Camille Trust on being strong in a male dominated industry, her love of 70’s music, and her new EP ‘No Other Way’

Camille Trust is a woman who thrives on funk, sass and pure female empowerment and it is captivating as all Hell. Coming off fresh from her debut EP No Other Way that dropped on May 25th, Camille is an artist who cannot be slowed down no matter what roadblock you try to put in her way. From her live shows, ‘I got this’ attitude, song writing, to her voice, this singer/songwriter oozes so much soul that it almost painful as to how talented she is.

Last month, she dropped an alluring and haunting video for, “Move On.” Here we watch Camille bleed rawness and pure heartache as a male dancer twirls around her like smoke to her fire. The dancer is a breathing personification of the turmoil of thoughts inside her head, whereas she comes off as the heart speaking to her swirling mind. It was such a brilliant take on how there is always this conflict of heart vs mind and how both sides are always so painfully vulnerable, even when at times they seem to be on the same page.

We had the pleasure of speaking with Camille on a rainy Brooklyn afternoon, but her personality gushed with such warmth that made the day shiny and bright through those melancholy clouds. Substream spoke with this rising artist on female empowerment, how there should be a 70’s music/culture revival and her soul soaring EP, No Other Way.

Substream: The 70s were when punk thrived, hip-hop blossomed, synthpop was born, rock became legendary and where jazz and soul reigned the airwaves. How does this decade touch your soul? What makes you want to bask in the glow of this decade with your songwriting?

Camille Trust: I’ve always always felt very strongly towards that time era, the vibe and aesthetics from that time. I’m like, ‘That’s me. That’s always been me.’ Musically it really is the forefront of the fusion of these major genres that I’m implementing in my own music. You kind of look at like where, ‘ok she is giving you soul music and pop and then there is some low key disco vibe there and some other vibes coming in here and there.’ I’ve always liked this idea of a melting pot of genres that are able to stand within their own and to not be so categorized.

I really do love that and I think the 70s from my perspective – and I can be wrong here – but zooming out it seems like for me and my personal connection to it, artists in that time who just didn’t give a shit. I’m not talking necessarily rock and roll, but having that rock and roll mentality that was just like, fuck it. Let’s just go out there and be this outlandish and wild showman in order to create a renegade society in this whole situation of this changing time within a social revolution. Not to mention that the style is to die for! Everything about this decade was so fun and funky. Janis Joplin was an icon on that time and I totally vibe with her. In the sense of power female rocker and I wouldn’t call myself a rocker in terms of my music, but in terms of this powerful woman who is just up there serving confidence. I wanted to create a reflection of that.

S: Do you think there should be a comeback of backup singers?

CT: One hundred percent! My backup singers are also my backup dancers who I have forced my choreography upon. (laughs) It is just because I want to create the whole show as something where you are NOT losing your attention. There isn’t one second where one break happens in the set. There isn’t dull moment where someone will be like, ‘oh a lull, let’s go get a drink!’ and then the energy is just lost from there. I curate it to be such also a well-rounded experience.

I’ve had the sense of creating this idea of backup dancers ever since I was kid. I told myself one day I would! The day came where I realized that no one is going to provide you backup dancers, so I had to do that one my own! I do think it would be wonderful to have backup dancers all the time though, like as I’m walking down the street. Wouldn’t you?

S: I feel like life would be more aesthetically pleasing if I walked down the street to the store and people were dancing behind me like in Across the Universe.

CT: Exactly! Throw some Beyonce on and dance your way down the street, girl!

S: There also seems to be this lost art of female bands. Like, women had Josie and the Pussycats as an inspiration (again in the 70s might I add), but we haven’t really seen much band/musician progress since then.

CT: We kind of lost touch with that. I have this dream of having an all female band, because how bad-ass would that be? I think that there is in – like any other industry- a male dominated world. There is a lot of male musicians compared to females. If you go to any music school, the ratio from men to women is so incredibly off. So it is something that I would love to have one day, and it IS going to happen.

S: You came to this wonderfully smog filled city of New York 5 years ago with a plan to audition for musical theater. Was that always a dream of yours to sing on the stages of Broadway?

CT: I think honestly my dream was to always sing on a stage. Even as a kid, I would always watch pop artists growing up, you know the Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears and seeing those backup dancers, girl! My mom told me when I was a kid, I would turn to her and say, “That’s going to be me one day.” In my small town of Lutz, Florida which is a suburb of Tampa, there wasn’t necessarily any way for me to see a “How to be a pop star” or “How to be a recording artist” kind of guide or access you know? Theater was the platform for me to sing on the stage and to get that itch out, because I was kind of like putting on shows on home. I begged to be let in to audition for these shows and to have this platform to perform and I would do well, so I studied theater at Florida state university.

