Callum attended Castle Rushen High School all the way through GCSE’s and sixth form. He now lives in Manchester and studies at the prestigious Royal Northern College of Music on their Popular Music degree course. Callum's primary instrument is the electric guitar. He is in his second year of this four year course and tells us that he is really enjoying it so far!
Callum is the recipient of the Isle of Man Arts Council Student Award. See more about our student funding here.
A typical day for me at the RNCM includes lectures and practice mostly! I usually get up, realise that everyone in my house has to bring heavy gear into uni and then we book an uber to make it on time! Lectures vary in subject, with some being very practical, like my one to one tuition on guitar or ensemble work with other classmates. Others are more research based, like learning about the modern music industry and how marketing and promotion can help get you to where you want to be. After lectures, I sometimes grab a pint with my classmates but usually go home and practice what I’ve just learned.
As just mentioned, I do love a good pint or two! The RNCM can be very challenging mentally at times, as the material we’re learning is usually really hard jazz stuff. It’s a very social place and the networking opportunities are really cool, so I like making an effort to catch up with friends in other years on the course once I’m a bit tired and broken, which is always lovely. Whether it be drinking tea or coffee and chatting until the cows come home or a full blown party there are a lot of social ways to let loose! I also love going to record shops in the northern quarter and finding new artists to listen to, as vinyl records are a bit of an addiction of mine!
Prince has had a place in my heart for years, and is my main inspiration for any music I play or write. He released his first album while he was still in his teens, played 27 or so instruments, had an amazing vocal range and voice, and always had passion for what he did. He was also incredibly versatile, and could make music in many more genres than he let on with the 80s pop/funk/rock mix he’s most famous for. These are just the surface reasons that his music means a lot to me, as I’m inspired everyday by him.
I’m heavily inspired by the fact I’m doing what I love. My close friends know that even if I don’t make too much money from music, it’s still all I’ll do. On a daily basis I draw motivation from many things, and often get excited at random things, like just because I’ve seen a squirrel at Whitworth Park on my way past, which my non-IOM mates don’t understand! A lot of musical inspiration comes from the music I’m surrounded by, as it’s always so fresh and there’s so much to unpick within songs I’m shown by other musicians! A few of my biggest inspirations at the moment include Jordan Rakei, Stevie Wonder, Tom Misch, Michael McDonald, Tame Impala and Allen Stone.
Image above: "This is me from a gig recently with Niamh Evans, a songwriter studying at the RNCM in her fourth year. I've been playing her original music with her and am due to record soon for an EP release! The other picture attached is from the same night, when we finished the gig and met Sharay Reed, who had been watching the gig after a masterclass at the RNCM! He's a bass player who plays with Cory Henry and has some awesome name drops under his belt."
I think my greatest achievement in music has been getting into the RNCM. It’s a very highly acclaimed school and course that I’m lucky enough to be a part of, and all of the students there are like one big group of mates; the networking alone is really cool and I’ve met so many like-minded people there. I’ve found my tribe!
I’m constantly learning on my course so this is a tough question. I like that the pure intensity of the course has left me able to learn songs very quickly and easily by ear, it’s very handy for being a versatile and adaptable musician, which is good for employability. I’m also happy that I’m starting to gain more confidence - it’s hard sometimes being surrounded by people that are insanely talented. This increasing confidence is landing me higher and higher marks in my modules, which I’m very proud of. It’s also attracting attention from other students for session work with them (mostly paid in pints!).
This year has been a big step up from first year so far, and with that have come various challenges. A lot of my time is spent pulling hair out over what I’m trying to learn, but I always find that having a quick break and coming at it from a different angle does the trick! A great example of this is in the ensemble weeks we have here. In ensemble week, bands are randomly formed out of first and second years, and you learn 10 songs perfectly in a week and get assessed on the Friday. The most recent week was made of TOTO songs, as they usually follow a theme or artist. This was very challenging for me as I’ve focused my playing on rhythm guitar parts over the last year, so to suddenly be hit with big rock lead parts was slightly scary, as I had to get my soloing chops back on form very quickly! Damn you, Steve Lukather! I ended up playing nine hours a day for the whole week and getting horrible blisters on my left hand from overplaying but I put in a lot of work and ended up with a really good mark.
I’d love to be at the dinner table with Stevie Wonder, Jacob Collier and Bootsy Collins. I think they’d have so many stories and interesting things to say!
If time and money were no object I’d spend a long morning drinking coffee and visiting every vintage and record shop in the Northern Quarter. I’d buy a much nicer record player, speakers and a good mixer and spend the afternoon listening to records and buying nice guitar gear online. I’d go out to a gig in the evening and then spend a few hours in a nice bar somewhere or at a late jam night before getting an Uber EXEC (since I’m allowed to be a big spender) home.
I’ve always loved the Isle of Man and I was very lucky to grow up in such a beautiful place. My favourite thing about here is that people are SO supportive of the arts. If it wasn’t for the IOM I wouldn’t be where I am now, because when I was younger it was the community around me in Castletown that encouraged me to go for it and to play. They put up with me singing out of key and playing wrong notes for years but all the while supported me. I also love the island for its scenery and views, you don’t get anything like it elsewhere!
The Isle of Man is the perfect place to start your journey in the arts, but as much as I love it, it seems as though you do eventually need to move away if you want to professionally work in the arts. I struggle a lot with this, because whenever I’m home for a holiday I love it and don’t want to be anywhere else, but I know there’s no music scene at all here compared to big cities further abroad. I always love coming back to the island and seeing everyone and the dogs at home but I know that I’m doing what’s best for my future career by being away and studying.
If I were to give my past self some advice, it’d be to follow my heart at an earlier age and commit fully to music. I was on course to go and do engineering at uni while I was in Year 12 but finally got the guts to talk to my mum and dad about the fact I’m not academic, didn’t like the classes relating to engineering and am just a born musician. I wish I could’ve made my mind up before this point as it was very obvious I would lean into a music degree eventually, as I think I would’ve advanced more before the RNCM if I’d known for certain that I’d be here now!
I’ve fallen completely in love with Toast of London on Netflix recently so give that a shot!! It’s a three season show starring Matt Berry and is hilarious. In terms of music, I highly recommend Theo Katzman’s “My Heart Is Live In Berlin” live album. It’s full of energy and is really fun and refreshing to listen to!
You can stay up to date on my work by following me on instagram @callumrowemusic ! I’ve made it my mission to keep uploading more on my music account, so it’s a bit empty at the moment but to keep up to date with daily shenanigans you can follow my personal account @realcallumrowe
Cats or dogs? Dogs
Netflix or Youtube? Netflix
Birthday or Christmas? Christmas
Music or podcasts? Music
Big party or small gathering? Big Party
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