Acclaimed, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Cam has a busy year planned for 2020. She has just released her excellent new single “Till There’s Nothing Left” (on RCA Records) which is her first release since her single “Diane” in late 2017. She will also be releasing her long-awaited new album this summer.
It was in 2015 & 2016 that Cam emerged as a talented new artist to watch. She released her major label debut album, Untamed, in December 2015. This album contained her breakthrough hit “Burning House,” which was a #2 country hit and made the Top 30 on Billboard’s Hot 100 pop chart. “Burning House” was an original, critically-acclaimed single that established Cam as a compelling new artist. “Burning House” was certified double platinum, and Cam was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Solo Performance for “Burning House.” She was also nominated for CMA and ACM awards.
Cam (whose birth name is Camaron Ochs) is originally from Lafayette, California, which is near San Francisco. She eventually moved to Los Angeles and began collaborating with songwriter & producer Tyler Johnson, and she later moved to Nashville. Cam teamed up with Johnson to write most of the songs on her Untamed album. Another key collaborator is Grammy-winning writer/producer Jeff Bhasker, who has worked with Kanye West, Fun, Jay-Z, Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga. Bhasker co-wrote three songs for Untamed, and Johnson & Bhasker produced the album.
For her new single “Till There’s Nothing Left,” Cam wrote the song with Johnson, Bhasker and hit Nashville songwriter, Hillary Lindsey. This positive, sensual love song spotlights Cam’s powerful vocals and her unique lyrics, which is about romantically and sexually giving everything she has…till there’s nothing left.
For her upcoming album, Cam not only works again with Johnson and Bhasker, but she has written songs with such top female songwriters as Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Natalie Hemby and Liz Rose.
In addition to writing songs for her own albums, Cam has had success co-writing songs for other artists. She wrote with Sam Smith the song “Palace,” which was on his platinum 2017 album, The Thrill of It All. Cam also co-wrote with Miley Cyrus the song “Maybe You’re Right,” which was on her 2013 multi-platinum album, Bangerz.
Here’s the video of Cam’s new single, “Till There’s Nothing Left.”
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Cam. She discusses her new single “Till There’s Nothing Left,” her upcoming album, and how she wrote her hit, “Burning House.”
DK: It’s been a few years since the release of your hit album, Untamed. Can you talk about the making of your upcoming new album?
Cam: Yes, the last album I released was in 2015, so it’s been [a lengthy period of] touring, and writing for other people…I did the song “Palace” with Sam Smith for his album. And then I did the duet with Diplo (“So Long”). I’ve just been making music, and fine-tuning my new album. It’s been a really interesting period…I’ve been taking my time, and then I also had a label change, and I got married and had a baby. It’s been amazing though, because as impatient as I am, it’s forced me to keep adding and refining songs, and refining the production. So it’s been a long arc creating this time, but I loved it, because I’ve grown a lot as a person while I was writing the album.
DK: I read that you wrote with some excellent Nashville songwriters for your new album.
Cam: Yes, because I’m now in the Nashville scene, I got access to these amazing writers like Lori McKenna, Hillary Lindsey, Liz Rose and Natalie Hemby. And I’m still working with Tyler Johnson and Jeff Bhasker. So yeah, it’s been a fun journey, and I’m excited for everyone to hear the album, because it’s such a great progression from the first album.
DK: I like your new single “Till There’s Nothing Left,” which you wrote with Tyler Johnson, Jeff Bhasker and Hillary Lindsey. How did you write this song?
Cam: We had a writing session, and at first it was with Tyler and Hillary and we started writing a few different things, although we hadn’t really landed on anything that we loved. Then Tyler and Hillary ended up hanging out. I’m pretty sure they were drinking some wine (laughs), because they sent me this voice note, with Hillary playing this laid-back, sexy beat, and [singing the opening intro]. And they had this idea [about how] you’re giving everything of yourself—mentally, emotionally, physically…and I love that. I love it in a teen angst…in a world’s ending, Romeo & Juliet way. And I love [it in a very adult way]…what it means to fully love someone and fully know who I am, [and what] I’m giving to someone.
Here’s the video of Cam’s hit, “Burning House.”
The next day, we went into the session, with Jeff Bhasker there as well, and we sat down and wrote this song. And I remember blushing a little bit, because for women, it’s not as normalized to talk about sex, even though guys are singing the same lyrics in songs you’re hearing on the radio. But I thought back to my grandmother, who gave me the sex talk when I was 12. I remember she said, “Camaron, sex is like a milkshake. And once you have it, you’re always gonna want it” (laughs). It was so funny hearing that from my grandma. You’d think she would be a prude, but no, she owned that was her love, too. So I thought…if my grandma can own this, I can own this.” That this is something that I love, and the way that I show love, and it should be something that women are comfortable with and allowed to sing about.
DK: With your songwriting, I like how you create unique, interesting lyric stories, such as “Burning House,” “Diane” and “My Mistake.” How do you come up with your lyric ideas?
Cam: For me, I come from a psychology background…I used to do psychology research before music. And I think the same thing that drew me to psychology research, draws me to do songwriting. I am trying to figure myself out (laughs). So anytime a concept or a story or a memory…anything that hits my gut like a feeling, then I feel this drive to excavate that idea and put music to it, and wrap my head around it. So with “Diane,” that was a pain in a friend of mine’s life, that was really heavy and it affected her, and I watched it affect her and her whole family. And “Burning House” was a guilt that I had about someone that was very important to me in the way I treated them, and I didn’t know how to process the fact that I had been in the wrong.
DK: You’ve also written songs for other artists, such as Sam Smith and Miley Cyrus. Do you like writing songs for other artists?
Cam: Originally, when I first got into music professionally, I thought I would just be writing for other people. [I later became an artist], but along the way I still had an opportunity to write in sessions with Tyler Johnson, and with Sam Smith and Miley Cyrus. I love writing for other artists when I have the chance. It’s nice to be able to switch hats, from being an artist to writing songs for other artists.
DK: Thank you Cam for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Cam: Well, I’m pleased to talk about songwriting, because it’s such an important part of music, that I feel sometimes gets overlooked. And everytime I go into a writing session, I work really hard on to make sure I can contribute to writing a good song. So it means a lot to get to talk about it. Thanks for taking the time to write about people that care about this.