Camilla And The Tingaloos
“I turn on my brain-machine and create projects that sound nice to me.”
I genuinely can’t remember the last time I sat and listened to an album in its entirety. It used to be the thing to do when your favourite band would release a long-awaited and heavily promoted LP. You’d play it to death while thumbing through the printed inlay, reading the song lyrics, checking out the artwork, and getting to know more about the guys who made the music. While music is more accessible today than ever, we’re drowning under the relentless waves of digital media, peppered with an infinity of songs from so many artists and spread across so many playlists. It feels like the connection I used to get with the bands I’d discovered isn’t there anymore, and for the bands themselves, particularly independent artists, they feel like their audience is out of reach, submerged in all the noise.
Yet, all that noise seemed to dissipate a couple of weeks ago, having smashed into an artist on the social-music platform, Bandlab, that I’d not heard of before. The most recently published track (at the time), Crystallin (Instrumental Demo), appealed to my senses from the opening seconds; something a bit special about this track held my attention for the entire 6-minute duration and had me clicking immediately to the next track. And the next. And the next.
By the time I’d got to the fourth or fifth track, Ands, buts and causes, I’d fallen in headlong, in complete submission to the gripping instrumental, smooth melodic vocal, and lyrics dripping with melancholy. And, just like the previous songs I’d listened to, the production quality, originality, inventiveness, structure, and sound selection bore the marks of experience and authenticity.
So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been thumbing my way through the internet, searching for everything I could find to satisfy my appetite for her electro-psych-pop-rock sounds, and found much more than I expected. The inexplicable allure of these songs and the excitement of learning more about the artist harks back to the good old days of physical media and printed inlays with incredible artwork. For the first time in a long time, I’ve felt connected, part of the journey rather than being merely a passenger.
This month’s Special Feature will undoubtedly appeal to music lovers with a penchant for artists such as Imogen Heap, Bjork, Massive Attack, Portishead, and others of that ilk. We are very excited to present to you Kamille Grazyte, who goes under the artist name Camilla And The Tingaloos.
Do you want to give us a bit of an introduction Kamille?
My name is Kamille; I’m 26 years old, originally from Lithuania, but I moved to my family in Aarhus, Denmark, when I was fifteen. That’s around the time I got my first laptop and started singing and composing music. Since then, I’ve been making songs for other artists, songwriting, playing in bands, and studying Rhythmical Composition/ Songwriting / Electronic music in Århus, Denmark.
What, or who was your main inspiration regarding music when you were growing up?
Oh, that’s a goodie. I don’t honestly remember. I think since I learned to open my mouth, I was a consumer of conversations.
As a child, Kamille excelled at athletics, scouts, spelling bee, and a range of other activities and was the most social child in town. She’s been singing since she learned to read, using her mothers’ cable tv magazine for lyrical content. At kindergarten, her teacher recognized her talent and enrolled her in various singing courses and competitions where she enjoyed success at such a young age; however, over time that lost its appeal.
“It got way out of hand, you know… to keep the story short, one day, I just turned off. I think I was too pressured; maybe it was some stuff in the family or the heavy teenage that happened. That feeling of not wanting to be like all of them inspired me to motivate myself and make the music the way I want to do it. To actually be okay with making my own music and writing my own songs.”
How would you describe ‘your own music’?
Hard to understand! But it’s okay guys… it’s on purpose. It’s very confusing when defining the mood. Is it happy? Is it nostalgic? If it’s sad, why does it end with some hopeful lyrics? I really want my audience to question my music – isn’t it what art is all about?
I’m a musician with an open genre. I create everything that comes into my mind simply because I can. I’m not a fan of sticking to that one type, so I turn on my brain-machine and create projects that sound nice to me. I mostly create the “midi sound” with lots of compressed ambiance, add one-take vocals, and usually spice it up with a lot of background – So imagine a fruit vase painting, with plastic fruit, and a beach or walls upside down or something, in the background.
