An eclectic Camille Davila presents herself and her album HI-C

An interview by Alessandra Lacaita

On the 1st of December Goodbye Records released HI-C, an album by singer/song writer Camille Davila. “HI-C was first available in the UK in 2008. The new release includes three demo tracks that have been mastered and released for the first time”, Camille Davila explains. Hi-C is her second release by Goodbye Records following Divided Skies. Previously she had published two albums with Below Records, and released her first version of HI-C on Poly Records, a label that no longer exists. Camille Davila has a magnetic smile and big expressive eyes. She is charismatic and sometimes ironic about herself. Camille agreed to talk about herself and the release of HI-C, and interviewing her was a pleasure.

Who is Camille Davila?

Camille Davila is of the female gender, born in California, who has lived almost half of her life in Europe (mainly in the UK but also Norway). She makes music and is a lover of people and places. She loves running and she has a cat.

What’s the story behind HI-C?

HI-C is a funny record.

A few years ago, when I was living in Liverpool, I went into a heavy break up with my boyfriend (who is now my actual husband) and decided to move back to California, where I formed a band to play live. Then the relationship came back together and I moved back to England first, then to Norway and finally to England again. I felt very disoriented and this was reflected in the development of the album.

The mastering of Hi-C at Guillemot’s Studio in London in 2008 really needed to happen because there was such a difference in sound. I started HI-C in Liverpool by playing, writing and recording all the tracks myself. Then, when I was living in California I had the opportunity to take my California band to London and record the other half of HI-C in Bake House Studios, in Norfolk. Here my husband, who is a music producer/arranger came along and added lots of arrangements. As a result of these changes in location and recording technique, half of the album sounded one way and the other half in quite another way. The mastering by Jonas Raabe helped tie it all together.

I started to write the three bonus tracks that are now part of the new HI-C released by Goodbye Records, when I was writing the material for Divided Skies. I made those three record tracks in my own bedroom studio and in the same kind of way: I was arranging and producing and putting lots of layers on. Then Winter Lazerus mastered them to fit the sound with the rest of the album and create a uniform sound for the release by Goodbye Records.

How did you start to produce with Goodbye records?

When I was living in Oslo my husband was playing with Bearfarm, a Norwegian band, I sang on two tracks of their album 59 dreams 95 times. It was a fantastic record (also on Spotify and I-tunes). One day, Bearfarm were having a jam and at some point, someone put HI-C on the stereo.

The Norwegian producer HP Gundersen, who was at that jam, listened to my music and liked it and decided to get in contact with me. He became a great fan of my music and asked me to visit him. So I went from Oslo to Bergen, where he lived, and when I met him he said; “I will help you set up studio sessions so you can get another album recorded”. At that time (2009/2010) he was playing in the same band (The Last Hurrah!) as Heidi Torsvik (aka Heidi Goodbye) who is also the director of Goodbye Records. HP asked me to do some background vocal singing for Heidi for a live gig and Heidi and I completely fell in love with singing together and our friendship really got on from there. Over the last few years, we ended up going on tour together and playing each other’s songs.

When I finished Divided Skies, she proposed that I release it with Goodbye Records and I thought that if someone had to release it, that person would have to be Heidi. I trusted her. I think that she and I have been a parallel universe to one another. It is creepy because we have totally different voices but when we sing together you can’t tell who is singing. That is very strange.

How are you going to promote HI-C?

HI-C is on Spotify, Youtube, and iTunes. I have also been doing some strategical gigs which have nice settings. I played at the Sewell Barn theatre and Jurnets Bar here in Norwich. Also, for the last two years I have just been playing acoustically with guitarist Pat Falgate and Heidi, when we can all be together. More recently, I’ve been performing with Bridgette Holmes who plays in another band called Playhouse. We filmed a few songs and we are doing a short film showing the songs played live.

How would you define your music?

Eclectic. This is what people generally say because I don’t have a specific genre. I make sounds that I find appealing and I put them together. So it is quite layered and eclectic. The first tracks of HI-C are electro pop and there is a little bit of synth pop. Then there are tracks that are more sixties driven acoustic and there is one track that is bossanova. I think Divided Skies is also a bit eclectic but not as much as this one. Divided Skies has a more uniform sound. HI- C has more Indie style to it.

What inspires you to write music?

It depends on what’s going on. It could be anything. I could be watching a film and getting moved by the narrative of the film or it could be something that has happened in my life. I could also get inspired by somebody else’s musical work or unique arrangements and how they are doing it, or by some unusual sub-genre of music. Around the time of HI-C I was obsessed with electronic music and analogue synthesizers.

I’m not really sure how to elaborate. I guess what i’m saying is that there are many other art forms that inspire me to create music as well as smaller divisions of art forms like the analogue synth movement, with artists like Wendy Carlos and Gershon Kingsley or Delia Derbyshire. They fit a sub-genre of what would be known as “electronic music” and that inspires me to compose.

So I get inspired and suddenly I am writing. Words are almost the last thing in my music compositions. I don’t like writing lyrics at all. I like the sound of words, and i think of music in terms of it’s sound more than anything else. When I write lyrics for my music it is usually because words can create sound in a certain ways to me. Something like “the happy hungry elephant that happens heretically…” I always write something down when I get a new idea and then when I have to focus on the lyrics they are always a mess because I have to go through them in a kind of cut and paste style where I’m trying to create order from a very mismanaged and fragmented process. The lyric is always the hardest part. I go totally nuts when I am doing that.

How did you change musically over the years?

I think when I first started I really wanted to be in a band and just be David Bowie. When you start you are not a very good musician and you are just trying to get by. Over time I have become much more interested in developing skills and in the music itself. I love performance now but my interest in producing music is taking over. The first record was produced by somebody else. I didn’t even know how to set up a microphone stand and now I like to produce. I am very knowledge hungry and I enjoy being a student now very much also.

Which one is the instrument that most represents you and why?

Guitar is definitely the main instrument that I play, although I love piano and I have started to play it a lot more in the last three years.

What adjectives would represent both your personality and the instruments you play?

For the guitar I would say “difficult” and that definitely corresponds to my personality. For the piano I would say “elegant” but I am too shy to call myself elegant.

What’s your future expectation in terms of music? How do you see Camille in ten years time?

My visa is expiring in April and I don’t know if I am going to stay in Norwich, even if I would like this to be my home forever. My husband is Norwegian so we could end up going back to Norway. He also wants to go to Barcelona though… I never know what is going to happen.

I spent so many years moving around the globe in this way and I am almost used to it, but what I always know through all of it, is that I’ll make a record at some point. When I went back to California some years ago, because of the break-up of my relationship at that time, I put a band together and somehow we did Hi-C. Then, for example, when that relationship continued and I was then in Norway because we couldn’t stay in England, well, then, somehow I made Divided Skies.

Now all is coming up again and once again, I am working on a new album which is completely different form HI-C. Maybe I will make that in Norway too. In the big picture, It is always the same for me: everything becomes stable and then falls apart again, but the music is my ongoing stability. In ten years I will still be doing music, even if it means that I’m carving music notes on the trees… Oh no…That is bad for the environment!