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12th May 2023

Interview: Christopher Richmond

The list of people that Kamille has collaborated, produced and written for, is nothing short of breathtaking - literally, it’s impossible to read without drawing for air. Since her breakthrough on the music scene in 2012 as the songwriter of The Saturdays ‘What About Us,’ she’s worked with Little Mix, Dua Lipa, The Saturdays, Jessie J, Leona Lewis, Cheryl Cole, Fleur East, Olly Murs, Jess Glynne, Clean Bandit, Raye, Sia and JLS. It’s a who’s who of the last decade of British Pop, and she’s essentially responsible for some of the finest music that the UK has ever produced - and now she’s adding to the list with her very own single, ‘Muscle Memory,’ a collaboration with the incomparable Nile Rodgers. It’s a gorgeous, slinky slice of disco-infused pop, with Kamille’s sultry vocal proving she’s just as much a talent in the vocal booth as she is at the production desk. We were lucky enough to speak to her about her illustrious career so far, her dream collaborations, and working with Nile Rodgers on ‘Muscle Memory.’. 

Can I just start by saying how glad I am to talk to you - you are a bit of an icon in the UK music scene. You have been part of some of the best songs ever!

That’s so sweet of you to say. Honestly, I appreciate that so much. I can’t believe I’m still doing it to be honest with you! 

Let’s get into it - you’ve got a new single coming out. It’s called ‘Muscle Memory’ and it features Nile Rodgers. Can you tell us how the track came about? 

I was at home a lot in my first trimester because I had really bad morning sickness. I literally was stuck indoors and I decided to make music as an outlet to be creative. I started producing and writing these ideas, and I wasn’t sure what they were gonna be. One idea that I had in particular was ’Muscle Memory’ that I produced and I sent a rough demo to my managers and they were like, ‘Yeah, you need to finish this, this is so good.’ So I finished it, and when it was done we were thinking there could be a cool collaboration on this, and we thought about if we could hear anyone on it, and I thought about Nile Rodgers because I’d worked with him before. But I thought don’t send it to him - he’s just done ‘Cuff It’ with Beyoncé, he’s gonna say no. But my team still sent it to him, and I remember being away somewhere - I think I was on holiday with my husband, and I got a text from my managers like Nile Rodgers loves it and wants to do it with you. 

That is crazy. So he went from Beyoncé to you? 

Honestly, I can’t believe it. The next thing I knew we were in the studio and I was watching him play guitar all over a song that I produced. It was just a crazy moment. He was so proud of me. He couldn’t believe I’d produced it on my own. It was a beautiful thing. I’m so honoured. 

What’s he like to work with? 

Oh, he’s incredible. To be honest with you, you don’t get work done with Nile, because he’ll be telling you some incredible story about Luther Vandross or Michael Jackson. He’s worked with all the greats. I was just more in awe of him than anything else. I was just staring at him the whole time listening to his stories. He’ll take two seconds and play the most incredible riff. 

In what way is your writing process different when it’s for yourself rather than for someone else? How do you know whether a song is for you or whether it’s for another artist? 

You know what, I get asked that a lot. I feel like it’s a very similar process. Like I definitely feel like I get into a creative space. The only difference is that sonically some songs fit better for me. I’m definitely not someone who’s afraid to give songs away. Like, I’m always encouraged by it because I think it allows me to want to make more, but I think when it comes to myself the only difference would be that I take a lot of time. I can mull over an idea for months and my management will be like ‘you need to finish that song.’ Whereas with other artists, typically I’m in the studio with them for like a day or two before they get back on tour or something. That’s probably the only difference. But generally it’s all the same. 

A great song is a great song! Who were your musical inspirations growing up?

Oh my gosh, in my house there was loads of 80s Soul and Motown. My parents are Caribbean so there was loads of Reggae and Bob Marley. But my big sister - she got me onto things like Busta Rhymes and Pharrell Williams. I remember I kept seeing Pharrell on the back of CDs. I’d always look at the back of CDs and look at the credits and open them up and read who was writing the songs and I’d always see his name and I’d be like ‘Who is this Pharrell guy?’ And it was the same with Timbaland. I remember being so inspired by that. I wanted to be someone who was that prolific. He’s just an inspiration in general I think. And I remember Kelis’s first album, Kaleidoscope, that was one of the first albums I went out and bought, and Pharrell produced the whole thing. I just thought, ‘This is the most incredible music I’ve ever heard. I want to do this.’ I was just so inspired by him. 

That’s really interesting that it was immediately the behind the scenes people who were appealing to you. 

I know, yeah. I remember opening a Mariah Carey sleeve, seeing all these names, all these incredible people, and thinking ‘What goes on behind the scenes?’ It just intrigued me so much. 

How did you realise you had a gift for songwriting? 

I don’t think I even realised I had a gift. I think I stumbled into it. I was hanging around at this studio when I was also stockbroking, juggling music and finance. There was this opportunity that came along to write on some songs. One of those songs was The Saturdays ‘What About Us’. When it got released, it went to #1 and I was so happy and grateful for that, but I mean - I kind of stumbled into it. I thought, ‘Is this what songwriting is? Okay, I’ll do this again.’ 

Single Artwork for 'Muscle Memory' by Kamille.