I always wanted to move to New York, so I did. I was auditioning for musical theater and I remember thinking, ‘these are not my people.’ I want to be a Chaka Khan kind of person and I would go into these auditions singing Beyonce songs and they were like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” but it was what I knew how to sing best. This is my truest slay of a soulful songs and musical theater isn’t necessarily about…that. There are some parts in contemporary musical theater that DO offer that, but for the most part the whole realm of it doesn’t.

S: This is your first EP post your first single. Did you take time until you had the right expressions to be heard for songs like “Move On”?

CT: […] I went through a shitty breakup, a terrible breakup that was heart-wrenching. On that moment of the day, I found that it was the time to sing it out and it was how I felt and it was so intense. I’m glad that the song resonates with people. It is super funky fresh and finally adding all the pieces and the right instrumentals and people to connect it all together to molded it into what you heard. It is a lot of process and took some time, but I was not expecting this kind of response.

S: As a woman, it is hard enough being active as a vocalist in the music industry. You’re consistently told how to dress, how to act, how to sing, etc. Does this fuel you further to empowerment and to be driven to be like, ‘you know what, I write for ME. I write and sing what I want?’

CT: Yes! I think even in certain aspects of this album, there is a true reflection of that. Like the song move on, we were talking about where I was working with these producers. They produced a track for it and it just was not there. I was like, guys you know me and this isn’t it. Every time I do a live show I have a band, but then I strip it down to just me and a guitarist where we are having this super intimate moment. I am coming down from being like this bad bitch or whatever, going into an emotional and vulnerable place. The production didn’t reflect that and a lot of times they fought me on it and were like, ‘yeah we know what we are doing!’ and there was three of them and they are all guys with just me trying to fight for me voice in there.

It was bad at one point, because it led me to question myself. I’m an artist who is doing this all myself and then there are these men who are telling me that they know better than I do. It is so crazy, so I  stuck to my guns and went like, no fuck that. I actually bought the production from there, so they couldn’t mess me up and essentially redid it and took it to a new place so I can truly express what I truly felt and what I felt like a better recording. Now this song that has been the most popular and the most impactful, if you will. It is like, wow when I actually listened and fought for myself and even though everyone told me, “no” I knew what I had to do. It feels so empowering and for me to fight what I believe in really matters. To be a female in this industry is tough. Women are seen as these “eye candy” or “the hotty with the mic that is supposed to dance” and I want to reconfigure that for women in this industry. Men can say, that they know what they are talking about, but you can’t destroy a woman’s intuition.

S: I’m in love with your video for “Move On.” It is so powerful in more ways than one. What can you tell me about the conception of the video?

CT: My very good friend Tanima (Mehrotra) came to my live show in February at Baby’s All Right and she saw me perform that song. She was like, “Dude, we HAVE to do something about this!” I believe in this song and every time people seem like they are shook by this song when I perform it live. She told me she had a video idea with me and a dancer when originally it was going to be a live video. […] At this point in time, I just moved over to the different production that I was just talking about, so she and I came together with the dancer and we co choreographer it together. It was crazy, because it was so simple, but the message is so complex. We had to take away all the crazy production and just simplify it to make it raw and to express it with the dancer expressing the pain and suffering of the “other” person. You don’t realize the pain and suffering that both people go through a break up, because each person lost someone, you know? I wanted to show both sides of that rather than a weird acting moment or a reenactment. 

S: Now that the EP is out and getting so much well-deserved attention, what are you looking to do next?

CT: After this, I am hoping to create a new music for another song. I also have a live video for another song for an original song that didn’t make the EP. It didn’t fit into the whole mold and vibe of the EP. It is a dope song and was one of my first songs as an original artist. I’ve been singing this at my live shows for 3 years and this point and it will be released on June 8th. It is called, “Bad Habits” and it featuring Raymond Angry who is this amazing pianist who plays with The Roots and Chaka Khan. He is playing the piano in this video with like a bunch of my closest singer friends who are wonderful. I’m really excited to show that side of me.

I’m hoping to do a tour. Like I said, I am on my own with everything so I’m still learning what to do! I am having meetings with people to ask questions, but I am planning on doing it all. I am doing it all myself and I am a hustler and I know I’ve got this.  I’m going to get as far as I can and hopefully people will join me along the way!