You may have seen him on your Facebook timeline singing about Boris Johnson and Brexit – after all, it hit almost two million views overnight. But it’s more likely that you will see – or hear – Callum Beattie as you walk about the streets of Edinburgh for this years’ Fringe Festival.
The rising singer and songwriter, has moved back to his native Edinburgh after living in Germany for six years.
Although he has just released his latest single Without You, which has been played by Ken Bruce on Radio 2, Callum is back to entertain folk from all over the world in his home town. He said: “I’ve just come back from a busking tour in Europe. I’ve been playing a few wee gigs on Rose Street, playing my old pubs that I used to play in, getting involved with the Fringe. It’s my first time back playing – it feels good.”
Callum has just released dates of a free pub tour over the next fortnight of the Fringe, playing his local Scott’s Bar, the Pear Tree and the Cowshed.
Although he is just returning, Callum says that he plans on moving to Glasgow in the coming months.
He said: “There’s not so many rules about busking in Glasgow – you need permits and all for Edinburgh.
“Even in the pubs, they’d have noise police coming in, complaining, being seriously intimidating. Bang in the city centre and there are people complaining about noise.”
Although Callum has played Glastonbury and Hyde Park, the smaller pubs in and around Rose Street and Easter Road are where he wishes to return to play and where he feels most penalised as a performer. He said: “It annoys me that they advertise Edinburgh as a hub of art and culture, but actually, the council only supports it for the Festival.
“They close venues down, you have to have licences. Even at the Festival areas, signs say if you use amplification, it’s an offence. I hope I do get lifted for it – it would make a great story.”
Callum’s busking stories have started to make more of an appearance in his music – his singles Easter Road and Salamander Street all pay homage to his early busking and gigging days.
His upbringing is the reason that he plays music. Raised by his father in a single-parent household with an immense record collection, Callum got his first guitar on his 13th birthday.
He said: “We had nothing. We were extremely poor. I was just a wee boy, and I shouldn’t have been going hungry.
“It’s ingrained in me, that’s why I write songs about it. People say ‘Would you like to be rich and famous, Callum?’ and I say ‘Aye’ and they’re surprised.
“It’s not because I want it for me. My dad is in his 60s, he’s knackered, he works seven days a week. That guy shouldn’t be working. I want to say to him, ‘Dad, you don’t have to work another day in your life’.”
Callum plays the Cowshed on 13 and 18 of August and Scott’s Bar on Friday 16. Easter Road will be released on the 30 August and he will play The Mash House on the 24 October.