Cameron Jay – Interview

Thursday 29th June 2017

Cameron Jay has been chasing her dreams of becoming a Singer/Songwriter ever since her first music lesson when she was 9 years old.  She is working hard to build herself a successful music career; from her early days of performing at charity festivals, to recording her debut EP, and  having the amazing opportunity to join Sam Bailey on her UK tour earlier this year, Cameron has been gaining continued support.  With such a story to tell I wanted to chat with Cameron to find out about how it’s all going and what to expect next.  Her single ‘I Want You‘ was released on the 4th April and has a great R&B vibe, with her debut EP providing a more emotional and heartfelt ambience to it.  I recommend you give it a listen!

Hello! Please could you tell me more about your early years and what inspired you to become a singer/songwriter at such a young age?

Well I had my first singing lesson at aged 9 years old at school and I knew then that singing was what I wanted to do. I did my grades 1-3 and took part in the festival competitions and I was always marked really well. Unfortunately, a year later I was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer which put all my after school activities on hold but soon after my recovery I took part in a charity competition which I would say paved the way for my whole career leading up to this point now.

I was only 12 at the time of winning the competition and George Walker who was running the show really took a shine to me and continued to support me throughout my early teens years.

The prize was to record and write a single and perform at the Emmerdale Annual Charity Ball that he held in aid of The Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust. From there I joined the girl band with one of the competitions he hosted a year later and we went by the name of ‘Heaven Scent’. We recorded a covers album called ‘From Above’ and performed at the Emmerdale Balls and day time Extravaganza’s for a couple of years before breaking off to do our own thing.

I recorded my first solo covers album when I was 16 in aid of CLAN who supported my recovery after my cancer and then went on to record a single ‘Where Will We Run’ in aid of Just A Drop Charity whilst living in London.

I did a lot in my early years for charity but since then I have released my first EP which showcased my original material for the first time. I worked with so many amazing individuals whilst living in London and this journey has brought so many amazing opportunities from dancing in the Olympics, to performing at Brixton Splash, winning a singing battle, auditioning live in front of Fazer of N-Dubz, travelling to Nairobi, Kenya to perform and I am just so glad I never gave up on my dream to make a career from singing.

What artists did you listen to growing up, and how have they encouraged you and helped you to develop your sound?

Growing up listening to Lauryn Hill as well as getting into hip-hop at quite a young age I feel has definitely influenced my writing style but vocally I think Christina Aguilera, Dina Carroll, Carole King, Whitney, Mariah and definitely Celine Dion played a massive part in allowing my vocal range to excel.

My singing teacher left for Australia and I didn’t find anyone else that I felt I resonated with so I would say these artists were like my teachers. Of course, the Spice Girls had a massive influence on me as well which I think every girl aged 7/8 loved the Spice Girls at that time.

As I got older Christina Aguilera was someone who inspired me massively to sing songs that had messages of hope and speak of the things I have been through in life. Her ‘Stripped’ album got me through a really a dark phase in my life and I thank God my dad gave me this album as I would say it really brought me back to being me again after that horrible time.

You released your single ‘I Want You’ on the 4th April from your debut EP ‘Fearless’. How are you finding the response to your music so far?

The reception to ‘I Want You’ has been fantastic actually. So many people enjoyed hearing an upbeat track from me as the songs on my EP ‘Fearless’ are a little more serious and speak about my experiences of leaving my hometown and moving to London and the things I experienced whilst living there. ‘I Want You’ was written with my good friend Junaid who is based in London and was produced by two really cool guys from Derby who go by the name ‘Sound Junkeyz’ and we are looking forward to working on some new music over the next few months.

But to be honest it is extremely difficult being an independent artist because you are juggling so many things from writing songs, booking studio time for track production and recording vocals, whilst trying to liaise with venues and event organisers to book you for their shows and actually pay you for those shows. As well as making sure any new opportunities that arise you create a press release, contact all the media platforms in your local area, then have to chase them up via email and by phone before getting an answer on whether they will run your story or not. This doesn’t include the time needed on social media, meeting and greeting those you follow to show your appreciation and directing them to your music.

