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Interview: Cam opens up about the long road to ‘The Otherside’

We caught up with the Country favourite to find out about her new record.

Cam
Credit: RCA/Triple Tigers

Singer-songwriter Cam released her major label debut ‘Untamed‘ in 2015 and since then she’s been spending a lot of time touring in the UK, building a fervent fanbase in the process.

The road to releasing her follow-up has been a rocky one that’s included label changes and delays. On Friday, her new album ‘The Otherside’ finally arrives and fans have been treated to selections from it including new single ‘Classic’.

I caught up with Cam recently to talk about the long road to releasing the album, discuss the poignant closing track ‘Girl Like Me’ and find out what it was like to make a music video during a pandemic…

It’s so good to be able to finally talk about this new album…

I know. It’s been almost coming out for what feels like a couple years. There was a moment at the beginning of this year where they were like ‘oh, you know, with everything shutting down and the way things are going, do you still want to put this out?’ and I was like, ‘yeah, 100%! (laughs) This needs to come out, right now. (laughs)

I heard some of these tracks a couple of years back and they’ve evolved since then. Tell me a little bit about that…

I’m trying to think of what incarnation it was in at that time. I feel like it all evolved but, to me, I don’tthink there’s anything that went like a totally different direction. Was there?

I feel like the production is a little bit more poppy than the versions that we heard…

Oh, interesting! When you’re about to put something out you’re like, ‘it’s done, I’m ready, let’s go!’ For better or for worse, having more time let me sit in it and (think about) what really makes this song feel right for me, and feel right for the message. I don’t think there was any conscious, ‘oh, I’ve got to shift this way or that way’. It all felt like it was growing and getting trimmed and given sunlight, and all that stuff, to make it blossom how it’s supposed to blossom. When you do hear them all together too, I do think there was an effort to make sure that we had this consistency across all of them. Some of them ended up being sister songs. ‘For me, ‘Forgetting You’ and ‘Changes’ are sister songs and ‘The Otherside’ and ‘Till There’s Nothing Left’ are sister songs, the way the production sounds. You guys, probably the last time you heard it, there wasn’t changes or happier for you.

Cam
Credit: RCA/Triple Tigers

I heard ‘Redwood Tree’, ‘Forgetting You’, ‘Like a Movie’ and ‘Diane’ back at that listening session… 

It’s crazy because when you have an album for so long sometimes. I’m so thrilled with how the final product for me, it hits all the big points that I want. I like an album feeling like a movie soundtrack honestly; something that has all the different colors. I like that each of the songs are still vocal forward and then there’s a lot of acoustic in there too, which is actually kind of fun. The the heavy layering of acoustics on ‘Diane’, ‘Changes’ and ‘Forgetting You’ but then there is this synthy side that comes in. Somehow it all feels totally natural to me (laughs) so hopefully it feels good to everybody else.

I’m so glad that ‘Diane’ is on there because that’s the bridge from ‘Untamed’ to this record. I feel like this album is very you but it’s also different from what we’ve heard from you before. I don’t think I’ve ever heard your voice like it sounds on closing track ‘Girl Like Me’ before…

Anytime you’re singing and traveling the world, and doing this all the time, your muscle changes. That and ‘Classic’ were the last songs to get done and added in. (‘Girl Like Me’), I wrote that with Natalie Hemby. I remember she came in and she was playing it on piano and I was like, ‘Oh, God! What a sad, beautiful story’ and she was like, ‘it’s your story’. (I said,) ‘Oh my god, it is my story’. We got to the chorus and she said, ‘what do you think this melody and what do you think the lyric should be?’ And I was just like, (Cam sings) ‘they’re gonna give up on you, you’re gonna give up on them’. It encapsulated how I felt like I had to fall choose purposely to fall in love again with the music industry, and decide that even though life doesn’t go 100% the way you imagine and the Disney movies tell you it’s gonna go (laughs), are you just gonna stay disappointed? Are you just gonna stay brokenhearted about it? Or are you gonna accept that you’re here for a reason and you’ve got to take the good with the bad, and you’ve still got to live your life even though there are good people who do bad things and bad people who still sneak past your gut instincts and all that kind of stuff. That one is definitely the most personal too. It’s almost like there’s an album and then at the end, it’s like a note from the author (laughs). This is what she’d like to tell you.

