Connie Campsie’s Inner Monologue

Through the miracle that is online communication, I recently had the pleasure of chatting with London-based singer-songwriter, Connie Campsie. Connie recently released I’m Still Talking To Myself, her debut EP, which was featured in our most recent Free Range Round-Up. The short EP blew me away with its effortlessly catchy melodies and wonderfully weaved stories. When I was told I could have an opportunity to interview Connie, I jumped at the chance. So, during my morning on the west coast of the U.S.A. and her evening in London, we spoke from over 7,000 kilometres apart.

How are you doing today?

I’ve been sick for the past couple of days (laughs). You are the first human I’m speaking to so if I sound like a vampire, that’s why, that’s what’s going on. But no, I’m good. I’m good, other than that.

How does it feel to release your debut EP?

Crazy man! Just because, I tried so many times to do an EP – you think, whatever, it’s like four or five songs. But the amount of work that has to go into it, I was just not prepared for. So it was really good to get the first one out. I’m 26, I spent ages trying to write the first EP. I just put loads of roadblocks by myself like, “Ah, but I need to know myself and who I am,” and put all of this crazy pressure on it. Then, once I figured out that nobody knows what they’re doing, I was like, “Okay, that’s cool. I can just do this then.” Then it came together super fast.

The back half of the EP (‘I Wish I Never Met You’ and ‘Uneasy’) is so much more stripped down musically than ‘Sucker’ and ‘It’s My Birthday’, what inspired that shift?

‘I Wish I Never Met You’ was a song I’ve had for a while; it’s the oldest one on the EP. Then I wrote ‘Uneasy’ with my friend Oscar Lang. I was like, listen, would you want to work on this other song that I have? Because I loved what he did on ‘Uneasy’ which we wrote together here in this room. This is a creative space that I have, which is great. But it’s not acoustically treated and shit. We were using a really cheap microphone, and I was just like, “You know what, it’s sounding kind of ratchet, it sounds cool, I love that. Why don’t we try that with ‘I Wish Never I Met You’?” And you know what, we could have tried it and it could not have worked, and I might have gone to somebody else like Jack Wilson who helped with ‘Sucker’ and ‘It’s My Birthday,’ but ‘I Wish I Never Met You’ just felt very raw and intimate. 

Every time I tried to make it into a ballad, it just sounded really shit. It sounded like it was trying to be something it wasn’t. I wasn’t really consciously thinking about the EP as a whole, which is kind of what I’m trying to do next time. I was just so concerned about each song sounding as best as it could, with the limited time and budget and stuff. I want to be really proud of these songs, because I’m a songwriter at the end of the day, you know, if the songs are good, fuck it, it will be fine! I wish I could tell you there was a big artistic reasoning behind that. But I just knew that ‘Sucker’ had to be what it was, and ‘It’s My Birthday’ had to be what it was, etc, etc. I just didn’t want to hold the songs back.

Photo by Phoebe Fox

Your lyrics are really open and honest. Is that something that just naturally comes to you when you’re writing?

I feel very at home writing lyrics. I’ve always written poems or songs or prose or whatever. I really see myself as a writer first, and then second  a musician. The music is just what I put the words to. So I feel super confident in that process. The words will just come to me, like when I’m on the bus,and then I will write something down. Sometimes I go into a session like, ‘I just wrote two verses and a chorus on the bus!’ and they’re like, ‘Okay?’ and then it’s just, try and find the music for it. So yeah, the EP is about what it’s called, I’m Still Talking to Myself. The whole thing is my inner monologue is just constantly chatting to me, which I don’t know if that’s what everyone goes through, I can only speak to my own experience. I just feel like it never shuts up, and so I’m constantly writing stuff down that I’m thinking in my notes or whatever, and then using them for the lyrics.

What was it like as an artist releasing your first music during a worldwide pandemic, when everyone was inside? Do you feel like that was a strange experience compared to what it might have been otherwise?

I mean, I don’t know. I felt like I was in such a good place. The pandemic was obviously and still is so awful for so many people. But for me as an artist, it was really helpful to have that period where I didn’t have to worry about anything else. I could just focus on my work. The whole day revolved around my work, which at this stage of being an artist is such a luxury because you still have to worry about things like, you know, the day job and all that shit. So for me, it was amazing! I was releasing music that I was really, really happy with and I felt very sure of myself through all of the work that I was doing, not just on my music, but on myself, during this period of time where I could just be an artist. 

What’s playing live been like? Has that been a lot of fun for you?

Oh my god, I love playing live so much. I did my first headline show a few weeks ago, which was amazing. It was so good. I was so nervous, and I never get nervous. I was like, “Oh my god, what am I doing?” But yeah, I would love to do some more shows this year. I’m kind of in the studio at the moment. That’s really taking up so much of my time. I did that headline show to sort of celebrate the release of the EP, and now it’s just kind of like, okay, go, go, go! Let’s release the next thing. So I haven’t done a gig since then. But there’s a few things coming up, I think. I’d love to get a festival slot, like a small little festival thing this summer. But again, I’m going to be pretty busy (laughs).

Do you have any lyrical themes that you haven’t been able to tackle yet that you really want to write songs about?

I’ve really struggled to write love songs for like, five years. Every time I’m in a session, and I would try to bring a love song, it would always go really bad. And recently, I’ve just unlocked this love song thing. I don’t know if that’s going to make it into my near future plans, if any of those songs are gonna make it, but that’s been amazing that I’ve been able to start that recently. 

I also just think, as a writer, I love tackling super personal things, like, interpersonal relations,  I’m very about the characters of my life. Something that I’ve not managed to really nail is bigger picture stuff. Every time I try to talk about, like, the state of the world, it sounds like Christian music.No hate on Christian music, but it just is not me. So I think that if I was to talk about something more political that I really care about, like the queer community or the trans community, I would struggle to say it in a way that didn’t feel just very like, “I love you and everything is great.”  I’m not trans myself, but I love the trans community and they’re in the absolute trenches right now. So if I could write something, you know, that wouldn’t be intruding on their space, that would be really cool.

Are you already working on another release? Anything you can let us in on? 

I mean, I haven’t debriefed or briefed with my manager about this, so I don’t know what I’m allowed or not allowed to say. But it’s gonna be good. I’m really excited, I think it’s gonna be really, really good. I’ve just learned a lot from this first release and bringing that all to the second one just feels pretty good. And undoubtedly, I’m going to learn some more shit. So I’m looking forward to it. I think there’s going to be a couple more songs hitting up the world fairly soon, maybe. And then maybe some more. This is all I’ll say.

Connie Campsie’s new EP I’m Still Talking to Myself and her social media can be found by clicking here.

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