The latest winner of our songwriting competition with musicians network ReverbNation is a self-producing, self-taught female singer-songwriter from West Yorkshire
ummer may seem like a long distant memory already, but in our minds it feels like only yesterday that we kicked off the July/August competition of our ReverbNation Songwriting Contest. Resulting in another 3,800 entries it gave the Songwriting team a substantial amount of new music to listen to and evaluate, and eventually pick just one single victorious entry.
This time, our clear winner is Cammie Robinson – a female singer-songwriter from Halifax in West Yorkshire, now based in Derbyshire. Cammie’s song Over The Edge caught our attention, not for its pristine pop production – the track is self-produced by Cammie and still a little rough around the edges – but through sheer raw talent in its songwriting. After all, that’s what we’re about so has to be at the core of any winning submission.
Once we’d decided our 12th champion, we caught up with Cammie to find out more about Derby’s DIY musician and found an ambitious, gracious songwriter who was humbled to be chosen. Although she’s clearly mastered the now-necessary art of social media marketing (her total number of Twitter followers alone has reached over 111,000!) we’re pleased to find a potential star-in-the-making who still has her feet on the ground…
What’s your earliest memory of music?
“It all started when me and my mum were going around charity shops and I found this really crappy three-string guitar. Ever since then I’ve been playing around on guitars and instrument. I’m self-taught on all the instruments I play, but for me it’s about the vocal. I was in the choir at school and I wasn’t very confident about my voice at first, but it developed and people started saying I had a really good voice and that it had power behind you, so asked me if I wanted to lead the choir. It wasn’t really my thing, that classical type of music, but that’s how it all came about. I kind of left music out for a bit, when I was 15 or 16 years old, but then started again when I got a grant from EMI Music.”
Tell us about that grant. How did that happen?
“Yoko Ono is one of the fundraisers and they help struggling musicians to buy music equipment. I applied for the grant while I was at college a couple of years ago, and they heard my music and decided to award me the money. So I got a refurbished Mac and some cheap speakers, but I had some savings so I was able to get a preamp as well.
“Ever since then I’ve been creating and producing my own music and it’s got me so far. I signed up with ReverbNation, I’ve been on BBC radio and now I’ve won this competition, so I’m extremely humbled!”
When did you first start writing music and how did you get into it?
“I had a lyric book and used to create little riffs. I’d always start with lyrical content and even when I don’t have my book, I’m coming up with ideas in my head. In my head it worked, but I felt silly and embarrassed playing them to anyone. I didn’t feel very professional with my three-string guitar!
Where do you get your lyrical inspiration?
“I guess it’s having some difficulties in life, wanting to share them with people and kind of saying to them it’s okay, we all experience them. If I’m having a bad day, I can just sit down and write a song and that’ll be an emotional outlet for me.”
How about the melodies, how do they arrive? How did Over The Edge happen?
“I just loaded up a Logic preset, looped it around a couple of times and then the lyrics just came to me. It’s almost like a complete possession! The music takes over me and I don’t even know how I wrote that song. It’s a mixture of experiences and good luck as well.”
So you’re instinctive and you follow your gut-feeling?
“Oh yeah, definitely. It took about two or three weeks to write that song, including all the recording and production. I usually have the lyrical idea in my head to start with, so nothing’s worked quite like it did with Over The Edge.”
Do you keep switching your approach or are you looking for your own ‘sound’?
“I try to keep everything fresh, but I think there’s always a ‘signature’ to writing commercial music, so I try to do something new but put my own spin on it.”
Talking of which, your biog says you’ve been described as sounding like Adele and Ellie Goulding. Who do you think you sound like?
“Yeah I’ve had a lot of comments saying I sound like Amy Winehouse or Adele, but I’m not trying to sound like them. I think I’ve got my own style.”
Who are you influenced by?
“I’d say older music like Fleetwood Mac, Kate Bush and Björk. And I like a lot of new music like Bastille. I used to listen to a lot of Motown as a kid as well. The problem is, as a musician, you can’t really enjoy a song without picking it apart – I don’t know if that’s just me!”
Do you ever collaborate with other musicians and songwriters?
“I don’t write with anyone else, but I’m getting a session band together. I’ve discussed it with some very talented musicians and they’re willing to start doing some festivals with me, which is going to be really exciting. I’m going to have a loop pedal on stage, but we’re all going to get involved and it’ll be fantastic.”
What’s the future hold for you Cammie?
“I hope to be successful with my trade, songwriting for myself, mainly, and the aim is to get signed. I do a lot of gigs and live performances – I played the Y Not Festival this year and I hope to be back on the main stage next year. I’m also planning to release a 22-track album at the end of the year.”
Interview: Aaron Slater
If you’d like the chance to be featured in an article like this on Songwriting, then the good news is, this songwriting competition is still ongoing! To enter, you’ll need to be registered with ReverbNation and submit your track via the competition page. We’ll listen to every entry and select the most promising artist, who’ll be the subject of an interview feature similar to this one.