in Higher Mathematics.

“I was fucking shit at Maths; excuse my French. I was awful at it. So, I had a tutor.” Lewis goes on to explain the one time they had a lesson, and he had incorrectly answered what was supposed to be a simple calculation question. “…he [tutor] just lost the plot: “Look, if you’re going to be an idiot, I’m not gonna teach you anymore!” And just got up, and walked out my house!”

Even if Mathematics isn’t his forte, Lewis excels at consistently making time to interact with people who enjoy his music on Instagram & Twitter – scroll through his page, and the genuine gratitude radiates unmistakably clear.

“…even just a thanks or cheers, it really pays off in terms of the community you build

“When I started out, one of my managers said, “Look, you should reply to these people.”  To begin with, I was a bit like, “That’s gonna take ages to reply to everybody.” But once you start doing it, you get these comments back and you’re reading through all the comments and they’re all amazing – you feel great by the end of it, you feel you’re having conversations with like-minded people, it feels like having conversation with your friends. It just seems a positive situation for everybody, to just kind of chat and talk.”

He also adds, “I don’t like the terms “fans”; I think it’s a bit…like putting yourself above. So I just say: people who listen to my music.”

“I don’t like the terms “fans”; I think it’s a bit…like putting yourself above. So I just say: people who listen to my music”

So, if I were to hand you a list of highly recommended texts to read, it would include: “The Thing Around Your Neck” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Endurance” by Scott Kelly…and Lewis’s Twitter feed.

Naturally, I asked about the tweets regarding his pubes. Yes, that is plural.

“I was in with my label the next day, and I was thinking, “Oh no, they’re gonna be so raging because I’ve talked about my pubes!”, but they all loved it. It’s good to have people around you as crass as you are,” he says before bursting out laughing. But Lewis continues to explain the seriousness of being lighthearted and a bit absurd on social media platforms like Twitter.

“There is so much shite on Twitter; there is so much horrible, horrible stuff on Twitter. I think in some cases, like right now with the slave trade in Libya, it’s great to use Twitter to shine a light on that. But I’m talking about fucking Trump being a knob, and people arguing all the fucking time on Twitter. I don’t care about your politics, so long as you’re an alright person.

“I don’t care about your politics, so long as you’re an alright person”

“Everyone’s so serious on Twitter, and then you forget there’s 280 characters. You’re not really going to really solve the world’s problems in 280 characters. You can shine the light on important things like the Libyan situation, but it’s not the place for mass political debate. And I think it’s just good too start a conversation, but not end a conversation.”

“You’re not really going to really solve the world’s problems in 280 characters”

And this value Lewis so accurately describes translates into his music – contrary to the vast depths of his songs, he doesn’t take his music too seriously: “I’ve got a really weird thing referring to myself as an artist, or refer to what I’m doing as art. Those words carry a lot of weight, I think, and it makes it seem more very serious. And I’m just making my tunes, that’s all I’m doing. I’m a singer that makes tunes – that’s it for me. The main thing is that it should always be fun.”

Lewis eagerly leans in and quickly adds, “I should say, I do have happy songs. I have a lot of happy songs! I don’t want that to be indicative of me; “Oh, Lewis sings sad songs.”

Finally, I asked him about a beautiful (and simultaneously frightening) metaphorical lyric in “Fade”: It ain’t no wonder why we lose control/When we’re always heart attack away from falling in love.

“For me, it’s being so close to the edge of losing it all, that makes it so fucking exciting. Because I think as soon as you realise how much you’ve fallen for someone, immediately, that’s the moment you also realise that if you lose them, it’s gonna be fucking horrible. That precise moment when you realise, “Fuck, I’m in love with this person!” is also the moment you think, “Fuck! I’m in love with this person…””

“Because I think as soon as you realise how much you’ve fallen for someone, immediately, that’s the moment you also realise that if you lose them, it’s gonna be fucking horrible”

***

Lewis performed an incredible setlist later that night; interjected with witty lines and little anecdotes, the overpowering atmosphere was unlike any other – his visceral voice translated deeply personal experiences into this extraordinarily communal phenomenon; reading a powerful bedtime story for both the hopeful and the broken.

