KAMILLE is a name you may not be familiar with, but someone you should definitely know. She’s behind some of the biggest hits of the 2010s and has writing credits on six U.K. number 1s including David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s recent hit ‘I’m Good (Blue).’
But, she also has her own music, having released ‘learning‘ and ‘weight loss‘ in 2022, and has recently collaborated with Fred again.. So with new music on the way and plenty of hits to discuss, we sat down with KAMILLE.
Despite a shaky internet connection, we got to the details of how she juggles being an artist, writer, and label head, whilst using the skills she’s learnt to help the next generation.
You’ve recently released two tracks in 2022, what made you decide to keep these tracks for yourself and what do they show differently about you artistically?
‘learning‘ was one of the first songs I released this year and it was about my depression and anxiety that I went through because it was so personal it had to be for me. It was a really deep experience I went through and I just wanted to share that with people. ‘weight loss‘ is a continuation of that when you suddenly feel stronger and go through a really bad breakup and you feel like you just lost weight. These were both experiences that I have gone through in my life that I wanted to write about. I feel like they’re very personal and very true to me. Sometimes when I write songs like that, there’s no one else they could be for (but me). It made sense that I released them.
If you write something so personal, you have to do it for yourself. For example, if you wrote it for another artist it’s not going to be the same. They’re going to be like ‘well I didn’t go through this.’
Exactly. Especially when it’s something so deep. There have been some times in my career, where I’ve given songs away and it’s worked, but these two had to be for me, for sure.
From the first song to the second song, they transition quite nicely. It’s you going through the motions. I don’t know what your next release is going to be like, but maybe that will continue the transition.
It will definitely be a lot more honesty. That is one thing I am really enjoying, is being able to be so honest. The response from everyone and even having these songs so heavily supported by Radio 1 has shown me that people want honesty. I’m just going to continue with that and I am so excited (about) my bodies of music. I am even just going to make some EPs because I want people to hear bodies of work from me now. I want to get into it.
When you were younger you went to the Sylvia Young Theatre School. What skills did you gain from your time there that you’ve used to help you in your career?
So much! I think that was my first experience of performing arts. I still went to school and my mom and my dad let me go there part-time. I wanted to go full-time, but my parents were like ‘no.’ I was able to (go) every weekend, just learn about being confident on stage and I learnt about musicals and dance. There were just so many incredible people there and gifted teachers. I was so inspired.
What it did, was it lit the flame for me when it came to this industry and understanding all different aspects of it. It was an incredible experience for me.
When you get these opportunities when you’re younger, you have to grasp them because they help push you further and they give you the tools and the skills to be able to do what you are doing now.
Definitely, and you see how hard everyone’s working. Students there work so hard. That gave me an insight into what it takes to make it in music because before that I had no idea.
Do you think doing that when you were younger pushed you further in your desire to want to do this as a career?
It gave me the bug. I was immersed in music and in dance and acting and all these things I had never known how to go about. I was obsessed with it after that and even when I left Sylvia Young, I still wanted to continue and be in the music industry on some level. It was such an incredible experience for me to do that.
I can see that and it has put you on the steps toward the path you’re on now. It gave you the desire to want to do it and say to your parents ‘no Mom, I know you want me to do this, but I want to do this.’
I know right. I think it just gave me that kind of knowledge and it left me knowing that was the right place for me. Sometimes, you try stuff and you think you’re going to love it and you go try it and you are like ‘eh, I don’t know about this.’ But, for me acting, singing, and dancing, that was me, I was obsessed with (them). I knew straight away I wanted to be in the entertainment industry on some level.
Has being a songwriter for other artists allowed you to master your craft better than if you had focused on writing for yourself?
Oh, definitely! I’m so glad I did it this way round. When I came into the industry, straight away I wanted to be a singer, but I definitely wasn’t ready. I’m glad I got so much experience writing for other people. I learnt how to make music and produce. I am a producer as well. All these things are so, so vital for me now when I make music. I’m going off making a whole EP on my own and I am just writing and producing it on my own. Without all those experiences I wouldn’t know how to make a song. Also, I am glad I did it that way. I have learned so much and met so many people. It’s an amazing journey and I love the way I did it. I would never change that.
It sounds like you made the right decision and learning to produce is a handy skill. I imagine writing for people, you have to get used to writing in different ways or writing about different things that you wouldn’t write about yourself. Then you would take these and put them into your own music.
I definitely have. You learn about different genres, styles, also storytelling. I learnt how to tell stories and connect with an audience. That has been incredible for me. I can’t believe I have managed to have six number 1s in this country from doing that. It’s been an incredible journey, I can’t believe I am still here doing it. I love it even more than I did before. I would never change that and I am glad I got to do it that way around.