“Don’t make music to please, be pleased to make music”– Kamille Grazyte
Around 2012, I was making lots of electronic and pop music until I met a really good friend of mine who just loved my music so much but would always mention that it would work better if I put the real me in my projects. That idea hit me so much that I’ve developed a slogan, which framed in my bedroom studio: “Don’t make music to please, be pleased to make music.” Since then, I haven’t made a single ordinary sounding track. I always look for something edgy to stick out. I think through the past 10-15 years I’ve been making music, I was looking for this one thing that describes me, or who I am, and you know what? I still haven’t figured that out yet. If I could mention a genre I associate my music with, I would, but I’m going for indie? Alternative pop, maybe?
Do you have any trademark quirks or habits when it comes to creating music?
I think I’m very conscious about making the producer think,” Hm…why did she forget to do that”, or “why is this so much in the left?”, you know? For example, I like to add a little humor in a sad song to make it a little ironic or add that one tone somewhere in the track that doesn’t fit. I actually like doing that a lot.
And you know, even my songwriting is weird – I would always ruin my verses, where I stick the poetry approach with something so cliche and ordinary. Like, suppose you hear it at home by yourself, in that case, you think “this is so weird” but if you see me live, see the emotion I put into words, it just becomes something a little more extraordinary, like an eye conversation, and those are usually pretty interesting, to me.
Who do you consider to be your main musical influences?
Hmm…I’ve been listening to a lot of Connan Mockasin, Mac Demarco, Nirvana, Queens Of The Stone Age, Trentemøller (check him out, ”The Last Resort” is my all-time favourite album, everrrr), Fever Ray, the Flashpoint album by The Rolling Stones (been listening to it almost non stop for three summers now), Tool, Chaka Khan, Esperanza Spalding, Ida Nielsen, Snarky Puppy, Bjork… and my very latest obsession Moses Sumney…he kinda has this old James Blake vibe, and I will forever love it, if I know myself right, haha!
Have you heard the band Poliça? I think you’d like them – this is one of my favourites (I shared the track ‘Dark Star’);
I love the way her vocals are panned, gotta try that delay effect out myself! And the horns! Why didn’t I think of that!
And I dig your interest in Fink! I think his voice and the way he puts words together; ”you have so many colors baby, you’re like a fucking rainbow” had inspired me to write a loooot last summer) It is just so…so original yet, approachable for everyone.
Speaking of inspiration… where do you find yours?
Lots of feelings, but mostly experiences. Sometimes I get to meet somebody or write a personal letter to myself after some disappointing event, but it’s mostly after something had happened. I used to sit for hours and write about random stuff; people’s conversations, rhymes, angry thoughts, break-ups, and philosophical theories.
If somebody could get some kind of glasses to enhance the vision of what I see, they would be surprised how much inspiration I get to carry in my head throughout the day, which, for me, is entertaining enough. You could say that I’m best friends with my constantly regenerating ideas.
So, how does that translate then into creation? What’s your typical process?
Usually, I’d be doing something, like a chore, when I’d come up with a “lick.” That’s where the fun in my head happens. I kind of add the beat and some melodies in the background or snap it with my fingers, then try to run it through in a loop for a few minutes – if it sticks, I’d probably record it on my phone. Then I’d probably spend four or five hours making bass and guitar lines, coming up with something that would, a day after, sound rather hilarious. The good thing about it is that I would always fix it somehow and probably modify the drums that I usually add rather quickly the first day. Of course, I would also try to fix some keys around it, start panning and doing those kinds of things and check for what mood or words it needs.
I recently heard about this idea of just mumbling words that don’t make sense to that melody and play around a little. Sometimes it helps to actually come up with something, but I really like to experiment with some different things from time to time.
Kamille credits her parents for her innate talent for rhythm and tonal awareness, which has enabled her to learn to play new instruments and create melodies intuitively. As a substitute music teacher in a school where music was a priority subject and pupils learned to play many different instruments, Kamille found she was able to turn her hand to anything;
…this one day, a colleague came in and said we have a ukulele class, and I had to teach them, which I did, surprisingly. I’ve never played ukulele in my life before! So yeah, if I really wanted to, I could probably play anything… but I wouldn’t say that I’m a pro. Currently, I mostly play bass in a grunge band (Twin Dive) and sing. But I spend at least one to four hours a day just producing in my bedroom and my good friend’s bedroom studios.
