Interview: Camille Rae Talks ’90s-Inspired Sound, Feeling Doubt and Finding Patience
On March 10, Camille Rae released her sophomore album, Come Find Me. The 15-track record was inspired entirely by one person in her life -- and the story is still unfolding.
"It goes from the beginning to now, about how I felt about that relationship," Rae tells The Boot, noting that her manager came up with the idea to write the record in this way. "I’m still going through this, so it’s still kind of tough to deal with ... So that’s the story concept, very vaguely, but it really has taught me -- I’m a really private person most of the time, but it’s taught me about vulnerability and how important that is, and showing people that it’s okay to have feelings and okay to express them.
"I’ve always been one of those people that just kept everything in and tried to take care of everyone else," Rae adds. "This album has helped me deal with things about me, and not about everyone else."
Come Find Me's debut single, "But I Want You," wasn't written by Rae -- the record is split approximately in half in terms of songs she did write and those she didn't -- but the singer believes strongly in the message of the tune.
"It was really about what I’m dealing with in a lighter take on the subject," Rae says of "But I Want You," which was written by Jaida Dreyer, Fred Wilhelm and Jay Knowles. "It’s about wanting someone you really shouldn’t want. It’s a really fun song. I started playing it acoustically at my gigs, and everyone loves it; it’s a room-stopper. And the fully-produced version is super fun. It fit the situation."
"I loved all the '90s powerhouse women," explains Rae. "I did a lot of talent shows, and I wore boots and skirts and stuff when I was a girl. It’s just a part of the culture. My whole family loves country music.
"I started writing poetry when I was little, and then eventually started songwriting," she continues. "When I write, I like to tell a story. Country music is about telling stories and having substance to what you’re saying."
Rae describes her own sound as "‘90s country, women country, with a modern twist."
"I just love that kind of music. You can connect with it. And I found that my music connects with women my age and older, really well -- those who have a little bit more life experience," Rae notes. "But then, also, with the younger group, it can connect with the feelings. I’ve totally gone through that, even if maybe they haven’t, but they feel like they can connect to that.
"I want my music to be a big focus on a wide range of ages, be able to connect with people," she adds. "I think storytelling and being real with your music is what the ‘90s writing was about, so I like to bring that back a little more to country."
Being onstage has been a dream for Rae ever since, at the age of eight, she saw McEntire perform in concert. Still, she pursued a different -- perhaps safer -- career path, as a high school choir director, first.
"I went to college for music education, and I got a job right out of college at my hometown high school," Rae shares. "I actually was planning on moving to Nashville, and the they called me and said, ‘You got the job.'"
Rae spent three years teaching high school choir, and although she "loved" her students and "the concept of the job," she admits that she "started to get jealous of them being onstage, or me being behind the podium or behind a curtain."
"I actually told them that when I left," Rae remembers. "I’ve always know this is what I was meant to do, and it’s definitely a rough road sometimes. I teach on the side, and I do private voice lessons and little camps when I can."
It’s a test of patience for me, daily, to have the faith and the knowledge that I have what it takes to do this.
Rae doesn't regret her decision, but she says that pursuing a career as an artist can be incredibly lonely, especially when she doesn't necessarily feel supported by those in her inner circle.
"I’ve been struggling for the past year, because, being from Kentucky, you get married young. They expect you to get married, have babies and have a family. My family is like, ‘What are you doing with your life right now?’" Rae explains. "This may sound cheesy, but since I was three years old, I knew that there was something not better, but bigger, that I was supposed to do with my life. It drives me.
"My practical brain says, ‘You know what? You should probably go back to teaching,’ on days that I’m down. But every time I’m onstage, every time I’m in the studio, every time someone comes up to me and says, ‘Your song changed my life,’ I’m like, 'This is what I’m meant to do. It will all work out. Somehow it will all work out, and things will be fine,'" she continues. "It’s just in your blood. As an artist, it’s in your blood, and you have to do it; no matter how crazy it gets around you, find a way to center somehow."
Still, the instability of life as an artist, and dealing with the unknown, challenge Rae. Daily, she learns to be patient.
"For this career, most artists are very free-spirited. I’m not. I’m a planner. I have to have a five-year plan: What’s going to happen next? And with this career, you have to be smart about your decisions, and you have to take calculated risks, but you just never really know what will come around the corner, honestly. You could get a phone call tomorrow that says, ‘Hey, you’re signed!’ or you might be struggling to pay your bills," Rae concedes. "It’s a test of patience for me, daily, to have the faith and the knowledge that I have what it takes to do this."
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