From serving drinks to passengers on a transatlantic flight to posing in his white tights for a billboard, Lewis Capaldi’s reputation as a music joker is hard-earned. While the Scot’s wit and willingness to do just about anything for a laugh is on full display in his Netflix documentary ‘How I Feel Now’, Capaldi drops the mask long enough to share the diagnosis. of his Tourette and fight against the syndrome of the impostor. A decision that weighed heavily. “I don’t know if you know,” he said impassively, “but people are jerks.”
Either way, Capaldi went ahead with the documentary. “I didn’t think I had a story to tell,” he says, but director Joe Pearlman and his colleagues at Pulse Films saw it differently. The ‘Someone You Loved’ hitmaker ultimately agreed to the trick because he envisioned the film as a sort of victory lap. “I thought it was going to be triumphant,” he laughs. “But then COVID happened and they film me sniffing my panties.”
As the world suddenly came to a halt, Capaldi began to crumble under the pressure to create such a successful second album as his mega-selling debut “Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent” – and cameras were there for the capture. True to form, Capaldi first tries to laugh at his growing anxiety in the film as he cobbles together songs in his parents’ shed in the suburb of Whitburn, Scotland, during lockdown.
There are jaw-dropping anecdotes about the world’s worst one-night stand (“mom had to pick me up because I had a panic attack shortly after climaxing”) and speeches from unorthodox encouragement from superstars (Elton John jokingly threatens to bring out the ‘latent homo’ if he doesn’t overcome his self-doubt.) However, the singer-songwriter’s nerves begin to show physically through tics and the film takes an unexpected turn.
“It was terrifying to share it,” Capaldi admits. “Even though I’m open and open online, it’s usually through a pretty jolly lens.” Although he revealed his struggle with anxiety and Tourette’s eventual diagnosis before the documentary’s release, sharing footage of physiotherapy sessions, family arguments born out of worries and graphic information about medication side effects is a whole other thing. In the end, Capaldi chose total candor to avoid potential misunderstandings.
“I have this thing,” he says, referring to his Tourette, “and I’d rather just tell people what it is than them saying, ‘Oh, is he on drugs?’ I hate all this unnecessary worry. The 26-year-old is now bracing himself for the reaction of viewers. “For every person who supports you and every kind word you receive, you are going to have people announcing it or sending it” , says Capaldi. The idea of getting to someone else’s low makes it easier: “If people notice things that coincide with what’s going on in their life, then it was worth it.”
If it sounds like Therapy Speak, well, that’s because it is. Capaldi has been working on himself for the past 18 months, but he still hasn’t won the battle against impostor syndrome as his sophomore album, ‘Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent’, takes center stage. important. Not even landing back-to-back No. 1 hits in the UK – with lead single “Forget Me” and its follow-up “Pointless” – could allay those doubts. “He hasn’t changed at all,” Capaldi said. “I can’t imagine being in a position where I think I deserve to do this.”
Progress has been made in the way it processes these emotions, however. “I’m probably better at not letting it overwhelm me and letting the most important thoughts in my head be negative thoughts.” Capaldi now realizes that doubt is part of life. “Everyone has impostor syndrome to some degree,” he says. “It’s a human thing as opposed to a me thing.” As the hitmaker threatens seriousness, he snaps: “It makes me feel better knowing other people are hurting, that’s what I’m trying to say here.”
Whether or not Capaldi’s second album reaches the same commercial heights as his debut, he’s proud of a job that began in a shed with only a cardboard cutout of Niall Horan to keep him company (“He’s always watching over me and I need to impress him”). Of the 12 songs on the disc, 11 come from the confinement sessions seen in the film. “It’s a COVID baby”, he says, before giving details on the creative advantage of lockdown.
“If it hadn’t been for COVID, I probably would have released a record sooner,” Capaldi says. “There was no rush because I couldn’t visit it and that’s kind of the whole point for me.” The extended gestation period also makes “Broken by Desire to Be Heavenly Sent” a kind of time capsule. “How I’m Feeling Now”, the song from which the documentary takes its title, closes the album. “It’s a pretty sad song,” Capaldi says. “Cut to a year later, and I don’t feel like that at all.
While Capaldi is slowly embracing positive thinking, he’s still not so sure what to make of his documentary’s reviews. “It’s different with music,” he says. “I really put my heart and soul into doing this thing, but for the documentary, I just existed and it was filmed. I guess you’re just reviewing if my life is shitty or not. In true Capaldi style, he ends with a quip of self-mockery: “If it gets a star, I think I’ll have to re-evaluate some things.