It’s a similar feel to ‘Village’, which closed ‘Untamed’ in that it’s at the end of the album and completely different from what’s come before. The song really hits me in the feels…

Aww, that’s good. I hadn’t heard anything that said it like that. I needed to hear someone say that. It’s not just like, ‘oh, you work hard and you’ll make it’ or ‘oh, there’s setbacks, but get back up’. It’s like, no your idea of how things are supposed to go and whatever age you hit that, there’s going to be a shattering of your world view. And then there’s an ‘and then’ (laughs) so what do you do next? That’s what I’m dealing with in my own personal life and what I think this record is too. It’s a very poignant moment.

There are so many lyrics that resonate, coincidentally, with the time we’re living in right now. It’s hard to listen to ‘Redwood Tree’ where you sing about the tree seeing your parents grow old while you’re not around, and most of us haven’t been able to see our parents much this year so it hits hard…

Super heavy, exactly. It’s creepy how prophetic some of the (songs are). ‘Till There’s Nothing Left’ with the end of the world video and the tornado happened right before there was a tornado that came through East Nashville. ‘Redwood Tree’ came out right as the world shut down and you were like separated from your families. ‘The Otherside’ and the title of it,  I feel like especially with the elections coming up and they back-and-forth between these two sides in the US… Hopefully, there’s a story that lights up. I think what’s fun about the music that I make is I make it over five years and over all these different stories so that at different points, you’re gonna listen to the record and one songs really gonna speak to you. Then when you listen in six months, it’ll be a different song. It’s meant to have different moments for different people at different times.

Cam
Credit: RCA/Triple Tigers

Clearly you’ve a gift for predicting the future so what can we expect from 2021?

Ah, I mean, for me, I think it’s going to be a lot more people being honest and truthful. I think people are slowly leveling up. I feel like everybody, we don’t have a choice but to look at ourselves. Then comes working on yourself because you start recognising things in yourself. I think there is a lot of healing that’s on the way but you can’t heal until all the crap gets brought to light first (laughs). I think we will sink lower than we all thought possible and then we will start healing in ways we didn’t think possible. It’s coming.

I’m so gutted that we’re not going to be seeing you on tour around the release of this record…

I know, I know. All I wanted was that to happen this year but I’m really hopeful that it’s going to be next year. We’re planning out all of it so as soon as it looks good, it’s happening. The team’s all planned it and getting back to see you guys is such a huge priority for me so don’t worry, as soon as it’s possible, we’ll be doing it.

Has it been strange for you having to adapt to this new virtual world and performing online?

Yeah. At first, it was really weird. I get time with my daughter, obviously, which is really nice and I don’t have to travel. It’s still very hard but I don’t have to try as hard to juggle everything at the same time. I miss traveling, I miss people but I’m thankful for the technology, that even in the midst of something as crazy as this, we all still get to see each other. If we didn’t have this technology, I would probably be going crazy in my house right now.

I’m so glad you’re still putting the record out despite the pandemic because so many artists are pushing things back and we need need music to keep us entertained…

For me, music has been a part of every culture since the beginning of culture. This is not just a business or a product, this is actually a human need. We have to have this when we’re in groups with each other. It definitely comes down to, ‘OK, this isn’t about the business part right now, this is definitely about the music part’. I’m really happy to be contributing right now too and it feels good for me. I think it feels good for everybody else to have something to look at. It’s not like escapism. You’re getting hit over the head with everything else from literally everywhere (laughs) so I think everyone deserves a little bit of variety in their day instead of just the one news story that keeps slapping you in the face. I think it’s more needed, honestly, right now to have some music.

The video for ‘Classic’ looks like it was so much fun to shoot and I’m loving the Marilyn Monroe nods. What was that like to make?

It was exhausting because I got there at midnight and by the time we were done filming it was 4.30 the next day so it was a really long day. To be honest, filming in a pandemic is not easy. Everyone’s going through all the precautions and there’s a lot of stuff to take care of so it moves a little bit differently than you’re used to, but because everyone’s so grateful to be working and doing something, everyone’s in a great mood. Even if it takes a long day and you’re tired, you’re still just so grateful to be around people and be in this bright pink setup. It was definitely the little dose of sugar that I needed and I’m really thankful. Somebody commented on one of the YouTubes, ‘I’m used to you making me cry, I’m not used to this happy vibe’ and I’m like, ‘exactly, I do not think I could be diving into a really dark song right now’. I am so grateful to have an upbeat song (laughs) ‘Burning House’ right now would have been real rough.

Cam’s album ‘The Otherside’ is released on Friday 30th October 2020 by RCA/Triple Tigers. Watch the music video for ‘Classic’ below:

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