If you go out searching, you’ll find the fantastic singer and songwriter Cami Petyn standing somewhere out in that great crossroads where alt-rock meets power-pop and all the weirdness of post-post-goth. Cami is without a doubt one of the mightiest songstresses of Gen Z that’s emerging right now. Her momentum is undeniably strong, and it’s only getting stronger due to her ability to articulate the emotional turmoil of a generation just coming into play in an equally tumultuous world.
Her newest song is perhaps one of the most real and most dramatically relevant songs today for young people in America. “All my friends keep dying from drugs” tackles a very complex and dark subject that has taken one too many lives close to her, while she seeks to bring some more attention to an otherwise disproportionately underrepresented topic in the public discourse.
In today’s interview, we get close to cami as a songwriter and as a human-looking to bring some sorely-needed understanding to a difficult subject.
Cami, tell us a bit more about the writing process behind this song. It looks like it was very emotionally challenging.
The night before my session I found out about losing another old friend to an overdose. I was just completely devastated and mind-fucked (for a lack of a better term) that this issue was still happening. So, the next day at my session, out of anguish, I said “it feels like all my friends keep dying from drugs”. My producer (Phil Simmonds) and I just looked at each other and were like “wait…can we just say THAT in a song?”. It turned out that Phil had also gone through a similar situation so it was a VERY emotionally challenging song to write. But, also unexpectedly therapeutic. Everything we wrong came straight from a pained heart.
You’re quoted as saying “My music to me is turning pain into power” which is the case with this release. Would you say it’s taxing to write music from that place or is it the opposite? where I assume it would be like letting go a load of your shoulders by turning on to your creativity?
I always joke that artists are masochists because we’re willing to endure any pain for art. Or at least I am haha. I learned early that the best art comes from those deep, uncomfortable, and honest places. So, I always reach for those when I’m writing. But, I also use my songwriting as a therapy. I usually sit down to write when I have something weighing on me. So yes, every heavy song is absolutely letting go of a load on my shoulders. I’m very thankful for that.
What do you feel like doing after a long day at the studio? what’s your decompression session look like?
It might sound cliché but, I usually leave sessions feeling alive & full because I love the songwriting process so much. But still, after opening yourself up creatively and emotionally it’s always important to decompress. I usually go straight to getting a bite to eat because I always forget to eat in sessions lol. Then I’ll usually watch some comfort show on Netflix with my cat. Currently a fan of The Great British Baking Show, it’s the perfect comfort show haha.
You had your first official concert just December last year (congrats!) tell us what was your biggest take-away from the experience and if you got any other upcoming shows we ought to know about.
Aw man, I got off that stage and was like “okay when can I do that again ASAP”. I could perform every day, I fucking love it. My biggest takeaway was realizing that when I’m truly IN the songs, I don’t feel any nerves. But, yes! I have a couple of shows in LA in February, I’m playing Madame Siem on the 15th & Good Times at Davey Waynes on the 14th J
Tell us a bit about your experience shooting the music video for “All My Friends. It seemed like it was very hectic, with a lot of moving parts.
Haha yes, this was my biggest music video set to date. My DP (Chad Narducci) and I spend weeks perfecting the video treatment. I’m very happy with how it turned out. It definitely was a hard shoot though, I cried through the first 2 hours of shooting lol. So, if you see me cry in the MV- it wasn’t acting.
Drug Addiction and Overdose death are very serious issues that seem like they’re sadly under-discussed in America. Why do you think that is?
I’ve been desperately trying to figure this out ever since writing this song. And after researching the topic for the past couple of months, I realized that we are severely under-educated about addiction. And the lack of proper education leads to widespread stigmatization of the topic.
This stigmatization, I think, is one of the biggest issues as it not only keeps people quiet but also minimizes and demonizes the topic.
On the topic of raising awareness, what do you feel is missing in the conversation that *is* going on?
COMPASSION. Compassion compassion compassion! I think that is the first thing that needs to be brought into the conversation when talking about the disease of addiction. Also, harm reduction. Fentanyl is the #1 killer of Americans 18 – 45. Isn’t that insane? But it’s even more insane that this crisis is occurring YET harm reduction like Fentanyl testing strips & Narcan aren’t a common conversation nor widely available. I really hope they will be soon.
Do you think there are generational differences in how the topic is addressed? Perhaps a youthful voice such as yours can reach where others can’t.
My hope with the song is that it at least gets people to start talking about this. I think the “war on drugs” caused a lot of the older generation to see addiction as just some dirty problem that doesn’t deserve a conversation larger than “just say no”. But, that is SUCH a harmful (& ironically, counterproductive) point of view. Like I said, this topic needs more compassion & education and I think the newer generation has more willingness for that. Maybe it’s because there are stories and information at our fingertips every day. Or maybe because so many of our friends are dying. Regardless, I hope it leads to more change.
Story: Samuel Aponte Photos: Courtesy of the artist
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