It has been a big six months for Lewis McLaughlin.

As well as releasing his debut album and touring Scotland’s festival circuit, in June he was crowned as the winner of the Glastonbury Emerging talent competition.

With previous winners including the likes of Scouting for Girls, Stornoway, and Declan McKenna, it feels as though the Edinburgh-born singer-songwriter is just getting started.

“It’s all been absolute madness,” he said. “At the time of applying I didn’t even have an album.”

McLaughlin’s song ‘Summer’ – a self-affirming, instantly memorable folk song – was chosen as a finalist amongst thousands of entries. For a chance at winning a £5000 talent development prize and a performance slot at Glastonbury, he had to travel down to Pilton in Somerset to compete against seven other artists from across the country.

But the precarious nature of being an early-career musician meant he pondered whether to turn up at all.

“I’m an engineer as well and I was just about to start working for a stage company. My first gig for them was at a folk festival up north and I had to choose.

“And I almost didn’t go down to the final because I thought I can’t cancel all this steady work for a chance on this competition.”

The National: Lewis McLaughlin Lewis McLaughlin (Image: Lewis McLaughlin)

In the end, despite his drummer catching Covid four days before the final, McLaughlin and his band made the seven-hour drive for his first ever gig in England.

“It was busy and it’s quite a small venue, which I’m used to. Only this time I was playing in-front of the guy who books the Pyramid stage.

“There was never a part of me that was expecting to win it. There’s a photo of me with Emily Eavis [the daughter of Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis and co-organiser of the festival] and I hate that photo, I’m just in an absolute state of shock.”

He would end up playing four-times at Glastonbury, culminating in a live televised performance of ‘Summer’ broadcast immediately following Pulitzer Prize winning rapper Kendrick Lamar’s headline set on Sunday night.

Over half a million people who tuned in to watch one of America’s greatest living rappers would be greeted in its aftermath by a 21-year-old from Leith clutching an acoustic guitar and singing about the weather.

“That was the last thing I did at the festival, so the whole weekend was kind of building up to it. But I think it was quite good that it was then because I was almost too tired to be nervous.”

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In the wake of his final Glastonbury performance the Radio 2 DJ Jo Wiley tagged him on Twitter, asking that he follow her back so she could message him.

“I just wanted to let you know that Chris from Coldplay was watching you on our show the other night and wanted me to pass on the following message to you,” wrote Wiley.

“‘Please tell Lewis McLaughlin that song is AMAZING’”

Not bad praise from the frontman of the most successful band of the 21st century.

McLaughlin is the son of a former folk duo and began learning how to play music at the age of five.

However, he never felt as if he were destined to become a solo performer.

“When I was at school I was an instrumentalist,” he said. “I played the guitar and the fiddle a lot. And my mum sings and writes songs but that was really something I found on my terms.

“I used to write songs secretly in my bedroom and I was running off doing all these little pub gigs in Leith without anyone knowing.

“As a man in Scotland it’s not always the norm to speak about your feelings or to sing about your feelings, so I think I just didn’t have the confidence to tell anyone I was doing it.”

His debut album, Feel The Ground You Walk Upon, is an introspective and playful rumination on what it means to be unsure of yourself.

It has indie-folk earworms like ‘Summer’ as well as a classically country-inspired male-female duet with Perthshire folk singer Beth Malcolm.

“I wrote most of the songs when I was a teenager, so I was just working out my place in the world and dealing with a bit of mental health stuff.

“Which is funny to me because by the time I released the album it was quite a long time after I’d written most of the songs and I was in a totally different headspace.”

Since winning the Emerging Talent competition McLaughlin has toured Scotland playing various festivals, his star rising so rapidly that bookings were coming with a few days rather than a few weeks’ notice.

“It’s been great. Pretty mad, and I’m pretty tired, but my band and I are at the stage where we’ve played enough that we don’t need to think. We can just have an absolute ball out on stage.”

With a tour lined up for the autumn that ball looks set to continue.

Lewis McLaughlin will play a series of intimate shows across Scotland in October and November. Tickets available at