Jamaican Music Music Interviews

Interview with Jamaican choreographer, dancer, songwriter, and singer Camille Kaye

Written by Denise Lee

This week we interview choreographer, dancer, songwriter, and singer Camille Kaye. She has worked with renowned choreographers Tanisha Scott and Kameica Reid, been featured in numerous music videos and danced for Brick and Lace, To-Isis, Onaje, Carlene Davis, Bling Dawg and Alaine. As a singer/songwriter she has already performed at major concerts such as Atlanta Jerk fest and Miami-Broward Carnival. Camille has her sights set on international stardom, inspired by the successes of acts like Sean Paul, Rihanna and Beyonce. She was recently nominated “Best Female Artist 2011” for work on her debut mixtape “Bad Nuh…!” at The Official Mixtape Awards. Here is our conversation with Camille.

Tell us about your background and how did you get started singing?I was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica, came to Miami for university in 2007 and graduated 3 years later with a B.a. in Dance.

I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember but was extremely shy to sing for anyone but myself. I was introduced to a producer named Supahype in Jamaica who I wrote and recorded my first song for and it just blossomed after that.

How would you describe your sound?
Generally I describe my sound as a fusion of R&B and Dancehall. Depending on the music bed it lies on it may come off as Reggae, R&B, Dancehall, Pop, Hip-Hop or even Dance music but the way I write is mostly rooted in R&B/Dancehall.

You sing R&B and Reggae and everything in between. What genre do you like best or is there no favourite?
I wouldn’t say I have a favourite genre so much. It just depends on if I get a vibe from the music that would inspire lyrics, melody, etc. Once I like it I’ll write something and most of the time I’ll like what comes out because I liked the track to begin with. For example, at first I would never have thought I would write a Dance/House track or that I would be able to do a straight Hip-Hop record but I’ve gotten some really good ones that I just HAD to put something down on and it when it would be done I’d be shocked that it has an awesome end result!

Give us a listing of some of your music and tell us about a few that stand out for you and why.
So much of the music my team and I have been creating that hasn’t been released yet has me excited to be an artiste. “Looking 4 U” is a great record in my opinion and gets a major reaction from the people who have heard it so far. I’ve performed it live a few times and the audience seems to always point out…”Hey, what was  that third or so song you sang a while ago?” And I’d tell them and they would be like, “Yea! That song is my favourite! Where can I download that one…” Then I have to give them the unfortunate news that they can’t yet and they get disappointed. But it gives them, and myself, something to look forward to because I already know that it’s going to do well.

“Suh Mi Feel” was the preview track and short video for the Bad Nuh…! Mixtape that has pulled major interest from listeners/watchers as well. I didn’t expect it to be as popular as it was, especially since it’s not even a full song. I wrote it one night during a really difficult few months I was having and it was a little scary to do because the lyrics weren’t about love or relationships and was a complete laying on the table of my personal struggle with life at that point. I believe it struck a chord with people cause I think we’re all going through difficulty in our lives like that. “Suh Mi Feel” shows that I can express more than just my experiences on love and partying and all the other things I’ve written about before that track.

Tell us about the making of the Mix CD “Bad Nuh…!”
The Bad Nuh…! Mixtape was a project my team and I put together to get me further out there as an artiste. Like I mentioned before my style has evolved into a fusion of R&B and Dancehall so we came up with the idea to showcase the Dancehall/Reggae side of Camille Kaye by remaking older, popular Dancehall and Reggae records by redoing the tracks and me writing original music for each one. Our intention was to create music that was recognizable so that listeners would easily connect, but different so they could kind of get a feel for my style. Then we straight up did a cover medley for the fun of it! Audiences could connect and sing and dance along to that portion especially, because they already knew the music, yet they were still getting them with a different flavour. It was like remodelling a 1964 classic Chevy to include 22″ rims, a Bose sound system with DVDs in the headrests. Lol.

You were recently nominated for an award in the UK for “Bad Nuh…! ”Mix CD. Tell us how that came about and what did you learn in the process of creating this Mix CD?
Honestly, I have no idea how it came about. Someone contacted me on Twitter to say hey, I need to send you a message. I followed up on the contact and got another message to say that they wanted to set up an interview with all the nominees. So I politely and curiously asked what exactly was I nominated for and they told me. I had no idea what the guy was talking about so I told him thanks and kinda brushed it off. Naturally I told my manager, MidiLord who also produced and engineered the mixtape what happened and he started congratulating me and I was still like…”Pssht oook then, whatever…”. Lol. It was almost a few days later that he got the chance to explain how much of a deal it is and I’ve been crazy flattered and excited since!

