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A little bit older and a whole lot wiser, Lewis singer songwriter Willie Campbell has been reconnecting with his roots since leaving indie pop band Astrid and returning to his homeland in 2004.
Later this month the rejuvenated father of two will release a new radio single, Soundtrack to The Life We Leave Behind, the title track of his forthcoming album and a reflection on his time spent away from the island of his birth.
‘Coming back to the island was the best decision of my life,’ he told us.
Willie left Lewis at the age of 15 to go to nautical college in Glasgow and lived in a seaman’s mission for a year.
‘There was talk of going to sea, to say I was half hearted about it is an understatement,’ he said.
‘The first band I played in was called Kite Monster, it was an important introduction into the ups and downs of being in a real band, we had lots of label interest but nothing quite came of it.
‘When my friends, including childhood pal Charlie Clark, started Astrid they were gunning for me to join after they’d been together a short while.
‘We got to tour, make albums, play in Europe and America but I wasn’t living a happy life, being in a band can completely consume you and it made me boring and self absorbed, it took me a while to realise that the best bits of life are away from that experience.’
Along with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, Willie was also a founding member of turn-of-the-century indie collective The Reindeer Section. More recently he has been releasing records as The Open Day Rotation and has three critically-acclaimed albums.
In 2018/2019 Willie was commissioned to write songs for the Dìleab project which was centred on the history of emigration and war experience of island communities in the Outer Hebrides. Recent projects also include a tour of Between Islands – a collaborate inter-island songwriting collective with Kris Drever and Arthur Nicolson.
Since returning to the village he came from Willie has met his wife Michelle and the couple have had two children.
‘I honestly don’t think there can be many better places in the world to raise a family,’ he added.
‘I’m very much living in and feel part of the place I was dying to get away from as a teenager. I was convinced there had to be a life more interesting going on somewhere. I’ve definitely grown out of that way of thinking.
‘Soundtrack to The Life We Leave Behind (four minutes of old school indie guitars and sing along choruses) is a little snapshot of my past and a conversation about how we tend to try and only show the best of ourselves.
‘It’s also a warning to myself to not isolate and to speak to people. I have a good life and I want to keep it that way.’