Actress Dove Cameron is no stranger to singing: after growing up in a musical household, the 23-year-old got her start on the Disney Channel series Liv & Maddie followed by the popular Descendants trilogy, both of which featured songs sung by Cameron herself.
Now Cameron officially kicks off her music career with two singles, “Waste” and “Bloodshot,” both released on Friday (Sept. 27). Though the songs arrive simultaneously, they include two very different sentiments — one about love, one about loss. Despite their differences, the tracks together represent an important milestone for Cameron.
“For the first time in my young career and life, I finally feel like I see who I am reflected in something I’m sharing with the world,” Cameron wrote in a letter to fans that she shared on social media Monday (Sept. 23).
Cameron has been teasing music for six years, as she acknowledges in the note. She attributed the delay to years of compromising and never quite getting the music right, but Cameron’s pair of singles are proof of the confidence she conveys in her letter. Both “Bloodshot” and “Waste” incorporate airy production that perfectly complements her honeyed tone.
If there’s one thing that hasn’t changed since Cameron started making her own music, it’s that she doesn’t want any breakup songs in her catalog. Ahead of dropping “Waste” and “Bloodshot,” Cameron detailed via email the inspiration for both songs, whether this music means her acting career is on hold, and why breakup songs are just not her thing.
Before you went in the studio to start recording music, what did you envision your music sounding like? And how do you feel you achieved what you imagined?
Funny enough, my taste in music has always been relatively the same. I’ve been listening to Sleigh Bells since I was 13, classic rock since I was born, Lana [Del Rey] since I was 14, and musical scores and sonatas all my life. I have always had a highly stylized, romantic and dramatic taste in production, whether it was super minimal, or creatively placed bells and whistles, I love music that doesn’t sound like the rest. But, I never heard my own music — I could never project my taste into my own personal sound. So finding it for the first time was definitely a blind effort. I felt like I had all my senses removed and I had to re-learn my taste. Though, I did always know whatever I created would be different than what I personally listened to and liked. I wouldn’t ever be so arrogant or silly as to say that I’ve “found my sound” this early on, but I would say, I never dreamed that my music would make me feel as specifically me, as concentrated or vulnerable and as exposed as some of my first few releases have made me feel. So, I assume I’m on the path.
What are the stories behind “Waste” and “Bloodshot”?
“Waste” is very much about that feeling of being so fucked-up over someone that you just want to waste yourself on them, bleed out every ounce of you and live inside them. That kind of agonizing, pain/pleasure, mad love is what we all either know personally, or want. Obviously, I am in a very public relationship [with Descendants costar Thomas Doherty], so it’s safe to assume most love songs are about him.
“Bloodshot,” on the other hand, is less specific. I am very known by my label to say ‘I hate a breakup song,’ which I don’t anticipate changing anytime soon. To me, they’re boring and they make me itchy. What I love about “Bloodshot” is that it’s not necessarily about a breakup, but it is definitely about a loss of some kind. For me, it’s about loss, which I am always trying to put to lyrics.
What made you want to release both songs at the same time? Did it have to do with their contrasting takes on love?
I wanted to release them together because, just as you said, they’re very contrasted, and so am I, and so are my fans. “Bloodshot” is definitely the softest and most intimate of all the songs I’ve done, and “Waste” is one of my favorites. “Bloodshot” is vulnerable, and “Waste” is a bit sexy. I’ve waited so long to release my music, I didn’t want to start with [only] one. I wanted my fans to have a bit more to start with, and hopefully if you don’t hear yourself in one song, you hear yourself in the other.
How long have you been writing your own music?
I’ve been writing music all my life. My mom is a poet, and my dad was a pianist, so music and writing was always a part of the deal. I doubt any of my earlier stuff will ever see the light of day, as I have changed so drastically as a person, even just in the last few months, and my feelings about the world, love and myself are changing every day. I may listen to the same kind of things, but my writing is light years apart and I’m very grateful for that. It is part of the joys of being an artist.
You’ve said that making this music has been transformative for you because of the control you’ve had over what you’re putting out. How do you feel your initial experiences with making your own music has changed you as an artist?
That’s a very relevant question, as I am feeling more and more exposed to myself and brand new every day, and I can’t stop feeling that at a very intense level of writing about it or thinking about it. There are many reasons in my own personal life that are contributing to that at the moment, not all of which is music- or even career-related. But I will say that the newfound autonomy is completely alien and novel to me, and it’s definitely rewiring my brain rapidly to value my opinions, trust my instincts, and step into the driver’s seat of my life a bit more. It’s a bit alarming, the rate of transformation, but I don’t feel the need to step in and stop it. It definitely feels developmental and necessary. More good than bad.
Do you think you’ll be focusing more on music in the next couple of years, or will you continue to keep a balance between music and acting opportunities?
I will be focusing more on music than I have in the past, definitely. It will definitely be equal to acting, but it’s difficult to say if I will focus on it more than acting, as it’s completely new to me, and my acting career is more developed. I can truthfully say that nothing in my career has ever been truly planned. In the way that people think careers are laid out, I’ve never had an answer to “where do you see yourself in 5 years.” And whatever I thought my life would look like even 6 months ago, it doesn’t.
I have some loose goals, some direction, definitely lots of love and feeling for both music and film, as mediums and art are ways to further connect with myself and my life. Whatever comes, comes — and wherever I find myself, I’m there. That may sound strange and a little unattached, but I believe that’s the best way to live healthily, and do your best work as well; with intention, passion, affection, but no attachment. Nothing good or authentic ever comes from forcing it, and I want my music to be a sort of self-discovery — not an idea that I had six years ago that I now force in everyone’s faces.