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Camille Bloom initially taught high school English full-time and also played solo gigs at night. She decided six and a half years ago to focus on her talents as a singer/songwriter and musician full-time and left her teaching career. Her first year devoting all her energy to her music career was a life-altering experience and Camille discovered that this was really what she was supposed to be doing.
Through personal hard times and back again, over the past several years she has released numerous albums and toured internationally. This respect for her craft has brought her a solid base of fans and critics alike who have enjoyed her music.
With the release of “Never Out of Time” on November 8th, Camille Bloom and The Recovery provide possibly her best musical work yet. Here for The Lavender Lens, Camille opens up about the joys and pains of being typecast as yet another “lesbian folk singer” which she most definitely is not… and a lot of inspirational and thoughtful observations on her newest album.
LL: On the songs “Top of My Game” as well as “Here You Come Again,” I heard definite touches of Gwen Stefani circa No Doubt, in your voice and the stylings.
Camille Bloom: Ohhh! Cool. That’s great.
LL: What artists continue to inspire you as a singer/songwriter and a musician?
CB: Oh man, literally almost every genre. I know that’s a very broad answer. I listen to pop. I listen to Pat Benetar and Gwen Stefani… all sorts of singer/songwriters. Also, growing up I listened to Shawn Colvin, Patti Griffin. Billy Joel was huge when I was growing up. My dad played a lot of Beatles albums and Harry Nilsson. I’m all over the map… to tell you the truth.
LL: The cello playing on this CD really adds a distinctive sound. How did Jessica Kitzman come into The Recovery?
CB: It’s funny, it turned out that for my last record, I wanted to do a live album. That’s the one I did in 2008. I felt like there was a voice missing. I didn’t know exactly what it was. I had a friend coming in to town from Canada, who played cello. I said, “Hey. You know what? I’m recording in a couple of days. Why don’t you show me what you hear on this?” So, she threw a few cello lines down on the last album “Ten Thousand Miles.” I loved the cello and what it added.
Then, I went on the hunt for a really great cellist. That cellist had left and gone back to Canada. I found Jessica and she’s really talented. She hears a lot of great lines, almost lead lines like an electric guitarist would. She’s captured a mood that I felt a lot of my songs were missing.
LL: Definitely. If you had to sum up a description of what the majority of the songs on “Never Out of Time” are about, what would you say?
CB: There is kind of a theme running through the album which wasn’t intentional. That being, you’re never out of time to do the things you want to do, although, it does take some people longer than others (laughter). For example on the song, “I Know You Know I Know,” I was frustrated with people who would not see their patterns. These were loved ones who I had been watching for years, go through the same cycles. Or in the song “Running Out of Time,” a friend was hitting rock bottom and needed to make a change. A lot of these songs are about growth and allowing growth to happen and change to happen.
Through the process of this album, I weeded my friendship garden. I went through and took out some of the “riff-raff,” I wouldn’t say riff-raff necessarily… that probably gives you an idea.
LL: Yeah. I got that kind of a vibe too in your songs of habits and patterns. So, it wasn’t intentional but it ended up being that way?
CB: Yeah, we found that out, of course, as we were recording the album. We were like, “Wait a minute. There is this running theme through the record about the essence of time.
LL: How would you describe your songwriting process?
CB: I think my most cathartic writing happens in the first person. These are the songs that have the most intensity for me, musically and vocally. But, as I’ve grown older, I really love shifting into the third person writing. I’m seeing outside myself which is also really fun for a whole different reason. I feel like it’s developing my songwriting.
LL: Your song, “All of These Stains” excels on so many levels. It seems like a song that has been around for years. It’s the way it’s structured and your voice on it. Please share your songwriting experience in creating those lyrics.
CB: Sure. I was at my back-up vocalist’s Gaelen’s family vacation spot in the San Juan Islands. I looked at all these old cups that her grandmother had ordered when they first built this place… back in the 1960s. They were all chipped and they had coffee rings all inside of the mugs like they’d been sitting at the table for the last forty to fifty years.
I got this idea and spoke with Gaelen’s father about it. All of these stains are representative of times throughout this family’s history. They’ve been around forever and no one wanted to give these cups away because they spoke to that history. I started thinking about that and how if these cups could have had a broad view… and watched people live and die. Then, just about our own families and how they are also chipped and bruised and how, nobody’s perfect yet you love them for what they are. I literally just sat down and the guitar part came to me and all of the lyrics poured out and then I had to pare it down.
LL: I don’t know how you do it but that should be up for a songwriting award. It’s really magnificent.
CB: Hmmm… thank you so much.
LL: The song reminded me just in one aspect of “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian.
CB: Ohhh! You know what’s hilarious? I just played a festival with her! It was in Iowa at the Iowa Women’s Music Festival. I just played and she was the headliner. I saw her perform for the first time.
LL: Neat. How would you explain the stigma or the joys and the pains of being classified as one type of lesbian singer, in general?
CB: Yeah. Boy, it’s funny because in a lot of markets… and I’m completely open about who I am, it doesn’t seem to matter, which is phenomenal that we’ve come to that point. If people like your music, they don’t really care (laughter). The joys… there are starting to be many more opportunities for LGBTQ artists. It’s been fun to do the Pride circuits. I was one of the headliners at Portland Pride last year. That was really fun.
I think the pains are that the mainstream media doesn’t like to… how do I say this? I’ve been getting really wonderful press and I have a great publicist… but sometimes, the mainstream media will take one look at my picture and go, “Oh. She’s gay. Send her to the gay rag.” You know?
CB: It’s like, no really, I’m a singer/songwriter and I hope to speak to everyone. I’m not targeting my music to the gay community per say, I’m just playing music and I’m open about who I am. I hope that that’s enough for people to take a listen.
LL: Yeah I agree. The stereotypes of the flamboyant queen is a stigma of being gay and it still reverberates in the community itself of the Birkenstocks and the “folk” lesbian singer… it’s bullshit.
CB: Yeah, it’s frustrating that as a gay artist, it’s also frustrating as a woman because people just see “ahhh… another girl with a guitar. She’s gonna strum and play folky songs.” Even women are pigeonholed and it’s hard for women to get attention. Therefore they have created all these women’s music festivals and thank goodness for them. But, it’s frustrating that even women are not considered… unless they’re in the “Lady Gaga/Britney Spears,” the beauty that kind of America sees. Then, you’ve got a shot.
LL: Yeah and a lot of times, it’s based on outer-image or face value. Thank you Camille and continued success.
CB: I’m really excited about it. Thank you so much. Take care.
“Never Out of Time” available on her website and on iTunes.