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Camila Cabello on how music has shaped who she is
Simone Lee asks the singer about life in the spotlight
While the popularity of reality TV music contests isn’t perhaps quite what it once was, the ability of these shows to produce the next iteration of global stars shows no sign of waning.
The format firmly appears to favour vocal harmony groups these days, and the medium-term outcome is that one member will leave the others behind and embark on a solo career. Step forward Camila Cabello!
Now 24, the singer and songwriter is of an age that still seems impossibly young when considering the global acclaim she’s garnered. And the prolonged term of her career is even more remarkable given that she was an X Factor (US) winner way back in 2012 with five piece Fifth Harmony.
The fact that a 15-year-old could cope with a level of stardom, which from day one has never relented, is incredible – though Cabello admits she was swept along by events in the early days.
“You are scripted, programmed, organised and scheduled from day one,” she explains, adding: “When you look back, it’s terrifying; but of course, when you’re in the heart of it, it’s exciting. As a teenager who dreamed of making a career out of music, it was all I ever wanted.”
The daughter of Cuban mother Sinuhe Estrabao and Mexican father Alejandro Cabello, Camila moved to Miami at the age of six. “We had nothing, and my parents worked tirelessly in order to provide a better life for us,” she reveals.
That Cabello has always been of strong stock perhaps exemplifies how she could cope with the extreme demands of 24/7 show business scrutiny. “It did take some getting used to but I always felt I had the strength in me to get through the tough days,” she says.
She continues: “You go from being an ordinary person to having press camped outside your house and fans chasing your car down the street. I think the biggest thing for me was accepting that my old life would never be there again.”
“Even those who have been in the industry for a handful of years will never go back to who they were. It is life changing and it’s permanent,” Camila adds.
Cabello needn’t have worried. Embracing fame with the rest of her Fifth Harmony band mates, the group scored three top five albums in the US, along with a host of multi-platinum singles including Miss Movin’ On, Work From Home and Worth It.
Camila left the group in 2016, saying she wanted to move on with her own projects.
She affirms that “what has made me happy is that the girls went on to achieve so much more after I left. I knew they would, and to get another three years out of a collective that transformed our lives was amazing to see.”
And yet, so great has been her ascent that this solo artiste has never been able to look on the fortunes of her former act for too long. Her first single I Know What You Did Last Summer was in collaboration with Shawn Mendes. That began a string of duets with artistes as revered as Machine Gun Kelly, Young Thug and Pharrell Williams.
Cabello admits that she loves “the process of recording with someone else. Although I’m proud to be a solo artiste and love having my own creative vision come to fruition, at times it’s so valuable to lean on someone else so that you can take a different approach to a track, chorus or perhaps simply the harmony.”
“I’ve always felt that my background should inspire me to do as much as I can for other people”
“Music is so subjective and beautiful, and it’s important to listen to the influence of others when it comes to creating songs,” she asserts.
The success that followed has been huge. Fittingly, the tracks Havana and Señorita have resonated best in the US as they echo her Cuban roots with melodies that weave and intertwine. Other tracks Bad Things, Never Be The Same and My Oh My have been global smashes, and helped Cabello rapidly build a legacy that’s seen her lend her voice to many projects.
Camila elaborates: “I’ve always felt that my background should inspire me to do as much as I can for other people. I moved to a different country when I was young, I am a woman, and I’m in an industry where we are centred on inclusion and diversity.”
“We all have to stand up, be proud of who we are, and demand accountability for racism and injustice. I think the music industry is the very best in the world for this; and I’m proud of the work we’ve done so far but there is always more to do,” she declares.
“I’m proud of being Cuban and I’ll always regard Havana as my home. I lived in Mexico City as well, and love the Latin sounds and culture that continues to influence me today. This is ultimately who I am,” she concludes.
– Compiled by hub.branded