JMC Songwriting Alumni, Camille Trail is the latest rising star in the Aussie Country Music Scene. Her debut Album “River of Sins”, which she wrote as part of her final assessment at JMC has landed her a nomination for New Talent Of The Year at the Golden Guitar Awards! We sat down with Camille to ask all about her album, collaborating with Shane Nicholson and how JMC helped her launch a creative career.
Tell me more about your album! When did you write it, who is producing it and what inspired it?
‘River of Sins’ is really a mix of country, blues, gospel and folk. It’s an 11-track album, myself writing 10 of them. I actually wrote the album in my last trimester of study at JMC Academy. It’s funny that all the songs came from that one trimester, I was writing at least 2 songs every week and I really delved into country blues music. I was listening to a lot of Americana gospel music at the time and I think that’s why there’s such a prominent blues influence in the album, as well as growing up loving the blues.
Our final assessment at JMC was to produce an album that we do completely ourselves. I’m absolutely hopeless with technology so I always knew I would bring someone else in to produce the album when the time came. I started researching producers and albums I liked, and Shane Nicholson’s name popped up quite frequently. That’s what sent me on the track to Shane.
This album is really a diary entry of my life. Songwriting and playing music has always been a release for me, it’s how I make sense of my emotions. It’s my therapy. That was really the biggest reason why I wrote this album. I also love music that people can identify with. You know those Sam Smith songs that you listen to after a breakup and every word feels like it was written for you. That’s so powerful that you can make people feel like they’re not alone and can help them. I wanted to share my experiences, both painful and beautiful, in hope that it might help someone out there. That’s the whole point of music to me.
How did you first get connected with Shane Nicholson?
I grew up listening to Shane so I have always been a fan of his music. I didn’t, however, know he was a producer until I started doing some research. I looked up all the albums I liked and found out who produced it, Shane Nicholson. His name kept popping up everywhere and I thought ‘no way is that going to happen’, so I brushed it off and kept looking for other producers.
In the end I tracked down Shane’s email address and thought ‘what the heck, the worst that can happen is he doesn’t reply, or he says no’. So, I sent off my demo’s expecting absolutely nothing back. Within a couple of hours, I got a reply from Shane saying ‘hey I really dig your songs, I’d love to work with you’ and I screamed and ran around my apartment for 20 minutes.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the albums production and release?
COVID has had a pretty big effect on the album release. We recorded this album in February 2019 so we’ve been sitting with it for a long time now. We were originally releasing the album mid 2020, however as a new artist it’s crucial to be able to tour the release. With COVID in full force last year we decided to hold off and release a few more singles instead.
How was your experience recording with Shane Nicholson?
It was amazing, the whole experience was incredible. I spent 3 weeks with Shane in the studio and I learnt so much. At first I almost felt a little intimidated, I was working with an award winning producer and musician and I wasn’t sure I was good enough. Shane made me feel comfortable pretty quickly though and I trusted in myself and my music that I deserved to be there. Being my first time ever recording music in a studio, it was an eye-opening experience. It was exciting hearing my songs come to life like I always imagined but also scary having to let go of the songs. I really trusted Shane with my ‘babies’ and loved every minute of it.
How did JMC Academy set you up to pursue your career in music?
JMC Academy definitely gave me a lot of confidence to pursue my career in music. It gave me a really solid foundation in not only songwriting, but as an overall artist. JMC taught me what to expect in the ‘real world’, taught me what to stay clear of in business classes, how to set up PA equipment which has saved my butt quite a few times. I would definitely recommend JMC to any budding songwriter out there.
What skills did you learn at JMC that helped you to write your first album?
Sounds funny but I learnt how hard songwriting is. There is SO much to it. Mostly JMC taught me what all songwriters do naturally and what these techniques are called, what they do and where to use them. I think that’s a really powerful position to be in as a songwriter, to know what techniques to implement to make your listener feel exactly how you want them to.
How did JMC prepare you to be an entrepreneurial musician?
I loved that JMC did music business classes. They were one of my favourite classes in the degree. It really also pushed me to look at being an independent artist rather than signing to a label because it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. It really slapped you into the real world of the music industry and made you realise it’s not at all what you dreamed of in your head. There have been quite a few obstacles I have faced in my career to date where had I not studied at JMC, I think I definitely wouldn’t have been able to handle them as professionally as I did.
What was the highlight of your JMC Academy experience?
The highlight of my JMC Academy experience was definitely the people I met. It feels like a dream going to university and being surrounded by all like-minded people and hearing music playing and people jamming everywhere you go. It was a magical experience in that way, and I’ve met so many beautiful people who are now my life-long friends.
Which song are you most proud of on the album and why?
My favourite song on the record is Track 2 ‘I Know I’m Hard To Love’. This song came from a really dark and heartbroken place. Music really helped me through that part of my life and I was really nervous releasing this song as it’s so vulnerable. Usually, those thoughts you have after a breakup stay private, but now the world can listen to mine. I’m proud of that song and I’m proud of myself for having the courage to release such a vulnerable song.
What’s next for you now that your album has launched?
I’m hoping to get on the road as soon as everything opens back up and go on tour. I’m really excited to play the songs live and really promote the album. I’m currently in a van in North Queensland cruising around grabbing gigs where I can and I’m loving it, so that’ll definitely be on the cards. Hopefully a nationwide tour soon!
You can check out Camille Trail live as she supports Shane Nicholson on the “Living in Colour Tour” in December!