Friday - October 31, 2008
The shy Maui girl, who did Hawaii proud on American Idol finishing in the Top 10 out of 80,000 participating contestants, has come out of her shell to release the first single off her full-length album, KOY, which releases next March.
And Hawaii fans will be happy to know that, although Camile Velasco has since moved from her Haiku home to California,she still a Hawaii girl through and through. In fact, her new single, Guava Jelly, is a tribute to the music of her upbringing and the man whom she calls one of her biggest influences, Bob Marley.
“Since American Idol I moved to California and I’ve been there for about four years now,” says Camile. “I’ve just been working on the album and living the dream. It’s like a dream come true. I’m able to sing for a living and I’m doing music 100 percent.After Idol I was able to support myself by doing gigs.”
Guava Jelly,which was digitally released Oct. 14 on iTunes and Amazon, is one of 12 tracks on her soon-to-be-released album.As a treat, Camile flew to Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica to record the Bob Marley classic with Stephen Marley (Bob’s son).
The single release is a sampling of what’s to come, but Camile explains the rest of the album has more of an R&B/pop feel to it. Guava Jelly also is the only cover track on the album, and of the 11 originals, Camile co-wrote three.
“This album (KOY) we’ve been working on it for about a year and a half,“says the songstress of Irish, Filipino and Spanish descent, who admits that she misses home a lot.“I’ve been with Up Above Records out in Long Beach and we’re almost there.”
MidWeek caught up with Camile Velasco last week who was on a short visit here in the Islands.
Can you talk about this new single, Guava Jelly?
Basically the song is the first single off the album. The album is an R&B-pop album. This particular single has a more reggae feel. So this is sort of my gift to Hawaii. I haven’t been back and it’s been so long. It’s a Bob Marley cover. It’s produced by his son, Stephen Marley. It’s a song that Hawaii can definitely identify with. It’s just a really special song to me, especially because I got to record in Kingston, Jamaica, in Bob’s house, in Tuff Gong studio. Bob Marley is definitely one of my biggest inspirations, so it’s a very special single to me.And it’s definitely one of my favorite Bob Marley songs - I have so many, though.
How did you meet Stephen Marley?
My label started out as an underground hip-hop label and I’m actually their first R&B-pop artist.They are friends with Jurassic 5, which is an underground hip-hop group, and their manager just took on Stephen and Damian. So my label, having a good relationship with the group, asked them, “Hey, we just picked up Camile and she’s from Hawaii, and we want to see if she can work with Stephen.” And it just made sense. I had no idea that he would say yes, but he was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.” They gave me a call and I had to go to Jamaica like three days later. I’m just thankful to just have them on the album.
Who decided on the song?
I think it was Stephen. I think he did that song because it was from Bob Marley’s Kinky Reggae set and it’s really lady-friendly and kind of a sexy song, so it makes sense for a girl to sing that song. So I think it was very fitting for me.
What can listeners expect with your full-length album?
The album just has great production. I’ve actually got the chance to co-write on the some of the songs, and it’s just a really well-put-together album. And it’s a really strong album. I’m really excited.
Do you have any upcoming gigs slated for Hawaii?
Not yet. I’ve actually taken a break from doing gigs the past year.We’ve just been working on the album and we’re just trying to get my image together, get me in shape and all that important stuff - and just get my material together, because I’ve been doing cover songs after American Idol because I didn’t have my own songs. So we just are trying to get an album together so I can start performing those songs.
What would you say are the strongest cover songs that you do?
I would probably say Lauren Hill songs. Her songs are so soulful and capture so much soul. I would also say Bob (Marley) - a lot of his songs are really positive. I do a lot of his songs and I’m a big fan. Just listening to his music just makes you feel happy. So the best people I like to cover are Lauren Hill and Bob Marley, for sure.
You mentioned working on your image.Are you trying to break out from that American Idol image?
Maybe you could say break out, but I’m just trying to grow - show more maturity and show more professionalism.When I was on the show I was just a Haiku girl who never wore any makeup. Now I really want to make people see that I’m working hard. I just want to show growth and an evolving maturity.
Looking at yourself now compared to then (on American Idol), what do you see are the biggest differences?
I would have to say that it’s my confidence. Before American Idol I had probably been on stage two times, so it was brand new to me. I was always known as the girl who was really shy and really quiet. People come up to me and notice that I really got out of my shell. I’m trying to be comfortable because this is really what I want to do.
As far as your style, do you think that’s changed?
A lot.When I look back I’m like,‘why was I wearing that?’ I think a lot of us go through that, but yes, it’s definitely evolved for the better.
What are your goals right now?
Right now I just want to finish the album. We have about 10 tracks done, we’ve just gotta record two more. We’re really close to finishing it up. I just really want to be on the road. I want to be on tour and doing shows. Show time for me is the best - it’s the best feeling. That’s what I want to be doing.
Do you have a set band that travels with you?
That’s a great question because we’re actually trying to get a band together. I definitely need a band because that’s the only way I’m going to tour. If I could get a band here in Hawaii to back me up that would be great. I can’t wait to perform Guava Jelly with a live band.
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