Introducing Kamille, The Songwriter Behind More Than 20 Of Your Fave UK Top 40 Hits

by Frankie Dunn
Kamille with Stormzy

“You’re only as good as your last record,” songwriter, artist, and producer Kamille tells me down the phone from her London home. “It really reminds you to stay humble and keep working hard, especially with the streaming era that we’re in now. There’s so much music. You can have a hit and be forgotten in a few months.” Having written 17 UK Top 20 hits (including five number one singles), contributed to 11 platinum records, and won a BRIT award, Kamille knows what she’s talking about. In fact, whether you know it or not, you’re probably already a fan of her work. "Shout Out To My Ex" by Little Mix? Kamille wrote that. Mabel's transatlantic success "Don't Call Me Up"? That too. Jess Glynne's emotional "I'll Be There"? Yep. She’s kind of a big deal in the music industry, currently collaborating with Years & Years, Sam Smith, and Stormzy; and winning well-deserved industry awards for her songwriting left, right, and centre.

Born and raised in South London, Kamille grew up singing in her church gospel choir and has fond memories of the song "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." “It’s the one that Lauryn Hill sings in Sister Act [2],” she says. “I’ve always loved that song.” Although she wouldn’t start songwriting until later on, throughout her childhood and teenage years the English lit nerd was big into poetry, noting that she “loved Othello and learning about how Shakespeare rhymed.”

Kamille with Timbaland

In a bizarre plot twist, Kamille started her adult life working in the city as a stockbroker. “I hated it!” she laughs down the phone. “It was so boring. I love maths and stuff, but it just wasn’t for me. I really wanted to sing.” She began spending her evenings and weekends hanging about a studio — watching, learning, feeling like it was the natural place for her to be — and eventually made the call to quit her job. “I was unhappy. I felt like I was living a lie, so I just walked out. I knew then that I had to make it in the industry because otherwise my parents would’ve killed me, basically.”

With no real idea of the inner workings of the music world, she dived in headfirst and let fate take the wheel, soon getting discovered by her veteran managers, signing a publishing deal with BMG and landing sessions that would cement her as a hitmaker du jour. “I tend to write with a lot of young girls, so I can empathise with them,” Kamille says. “It’s often us moaning about exes… just venting. That’s my typical relationship with an artist, and it usually leads to a really good song.” Post in-studio therapy session, Kamille turns Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and sets about destroying whoever has wronged her girls via the medium of pop banger.

Kamille with Little Mix

In the past couple of years, Kamille has levelled up with the launch of her Virgin EMI-signed artist project. As well as becoming an honorary member of Little Mix on 2018’s "More Than Words," she has released a host of singles that culminated in last year’s "Emotional" featuring Stefflon Don. “I’m an extremely impatient person,” she says of waiting for the right moment to start her artist career. “As a writer you have to be able to put a lot of people before yourself. You’re at service to an artist and a label, which can take a lot of humility, so yeah… I’ve learnt a lot about patience.”

Impressively, Kamille has also added the role of producer to her skill set. “I make so many songs babe, that I can't always be calling producers up at 3 a.m... I had to at least learn how to get them down.” Taking tips (and plug-ins) from her producer friends, including long-time collaborator Steve Mac, she has enabled herself to take control in sessions; addressing the gender imbalance in an environment that famously skews white and male while paving the way for more female songwriters and producers. As a young black woman, Kamille is almost unrivalled here. “It makes me really sad,” she says. “But I’m telling you, a big part of it is reeducating young female writers, making them realise what they're actually contributing to a session. Production doesn’t have to mean sitting behind a computer and programming. If you’ve played some piano chords that have become an integral chord structure in a song… that’s production. Take your credit!”

Kamille with Jess Glynne

Looking to the future, which promises to be deservedly bright for Kamille, I recommend you listen out for her work on the next Rihanna record. “It was my most memorable session, without a doubt,” she says. “Right at the top of not just my dream sessions, but life.” Holed up at a writing camp with some of the world’s greatest musicians, she excitedly recalls being aware that RiRi could walk in at any point. “And she did!” Kamille exclaims. “She was chilling with us and it was ridiculous. I was literally just staring at her the whole time. We were working on stuff for her new record, all very bashment, reggae, going back to her roots. I honestly I have no idea if it will even make the cut because I’m sure she’s got a million songs... but I’ve got my fingers crossed!”