I cannot even begin to describe how incredibly humble and kind Lewis is. Like his voice, his sophisticated insight is full of strength, grit and resilience; so, here is a colossal thank you to Lewis for sharing your vulnerability, ultimately reminding us of the moments we live for: to celebrate, to forget, and to remember.

Lewis Capaldi
Post-Show Vibes | “My Mum would not be proud of this pose” – Lewis; “Same” – Me

Go stalk Lewis in a loving manner:

Official Website

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

©TMK

Spider-Man: Homecoming | Kind Of A Review, But Not Really

Warning: This post contains spoilers about Spider-Man: Homecoming. You have been warned…

Spider-Man’s web shooters have become such an iconic gadget ever since his debut in Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962 (a rare, near-mint copy was auctioned off late last year for $454,100!1) – I mean, it seems every interview promoting Spider-Man: Homecoming ends up with the ever-patient Tom Holland strapping on a silly-string shooter for a Marvel knowledge quiz. Like watching any other superhero film, I was questioning the plausibility of the science behind it all – was the web fluid formula Peter secretly making a batch of in Chemistry class legit? Can the thin bundle of web actually support Peter’s urban jungle-swinging? When the cable on the elevator snapped, how could his webs suspend it long enough before saving everybody inside?

I love science so, so much. Thus, seeing the scientist side of Peter Parker in Jon Watt’s “Spider-Man Homecoming” and Mark Webb’s “Amazing Spider-Man” movies that Sam Raimi’s movie trilogy never showed gave me palpitations of nervous excitement (you think I’m joking…). There is an extremely high chance I’ll be doing a much more in-depth research of the science behind it all, but for now, this post is going to be a review that’s quasi-scientific. Bear in mind, I’ve only watched the film once, so details are a bit hazy. Huge shoutout to Marvel Studios for the Thai restaurant scene with the picture of our beloved King Rama 9 of Thailand; thanks a million. I am so grateful. 

I’m gonna start off science (or of what limited knowledge I have). In Peter’s Chemistry class, a long row of black & white portraits of brilliant scientists line the top of the whiteboard; there were the likes of Marie Curie, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Sir Isaac Newton…and even Bruce Banner. I loved that, because the film treasured Bruce Banner for his contributions as the famed thinker he is and not the superhero he can also be. The science teacher quizzed the class on how to calculate the linear acceleration from Point A and B (you can see the problem on the whiteboard in the screen-cap below). She was essentially asking for the formula for the angular acceleration of a pendulum, and Flash Thompson incorrectly responded (gravity times sine theta)/mass, but a dozing Peter awaken from his nap with Spider-Man YouTube videos playing on his laptop was able to correctly answer, “Mass cancels out, so it’s just gravity times sine theta.” (“You’re dead!” Flash later whispered, because ooo trig burn). I mean, regardless if Peter is a genius, I love that sly reference to Spider-Man’s mode of transport i.e. swinging like a pendulum on webs.

spideytrailer_25.jpg
Source

Spider-Man’s web shooter. The classic design, as you’re probably very familiar with, is strapped to Peter’s wrists beneath the costume sleeves. You can watch Tom Holland briefly talk through it in behind-the-scenes footage; he even shows you the piece of tech. There’s a palm release button high up on the palm to avoid unwanted firings, and when tapped, the web fluid stored in small cartridges made up of mainly nickel-plated annealed brass passes through an internal spinneret mechanism made from stainless steel (except for the turbine component & bearings). I really liked how the film kept going back to Peter picking up spare web fluid cartridges he stored underneath a row of lockers; it’s these kind of details that makes it so much more realistic. The very small turbine pump vanes shears the web fluid, forcing it through the spinneret holes with an adjustable nozzle, which cold-draws it and shoots out through the air where it solidifies. There is so much detail about Peter’s web shooters, and I recommend you go scour through all the Amazing Spider-Man issues and read Marvel Wikia for more.2

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Amazing Spider-Man #2 Panels