The process taught me a few things. You never have as much time as you think you do. Grindin work out is sometimes just as rewarding as labouring for months and months over a project. It taught me that you’ll (or maybe just I’ll) never be 100% satisfied with your own work aka you sometimes have to let the small things go, as well as sacrifice will almost always reap benefits. Oh, and to believe in myself even more as someone who can add value to the music industry.

How did you hear you were nominated?
Twitter guy! Lol. He is a representative from the Official Mixtape Awards.

You are the first Jamaican to be nominated for this award, in the year of Jamaica 50, what does that mean to you? To your family, friends and co-workers?
It means a great deal to me and most people around me. To those that it’s not as exciting to I think it’s just a matter of them not knowing how major it is. Personally, I feel like I’m contributing in my own way to the pride of my home country as we celebrate our 50th year of independence and it’s a significant step towards my goal of becoming a part of the legendary impact Jamaican culture has had on the world and the music industry internationally. My family and friends, more so the ones that have been directly involved in all the work I’ve been doing so far are extremely excited to witness the growth of career to this point and they feel like a part of it and they are! I love that my support group has a specific reason to beam about what I’ve been doing and working so hard on.

You are known as a triple threat (singing, djing and dancing) how are you able to pull such a difficult combination? Which of the 3 do you prefer, if there is a preference, and why?

I don’t consider it a difficult combination as much as I consider them talents I’ve discovered, loved and developed so far.

My first love is singing but after I started dancing it took off more than music…nevermind the fact that no one knew that I could sing. Lol. DJ-ing I definitely fell into and I keep doing because it came naturally once I opened myself up to it. With that said, no I don’t have a favourite. I love them all for different reasons, as well as writing and choreography. All therapeutic and all dear to my heart.

Talk to us about videos that you have been in and what you got from being in those videos.
I’ve danced in multiple videos, mainly for Jamaican-based artistes like 2-Isis, Brick & Lace, Bling Dawg, Carlene Davis and I believe a few more that I don’t remember. Being a dancer for different artistes and their teams showed me what to do and what not to do. How to respect and be considerate of every single person on set, while being efficient and professional, as well as being flexible and ready to work through any setbacks and making it happen regardless.

I know it is early in your career but what is your proudest moment so far?
Putting out Bad Nuh…! and it getting the response it has as well as the recognition from the OMAs.

What projects are you working on right now?
At the moment my team and I are working on another mixtape to be released asap, some more visual candy aka videos, the Bad Nuh…! LIVE showcase set for early-mid June AND an official album for a few months after that! A loooot to be excited and anxious about….:)

As Jamaican making waves outside of Jamaica as you are, is there any wisdom you can share with others thinking about coming into the business?
Well I wouldn’t say that any advice based on my experiences and what I’ve seen can be qualified as “wisdom” yet but I would say…. Work towards making good music, work on finding a team…HARD, and when you do find one don’t take them for granted, stay focused and know your worth but never let your ego hinder an opportunity.

If you were stuck on a desert island and given the choice of 2 albums to put on your ipod which artist would it be?
I love this question…..definitely Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” aaaaaaaaand Mariah Carey’s “Daydream”.

How would you describe your own personal fashion style?
My style changes depending on my mood. Sometimes I like to be girly and dolled up and then other times I’ll b extremely comfortable and low key but still funky.

I’ve been working with a local designer Gabriela Gusman who has a line called “Gag On This Threads” and I looove her stuff. I’ve performed live and in videos in her clothes with my dancers and I absolutely wanted to keep everything I tried on! Her work mirrors my style regardless of my mood. Check her out at www.gagonthisthreads.com

My favorite guilty pleasure is..
Eating “Imagine Whirled Peace” from Ben & Jerrys while reading a book or a cosmo.

Growing up my hero was…
Anybody who was featured on VH1’s Behind The Music.

The most famous person you have met so far is ….
Elephant Man….

A movie I never get tired of watching is…
Sister Act 2.

Thanks for your time. Do you any closing thoughts?
Definitely. For anybody who ends up reading this article please find out more about me on www.camillekaye.com and follow me @camillemuzik

Keep your ears open for good music: Camille Kaye!

About the author

Denise Lee