Kamile
 

 

 Kamille is only getting started. The 30-year-old multi-award-winner has already achieved breathtaking success as a songwriter, crafting huge pop smashes for the likes of Mabel, Little Mix and Jess Glynne while working with rap and grime heavy-hitters such as Stormzy, Wiley and Headie One. Overall, she’s behind more than 4 billion combined streams. Her tenacity, talent and awe-inspiring drive have pushed her from the get go as one of only a few female British songwriters in a male-dominated corner of the industry. By building her own studio and starting her own record label with her publishers, BMG, she’ll be paving the way for the next wave of women producers, writers and performers. Now, with the release of her upcoming EP, she steps directly into the spotlight.

 In her early days as a songwriter, Kamille naturally found herself A&Ring. “Along the way I met so many amazing teams and creatives, who I knew I wanted in my life,” she says, her typically warm character shining through in her recognition of others. “I understood that a label is about the people.” At this time, she also learned that “being a producer is almost viewed the way people see being a mechanic – just not as a female-led job. There weren’t that many prominent female engineers, or that many female producers. I am really happy that it’s changing now, but when I was coming through, it’s just what I was used to. I didn’t question it.” But when her eyes were opened to this gender disparity she decided: “I’m trying to do something about it, starting with myself. Now, I hope I can push other people.”

This tenacity developed early. As a child, Kamille learned young that she could turn dreams into milestones, with hard work. “I had parents who were really ambitious,” she says, “so I always knew I wanted to be a boss in some way. I wanted to help others, to leave my mark.” Music would become the route for pursuing that goal. First, a passion for Shakespeare and her older sister’s taste in rap laid the foundation. Then, Kamille (born Camille Purcell) realised she had a gift for rhyme, and could hold her own in local church choirs. She developed a fascination with not only how music sounded – loving Stevie Wonder, ABBA, Prince, Motown classics and off-kilter rappers like Busta Rhymes – but how it was made. She squeals with joy, remembering obsessively reading Mariah Carey album liner notes to learn about all the other names associated with a song, beyond the performer.

Soon, she found the artist who would help set her template. “Pharrell was my first understanding of what a songwriter-producer is,” she says, remembering the “eureka!” moment when she noticed this one man was behind so many of her favourite early 2000s songs. “And I felt the same with Max Martin, who’d made every pop song you could think of,” she adds, glee stretching into her voice. As a self-professed “bit of a geek” she hooked onto this idea of the creativity behind songs – the people who could shape an artist behind the scenes.

She carried that curiosity right into the studio. While still working a high-pressure job in London’s financial district, she kept returning to the clarion call of music. Soon, after being introduced to some producers via a family friend, she started teaching herself the skills she’d need. She learned how to produce using Logic, how to play guitar – all with free YouTube tutorials (“You can do anything there now,” she yells, with a hearty laugh). So by the time she sat in her first ‘proper’ session in her early twenties, she was ready. “I happened to be in a studio where these guys were making amazing music, and ended up writing a song.” And that was “What About Us”, girl group The Saturdays’ only UK Singles Chart number 1. Kamille was “catapulted in”. She quit her day job.

With such sudden success came outside expectations. She immediately rose to meet them. “I had to prove myself – to show it wasn’t a fluke, or a one-off. I also put a lot of pressure on myself, because I wanted to show everyone, ‘look, I can do this.’” She “wrote like crazy,” throwing herself into countless sessions. From there she taught herself the makings of a hit as well as the importance of close creative relationships in the studio.

More hits racked up: Little Mix’s number 1s “Shout Out to My Ex” in 2015, and “Black Magic” a year later; Mabel’s biggest hit to date, 2019’s “Don’t Call Me Up”; two consecutive number 1s, first by Clean Bandit featuring Demi Lovato then Jess Glynne. To date, Kamille has written five UK number 1s, more than 25 songs playlisted on UK radio and 10 records certified platinum in the UK. Her hugely impressive ear for songs that demand being played on repeat has in turn earned her BRIT, BMI, ASCAP and A&R Awards (the latter for Songwriter of the Year in 2018). Most importantly, she insightfully spotted the ways musicians could push themselves, which others had missed. She would go onto feed this into songwriting both for herself and others.

“When I go in for a session with Mabel, for example, I’m thinking ‘what’s she gonna need now that’s going to be different from everyone else?’ I care a lot about that.” But it wasn’t easy watching from the sidelines. “I always wanted to be an artist,” she says. Seeing others perform her platinum- and gold-certified singles took a toll. “It was an emotional time and emotional process for me. But I’m so grateful it went this way because now I feel so powerful in myself.” Now she has the confidence, poured into these new songs.

The EP takes matters of the heart and adapts them firmly for the rules of modern dating. Kamille has an indelible knack for telling the intimate stories most people might not even be able to admit to themselves. “The overriding theme of these songs is my favourite term: ‘sexual sadness.’ It’s all I love to write about: emotions, the real shit that girls go through.” Take the smooth, urban pop of “Don’t Answer,” where she begs a lover not to pick up the phone. She sums it up with a giggle: “I’m talking about things where you know, for example, that you shouldn't call that fuckboy, but you still do. Or thinking, ‘I know if I call you, it’s gonna go down tonight, so don’t pick up the phone.’”

“Or, she adds, “thinking ‘I don’t want to fall in love – I don’t want to say ‘I love you’ first,’” referencing breathy, sad pop banger “IDWFIL.” Over a stripped-back beat, she hits a gutpunch, tapping perfectly into the all-consuming, heady early moments of a relationship when feelings spiral out of your control. “It’s honesty and romance from the brokenhearted perspective of someone who’s been through some shit,” she summarises. These are songs that will soundtrack the nights in and out of a generation, bound by the universal glue of love, with an added slick of lust. “I wanted to make sure these songs felt really true to who I am. I’m a very keen observer and a good eavesdropper,” she says, giggling. “All the stuff I write, I go with a feeling – I’m a storyteller.” She scrolls through her phone, showing a huge list of potential song titles and ideas, based on snippets of conversations with friends. “I’m just nosy as hell!” she jokes.

Not everyone can start one career, move into a completely new direction and make a name for themselves as Kamille has. But already, she’s thinking about what comes next. She wants to use her platform as a label owner and artist to champion the next wave of creative women. “I think women, our insecurity often gets the better of us. It’s about standing for something and encouraging women. That’s me.” After a pause, she remembers an old school yearbook – a quiet sign of where her life might lead. “And under my picture, mine said ‘Most Likely to Be Famous’.”