Every musician has a story. Some are more uplifting than others, and some inspire you to attempt the impossible because of their determination and raw talent. Seattle’s Camille Bloom is one of those. Not only has she been touring almost non-stop in some shape or form with her music for the past several years, but she’s an amazing writer, producer, and teacher, just to name some of the impressive lines on her resume. She’s got spunk, drive, and is far more than we could probably grasp.
This interview won’t do it all justice, but it speaks volumes of Miss Camille Bloom.
I hear you had some struggles staying afloat in the music industry. Tell me that story.
When I first started touring, I had no idea what I was doing. I had just been lured out of my teaching job by an investor who failed to follow through in funding – and I was on unpaid leave from my job. I hit the road and set up as many shows as I could, but managed to accrue 26K in credit card debt trying to stay afloat. Over the years, I have worked myself out of that hole – and learned a lot about the business. I have spent many years building a fan base one show at a time – and it is finally paying off! Recently, we raised 27K in a crowdfunding campaign, which helped us to build a studio and produce and record our own record. I have been touring Europe and the U.S. consistently for 9 years, but I still remember my first show in San Diego when I was elated to earn $6 and a sandwich.
How do you think this experience has shaped you as a person and as a musician?
I think I have learned to appreciate the small things more. In the beginning, I was always dreaming about landing a label deal – not with a major, but perhaps a well known indie label. But as the years passed, I watched so many of my friends sign deals only to be devastated and let down by the commercial music industry. I read so many books about the business of music. I have a small library of books that helped guide me in how to be a successful touring musician, and because of that, I have remained my own boss from day one. This allows me to stay true to myself as a person and a musician. It allows me to tour when I want, where I want. I have played some incredibly magical shows to small audiences, and in the end, that is more important than any label deal. I also learned that you have to work really hard, but in the end, it is worth it.
How would you describe your music?
I call it “Feisty Acoustic Driven Songwriting”- but as a DJ in Iowa once said – it’s also “Music for Thinking People.”
What was the creation process like for your album, Pieces of Me?
This is quite a story. First of all, I couldn’t have done it without the success of our crowdfunding campaign. I really wanted to try producing my own record, but we didn’t have any equipment to record – and I mean – ANY. We started with an empty room – which sits in a re-purposed grain silo on our farm. After we realized we had raised enough to start building, I researched equipment for weeks, making calls to all of the producers I know – and asking a zillion questions. I also read reviews and spent hours pouring over websites to find out what might work best for our sound. It took about 6 weeks to procure and set up a working studio. We even built the room treatments ourselves. Gaelen has a knack for building so I ordered the materials and we went to work! After that, we had to spend some time experimenting with scratch tracks. We laid a bunch of the same guitar tracks down in about 10 different locations in the studio to find the best sound. Once we had that figured out, we started tracking. My engineer, Logan Billingsley, and I worked every chance we got and tracked the album in 4 months.
Did you encounter any challenges while creating the album?
The beauty of producing our own record was that I really had a chance to listen to the songs and answer the question: “What does THIS song need?” I wasn’t trying to fit into a producer’s signature sound, nor was I trying to fit into one musical genre. I decided to let each song speak for itself. For that reason, I added instruments I had never put on an album before: Mandolin, ukelele, and trumpet are just a few. I also laid down 2 piano songs which had never happened before. The trouble is, once you get started, where do you stop? We listened to each track (and I am not exaggerating) probably 300 times before we laid it down. At that point, you are almost dizzy. It’s very hard to know where the fine line is that separates authenticity and perfection, and after so many listens, you are so tired of hearing the song that you almost hate it!
Which track was the most fun to create?
I think it has to be the title track: “Pieces of Me”. It was the song that I wrote at the very last second. I had no idea how it would turn out – but I knew it had to be on the record. Of course, the newest song is usually my favorite anyway, because it’s new. But this one took on a life of its own. We had a great mandolin player, Zak Borden, come out to the studio to lay parts – and we were blown away with what he did. That’s when I really fell in love with the song. My bass player Eric Frank also really got the feel of the song – and so it took shape really easily and became the title track for a few reasons. One – it’s incredibly fun to play – and two because I fell like this album finally represents all parts of me – so “Pieces of Me” was a fitting title.
If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
I would be a smooth organic banana ice cream (not flavored, but with real bananas), with walnuts. I like the element of surprise and like to think that people would take a bite thinking it was vanilla, only to discover a subtle, yet flavorful punch in the pallet.
What can we expect in the future from you?
Are you prepared for how insane my answer sounds? I have so many things going on. This will be a doozy.
I will continue to tour in support of this album for at least a year. I have scheduled a Fall tour through the Western U.S. – and will try to hit the east coast in November. Then, I’ll take a short hiatus from the road for a couple of months while I gear up to tour Europe again in May. I am also recording a Covers album – based on requests from the donors of my crowd-funding campaign. I have also been producing a couple of amazing up and coming songwriters. You can count on those albums coming out this year. During the summer, I run songwriting retreats for teens and adults, and that has been a great way to give back. Finally, I have been really enjoying giving workshops in schools. It has been great to utilize my teaching degree to work with young people who are passionate about music. So – all of that. I plan to do all of it. :()
Keep up with Miss Camille and her busy schedule right here.