Artist Q&A: Catching Up with Camila Cabello

Artist Q&A: Catching Up with Camila Cabello

UPDATE: The following Q&A with Camila Cabello was published in September 2017.  As noted in the below interview, the former Fifth Harmony singer initially planned to release her debut solo album as The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving. but instead released the album as Camila on January 12, 2018.

Camila Cabello’s long wait is over. That’s because she’s preparing to release her first album as a solo artist, The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving. When Cabello left the uber-successful, pop, girl group, Fifth Harmony, in December 2016, she said she wanted to write her own songs. She described the new album as “the story of my journey from darkness into light, from a time when I was lost to a time when I found myself again” in an Instagram post. Not only did she find herself, people will find out that she is a songwriter as well as a singer. We recently caught up with Cabello to discuss her debut album, the decision to go solo and why she never learned to drive (it’s true).

It’s also Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), so we asked the Cuban-born performer to discuss her proud heritage and its impact on her music.

SoundExchange: “Crying in the Club” has done really well in the four months since its release, and your debut solo album, The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving., is coming soon. With everything that’s happened in your life over the past year or so, how important is it to you to get your first album out to the world?

Cabello: I feel like I can’t really breathe the same until I release it. People are really going to know me better when they listen to my album. Although I talk to my fans a lot on social media, I’m generally a pretty private person. And you can’t really know the inside of a person’s soul or mind through social media or interviews. You may know my personality, but my dreams, fears, fantasies, and secrets are only in my music. I set out to create a body of work that represents me and one that I could be proud. This album has exceeded my expectations.

SoundExchange: Tell us about the songwriting process. Sia wrote “Crying in the Club,” but you added some elements to the song. Overall, was the album difficult to write? Did you have other writing partners?

Cabello: Every song that made my album is a song that originated from notes on my phone. It’s really important to me that you can hear my voice as a songwriter through this album because that’s the whole reason I love creating music. I usually write lyrics or titles as notes on my phone and bring them into sessions. “Havana,” “Never Be the Same,” “Questions”… they all started as notes in my phone. I wouldn’t say the album was difficult to write because I’m always writing. I would be writing even if I was unable to make an album. Writing isn’t part of my job or career; but it’s my way of expressing myself and it’s one of the things I love to do most in the world.

SoundExchange: You were once a member of the hugely successful girl group, Fifth Harmony. Performing as a solo artist is certainly a big adjustment from performing alongside four girls. How would you describe the transition?

Cabello: At first, it was really nerve-racking. But like anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you become, and the more you learn how to improve. It helps to remember that everybody in the room ultimately just wants to have fun and have a good time. So, I interact with the crowd and make them feel good. Performing solo was once intimidating. But I’ve learned a lot and now I feel very relaxed on stage.

SoundExchange: Billboard recently conducted a poll to ask which female singer should collaborate on a remix of Luis Fonsi’s summer smash, “Despacito,” and you won – by a lot. Is that a project you would like to do?

Cabello: I think it’s a little late for me to hop on “Despacito.” I think I’ll just do my own private remix concert in the shower (which I did in every state during this past summer tour anyway)… yeah!

SoundExchange: Are there other collaborations you would like to do?

Cabello: I love to collaborate with people who are very different from me, people who show me something new. I’d love to collaborate with Daft Punk someday. And there is a long list of rappers with whom I’d love to collaborate. I worship Nicki Minaj – she’s amazing. Also, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake… I’ve gotta work really hard to get to them, but someday I hope it will happen!

SoundExchange: We’re recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, so we want to ask you, as a Cuban-born American, what this observance means to you and how important it is to you to celebrate your Hispanic heritage.

Cabello: I always think it’s important to learn about and be proud of where you come from. When you’re proud of your roots and your culture, it makes you walk with a different swagger. Coming from a Mexican-Cuban family, I grew up with the best food ever (in my opinion), the most amazing music, and people around me who worked really hard to get to where they are in life. Latinos are a loud, loving, and passionate people. And with what’s going on in this country right now, we have to be extra proud of the flavor we add to our communities!

SoundExchange: You toured with Bruno Mars in July and August. What was it like to tour with someone with such a long list of accomplishments? Do performers learn tips from each other while touring?

Cabello: I was super nervous to meet Bruno because all I could think about was how many ridiculously good songs he has and how good of a musician and performer he is! But opening for him on his tour was really great training for me because I was performing in front of crowds that weren’t there to see me; I had to win them over during my set. I definitely learned a lot from seeing him own the stage every night. Touring with somebody who is that good motivated me to step up my game and get better every night. And offstage, he is the nicest, most chill dude.

SoundExchange: Last question. What’s this about you not knowing how to drive? Is that true?

Cabello: I don’t know how to drive! I went to Los Angeles for X Factor when I was 15 years old and I’ve been working nonstop ever since. So honestly, I haven’t had the time! I’m also way too clumsy and distracted to drive a car. I think… at least for now.