CAMO: The outsider who has made it in
I’m a Hip Hop artist and that’s what I wanna be forever. I don’t think I’ll go full K-pop, but there’s a lot to learn from that scene as well.
LiFTED has had our eyes on South Korea’s CAMO for a minute now, ever since she blew up with ‘Life is Wet’ featuring JMIN a few years back. That song was catchy AF and it contained all the ingredients that CAMO usually brings to the table – she sings, she rhymes, and she has a melodic auto-tuned Pop sensibility that makes it easy to vibe on her tracks. It’s a recipe for success, especially in the hyper K-hop market where most rappers need to sing if they want to blow up. The funny thing about CAMO is that she doesn’t come off as K-pop at all. She has a street sensibility about her that is at once edgy and vulnerable.
CAMO never went through the K-pop machine and her success was almost by accident or at least just for fun. As a university student, she came under the spell of Hip Hop, and started performing for her friends at a local club. When she started writing songs it became clear she had talent, and then she dropped an EP, Ice, that did OK. It was her single ‘Life is Wet’ in 2021 went viral and has over 16 million YouTube views to date. Then she did a North American tour. Her second EP Fragile brought more hits, and this year she dropped her first full-length album Pressure Makes Diamonds - complete with a Jay Park feature [on ‘Waiting For You’] so now the transformation from cool outsider to full-on star is almost complete.
Yes, CAMO is definitely on the come-up, and 2023 feels like it will be her year because she has it all in front of her. LiFTED caught up with CAMO recently at the Also Festival in Hong Kong, where she performed to an excited and appreciative crowd.
Hey CAMO! It’s so great to meet you finally and get a chance to sit down and chop it up!
Hey! Thanks for having me, it’s great to finally meet you as well!
Your name is Park Chae-ryung so we know you’re Korean, but is it true you were born and raised in Hong Kong before moving to Seoul? How did it feel to play in front of the Hong Kong audience at Also Festival recently?
Yeah I was born in Hong Kong and lived there until I was 12. I came to perform for the first time since I left earlier this year and this is my second time back. Honestly, I missed HK so much. It feels amazing to be back. Performing in Hong Kong always feels special. I really enjoy the energy. I’m hoping to come back out with more new music!
How did you go from a university student listening to Avril Lavigne to an MC getting ready to drop an EP? Tell us about that journey.
Actually, the first album I ever bought was Avril Lavigne’s in Hong Kong when I was 10. Then YouTube got me listening to more Pop and Hip Hop music and I especially fell in love with Hip Hop and the culture surrounding it. It’s a whole lifestyle that I’ve dreamed of since I was little, but I never thought I would actually be living it.
When I went to university and everyone was joining school clubs, I joined the Hip Hop circle and that led me to writing lyrics and eventually songwriting. It was hella fun and I was good at it, so people would always tell me to give it a shot. I thought they were kidding but then BIBI found me on Soundcloud and hit me up and told me the same thing. She was huge back then, too, and for me to hear it from someone who’s already successful and so talented, it meant a lot. So, I was like why not?
You said that you have a love/hate relationship with your first EP Ice. Can you explain why?
I have that with all my songs. Once I release them, actually even before I do, I end up hating them. Probably because you end up listening to your songs over and over throughout the process.
By the time you dropped your second EP Fragile last year, you seemed much more confident but also maybe more jaded. Is that true?
Damn, I feel bad that you guys noticed that, but honestly, yeah, I definitely felt jaded. Everything just happened so fast. From time to time, I think I wasn’t really able to take care of myself. Shit is still going by too quickly right now, but I think I’m definitely more used to this now. I’m gonna bounce back real fast.
When ‘Life is Wet’ blew up were you prepared for that? What was it like being kind of an outsider in the Korean scene but still becoming famous and having crazy fans?
I never expected that to happen to be honest. I don’t think I was ready for it, but I’m so grateful that it did. It def changed my life and the lives of people around me. I honestly miss it when I was an outsider because it was so chill, but I appreciate every step of this journey.
You don’t seem to go in for typical K-pop stylings and music videos with lots of dancing and hyper-styled art direction. It seems more than anything that you prefer to just be yourself. Is that just you doing you?
Yeah, well not 100 percent, but it’s definitely what I wanted to do. I’m a Hip Hop artist and that’s what I wanna be forever. So far, we’ve just been trying to be more casual with the music videos, but dancing and hyper-styled art direction doesn’t sound too bad either. I don’t think I’ll go full K-pop, but I think there’s a lot to learn from that scene as well.
What does it feel like to finally release a full-length album, with features from Sik-K, Tommy Genesis, and Jay Park no less? Even though you’ve only been in the game a few years it feels like this album has been a long time coming.
First of all, shoutout to my team! They pretty much set up all the features for me and helped so much with the album. I feel way better after releasing this because I got to show more colors in my music. Right now, I‘m just excited to show you guys more new music. Especially since a lot of the pressure is off me now. I’m trying to go back to having more fun making music.
You are working on a new merch line, right? What kind of stuff will be available? How can people find it?
What’s your favorite collab or feature so far?
I don’t really have a favorite collab. All of them are special to me, to be honest. In terms of working with other artists, I really like working with Leellamarz. He brings out such good energy every time we link up to make music. He believes in me the most and is one few people who can truly hype me up and make me feel more confident as an artist. He just has that energy to him. We have a couple of new tracks in the bank.
If you could work with anyone in the world right now, who would it be?
Hmm...I don’t have any preferences right now, to be honest. I just want to focus on my music first, and then dream about all that later.