And, what’s the web fluid made of? Well…no one really knows. The chemical composition remains a mystery. Potassium carbonate? Toluene? Silica gel purification?  I saw sneaky salicylic acid amongst Peter’s notes in Chemistry class! “Spider-Man: The Ultimate Guide”3 states Peter spent hundreds of hours in his high school labs working with multi-polymer compounds to create an adhesive substance – we do know it’s related to nylon. It’s thought the web fluid exists as a shear-thinning liquid inside the cartridge (solid until a shearing force is applied to it), and according again to the “Ultimate Guide”, each cartridge holds approximately 1000 yards of webbing. I assume when exposed to open air, the web fluid begins to harden, though I’m wondering what high school lab equipment Peter uses to pressurise the fluid at 300 p.s.i. (though this official number has been known to change, this would be enough to shoot a stream of web approximately 60 feet, but once again depends on forces of resistance). According to Marvel Wikia, “On contact with air, the long-chain polymer knits and forms an extremely tough, flexible fiber.” In the film, Peter does mention the webbing takes about 2 hours to wear off, so I guess the web fluid’s adhesive quality diminishes rapidly with exposure to air. Indeed, Marvel Wikia further states “After approximately 1 hour, certain imbibed esters cause the solid form of the web fluid to dissolve into a powder.”

I’ve only just scraped the surface of the basic science at work with Spider-Man. There is way more science out there concerning Spider-Man’s heroic feats and his web shooters, but I just wanted to give a little taster to get you pumped about how extraordinary the science is. I’m obviously no expert in the realm of physics, but from what I’ve read, the science is pretty plausible – it sticks within the rules of the MCU, and there are sufficient calculations to show the web fluid tensile strength, slinging capabilities, etc. are all quite legit.

Now for a more general overview of the movie: I’d like to start off by saying how much I loved the montage of all the high school scenes. Not only is it devoid of the stereotypical cliques of cheerleaders & jocks with the lead character clearly a twenty-something with a backpack chucked on, but the various encounters reminded me of my own time as a 15-year-old kid. The little things like when Ned questions back what the chess team are doing when he’s creeping around the hallway (and the kid vaguely gestures to the classroom, “Chess…” in such a mannerism that’s so relatable), Michelle reading Somerset Maugham’s 1915 novel “On Human Bondage”4 (if you read the book, you’ll find a very familiar parallel with that of Peter’s life), the very millennial-style editing of the morning school announcements (zooming in on Jason’s rejected face), building the LEGO Death Star (3,803 pieces!5) with that heart-warming moment Ned gave Peter the very last piece (Emperor Palpatine) to finish it all off, Peter practicing in the mirror what’d he say at Liz’s party alongside his Thor impression, Ned’s questions after learning about his buddy’s secret identity (“Do you lay eggs?”), playing kiss/kill/marry Avengers style during gym class, telling Happy about the churros he got because as a teenager food is always such a joy but not when freakin’ Tony Stark mentions it after the ferry incident (you’ll never see a greater combo of frustration, regret & embarrassment on Peter’s face), searching up how to do a Windsor knot on YouTube for homecoming, the Academic Decathlon team’s quirks (I liked the dude who confidently answered incorrectly in response to what the heaviest naturally-occurring element was and immediately realized out loud, “…that’s not the question, okay. Yeah.” with a sheepish smile). There’s a lot more I could mention, but you get the point – it realistically depicted a high school kind of life, not some kind of Easy A, Avril Lavigne music video kind of vibe. 

Another thing: the portrayal of Peter Parker. We all know he has a brilliant mind, which is ultimately his biggest weapon as a super-hero, but the film doesn’t portray him as a model student.  He did lose five backpacks, and I would most definitely assume he’d be in much more severe trouble than the film suggests (losing your notes, coursework and textbooks was something almost unbearable to watch when he stood in dismay in that alleyway). In addition, he so discreetly had his “Web Fluid: Version 3.01” page underneath the “Identifying Ions” practical (because nothing like big block words WEB FLUID to keep your secret identity under wraps), which he frantically concocted in a wooden drawer. And he quit marching band and initially chose not to go to Washington DC for the Academic Decathlon. So, he’s not that picture-perfect student, but that’s what I loved because we see him do literally everything else in the world except actual work. And when he is doing work, it isn’t to serve the movie plot, but because he’s a 15-year-old kid and that’s what high school kids should be doing. It makes sense, then, that with such a rad internship, you can’t help but try to have as much fun as possible just like this 15-year old taking over Southern Rail’s Twitter. I’m sure this is a unanimous review of Peter Parker when I say he’s the most relatable and realistic one yet (at least for me, he was) – the examples are endless.  And let’s not begin on how delightful Peter’s science pun shirts were.