"Solo" by Clean Bandit ft. Demi Lovato

“It’s about being single and horny. You’re wanting to do something with someone new but you’re still heartbroken from a break-up… which is actually one of my favourite emotions to write about! The song started out with me and Fred Gibson fooling around with Jack [Patterson, bassist in Clean Bandit] on keys, just seeing what we come up with. It was actually a mistake. It was meant to go, ‘I wanna f*ck-uck-uck’. But Fred did something wrong on the computer and it skipped and went ‘woo-woo-woo,’ so we just went with it! It was a proper fun song to make because Grace, who is just as naughty as me when it comes to lyrics, was like, ‘Let’s make it about masturbation!’ So that’s basically what it’s about. Fred Gibson was using Mark Ronson’s studio in London at the time, so we wrote it there. I’ve done a few things with Clean Bandit now. I did "Baby" as well, which was their single after "Diamond." I wrote that with Marina from Marina and the Diamonds. We’ve done a bunch of other stuff too, which will hopefully come out soon.”

"Shout Out To My Ex" by Little Mix

“I really, really respect those girls, especially Perrie, for being so brave with this song. Even though we didn’t say who it was about, everyone knew. She really took that in her stride and used her pain for something positive, almost sacrificing herself for the good of all women around the world. I had got the girls to fill in a really deep questionnaire about the worst things that’d happened to them, what made them feel insecure, and a million other questions. I would read them every night before bed and that really helped to channel them.

"That song was written through my anger at what she’d been through, and to be fair, what we’ve all been through. I remember writing it in L.A. at Trevor Horn’s house, an amazing songwriter who did all Seal’s stuff. It came so quickly because the lyrics were real. It was literally what happened. It was such a beautiful experience to be able to put someone’s pain into something so positive and make people feel empowered. It felt like justice had been served. There’s really nothing like writing a song for an artist that is an absolute depiction of what they’re going through at the time. It doesn’t come around very often because it’s not every day that you’ve got so much drama going on in your life. So, when artists are going through some real sh*t and you write about that specific thing, it always works.”

"I’ll Be There" by Jess Glynne

“You know what’s crazy? Before I got into that session with Jess, we became really good friends. I was always a massive fan of her and when we first met I was nervous because I just think she’s incredible. She’s Jess Glynne, you know what I mean? We were both going through a break up and would speak to each other late at night on the phone, talking about such stupid stuff and laughing. She was just such an amazing comfort to me and so going into that session, I already knew what I wanted to write about. It was more about our friendship as opposed to what we were going through. She was really there for me during that time. I remember when the song was nearly finished, she walked in with her A&R and they both started crying. It was so cute. Then soon everyone was crying and I was like, ‘That’s great! That’s what you want!’ It was a beautiful song to write. I wrote it with Starsmith and Electric and another amazing guy. It was a very emotional session.”

"Don’t Call Me Up" by Mabel

“Oh, I love that song! It was written with Mabel, who was going through such a bad break-up. It was really sad. I remember adopting the big sister position that day. And when girls come to me like that, it makes me really angry and I just wanna write something that’ll make them feel better, empower them, and turn the tables on whoever hurt them and f*cked up their life. So, that’s straight away what we decided we’d do. We’d ‘show him,' basically. Steve [Mac] came up with those amazing chords, and I knew I wanted to make a chorus that was really simple and basically like a chant, quite hypnotic. I love the pre-chorus. I love its weird melody. I remember singing it on the mic and Mabel thought the pre-chorus was amazing, too. She’s a proper sweet girl and so open-minded, so it was all really easy.”

"Think About Us" by Little Mix ft. Ty Dolla $ign

“I produced this! And I'm really proud of that production credit when I look on Spotify and see it. When I started becoming more confident in myself in the studio and trusting that I could produce, it was kind of like a relief. I knew that I was in control and could do what I love. It was amazing. Anyway, "Think About Us" is that feeling when you’re at home waiting for your boyfriend to come back and you’re thinking, ‘You’d better not be talking to no girls in the club. You’d better be thinking about what’s at home.’ That fear that your boyfriend is out doing something else, and you’re just praying that in that moment he thinks about you and him. All of the girls were in relationships, so I was thinking about that fear that we all get.”