Photo: Denise Truscello/BBMA2017/Getty Images
Camila Cabello Talks Going Solo, Michael Jackson, Love & Poetry
Camila Cabello is writing a new chapter. Best known to fans as a former member of the group Fifth Harmony, she's now striking out on her own with an ambitious solo debut.
The Cuban-born singer/songwriter has recently collaborated her way onto the Top 20 charts with both "I Know What You Did Last Summer" with Shawn Mendes and "Bad Things" with Machine Gun Kelly. Her debut solo album, The Hurting. The Healing. The Loving., due out Sept. 22, was preceded by her first official single, "Crying In The Club" in May. The single rose to No. 47 on the Billboard Hot 100, demonstrating her impressive vocal range. She has since released her second single, the playful "Havana," featuring Young Thug.
In this exclusive interview, Cabello opens up about the biggest lesson she learned from working on her upcoming album, why she's a hopeless romantic, her favorite Michael Jackson jam, and her love of poetry, among other topics.
You went solo last year. Now you've had the opportunity to create your own music and find your own style. What else has changed for you since you've headed out on your own?
Everything. I [recently] came off tour with Bruno Mars. I was opening for him on the 24K Magic tour, and I got to play all these songs that I've been writing for my album live for the first time in front of a new crowd every night. I feel like I've learned so much as a performer in the month that I was there and the month that I was in the recording studio making my album. I feel like I learned so much as a songwriter and even just as a person. I feel like there's something about writing and looking into yourself, something so introspective about that whole process, that it just makes you learn stuff about yourself that you didn't even know before. I feel like the cool thing about this whole experience is that I'm getting to put me and my personality and my experiences into sonic form. It's going to change as I grow up over time, but it's cool that I get to capture all those phases, starting now.
You've been pretty candid about the process of writing your debut album, and how a lot of it is about processing pain and making music to heal. How are you hoping that's going to resonate with fans?
I learned that the most important thing about pain and about going through a hard time is the only way to get through it is to get through it and not around it and not try to avoid it. There was definitely a time where what I was going through I was trying to just get the pain and lock it in a drawer and pretend it wasn't there. I think that's why it was even harder to deal with. I feel like that's the lesson that this album taught me and I can't even say it enough when I talk about it because it's just part of the human experience — pain — no matter who you are, no matter what your circumstances are, you're gonna be let down and hurt in one way or the other and that's part of being alive. The only way to get through it is to talk about it and get help if you need. Hopefully my fans can take something from that too.
We've heard a few of the singles from your album already. Which song might surprise your fans the most and why?
I think that there's definitely some really heavy ones that they'll probably be surprised to hear, just because I feel like I'm such a bubbly person and I am generally a really happy person, but I think that for anybody that's a public figure or does this as a career, it's hard to — even when you are going through a hard time — to get in an interview and be like, "I'm going through a really hard time right now." It's just not that way. I feel like my music is the most honest version of me, and I feel like [fans will] be like, "Wow, I didn't even know she felt like this at some point in her life." I won't show it on stage. And that's what I really like, that they're gonna get to just see me in that vulnerable side, which is just like the human side.
What are the things that you look to for inspiration when you're writing songs?
Love. Love is definitely a big thing. I'm 20, so I love boys and I love love. I've always been a hopeless romantic and growing up around the house my family listened to a lot of Latin music and a lot of boleros and a lot of very, very romantic music. I think that I've always grown up just loving love and romance and the idea of falling in love. … It could be connected to romantic love, it could be a friend, it could be a song about my mom, a song about my sister. I think anything that causes you to feel something. Any emotion. That's the one thing that all humans have in common is emotion.
Recently you performed "Man In The Mirror" at a charity event. What made you choose that particular Michael Jackson song?
It's so hard to pick a Michael Jackson song. But, especially now where things are in our country and in the world, I feel like "Man In The Mirror" is the song I connect with the most of any Michael Jackson song. And it was a concert for the ACLU [American Civil Liberties Union] and with everything going on in the world, the first thing that you can do to make it better is look in the mirror and make yourself better. That's such a powerful message and it's also something that everybody can do. You don't have to be rich and donate a bunch of money to a place, you don't have to have a platform to talk about it. You can just be nice to the people inside your own house, the people on the sidewalk that day. You can be kind to yourself. I love nights like that where it's not about me performing my song, it's just about a message that I'm conveying through another song that has a message that I feel should be heard. So that was really, really fun, it was really emotional. It was really nerve-wracking because it's a Michael Jackson song. But I kept telling myself that it's not really about me. It's about the sentiment of that night and what people need to hear, because ultimately it was just about spreading hope and love.
I've heard that your favorite book is the Book Thief. What's the last great book that you've read?
I read this poetry book a few days ago that a fan gave me that was called Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav. It's just a bunch of really, really short poems and it's really cool because you can read it superfast. You can read it in an hour. And I love poetry. That's usually what I do in my spare time. I go on Tumblr and I go on the poetry tag sometimes because I just love love.