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Artist Interview:
Camila Ballario

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Camila Ballario at the Leon Loft. photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Camila Ballario at the Leon Loft. photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Benjamin Weatherston photographs Camila Ballario at the Leon Loft and asks about her upcoming debut solo album.

Ben- Tell us about your new album.
Camila– This is my first album and I’m thrilled with the way it turned out. The genre is hard to pinpoint because there are all kinds of influences – Pop, Country, Folk, Rock. It is what we like to call New Americana. Its strength comes from a great three-way collaboration forged between myself and co-producers Mark Hauptschein of Ann Arbor and Rich Rankin of Chicago. Mark is an incredible songwriter and musical partner. Rich is a fabulous multi-instrumentalist and recording engineer. Digital technology let us work with Rich as if he was in the same room.

Ben– Have you been singing your entire life?
Camila– I always liked to perform, and grew up listening to my dad sing and play Argentine folklore (Chamame) songs on the guitar. Singing was always a normal part of life for me.

Ben– How early did you start playing instruments? Which ones?
Camila– My first instrument was piano, I was probably around 8 years old. I played the clarinet too. I stopped playing instruments, though, to do choir and musical theater in middle school. I took up guitar in high school when my parents gave me a guitar for Christmas, and taught myself tons of covers.

Camila Ballario in the green room at Leon Loft. photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Camila Ballario in the green room at Leon Loft. photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Ben– Did your family help and support your passion?
Camila– My parents are two really strong and bold individuals! They have always inspired me to follow what I am passionate about. Listening to my dad play and sing songs on the guitar eventually led me on a path to do the same. My mom is an artist and art professor (at the University of Michigan) and has constantly demonstrated the hard work and dedication it takes to turn your artistic passions into your life’s work. When I decided against studying physics in college and went for vocal performance, they proudly supported me all the way. I am beyond grateful.

Ben– How did this recording experience differ from past projects you’ve worked on?
Camila– Well, it is different in almost every way. I first worked with Mark in a studio-musician capacity. He hired me to sing back-up vocals on some tracks that were previously recorded – a pretty standard gig for vocalists. After our second session, Mark asked if we could have a conversation about doing a project together. The rest is history. This whole thing erupted and we decided to record a full-length album featuring me as a solo vocal artist on Mark’s brand new label, Striking Note Records. A terrific gig! In college, I recorded a demo-album with a producer in a similar fashion, but the vision of where the album was going was solely the choice of the writer/producer and not mine. My album, Another Good Mistake, was extremely collaborative and represents a lot of the musical styles that have influenced me over time. Being that I was able to share my ideas and make stylistic choices, I definitely feel a lot of ownership of the outcome.

Camila Ballario photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Camila Ballario photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Ben– Did you write these songs?
Camila– I didn’t write any of them! I had a lot of say in their creation and how they were sung, but the songs and lyrics were written by Mark Hauptschein. We spent over a year choosing and modifying songs to fit my musical sensibilities. He wrote several songs specifically for me based on things happening in my life. It was a wonderful experience to have a hand in the creative process.

Ben– Is it something you hope to do one day or are you content as a vocalist?
Camila– That’s a great question – they are two extremely involved skills and it’s hard enough to excel at one let alone both. People who are able to do both well have talent out of this world! However, many great songwriters should never sing and many great singers have no place composing, and I think it’s important to recognize where you truly shine and go with that. I feel most fulfilled as a vocalist; that’s where my passion lies. This alone has my hands full at the moment! But it doesn’t mean writing doesn’t interest me or that I haven’t written my own music. I envision getting more involved in composing as my career develops.

Camila Ballario on stage at Leon Loft. photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Camila Ballario on stage at Leon Loft. photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Ben– Who are some of the musicians you’ve brought in to help fulfill your vision?
Camila– Mark Hauptschein and Rich Rankin played numerous instruments on the album, including guitars, mandolin, keyboards, bass, and percussion. Many top studio musicians contributed: Tom Hipskind (drums), Neal Alger (guitar), Rob Anderlik (dobro), Jeff Taylor (accordion), Adlai Reinhart (trumpet), Greg Simon (trumpet), Zoe Cutler (trombone) and Monica Swartout-Bebow sang backing vocals. It was so nice to work with Monica because she was my first voice teacher!

Ben– What do you think of the music scene in Ann Arbor?
Camila– I embrace the cultural diversity of Ann Arbor and I’m fortunate to have had all of my education here, including the UofM. It’s enriching to be exposed to so many musical genres – it feeds my creativity. We have good venues and music festivals in town, but with so many musicians it would be nice if there were more places to perform. I have high hopes that down the road more places to play will pop up.

Camilla Ballario photo by Benjamin Weatherston

Camilla Ballario photo by Benjamin Weatherston

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Ballario Interviewed by The Ann Magazine | Striking Note Records

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