Then you have to create visuals for your songs and film directors are certainly not cheap. You are literally doing so much on a very small budget which means you really have to work full time to be able to pull this all together. We really need more hours in a day! So I am currently really needing some more support from radio stations, promoters, agents to support me in getting my music heard across the UK and further afield.

Will there be a video release for the single?

Yes, there will definitely be visuals created for this track. I am going to be holding auditions for dancers & dance groups to come in and dance for us in front of a green screen and their auditions will be used to help create the visuals for this song. Other shots will hopefully be taken outside on a nice sunny day here in Aberdeen which doesn’t happen so often, so we may need to wait until the end of July or beginning of August to film these parts.

How did you find the process of putting your EP together, and were there any obstacles you had to overcome?

Actually, this took a lot longer than expected. It took me around 2 years! I did a lot of sessions with Jay Inkz and Adryan Glysson whilst living in London and I really took my time getting the lyrics and production for each track exactly how I wanted them all before I left London, so that when I moved back home to Aberdeen everything was ready just for me to start recording with Ryan Curtis.

He is someone I trust with recording my vocals and the recording process was pretty quick to be honest. I then researched independent companies in Scotland who could help design my front cover and actually print the CD’s as well as upload them to iTunes and Spotify, etc. At the same time as doing all this I was creating and organising my EP launch for which I hosted a 2 course dinner for 200 guests along with entertainment of 5 support acts and a mini burlesque show. It was so much fun, my only regret was not having someone there to capture professional footage on the evening.

What’s your writing process and how do you draw upon your inspirations?

I tend to write a few different ways… mostly I prefer to work in sessions with other writers as I feel you can capture different views on how the story for the songs could go. If sometimes I’m working with a guitarist I can just freestyle what I’m feeling or thinking in the moment and record a voice note and go back and type the lyrics up afterwards. Living in London was great because you would spend a lot of time on buses and trains and lot of inspiration would come to me in those times travelling back and forward to work or to music sessions.

What did you hope to achieve with ‘Fearless’ and how does it feel hearing the finished record? You have a great voice, and there’s a notable difference in some of the tracks. Was that intentional?

My intention for Fearless was to ‘let my music do the talking’. That’s why I didn’t go for a front cover with a picture of me on it as I really wanted people to get to know me better through listening to my songs.

You recently supported Sam Bailey on her UK tour. How was the experience for you and what were your personal highlights?

Supporting Sam Bailey has to be the highlight on my year so far! I had heard about the opportunity in April 2016 and I was actually pregnant at the time and I was desperately trying to reach Erica Banks who was the point of contact for the opportunity, and finally when I reached her she said not to worry as the performance wouldn’t be until April 2017. So a year later after my daughter was born I received an email saying that Sam and her team were keen to hear my music and within 5 days they had got back to me to say they would love to have me support her at His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen. You can actually see the footage on YouTube.

What other artists are you listening to at the moment, and what was the last album you bought?

The last album I bought was Emeli Sande ‘Long Live The Angels’. I love her music, I love her writing style and of course she is a massive inspiration to me with having came from Aberdeenshire as well. Emeli has a song on that album called ‘Give Me Something’ that I can really relate to because I have felt that after having my baby and becoming a new mum I just didn’t feel like I knew where my place in the music industry would be and really needed something to believe in. But after the opportunity to support Sam came along I released my new single and since then everything has just been flowing effortlessly which is such a blessing!

What can we expect from you next; do you have a goal, and where do you hope your music will take you?

I have been scouted for O’Neill’s Sound Of Summer competition which is sponsored by Jagermeister and I really hope I can get to the semi final in Liverpool. The prize winnings are £6000, studio time in a professional recording studio as well as slot on the Jagerhaus stage at Bestival this year. This is such a great opportunity for me and I really hope I can take it all the way to the final in London so I can see everyone I was working with whilst living there as it’s been over 2 years since I have seen everyone.

I am looking forward to getting back into the studio this year. If I win Sound Of Summer I will be using some of the money to record my first album. I will be performing at our local radio station Northsound’s ‘Little Black Dress’ event on 25th August which is a ladies event to raise money for Cash For Kids charity and I am currently working with Mastermind Promotion who are an award marketing and and PR company based in London and I’m really looking to seeing how our campaign for my new single progresses over the next 3 months :)

Connect with Cameron Jay via her Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.