Overall, to me, the movie wasn’t just all about that With great power comes great responsibility” talk, but a story about Peter taking the reigns of his own life. Much like when we were younger, we took cues from authoritative figures like our parents or teachers (or in this case, Tony Stark), but ultimately, you have to learn to act for yourself and deal with the consequences of deciding who you want to be. Peter did just that, and I think the title “Homecoming” has just taken on a whole new meaning for me.

Sources:

1 http://www.cbr.com/rare-spider-man-comic-sells-at-auction-for-record-price/

2 http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Web-Shooters

3 https://www.amazon.com/Spider-Man-Ultimate-Guide-Amazing-Publishing/dp/0756626757

4 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31548.Of_Human_Bondage

5 https://shop.lego.com/en-LU/Death-Star-10188

©TMK

Shawn Mendes: Illuminate World Tour | Review

Yes, so straight after the pesky finals, I hightailed it into London straight after to watch Shawn Mendes with my best friend. It was such a beautiful day, but incredibly hot for London weather (we speculated it was because Mendes was there).

I’m just going to list a few things I noticed/enjoyed about the concert:

Shawn talked about his mum and aunt being there that night, and said, “I want you all to make some noise, to show that family is where it’s loudest at. Can you do that?” It’s funny how musicians mention their families at their shows, because isn’t family the symphony of your life?

His melismas. His vibrato. There’s something about Shawn’s voice that is segmented – each note he sings has its own boundary; a scenic, rustic, white picket fence freshly lacquered. And then there’s the vibrato, incredibly rhythmic and reliable like the ocean waves, a very well-defined pattern of lull and peaks. Almost like the familiar stairs at home. I really, really like it. It just seems to imply he’s this sturdy rock you can rely on. He’s improved vastly from the boy on Vine, and it’s odd knowing I’ve heard him grow.

He looks tired. I gazed at his broken watch moving erratically as his slender fingers played the chords to “Castle On The Hill”, and I tried to imagine the boys on my course doing what Shawn does as a living – could they pull it off? Could they handle the pressure? Maybe initially, but in the long-term, I don’t think so. I don’t think anybody can with ease. It’s a matter of resilience. Being a singer is also being an entertainer and a performer. So when I saw his glassy eyes, passing like a ghost over the ecstatically wild crowd, it hit me that this was his job. He is meant to deliver and meant to perform; I suddenly felt a little afraid.

Singers use that tactic of pulling away from the microphone to let the audience sing the high bits – I saw that excessively with Calum Hood from 5SOS when they performed in Bangkok (mind you, I haven’t watched too many concerts, but that was extremely prominent and obvious). Perplexingly enough, Shawn pulls away during catch phrases of his songs, which were all varied in pitch, and there was definitely no pattern in always letting the crowd sing high parts. Because, this is Mendes everybody! He can hit the high notes like a bullseye.During “Never Be Alone”, I found it hilarious when Shawn asked the crowd to sing the iconic “Woah-oh-ohhhh-ohhh-oh-ohh-oh-oh-oh” part (sorry I wanted to make it realistic) because he attempted to do heavenly melismas/riffs over the top of it, but when he did, the crowd probably thought they had to sing what he was doing and most of the crowd simply trailed off thinking they weren’t supposed to sing. So Shawn kept going, “Come on London, sing it real loud now! Woah-oh-ohhh….” and then would try to quickly switch to those riffs, but the crowd didn’t really get it and once again got a bit derailed. Soon after many “Alright sing with me!” ‘s and “Come on, scream it! Woah-oh-ohhh…” ‘s, he did pull off some very great melismas with the backing track of the finally cooperative crowd, and it sounds great on film. I just found it funny hearing the hesitation and confusion of the crowd initially. Just me? Okay.