We’ve got to talk about your work with the girls - Little Mix, of course. They’ve said that you’re the fifth member of the band. What do you think it was that made it click so well with them? 

I actually think deep down I’m just a girl’s girl. I’m just a girl that wants to protect her friends and stand up for her friends. Whenever someone’s had a bad experience with a guy or an ex, I’m always the one that’s ready to roll up outside his house with them and throw toilet paper at the window. When it came to Little Mix, I just identified with them. And they could sing so well, and harmonise. It was just incredible. I just became so obsessed with them, like everyone else, and I got to be the one writing these amazing songs with them. It was just a wonderful relationship that I’m so grateful for. It was just an amazing moment in my life. 

They said that you saved their career with ‘Black Magic’. Did you know immediately that you had struck gold with that song? 

Half a year before ‘Black Magic’ happened, I was in LA on this massive writing trip organised by Simon Cowell [for Little Mix]. We wrote loads of songs but nothing felt right when we came back. It was a really scary moment, because you know how sometimes labels can question whether things are gonna work. And I remember thinking I’m gonna go back to the drawing board, and go back to a nostalgic moment that I loved in music which was 80s and Cyndi Lauper. I felt really inspired by that, and they hadn’t touched on that sound yet. I remember being in the studio with Ed Drewitt and we were just vibing and that song came so quickly because we’re both so obsessed with Cyndi Lauper. And then I remember Little Mix’s A&R coming in and being like ‘Oh my god, what is this?’ I don’t know if you remember at the time, but everyone was doing kinda minimal style music. Selena Gomez was ruling the charts and everything was super minimal and everyone wanted to seem cool - and then there was just this big massive pop song played on the radio and it just really worked. 

You also collaborated with them vocally on ‘More Than Words’. What was it that made you want to hop on a track of theirs vocally as well as behind the scenes? 

They asked me! To be honest with you, I wrote this song as a song about a friendship - and I did it with Timbaland, which was an incredible experience. I wrote it kind of about us and our friendship behind the scenes. It was only when the girls heard it that they said, ‘Hun, you need to be on this with us because it just makes sense.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s incredible.’ That’s the kind of girls that they are. They’re so sweet, and it was amazing getting to perform it with them at the O2. That meant so much to me.  I’ll always remember it. It’s like a massive summary of our relationship, so it’s a beautiful song. 

You won a Grammy for writing on Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia album. How did you react when you found out? 

Blown away. I was blown away. It’s like the top echelon of awards and achievements that you can have as a songwriter. I’ve always wanted a Grammy as a songwriter. It was incredible. Even being nominated again this year for ‘I’m Good (Blue)’ with David Guetta [was amazing] - even though we didn’t win, shout out to my Queen Beyoncé! If I’m gonna lose to anyone, it had better be Beyoncé. But these moments, I will never forget them. I find them so overwhelming because it’s so huge. I’m just really grateful. 

Is there anyone who you’d like to work with that you haven’t done so already? 

Oh my gosh, definitely still Beyoncé. I’m gonna speak it into existence until it happens because I’m determined to have a song with her. And if I work hard and talk about it enough then it will hopefully happen. 

Did you get tickets to her tour? 

You know what, I haven’t yet. I actually went into the queue and there were 488,000 people ahead of me. So I’m praying to the Beyoncé Gods that something will come together for me. 

You’ve started your own recording label and publishing company, Pure Cut, and you said you were inspired by Beyoncé to do this. What was the reasoning behind this and why did it feel like the right moment for this to happen? 

I think I just wanted to leave something behind in this world and make a change and use my platform to help others. There’s so much amazing talent out there and I want to help discover it. I want to help nurture - I’m a very good nurturer, I feel. I always wanna help people. And I always have ideas that I think are really good. I wanna be that person that brings forth a new wave of talent. It’s an incredible process so far. It’s definitely being worked on and it’s in development and it’s really exciting. I’m more like an annoying friend than a label owner - I’m always coming up with ideas. It’s just so fun watching people developing and watching that growth. It’s opening up a different part of me which is really cool. 

You’ve been working with Flo, the latest girlband on the UK music scene - what’s the update with them? 

They’re absolutely incredible, they’re the sweetest girls. They’re so funny, so talented. They love to eat like me. We spent our whole session the other day just laughing and talking rubbish, we barely got a song done. But we’ve made some really good music. I can’t say too much! But it’s really exciting. I love them, just like everyone else. 

Can you tell us anything about the solo Little Mix projects? Are they happening? 

Oh my gosh, of course I’m working with them! I’m just letting them express themselves, and letting them know that I’m here when they need me. I’m not pushing myself onto them or anything. They’re discovering themselves, and I actually think it’s really important for them to go on a self-discovery journey and figure out what they’re gonna do. But I have been working with them, and they’re absolutely incredible and it’s so exciting. I guess watch this space! I’m so happy we get all these new projects from all these amazing girls. 

What are your plans for the rest of the year? 

This year’s gonna be incredible. There’s gonna be loads of music. I wanna focus on putting out projects that people can really get into and figure out more about who I am. I wanna put out chapters of new music whether they’re EPs or albums. The first one’s definitely gonna be coming very soon. There’ll be loads of performances and loads of collaborations. I’m doing a bit of everything and being creative. 

Thank you so much for the chat Kamille, and good luck with everything! 

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