Oh yeah, I used to play baritone in a big band back in Lithuania! And yeah, of course, I’ve been playing piano since I was seven, I think, so I can play on a basic level.
Tell us a bit about your setup and the equipment you’re using to produce your songs.
I use the (Behringer) DeepMind12, a Les Paul (my roommate lent it to me, we call it Lusty), and a Hoffner bass. I use my good old SM58 for vocals and a shitload of pedals on my guitar. I dream of owning a perfect drum machine that would fit my music, but I still haven’t found one, so I use Logic Pro 10 and Ableton 10’s VSTs.
Your latest release is a fantastic EP titled ‘Sour Cream’ which I’ve played countless times now… I was intrigued by the cover art. What’s that all about?
Hahahaha, that’s a good one – I made a bet with one of my friends, where I kind of lost and had to release at least five songs. Apparently, I make a lot of tracks and never share them, so I picked one good and four less good songs that I’d been working on and called it an EP. The next step was the name for the album. I literally sat in my kitchen, looked at the first thing to my left, and there it was: a little bowl of sour cream packed in film, so I just filled in the field with that and the picture. I Googled “random tools” and found that beautiful picture of a masonry tool at some store, but it was big enough, which meant that it’d managed to slide through a cover check-up for the release.
And your earlier release is the album ‘Atomic’. Again, something I’ve been listening to a lot lately. Can you tell us a bit about how that came into being?
The “Atomic” album was different… It was all of my inner demons that I put in that one and kind of dedicated the album to Satan. Like if you listen to the whole album, you can kind of hear that it’s a story of somebody being haunted through a modern time but not being happy to let go of that inner demon. So it had to be weird, moody, dirty, clingy, you know… very different than somebody would release today.
Are you working on anything new at the moment that you’d like to mention?
Oh God, yes! I’m constantly regenerating my ideas, coming up with new stuff in my head, and slowly am writing down the process. In the meantime, I’ve got some stuff coming out soon; let’s call it a second EP, but before that, there’s also a single coming out, which is nice. The best thing about this whole experience is that I haven’t promoted anything, haven’t scheduled anything, and only told about it to like…2 friends! I am finally resting in myself, making music that I like and if people notice, let it be; that’s where I’ll be happy. I’m not the kind of person that goes for the image, fake followers, or paid promotion. But I can also tell you that I’ll be releasing some music throughout the year.
What are your aspirations for your musical career?
I’m not going for millions of fans, and to be realistic, I don’t even stand a chance, which is also soothing to think about because it gives me the ability to create more broadly.
All I know, for sure, is that people tend to remember me when they hear my music or meet me in person. I don’t know why, though. I think some mostly assume that I’m this very strange, silent person who only speaks when something interesting happens and I kind of understand that – I don’t say much.
Just for fun, rapid-fire question… tell us some things you’re into
Jogging, getting a crush on someone, biking, songwriting, sound experiments and engineering, philosophy, poetry, and children’s books, listening to the conversations of strangers, way too much coffee and rolling tobacco, getting to know people by anything else than words, sign language, architecture, painting, baking, jamming, gardening, exploring new music, collecting vinyl, analog hardware, synthesizers, guitar pedals (i use them a lot), drum machines, musique concrete, Iceland, dry flowers, dogs, all sorts of witchy things, rituals, scented candles, stable work discipline, enthusiasm, inspiring contrasts, modular decks, mysteries.
And… what about some things you don’t like?
Irresponsibility, chaotic situations, ketchup, too many opinions at the same time, lazy work ethics, spoiled people, musicians who like their appearance better than music, falling in love, makeup tutorials, politics, SoundCloud/ Instagram promoters, perfect order, Christmas.
Kamille is currently on tour at the time of publication, treating her audience to some well-deserved live music. To hear more music from her, click the Spotify links above. She is also a relatively new member of BandLab.