Interview with Camie

Written by Divine Magazine

Toronto-based singer/songwriter and multi-award-winning storyteller Camie has long enchanted audiences with her delicate queer-feminist croonings, rich vocal tones, and lush poetic imagination. Camie is the alternative folk project of award-winning Tkaronto-based multidisciplinary performance artist, Camille Intson.

Her writing, performance work, conceptual art, and music have received international attention and critical acclaim.

Getting to know Camie

Do you sing in the shower? What songs?

This is kind of (very) embarrassing, but I grew up doing a lot of musical theatres (I was one of those kids… you know the kind) and lately I’ve been singing a lot of West Side Story in the shower. I know there are a few issues with that show but, my God, what a score. My pipe dream is to play Tony in drag. I nail Something’s Coming and Maria when I’m alone under hot water.

Who would you want to play you in a movie of your life?

I’m well aware that this actress is not alive, but everyone tells me that I look just like a young Mary Pickford. So if someone could invent time travel, write that film, and go back to the 20s to get her to star in it, that would be great.

If you were a member of the Spice Girls, what would your spice handle be?

Anxiety Spice. Or, like, Socialist Spice. I would come out with a hammer and sickle. People would eat it up.

If you could ask your future self one question, what would it be?

I wouldn’t want to know anything about the future-future, but I’d probably ask myself what stocks to invest in so I could make some good money. Hey — I’m an indie artist and Ph.D. student — I need all the help I can get in this economy.

What was the last TV series you watched on TV?

I love reality TV. I’m obsessed with The Bachelor franchise – so the last thing I watched was the Bachelorette finale. I was a huge Greg fan until the third-to-last episode. I’m still grieving that crush.

If you were talking to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Go to therapy, don’t let anyone get away with calling you ugly (among other mean things) in grade school, and always trust your gut. Your brain and your heart can deceive you, but your intuition is never wrong.

How would you describe your music?

I would describe my music as cinematic, ethereal, ambient, orchestral, and daydreamy. I consider myself an artist of the ‘alternative folk’ genre, which to me signifies an interest in combining traditional folk stylings with contemporary alternative/pop textures, including complex synth and string arrangements. I’m a huge fan of the 60s and 70s folk, and I was raised listening to staple singer-songwriters of those decades, including Leonard Cohen and Joni Mitchell – the latter being my biggest musical and lyrical heroine. I’m also really inspired by alternative contemporary singer-songwriters who are malleable in genre and style, including Fiona Apple, Phoebe Bridgers, Laura Marling, Julien Baker, and Amy Winehouse. I’m a storyteller at heart – so things like poetry, language and story are really important to my music. I like to invite my listeners to come on intimate journeys with me. I love vulnerable lyric confessionals, and I love creating sonic worlds for my audiences to fully immerse themselves in.

What is your current music project about?

I just released a concept EP called troubadour, which is a collection of contemporary ambient folk songs that I wrote about a year in which I moved abroad and traveled solo in a pre-pandemic world. They grapple with love and loss, connection and disconnection, moving through vast physical and emotional landscapes. I feel like these songs create a sonic portrait of my youth – the record is about running away and getting lost in the world, falling in and out of love with shifting people and places, and returning home at the end of the long journey. troubadour paints a picture of queer womanhood, in all its messiness and ecstasy.

Was anyone else involved in writing, recording, or producing the songs?

Yes! This EP project was a collaboration between myself and Toronto-based producer (and multi-instrumentalist) Mike “TOMPA” Tompa. Mike plays violin, cello, and synthesizers on the record; he also produced and mixed the full thing. I brought the completed collection of songs to Mike around Christmas of 2020 and we made the record in the Winter and Spring of 2021, during the 2nd and 3rd waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. The whole thing was written and produced in complete isolation, which made the experience one of incredible intimacy and vulnerability. Working with Mike is a dream come true – he is such a talented and generous collaborator, and I’m so proud of what we were able to accomplish together. I had a strong conceptual vision for what I wanted the EP to feel like and sound like, and Mike was able to take that and just explode it. Working together was the best.

Are you creative in other disciplines?

Yes, many! I’m also a playwright and performance artist, and I’ve done some conceptual/multimedia work as well. I’m also a Ph.D. student (in Information, Sexual Diversity Studies, and Knowledge Media Design – I’m particularly interested in design justice), and that involves some creativity. I enjoy having my fingers in many proverbial pies at once. Multidisciplinarity is really important to me. Having multiple creative (also intellectual) practices really fuels my creativity – it allows me to dip in and out of mediums, genres, and forms as I see fit. It’s really freeing. Every project, every idea, demands something different from me. And I love that!

What are your top two favorite albums of all time? Why those albums?

Let me just start by saying that this is an impossible question. I’m going to pick one album from the 90s and one contemporary record: Joni Mitchell’s Turbulent Indigo (1994) and Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters (2020). Joni’s whole discography is a marvel, but this record has always stood out to me as an underrated (though Grammy-winning) gem that can get overshadowed by earlier mammoths like Blue and Court and Spark. Turbulent Indigo fuses Joni’s classic confessional lyric stylings with chilling socio-political resonances. Drawing from the enmeshed genres of jazz, blues, folk, and soul, it’s kaleidoscopic and wholly unique. The last song, The Sire of Sorrow (Joni’s adaptation of the Book of Job), is one of my favorite things ever written. It draws blood. Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters is simply one of the best albums to come out of the 2010s. It’s so bold and uncompromising, and Fiona oscillates between tenderness and grit with such ease. She represents various stages of womanhood with such varied, distinctive, and idiosyncratic textures. The makeshift percussive elements are masterful. I’ve never heard anything that sounds like this album; I think it’s revolutionary. It’s furious and ecstatic. The opener, “I Want You To Love Me”, kills. She’s marvelous. I also want to give a shout-out to another record, which completes my holy trinity of albums: Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love. Another scintillating masterpiece, through and through.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

Oh my god, that’s also an impossible question. The ecstasy of it – those moments of awe and release in the creative process. And connecting to people, of course. Dwelling in the wonder of what it means to live a life.

Do you have any other plans relating to this release? A video? Online Shows?

Yes, actually! This hasn’t officially been announced, but I have two very special live videos coming out (to accompany the already-existing music video for my song ‘claudia’ and lyric videos) in September and October. Mike and I did a live beach session with an incredible Hamilton-based videographer, John Butler, and we’re so excited for people to see those two videos. Furthermore, we’re planning something super-secret (and very special… possibly another release of sorts…) coming out in hopefully November! So look out for that!

What are your ambitions as a songwriter and musician from here?

Honestly, I would love to make another record – maybe this time something longer, an LP project. I think I want my next undertaking to be more alternative/pop-influenced, something grittier and more explosive. But that’ll be a long way away, and I have a lot of life to live before then. I need to get back out into the world and experience more cool things that I can write about!

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