She left Fifth Harmony at the height of the girl band’s fame – amid lots of finger-pointing and badmouthing over social media – but Camila Cabello's gamble to head out on her own, it seems, is paying off. And then some.
Her single, Havana, hit number two in the UK charts without even a flicker of press promotion or a music video (she's since released a hilarious telenovela-inspired video which had nearly 9 million views in the first 24 hours). All this might have a little something to do with her fiercely loyal 12.4 million Instagram followers.
I didn’t really know what to expect before meeting Camilla: would she be a diva, having already spent five years in the public eye? Or, another young puppet on a record company’s string? Absolutely NOT, on both counts.
This is a girl who has certainly unshackled herself from the ties of Fifth Harmony and is living the solo life, just like any girl who is free post a relationship breakup. By the end of our interview I'm in awe of Camila, if I was a parent to a young girl this is exactly the young woman I would want them to look up to: someone who has found her own voice, both on and off her records, at very early age. Ladies and Gentleman, we give you Camila Cabello…
“When you’re young, people always make you feel like you’re going to get in trouble for speaking up. People always make you feel like if you say something they’re going to take this away, that you’re going to get in trouble. It’s hard being a young artist. That’s why I feel like having my mum with me all the time has helped a lot, because when you’re young you are so naïve and innocent – and you’re scared. You are living your dream and then you have people saying, ‘you have to do this, you have to do that!’ It’s important young girls in the industry get to have a say and not be made to do anything that they are uncomfortable with. It’s taken me a bit of time to get to that point, to say, ‘I’m not going to do that just because you want me to and because ‘that’ sells more.’ It can be scary being a young girl in the industry.”
“It's important young women are outspoken and share their stories. It's important people speak out and have conversations about the issues that affect them so people feel less alone. I do feel right now we’re in a good place. I think there is freedom and acceptance right now for girls and I think that everybody’s free to be who they are. I think the pressure doesn’t come from the world it comes from your more immediate circles. I think with that, you just have to know who you are and say no to the things you aren’t happy with.”
“The most important thing I’ve realized this year is I need balance in my life. You need to work super hard but you need to go and have fun, go out with your friends, meet new people, go on dates, hang out with your family and then go kill yourself in the studio. One makes you appreciate the other a lot more, otherwise if you have too much of one thing you exhaust yourself, which has happened to me before so I’ve had to learn to like set my limits. I mean it is crazy I get to do really amazing things but when I’m not working I live in Miami, the same place I grew up, and I hang around with the same people, so I still feel like the same person.”
“I don’t feel like I have a lifestyle that I have to censor from younger kids or a younger audience. How I am is really how I am, I’m not hiding myself and doing wild things in secret. I can understand why that must be difficult for people with that kind of lifestyle because they feel like they have to censor themselves or be somebody else in front of the world. I also have a ten year-old sister so I want to be a good role model for her, and other younger girls, but that’s just because of my situation. Everybody’s different.”
“I have a healthier relationship with social media now. I don’t look at what people think about me ever and I don’t read my Instagram comments. I go on Twitter every now and then to just interact with my fans but I go at a time where I know that only my fans are online - I don’t just creep on what random people are saying about me. I honestly just use social media as a vehicle to talk with my fans that are around the world. I also use it as a platform to expand my songs, my music, my work and even my style. I use it to show off my whole vibe and dictate my vibe."
“I started song writing when I was sixteen so I've always had my own voice as a songwriter. But I never got into a room with a real producer until January this year. So this was the year to figure out what my sound was but I feel I have always known my own voice, especially as a writer. This year has been a mix of trial and error and finding the right people to work with – it’s just like finding out what unique mix of things represents you.”
“My album is a mix of all the things that influence me. Havana has that Latin hip hop vibe but there are also emotional ones because I listen to a lot of Ed Sheeran, a lot of Taylor Swift, a lot of John Mayer and lot of love songs – I love a wallow track!
“When I was younger, music and musicians were my escape from reality. Not that my reality was bad, it was just boring to me at the time. I would get home from school and watch videos and interviews of my favourite artists, sing and look at these videos and these concerts as my escape. I feel that my purpose - the thing I’m set out to do - is just to spread light and give love to people. The arts is what makes life beautiful so if I can be an escape for somebody, that’s really all I want.”
Camila Cabello’s single, Havana is out now