My favourite performance was “Ruin” – my friend begged to differ because the interactive portion apparently was extended too long but that was exactly what I adored. It was spacious, it was tranquil, it was bucolic. Very John Mayer. In Shawn’s words, the song was timeless. I cannot say enough how beautiful it was – “Do I ever cross your mind?” was on repeat, and it basically embodied every unrequited lover’s mantra (too real).

His piano-playing was…pretty good for somebody who learned it in 8 months (correct me if I’m wrong). Of course sweat makes your fingers slip and you’re performing in front of 40,000 people, so I can’t blame him for little mistakes I heard. It made me admire him even more (if that’s even possible), because it reminded me he’s just an ordinary guy with an extraordinary life.

Alrighty, I could go on, but it would then require full-blown Vancouver referencing. Overall, it was so devastatingly amazing and it is easy to say the concert topped One Direction & 5SOS (if we’re comparing pop artists here) – go, and experience the incredible talent of Shawn Mendes.

©TMK

Term 1 • Year 1 Bristol Med School | Reflection

  • The mock anatomy spot test was better than expected, but that isn’t to say it was easy. Plus, I had fun. Too many flashbacks of the senior maths challenge when having to draw a straight line through the bracketed letters, and of those SAT summer classes I took centuries ago when I had no geographical preference about university (until I realized the US vs UK difference; now I’m in Bristol).
  • I can finally put an anatomical term to those creepy figurines with abnormal body part sizes seen in every science museum ever: homunculus. Phew. What a word. I definitely glossed over that word on placards.

Homunculus. Just if you needed a reference. Kinda regretting putting it on because I didn’t realise it would be so large… (Image courtesy: Front_of_Sensory_Homunculus.gif)

  • Also, when I look at people attempting duck-face for a selfie, all I can think is, “LOL nice work obicularis oris gr8 job”
  • Rocotillo’s milkshakes are incredibly divine (but frown upon student funds), and I hate how it is less than 250m away from me. So, so tasty. Mmmmmmm.
  • Will’s Memorial Library + “The Imitation Game” soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat + “The Theory of Everything” soundtrack by Jóhann Jóhannsson + late-night anatomy revision = a productivity arising from new-found motivation, because you realize there are bigger things in life you can accomplish by succeeding the upcoming obstacle.

  • It’s hard to find people to eat out with, because money will be a pertinent issue with students. But then again, I guess I can afford it because I’m a bit of a loner who spends money on food & experiences >>>>>>> alcohol & clubbing.
  • The Great British Bake-Off had some outrageous drama and apparently that’s major with all the British kids. And I’m still enthralled by X Factor because I’ve never kept up with any TV show in my life and this is all new to me, so it’s a guilty pleasure because I never grew up with Simon Cowell on TV.
  • Bristol is a very hipster town (apparently). I don’t really see it, or maybe because I feel Bristol is exactly as how I’d like it to be. “Raise the Bar” do fantastic slam poetry events, original Banksy artwork is all over town, I’ve seen enough shops that have plentiful vegan options, and the vinyl shops stock John William records including “Revenge of the Sith” which I was tempted to buy but realized I didn’t have a vinyl record player.
  • Speaking of “Revenge of the Sith”, I will definitely be making a post about “Rogue One”, because I don’t care about those people who passed out negative reviews due to lack of lightsaber battles to satisfy their sad little George Lucas inner 1970 child.
  • Dough balls from Pizza Express is…a thing. We don’t get those in Thailand. We get something similar, but everything is just so English here I cannot help but make a clear distinction of “Thailand VS England” when there really isn’t. I saw this Facebook event about free snowball dough balls day – what even!? It was quite exciting because I’ve never done anything that infringes upon my education – the shop opened at 11:30am, the biochemistry practical started at 11:30am, the chef comes out with an impending frown and says to come back at 12:00pm, so my friend and I Naruto-run to the Biomedical Sciences Laboratory Building up the hill just in time to put on a lab coat with the rest of the med crew but I am madly perspiring all over the equipment like a sinner in church.

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  • P.S. ^ The above is my version of going out to SWX on Friday night.

©TMK