When I ask Kamille how she knows she’s about to write a hit song, she pauses and smiles coyly, revealing nothing of her widely sought-after songwriting recipes. “You just know,” she responds simply over Zoom. The 34-year-old Grammy-winning singer and songwriter says it’s all about instinct when it comes to writing for the biggest stars in pop music, including Dua Lipa, Stormzy, Kylie Minogue and Little Mix, earning her 6.8 billion streams, 20 Top 10 hits and the eye of Beyoncé. Through her songs, Kamille has been able to encourage some of the world’s famous musicians to break down their walls to share the deepest, and at times, darkest parts of themselves — including their breakup stories. That she says is her superpower (along with getting many Deliveroo orders to the studio).
“I'm so silly that I think you can't help but laugh at me or laugh with me,” she reveals. “I think it tends to break the ice [with artists] and then we just get chatting. Writing a song is actually probably 90% having a chat, and just being able to share. I think because I'm very open and I share my own experiences they feel quite comfortable sharing their own,” she shrugs unassumingly. “I'm definitely someone who you can talk to. I'm definitely someone who's going to encourage you. One of my strongest points is allowing artists to feel like themselves and empowered and then you tend to get a really good song that way.”
“I’ll never forget those moments in the studio writing “Shout Out To My Ex” with Little Mix, it was just so electric and Perrie was just on a high,” she smiles. Kamille was once described as the fifth member of Little Mix due to being responsible for many of their chart-topping hits, including “Shout Out To My Ex” which, back in 2016, became the fastest single to reach No.1 on the UK iTunes chart since Adele's massive single Hello. It became a pop-powered cultural moment because, let's face it, Little Mix fans worldwide wondered just which ex was the inspo for lines like "Hope she ain't fakin' it like I did, babe."
“We were just so happy because we made a song that was reflective of what we've been through but also a song that was going to help so many girls,” she says. “I can't express to you how amazing that is when you know a song is going to connect to everyone. I just knew it,” she continues.
“Even when I wrote “Don't Call Me Up” with Mabel it was the same thing,” she explains. “We were in the room just absolutely buzzing because we got her through her pain. And we knew we were going to help so many others with their pain. So it's an honour to be able to do that and be a part of like saying artists like history. It's such an honour for me. And I love being able to be part of that process. And I love knowing that I've helped other people.”
"I wanted to write about breakups]in a way that hasn’t been written before. That feeling when you know you are finally over someone, and you just feel lighter. "
Kamille’s in her studio as we speak, a place where she admits she happily spends most of her time because this is a dream job that almost didn’t happen. Before she became known for her powerful pen, Kamille worked in finance as a stockbroker. ”I was not here for being a stockbroker anymore. I just wasn't enjoying it. And I think in life, anything you're not enjoying, you're so happy to leave behind,” she says. And after that, in a chance experience in a recording studio, she wrote her first ever professional song: "I happened to be in a studio where these guys were making amazing music and ended up writing a song.” That song became What About Us by girl group The Saturdays — their only UK Singles Chart number 1.
This chance experience propelled Kamille to become one of the few widely successful Black, British and female songwriters in the UK. Still, I get the sense that, all these years later, she still finds it all a dream. Kamille is down-to-earth and disarmingly nice. She shares that she hates compliments and has had hard times overcoming mental health issues in the past, like battling with imposter syndrome. She’s also the first to admit that it took a number one single — in fact, two number one singles — to finally understand that her success wasn't solely down to luck. “I remember when I knocked myself off of number one and I had two number ones in a row: “Solo” with Clean Bandit and “I’ll Be There” with Jess Glynne. And I remember thinking yeah, you know what, I'm alright at this. I've got something here. I just remember feeling really confident finally. Like I wasn't just cheating my way.”
“I got really really hungry after that,” she shares, dropping her smile for the first time in our conversation. “I remember thinking I want everything, I want Grammys, I want BRIT awards…”
Kamille achieved both, and now wants the same success for her own music. As she tells me, she’s tired of watching from the sidelines. She’s about to release her new single “weight loss” about the emotional weight you feel when you let go of a toxic relationship. “It’s not literally about losing weight. It’s about losing the weight of a toxic relationship, or a bad relationship you have had in your life. It’s about feeling lighter," she clarifies. “I wanted to write about [breakups] in a way that hasn’t been written before. That feeling when you know you are finally over someone, and you just feel lighter. Those burdens and those arguments and all those tears, you are finally over it,” she says.
On first listen, “weight loss” is a banger, designed for those who plan on dancing their way through the healing process. “I love that we've all experienced a painful breakup and we're all still here. Like we're all still alive. So clearly, we made it through, right? So that's literally what I'm here to express in that song: well done for getting rid of that weight."
“I think breakup songs are invaluable,” she adds. “And music is a healing medium for everyone. So I think breakup songs are so important and I'm so here for them.”
I wonder whether Kamille thinks breakup songs written for and by women are taken seriously (I mean, Taylor Swift has endured her fair share of snubs from old industry hats for her hit songs about her exes).
“In my experience, they are taken seriously because I think if there's one group of people who are going to want to hear a breakup song, it's women,” says Kamille. “Because we have been through some shit. Right? So I think when women are talking about a breakup to other women, it resonates. Because it's like, sis, I know what you're going through. So yeah, I think women have a real strong presence when it comes to breakup songs. And we should continue to do so.”
As for Kamille, who is happily married, she is healing through music on a whole other level. As she explains, she’s in her “bad bitch era", which includes celebrating herself, no longer staying in and going out more.
“I’m enjoying my body, my face, and not thinking about negatives. When I look in the mirror, I pick the best thing I love. And I focus on that for the day. That's my new thing,” she says, shrugging again.
“I'm just living in my truth. And I want everyone to feel that way. It's honestly a pleasure being able to make the songs, and for anyone out there who's liked a song I've written or liked anything I've done I just want to thank you because it's your validation that has kept me going.”