Music, News

Singer-songwriter Cameron Hayes: “It’s always been about finding little songs that just connect”

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Featured image: Emma Thompson

“Hello my darling!” Cameron Hayes smiles gregariously as she cosies up on her sofa in a Levis top with a cup of tea in hand. She expresses her excitement at “chatting about anything music related” and it soon becomes obvious why she’s killing it on stage all around Europe – she speaks with the same passion fans frequently observe on stage.

Musician Cameron Hayes is just 25-years-old but has been dominating the industry since blowing up on social media in 2020. She’s gone from posting covers on YouTube to performing at iconic festivals like YNot and Great Western, as well as releasing a plethora of singles.

Her talent is garnering attention from fans and labels alike, with a new single coming out this May. She’s keen to talk about the issues she’s faced getting to this point as a woman in a male-dominated industry.

Hayes grew up in Reading, and while it may not be the most obvious music city compared to the likes of Manchester, that didn’t stop her from diving deep into music from a young age.

Hayes explains that at the age of eight she was listening to Linkin Park. As she grew into her teens her taste developed and she got into “weird, alternative electronic” music. Jack Garratt, SG Lewis, and Little Dragon were her go-to artists.

Hayes says, “It’s always been about finding little songs that just connect.” As she shares how she felt listening to music growing up and how she connected with it, it’s clear that Hayes aims for her own music to impact people in the same manner.

I want my music to be everywhere”, she says. “No-one can escape from my voice.”

Hayes describes her music interest during her school years as a hobby, but that soon changed when she enrolled at the London College of Contemporary Arts (LCCA). Focusing on songwriting and performing, she left the university with a degree in Creative Artistry. 

Having started the course at the age of 17 due to dropping out of college because of anxiety, Hayes was only 19 when she graduated. She says, “I’d be so anxious I’d end up being so ill from the anxiety I couldn’t physically go to school. That was a very weird time, so I just started dropping A-levels and then my mum found the university online.”

Rather than preventing Hayes from living her dream, anxiety has helped her along the way, not just with finding a new path and attending university but also in terms of what she writes. “It does help creatively”, she explains. Her songs are emotive and the lyrics are powerful. Take the lyrics in her song Medicine: I’m alone in the dark / No-one’s home in my heart.

Hayes admits that she used to experience terrible stage fright: “I used to cry so much when I’d go on stage.” But, once she realised she was doing what she loved, her passion enveloped the fear. The more shows she did, the more comfortable she felt.

Anxiety is not the only challenge Hayes has had to face. Many female artists have spoken about the issues within the industry they have had to go through because of their gender; Raye spoke about how labels were hesitant to release her albums, and Taylor Swift keenly talks about the problems with sexism in the industry. Hayes was eager to have her say about this contentious area.

She begins by describing what a session in the studio would feel like for her and how the studio is a predominantly male environment. You can hear the vexation in her voice as she explains: “You go into a session, which is usually men, I think I’ve had a session with two women on separate occasions and a session with one non-binary person and that’s it, then I’ve had 30-40 sessions with men. I don’t mind it, I get on with them really well, but the issue is as soon as you want to have input in production, you get silenced a lot.”

“It’s my own music, it’s my name on the track, it’s my face, it’s my song, and I want to input but I don’t feel comfortable enough to input”, Hayes says in frustration.

Now, Hayes has found people to work with who she loves, thanks to the respect they afford her. She says, “I work with a lot of great people and feel very lucky at this point because I’m getting a lot of respect from people,” adding that it feels validating. She works with a production partner (Aidan) and says she feels they work well as a team: “[It’s] something you don’t get a lot of in the industry as a woman, you don’t feel like an equal.” These words bring a positive smile to her.

However, Hayes still feels like she has something to prove. Creating her new EP and doing most of the production herself, she wants to show she has the talent to produce and write the songs and do, “Things that a lot of women are slightly scared to do sometimes.”

The year promises to be an exciting one for Hayes: a new EP is in the works. She will be performing at festivals this summer including Leeds and Reading Festival and Sound City 2024, as well as a UK/EU tour which comes to Manchester 6th November.

Listen to Cameron Hayes’ single ‘Spend The Night’ and get tickets for her UK/EU tour here.

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Emily Walters

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