Camille saves Flemish pop music with ‘SOS’
Hi Camille, you were on almost every stage in Belgium this summer. How did it go?
Camille Dhont: “Very good! Now I can start to build. In total I gave about 110 performances, not counting the TV recordings of ‘Ten om te Zien’ and ‘Zomerhit’. However, no performance is the same. Recently a little boy came all the way to me crowdsurfing over the audience, just because he wanted a fist from me. That was one of the funniest moments of my tour.”
After ‘The Masked Singer’ the phenomenon ‘CAMILLE’ has exploded. How did you experience that period?
“It was very busy, but above all a lot of fun. So many beautiful things have come my way: the five sold-out Lotto Arena shows, the theater tour, the album… Those are all beautiful dreams that can now come true. That makes me super proud and very grateful. If I have learned anything from that period, it is mainly: go with the flow, even more than with #LikeMe. Every day is completely different, so the best thing is that I don’t worry too much and just go with that banana.”
Your continued success earns you a brand new record: ‘SOS’. What is the story behind that record?
«’SOS’ sounds a bit like ‘Camille to the rescue’, and that’s what I want to achieve with my album. I release my music in the hopes that fans will find support when their hearts are broken, or party harder when they’re in a party mood. That if they are in love, they can experience that feeling even more intensely. That’s the wonderful thing about music: that it can make you feel extra good.”
On your new record you can hear influences from Avril Lavigne, but also a very first censored ‘fuck’. Is ‘SOS’ aimed at a more mature audience?
«That was not necessarily the intention, but I do notice that my audience is getting wider. I mix Avril Lavigne with Dua Lipa-esque dance vibes and also eigthies beats, because my dad often put that music on. The music I make is music I like to hear myself, so I think my peers will follow naturally. The #LikeMe fans certainly have a special place in my heart, but since ‘No More Tears Left’ I notice that I now have fans who are older than me. Recently I saw a group of women in their forties roaring along with my lyrics: such a powerful feeling.”
In the press you are occasionally called the «first Flemish pop star» in the last fifteen years. What does that do to you?
“For real? That is a great compliment and an honor. It was always my dream as a child to become a pop star. I grew up with that music myself and I can go wild with it. I really try to bring out that total picture. Not only my music is important to me, but also my make-up, my hair, my clothing style, my video clips, my shows. Everything has to belong and fit together, just like Billie Eilish or Dua Lipa. If people call me that first Flemish pop star in a long time, it might be because I deal with all those aspects. I also secretly like the fact that I seem to be the only one in Flanders in this regard.”
You grew up in West Flanders, not necessarily the place of glitter and glamour. Did you ever feel like an outsider with that dream of becoming a pop star?
«When I went to school, I noticed that other students were busy with other things. I was sometimes excluded, but I don’t know if it was my dream. My native village Wevelgem is a very nice place to grow up in. My grandparents live there and I have my family close by. I may have felt a little different before, but I didn’t care.”
What does feel very West Flemish: your hard work ethic and perfectionism. Do you see that as your strength or Achilles heel?
“I think it’s mainly my strength. I think it’s really good that I always want to improve myself. It keeps my feet on the ground. And that’s just positive. I just love working. Doing this doesn’t feel like work. Even when I’m relaxing, I’m writing music or sitting at my piano, but that’s how I like it.”
‘SOS’ was released on August 25. From November 4 to 6, Camille will give five sold-out shows in the Lotto Arena in Antwerp. In 2023 she will come to Ghent, Ostend, Hasselt and Antwerp. Tickets via gracialive.be.