Camille Trail has released the third single Little History, following the success of her two previous singles, off her forthcoming album produced by multiple award-winner, Shane Nicholson. Born and raised on her family’s cattle farm west of Rockhampton, she took up piano and song writing from a young age and post-high school went on to study a Bachelor of Music at university. Little History is a laidback song about hanging with friends, drinking and dancing and forgetting about everything else.
You can catch Camille as part of the Savannah Summer Series on October 1 and 2. Get your tickets here.
You learned to play piano from the age of eight and began writing your own songs shortly after. Were your family and friends supportive of your musical aspirations from such a young age?
Yeah, they’re amazing. All my friends have been super supportive, and my family are my #1 supporters. When I was growing up they were always like, “you’ve got to follow your dreams.” If I didn’t believe in myself, they did. Especially when I was starting out, it took me a fair while to get some confidence singing in front of people. It’s probably not self-doubt, I suppose it’s just confidence, but we got there in the end.
As a child songwriter myself, even to this day I still have the embarrassing collection of awful lyrics I penned in my youth. Are you in a similar boat?
Yeah, I found my song writing book from when I was 11 and it was so funny! I opened it and [read] “I need to write 20 more songs for my album” [laughs]. There was one particular song called Rapunzel and it was the most horrendous and cliched song I’ve ever read in my entire life. It was horrible! I was following the little forms of a verse and then a little chorus and it was so cute. I loved Disney when I was a kid, so I had a Rapunzel one, a Little Mermaid one and a song about horses or something strange like that.
I think because, obviously when I was that age, I didn’t want to be a singer because I didn’t know you could actually do that. I just loved singing and writing songs, but every day of the week I told my parents I wanted to be a nurse and then an actor. I was a different profession every week [laughs], so it’s kind of cool to look back now and see that music was always there. When I was in high school around 14-15 years old that was when I first started trying to write properly. It was still pretty bad, but that’s when I started taking it more seriously.
I read that some of your early musical influences were Norah Jones, Shane Nicholson and Kacey Chambers. Were any of those early songs’ you penned country influenced or did you move into country later as your song writing developed?
I don’t think it did start with country. I grew up playing the piano and started playing guitar afterwards. I loved Delta Goodrem and Norah Jones, so they were all very girl power, piano ballad kind of songs and a bit bluesy. Then I went into country a few years ago. Growing up on a cattle property where everyone’s listening to country music, I think it was just always going to happen, and, I realised in my lyrics, I like to tell a story with my lyrics and that’s a very typical thing in country songs as well. I really like the more alt-country, Americana, bluesy country, so it kind of just happened and I was like, “Yep, I’m country now” [laughs].
[My forthcoming album is] really a mix of genres. It’s not too crazy, but it’s more bluesy and gospel. I love gospel and all New Orleans music. There are a couple tracks on there that are more the piano tracks, so it feels like more of my roots. I’m excited for them to come out!
After high school, you studied a Bachelor of Music, specialising in song writing at the JMC Academy in Brisbane. Do you think you wouldn’t have evolved as a singer or song writer without that extra education?
It definitely helped my song writing. When you song write, it’s all your instincts. But when I studied, the biggest thing I learnt was what those instincts were called and what exactly I was doing, and it really helped me to write better songs. I’m writing better songs now than I would have if I hadn’t gone to uni, and writing better songs helps me have a better career, so I definitely think it’s helped me a lot and given me a good step forward. It was amazing especially because you’re constantly surrounded by all these ideas and people’s different tastes and opinions on things. Being surrounded by talented people is so inspiring.
The first time I got bad feedback on one of my songs, I cried. But after that, it gets a lot easier. It definitely gives you a tough skin and sometimes it’s very hard to remove yourself from the song because a lot of the time when us creators write a song it’s about something we know, we’re felt or it’s part of our story so it almost feels like the song is a part of us. Sometimes if you feel like the song doesn’t do well, it’s a reflection on you, so it helped me to separate the song between my experience. I feel like it’d be hard for the markers to grade someone on personal style and thoughts, but most of the times at uni, we were writing to briefs where you needed to write a song in this form and structure and have [certain] things in it. It was very theoretical, and they didn’t ever grade you on the feeling, otherwise a lot of people would end up very upset [laughs].
I read that you wrote a lot of songs from your forthcoming album in the early hours of the morning or late at night because that was when inspiration hit you the most. They say that’s a common trait amongst many creative people. Do you have any theories of why that is how it is for you?
I found when I was at uni, I had an alarm set every morning and I would write from eight o’clock to nine o’clock every day. As soon as it hit nine, I’d just stop writing. It took a while, but it got to the stage where eight would come and be like, boom, I’ve got all this inspiration. I think we almost subconsciously train our brains and we can get into a routine very easily. Maybe too it’s because we wind down or we’re getting ready to start the day.
I wrote a lot of [songs for the album] when I was at uni and most of them were for uni assignments. Most of them were written at night time or in the morning because it was right before the due date, so I think that’s probably why I always wrote then as well. Bad, I know, very unorganised, but it worked [laughs].
Little History is your third single release, following the success of Humming Chain and Devil’s Drink. Humming Chain reached #5 on the iTunes singer songwriter chart and Devil’s Drink landed at #18 on the country iTunes charts and #16 in the CMC Top 30 countdown. What was the idea behind Little History and its obvious different sound compared to your other singles?
My two previous singles were a bit more lyrically dark or metaphorical, and this song really was a step back to write a fun, laid back, relaxed song. My Dad was also on me like, “Camille, you’re a country artist and you haven’t written a drinking song yet. What are you doing? Get on that!”
I wrote Little History about kicking back with your friends, having a drink and letting go and forgetting everything that’s going on and just enjoying the moment. It’s very relevant to what’s happening today with COVID, so hopefully people will listen to it, enjoy it and take a bit of inspiration from it.
The single, as well as the album, was produced last year by multiple award-winning artist and producer, Shane Nicholson, whom, mentioned earlier you listened to as a child. How was it to meet and work with someone who had played such a significant importance in your musical upbringing?
I think I was emotional everything – I was so excited and nervous too. I sent him an email with some demos, like he’ll never reply, and I absolutely freaked out when he did. I’d just try and act cool, and on the inside, I’m like a nervous eight-year-old girl. It was amazing getting to work with him because he’s such a talented and down to earth person. He makes you feel comfortable and at ease as well.
When you’re recording your music for the first time, it’s nerve-wracking to let go and let someone take control of it, so I felt safe having an idol of mine take control of my songs. I felt like they were gonna turn out good whatever he did with them. We definitely had the same vision but for some things he would take it in a bit of a different direction. I was like, “Oh, I’m not too sure if I’m too keen on that.” And he was like, “Just wait. You’ll like it. I betcha.” And then afterwards, I was like, “Yeah, I love it! You’re a genius!” [laughs]. We got along well when we were recording. After we’d have dinner, we’d sit down and watch TV. You know those TV shows where people roast each other? We sat down and watched them, and it was great. I was like, “We have the same sense of humour. This is perfect.” I’ll definitely record with him again. If he’ll have me, of course [laughs].
Listen to Little History below.
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