Wise yet vulnerable, fierce yet fickle, K-pop idol CAMO is a confident musician who often dabbles in contradictions.
Born Park Chae-ryung in Hong Kong, CAMO (derived from CAsh MOney) found her future name and career at her university's hip-hop club in Seoul. However, she was not aware at the time that she was embarking on a memorable journey of discovering her musical identity that will stay with her in the years to come.
She made her debut as an artist in March 2020 with her first EP Ice, garnering attention for the bilingual lyrics and the catchy melody. However, it was really her ability to project her true avatar in an industry where artists are so self-conscious of their image that captivated K-pop fans.
The Dollar Bratz hitmaker keeps everyone on their toes with her honesty and transparency. She is thoughtful and wise beyond her years but doesn’t pretend to understand life and its meaning beyond what she can comprehend.
She will soon be embarking upon her first extended North American tour, named 'CAMO: WIFEY' tour after one of her favorite songs. The tour will officially begin on August 16, 2022, in Los Angeles. She will be touring across six cities in the United States and Canada.
In an exclusive conversation with SK POP’s Anwaya Mane, CAMO shares her excitement about commencing her first North-American tour, her musical inspiration, and why India will definitely be there on her Asia tour itinerary.
CAMO talks about her musical inspiration, why her song WIFEY has been a game-changer, and more
Q) Thank you so much for taking out time to speak with us. Congratulations on extending your North American tour. How are you coping with the pre-concert jitters?
CAMO: Hey, thank you so much for having me. Honestly, I’ve been too busy to be having jitters. I'm trying to finish my new songs so I can drop them on tour!
Q) Do you follow any special preparation for your concerts? Any interesting rituals you perhaps want to share with your fans?
CAMO: If we have Henny, Lee always makes us tap twice up and down and take a shot. It’s more of her ritual from back home, but it’s definitely rubbed off on me. Other than that I’m just chilling and soaking up the energy!
Q) What was the process for selecting songs to perform at your CAMO: WIFEY tour? How do you decide which track makes it to the setlist and which doesn’t?
CAMO: I will be honest. I only have 14 songs out, so I had to put almost all of them on the setlist. I love all my songs though, and I’m sure my fans will appreciate them all!
Q) Moving to your childhood a bit. You were born in Korea and raised in Hong Kong, and then you moved to your home country in your early teens. How has living in a different country shaped you as a musical artist? Do you feel you are at an advantage because of your culturally diverse experiences?
CAMO: Being able to speak fluent English has been extremely helpful. I have to thank my parents for that opportunity. Just growing up listening to and being able to understand English-speaking artists has definitely influenced my music. Also, I have an extremely robust international friends group and team out in Seoul, and growing up in Hong Kong has allowed me to be in that position. I love my Korean side and the culture out here as well. The mix of the two is just me!
Q) You have mentioned in the past that your song WIFEY holds a special place in your heart. Can you take us through the process of creating that song in collaboration with Simon Dominic and why is it so meaningful to you?
CAMO: I was going through a lot back then. I was very vulnerable and mentally unstable but didn’t want to give up. I didn’t want to let go just because of my insecurities and lack of courage. Wifey was a song that I made to empower myself. Whenever I listen to that song, I still remember how down I used to be, but I’m just proud of myself for fighting through that.
All my songs are about love and life, and I’m sure a lot of people will always be able to relate to those components whatsoever on the surface. Simon Dominic has always been supportive from the beginning and he just felt right for the song. He killed it as usual.
Q) You are known for your unique vocal tone and bilingual lyricism, which is beautifully reflected in your music. What are the different kinds of themes or genres you want to dabble in going forward in your career?
CAMO: My music will always be about love and life. These are pretty big themes so I don’t think I’ll run out of things to say. In terms of genres, my next mixtape has a little bit of everything.
Q) You are unapologetic about embracing your sexuality, both in your music and your off-stage persona. Is the process of writing your own music a cathartic one for you? Can you give us an insight into your songwriting process?
CAMO: Very cathartic. I sometimes get chills. If I have a beat, I vibe on hard, I start working with that. I freestyle for a while and try to set a flow or a melody and write lyrics on top of that. Then add the ad-libs and some details, and done!
Q) You have collaborated with some talented artists in the past including BIBI, Simon Dominic and JMIN. Is there an artist, Korean or international, who inspires you deeply? Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
CAMO: I love JMIN, he’s like the nicest dongseng (junior) you can find. Inspiraiton-wise, I loved Flo Milli’s new album, and artists like BIA and Tommy Genesis have always been on my playlist.
Q) In general, international fans are more familiar with K-pop as compared to Korean hip-hop. Do you feel that now, with young and upcoming artists like you, Korean hip-hop will become a more mainstream choice for fans on the global music scene?
CAMO: Yes. This is definitely a goal for me in my career for sure. Even if some of these artists aren’t speaking English, their music goes beyond language, so I’m hoping more artists gain recognition internationally.
Q) Moving a bit from your music. You recently uploaded your first vlog on your YouTube channel and it seems like you really enjoy vlogging. What kind of content and vlogs can we look forward to in the future?
CAMO: You checked the vlog! I had so much fun shooting it. My videographer, Yvng Wing, followed me and my team around everywhere and literally got clips of everything. He said we were “walking and smoking cigs” in most of the clips though. With more vlogs coming up, a lot of fans have been asking for makeup tutorials so might do that as well.
Q) You had previously mentioned your deep desire to work with the United Nations? What are the causes that are close to your heart and what kind of change do you want to bring to the world?
CAMO: That was me when I was young. I used to study a lot about WFP (World Food Program) and always wanted to go out and help children that are going through poverty. I still want to help and make a difference and will do.
Q) We wish you all the best for your CAMO: WIFEY tour! Do you have any plans to tour India in the future and any message you would like to convey to your Indian fans?
CAMO: I have been getting a lot of love from India, thank you guys so much! Love you guys and can’t wait to see you there. I HAVE to do an Asia tour and India is going to be on the list for sure.
More about the artist
Born on April 29, 1998, 24-year-old CAMO boasts an incredible discography. She has released two extended plays and three singles so far. Ice (2020) and Fragile (2021) were her two EPs, while her singles include Life is Wet (2020), Wifey (2021), and Freak Like Me (2022).
She will embark upon her her debut North American tour soon. The schedule is as follows:
- August 16 in Los Angeles
- August 17 in San Francisco
- August 18 in Vancouver
- August 19 in Toronto
- August 20 in New York
- August 22 in Calgary
Disclaimer: The interview was edited for clarity and grammar purposes.