Who is one artist you would want to perform live with and where would you perform?
That’s an amazing question. It used to be James Blake, now it is Fred again.., one of my closest friends. We’re actually dropping a song today. It would only make sense that we perform that together at some point. I would love to perform with him at Brixton Academy because it was where I grew up, I’m a Streatham girl. That would mean so much. We’ve been speaking about it. That is the most realistic, short-term goal I can achieve and a dream of mine.
I have been to one of his performances before. They are always very electric and the crowd is always very good. I can understand why you picked him. I think he’s performing in Brixton soon, so maybe if you pop him a quick text and say ‘hey Fred, you wanna…’
I will, I will. (laughs) He would definitely be up for it.
What would you say is the best song you have ever written?
I think because of the moment and the whole situation it created it’s probably ‘Shout Out to My Ex,’ by Little Mix. In that moment, it was a massive explosion of creativity, what was actually happening in real life, and just helping and empowering women, which I love to do. Being able to turn a negative experience into something so incredible for all of us to feel empowered by, I loved that. I love that it went to no. 1 and that it won a Brit award and all of these things. It was just incredible.
It was a massive song at the time and like you said, it had its purpose and it did its thing commercially and in terms of what the song was about. You worked with Little Mix quite a few times. What was it about them, that kept you going back and making more songs with them?
I wrote probably 32 or 33 songs for them. It was a long career we had together and they just became my friends. It wasn’t so much I went back to them more than anyone else, it was more of a no-brainer I would work with them. It was like working with my best friend or sister. It was something I wanted to do anyway. It felt really natural and fun because I knew them so well. I was making ideas for them even when they weren’t there, on tour or not in the country. I was just writing for them all the time. It was a fun thing that became part of my life. Even getting to perform with them at the 02 Arena, a song we had about each other ‘More Than Words.’ It’s a song that tells the story of our journey and why we spent so much time together. It was a natural thing for us to create as we were really close.
You can see that by the fact you wrote over 30 songs together, that you had a good relationship. I imagine writing songs with people you get on with and have a relationship with is going to be not only easier but better and more fun for you. From what you said there, I can tell you have quite a close bond with them. That has led to a lot of good music and a lot of good memories.
The trust that we had for each other as well, encouraged me to produce. I got to executive produce the last album ‘Confetti‘ which was incredible. Trust is a massive thing and you only get it when you spend a lot of time with someone.
What is managing a record label like compared to being an artist and what are the differences and challenges you face compared to just being a singer?
It’s interesting because you’re filling a lot more plates, you’ve got your head on a lot more things, and you have to be constantly thinking about this artist and this artist. As much as it is amazing being super creative and running a record label, it’s a lot of pressure. But, you have got to be on it. It’s a different experience to creating music and releasing it myself because I can just release and create in the studio (as an artist). On the record label side, I have to think about marketing and A&R, promotion, digital and social media. There’s a lot more that goes into it. I think it’s just using the different parts of my brain that are always making sure that I think about things constantly, which is fine for me. I don’t mind it. But, it is a lot more work and I am excited by that.
I can imagine it’s you doing what you normally do, but you’re thinking ‘I have got to speak to my manager and my PR Team, learn from them and see what they do.’ It’s a lot of things and a lot of learning. What do you look for when you sign an artist to your label?
I look for mostly creativity and if they’re able to use their own initiative. More than ever, you have to write yourself these days. The more you can do on your own as an artist, it empowers you. I love seeing artists that want to be able to write their own music or do their own music. That connects with me, as that’s who I am as a person.
You’ve teamed up with Fred again.. on the ‘Next Up’ programme. How important is this opportunity for you?
Yes, oh my gosh it was so amazing to team up with Fred. He’s such a good friend of mine. I think it’s so important to want to reach out and help others, just share our knowledge on what we know, and provide an environment for people to flourish as well. I like giving those opportunities because I feel like I didn’t get a lot of those opportunities when I first started, so it’s nice to be able to help in that way.
Who is one artist up and coming you are listening to right now and what advice would you give them?
At the moment, I am really really loving Debbie. Debbie, I think is such an incredible singer, her artistry is beautiful, and I love her lyrics. As a songwriter myself, that’s so important to me, that the lyrics are really strong in a song. She always helps me connect to her music, with incredible lyrics. So, I would definitely say, Debbie, she is so so sick. I would also just say to her to keep being who she is, and not change, because that is what is special about her.