Former Coleg Menai student Callum Lloyd-Williams has worked with some of today’s biggest music artists - including Dua Lipa, Clean Bandit and Zara Larsson.
The sound engineer is currently on a world tour with singer Lauren Spencer-Smith, whose 2022 breakthrough hit Fingers Crossed drew comparisons with Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo.
Callum will spend the autumn in Australia and New Zealand working with the Canadian singer-songwriter, having already toured the UK, Europe and the USA.
It’s the latest adventure in an exciting career for the Anglesey man, who has spent the last few years trotting the globe with multiple Grammy-winning superstar Dua Lipa.
“Touring with Dua was great,” said Callum, who worked as a playback engineer and show programmer for the singer from 2019 until earlier this year.
Picture: Henry Arres
“She was always very down-to-earth and welcoming to her team. She knew everyone by name and really cared about the end product that we were trying to put out.
“All that really makes a difference. That’s how you become as successful as she has - by really caring about the details. I really believe she will go down as one of the biggest and best female artists of our generation.”
One of the highlights of his time working with Dua Lipa was the 2021 Brit Awards, when the singer produced a memorable performance, starting with a pre-recorded intro at a London Underground station which then cut away to her blasting out her hits at the O2 Arena.
“That Brits was a pretty special one!” said Callum, who studied Music Technology at Coleg Menai’s Bangor campus from 2010 to 2012.
“It was the first major trial of an arena show post-Covid, so it was a great moment walking back into the O2 arena with a crowd again.
“We did a special performance, starting on a London underground train and transitioning to the O2 stage. This was a live-to-air performance so you always get a little bit more nervous for these ones!”
Callum also attended Elton John’s AIDS Foundation event with Dua Lipa, which he described as “really special”.
“That’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my career,” he added. “Because of Covid there was a wristband system in place in terms of how close you could get to Elton John, but I got to meet his team and met him from afar, and that was a real privilege.”
After completing his course at Coleg Menai, Callum studied at Manchester’s School of Sound Recording (now known as Spirit Studios) before returning to North Wales to work for local sound hire companies.
He gradually made connections in the music industry, going on to work with artists such as Escala, Marc Almond, The Lightning Seeds and Cast.
In 2019, he toured with Zara Larsson supporting Ed Sheeran on the Divide Tour, which at the time broke U2’s record for the highest-grossing tour ever.
Callum said: “Being part of the tour was a great experience, and the shows were massive. Ed is a great guy, super welcoming and a great laugh.”
He has since worked with Christine and the Queens, and is now enjoying the next episode in his career with Lauren Spencer-Smith.
“Lauren is super talented and has achieved so much already for someone who’s just turned 20,” he said. “All the shows are selling out and her fans are crazy loud.
“Working with her is great, and it’s a real honour to mix her vocal everyday. She will definitely be a household name in a couple years.”
Callum loves getting to see the world through his work, counting Australia, the USA and Japan among his favourite places to tour.
“I really enjoy Australia,” he said. “Whenever I go there, it’s usually the end of our summer and the start of theirs. I like the way they do things out there - everything’s about the outdoors.
“I like going to America and touring there, seeing the real bits of the USA that you might not usually see, such as the great parks. I always enjoy Japan, and Central Europe’s great.
“I love getting to see these different cultures and how people live their lives, the different foods they eat. It’s part of my work - if you didn’t enjoy travelling around the world, you wouldn’t enjoy the job.”
Originally from Llandegfan, Callum regularly returns to his home in North Wales, where he runs his own company, CLW Touring and Broadcast. He still works locally when he’s not on tour, providing broadcast audio production for S4C programmes and the Welsh music scene.
“I love coming back home,” he said. “When I came back to North Wales after uni I did a good four or five years solid of working locally.
“I slowly started meeting more and more people who worked in touring, and started working further afield. I worked for a lot of Liverpool-based artists like the Lightning Seeds and Cast, broke into the North West area, met more people and went full-time into touring.”
Picture: Henry Arres
He added: “It’s nice to be involved with the local scene. Working with Welsh bands was how I learned to mix a band, how I learned my trade. I owe that to the local industry - without it I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I’ve had.”
Callum credits Coleg Menai as well as the local scene with setting him up for his career, saying: “I knew of the Coleg Menai course when I was in school, and the fact the course was free, it was a no-brainer.
“From the age of 14 I decided I wanted to do this job, from going to gigs, seeing how the people behind the sound desk worked. As soon as I arrived in Coleg Menai I was like ‘This is what I’m doing, I’m a sound guy’, and I was really driven to do that.
“The course was practical, and the opportunities were there - the gigs, the facilities, the field trips. It was the perfect course for me.”
Callum regularly returns to the college to speak to students, and said: “I really try to stress that it’s such a good course, and you should use it to get your foot in the door of the industry. Also, make full use of the facilities - stay after college, or use the facilities at lunchtime to work on your skills.”
For more information about Music and Music Technology courses at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai, click here. Applications open in November for September 2024 entry.