Gettin’ Real with iLL CAMILLE
by Aida Solomon
One of Inland Empire’s only female hip-hop artists, iLL CAMILLE is rising up fast. Performing in this weekend’s D.I.Y. Festival at The Glass House, the Weekly got a chance to sit down with CAMILLE and pick her brain about her life, her music and her favorite underground artists right now.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Los Angeles, California and I actually moved to the IE just before high school. I finished high school at Eisenhower High School, and I’m from a very large family, I’m the oldest. I started rapping around December 2010 leading into January 2011. I got bit by the bug really, you know how you play around with free-styling and music growing up but I never took it seriously. I never even wrote a verse until then. Once I did it though, I couldn’t help it. I think when you saw your name on the blogs, it becomes infectious. From that point I started working with Maestro, 9th Wonder, just different people that helped me being a rookie. Noa James was actually the first person to give me my own set so I’m forever indebted to him because he really gave people a chance to see my talents outside the booth.
What are some projects or music that you’re working on now that we can look out for?
I am working on ILLUSTRATED B-SIDES which is the follow up to Illustrated that was dropped in December, technically my 3rd project. A lot of different people involved with this one, different Toronto artists, Asher Roth. I’m thinking it’ll be dropping around the same time in December.
We’ll definitely be looking out for that. So you’re performing this weekend at D.I.Y. Fest. What do you to get ready for a performance? How do you get into that mindset?
Well, I just kinda listen to my material again and try to gauge what songs would be best to perform. I’ve been putting a set list together. Honestly, I just practice in the mirror or any sort of reflection that I can to see how I look cause I don’t know how I look on stage! I have so many different sets as of today right now.
The D.I.Y. Fest is with this whole ideology of doing everything yourself, marketing yourself, promoting your own music, with up-and-coming artists that are just about to make it big in the industry. How have you taken charge of your own career? And why do you think it’s important to be hands on with every aspect?
I’m pretty excited that they invited me this year cause I’m definitely the independent, hands-on solo artist. I live up to that for real, because I had to learn how to record myself, go through beats, I learned how to sequence my own projects, I write everything I do. I have learned how to make my own graphics when I release songs to the blogs, like all those pieces that artists do not want to have to do, the non-creative stuff, but we have to learn how to do the back-hand stuff and I think that has helped me become a better emcee or writer because I had to learn how to figure it out and improvise with no money, no team. As a female artist more so, it’s more important that they know that. Most people get the perception that we have a crutch, or a male behind us in some sort of way to co-sign that’s why we get put in the position that we’re in. I’m sure Yung Miss could agree, she’s also on the bill. You naturally become more seasoned and I’m grateful that they see that. This festival is really important for artists that do everything and handle their own business. So when we finally do make it, you appreciate the grind a lot more. I’m happy to be a part of this whole thing!
Who are you most excited to see connect with or sharing the stage with?
I’m really excited to see Noa James and Curtiss [King]. I’ve built a solid relationship with them, they’re like brothers to me, again because Noa had me on his stage when I was first starting out. Just to share a stage with them and everybody really, it’s just dope when you’re peers are evolving like you are. I’m just excited about the whole thing and happy that they have Yung Miss on there. I think that she’s dope and she can sing.
You’re a female rapper and you’re independent. There’s this weird thing as fans we appreciate underground artists and we have this thing like “Man, if people only knew how talented ‘so and so’ is” but when they do blow up and get big we feel like they sold out. There’s this weird complex that comes with success in the industry. This festival is supposed to be for people on the brink of that. How do you think you can balance success while retaining your originality and who you are as an artist?
By keeping the “day ones” around me. It’s cool and I love that I’m meeting new people at different venues. It’s dope and a lot to take in. But I think what keeps me grounded even now is the fact that I have people that have seen me go through the motions and help me get there. My friend’s will check me quickly, like “Hey, dawg don’t think you’re too this, we’re still grinding”. Having those people around and just having a lot of the day one supporters involved with your music, like choosing songs off my next project or having a personal listening party where those people are invited. That will keep you grounded and keep everything in perspective.