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I Want My Audience To Feel Things Beyond The Music: Introducing Camille Christel

Thursday, 03 October 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

Photo: Eleanor Hardwick

“I think sometimes you can feel so alone, in so many situations. But the moment you hear something you identify with you feel soothed, you feel less alone. I want people to know that other people have been through similar difficult situations.”

At just 19 years old, singer Camille Christel portrays poignant maturity and depth with her songwriting. Creating reflective music that seeks to connect us all, she is inspired by the fragile human condition. Having recently released her debut EP, played Glastonbury and been championed by BBC 6 Music’s Mary Anne Hobbs, the Nottingham native’s ambitions for her music are grand, as is her potential.

Playing the live circuit since she was old enough to stand on stage, performing was Camille's first love. When she sings, delicate electricity silences her crowds, creating a tangible atmosphere charged with passion. Her instrumentals rouse emotions, with strings and piano dancing alongside her lyrics. Get to know her.

Has life become quite full on since the release of your first EP?

Yeah, I did a festival in Nottingham and then Glastonbury, which was massive. I enjoyed both experiences. Glastonbury feels like a real achievement, and it happened on my birthday. I was happy I got to play the festival in Nottingham because that’s my home town. I played a small acoustic stage, and it was brilliant. 

Your live shows are atmospheric and intimate. How does the sound translate to a festival stage?

I want my audience to feel things beyond the music. I want to create a whole experience. So for the live shows what I wear is essential to me too—that always has to relate to the music. To find my outfits l usually go to Brick Lane and pick up bits and bobs from the rag market, sometimes I will wear a tracksuit. I do like to find unique pieces.

Do you enjoy being on stage?

I've been performing for most of my life. When l was a child, I was quite shy, but just being on stage helped encourage me to gain more confidence with performing and that just kept my music evolving. When I was 14, I got involved in a project which involved a lot of live shows. 

With my own music I have been playing venues around Nottingham since I was 13. I played all kinds of stuff, but that got me going, then I played a few smaller festivals. I've been touring for quite a while. It’s always a weird experience when you step out, I find it amazing really. Playing music provokes all kinds of emotions.

You're a confident and engaging performer—has that come naturally?

No, I do get quite nervous before I step out to perform. I really want to connect my music with the audience. So I get anxious, but once I step out I am a different person—the music takes over. When you are playing your music you are so in the music you aren't thinking, you are just feeling. My music is very personal. It's about my life, so there's so much feeling to convey.

Why did you decide to call your new single Chicago?

Chicago was a song that I wrote at a place in my life when everything was changing. My friends were changing, my life was changing. I turned something that could have been a sad time into something positive, and I wrote the song on a plane to Chicago when I needed to escape. It helped me get my head straight; it came at such an important point for me when an emotional change was happening. It is so important to me as a song, so it’s perfect for me to release as my debut official. The song is dreamy and moves around quite a bit. I wanted that to be represented by the instrumentals, to sound as if you're on the plane coming into land.

When does the inspiration to write usually happen for you?

I've never been one of those people who can just sit down and write. I get more inspired when I am out and about seeing people and life. My music is about being a 19-year-old woman in the world, and my lyrics are all about things that inspire me. I could be just walking into town or going to work, out with my friends or waking up in the morning. It's more about when feelings hit me.

I've always got quite a few field recordings on my phone. When I write my songs, I want my audiences to feel like they are in that same moment when I first was inspired to write and identify with my emotions. My processes are just very sporadic; it all just depends on whatever pops into my head. My brain works in quite weird ways, it’s choppy and incorporates so many different elements of my creativity at the same time. There's no pattern to how I write.

What is your background in music?

I'm very dyslexic, so I've always seen words differently. When I was eight I began writing poetry, then I started learning guitar, and from there I taught myself piano, and it all progressed naturally as I got older. My music has grown with me as I have grown into a woman. I got into the cello for a few years ago; it's my favourite instrument, so atmospheric. 

It's beautiful how the movement of the instrument looks like an extension of the body. I wish I had been able to play the cello successfully. I always knew the sound of the cello was going to be a big part of my music. I'd love to learn more instruments. 

What plans have you got for a debut album?

That's a long term project in the making for me; I'm always writing new music and sketching out ideas for songs. My music is about everything I have been and I'm just not ready to finalise that first collection of songs at this point. I have an EP coming out in a few months. I would love to write for other artists too.

Are you staying in Nottingham or will you relocate to London?  

I love Nottingham, but I guess I'll see. The live music scene in Nottingham is excellent. Four years ago we got a Rough Trade. That's where I work now, and the shop has just changed things so much. It's an inspiring place to work. There is always something happening. I also work with a promotion company which regularly put on events in clubs and bars so l feel like l can still get myself heard and involved in new opportunities while I'm here.

My main goal is just for people to experience and feel affected by music. I'd love to do some exciting shows in new places with fantastic acoustics, I love playing live shows. In time I will grow the experience to include dancers and projections. I want people to feel so many different emotions at my shows; it all starts with the music.

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