Introducing Kamille, The Songwriter Behind More Than 20 Of Your Fave UK Top 40 Hits
Kamille with Stormzy
By Frankie Dunn
“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 ,” 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.”
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.
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!”
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!”