GLOSS MAGAZINE INTERVIEW
“These were people whose records I had and recordings I owned, but to have them live in the same neighborhood and to meet them was incredible,” she says. “The inspiration for my CD was everything I listened to growing up, the music I listen to now and my development as a musician and an artist. Wanting to have your own project is inspiration too because I don’t think you can remain a side person forever. That’s my inspiration.”
The versatile artist served in the U.S. Army for four years and when she’s not performing, she’s mentoring others as she teaches hip hop and gospel classes at the Drummers Collective in New York City, along with other private lessons at her private studio. The composer also works with entertainer Wayne Brady.
Camille confesses she was the only musician in her family. The seed of music was nurtured during her childhood as she grew up with an exposure to the arts, music specifically. Between hearing all genres of music in her home and attending musicals, the artist couldn’t deny her purpose. Camille says a birthday gift in her youth changed her life and the scope of her musical direction.
“I just had the feeling I could do it,” she recounts, about playing the drums. “I kept bugging my parents about it. Before that, I played other instruments like the piano, guitar, the violin and things like that. My father woke me up at like 2:00 a.m. and I thought I was in trouble at first. He said, “Look at what I got you!” I screamed and that was it. I probably played until 6:00 a.m. that morning.”
As the young artist spent hours rehearsing relentlessly and perfecting her craft, the New York native says she spent time in her neighborhood with people who knew how to play. With her band, they landed gigs at local parties and other gatherings where the young musician gained more experience and exposure in the music scene.
As she pays homage to drummers Sheila E. and Terri Lyne Carrington, Camille says she recognized some of the challenges female bandleaders face, although that glass ceiling was cracked by others before she stepped on the scene.
“I always took care of business and have been able to find work,” she says, about the percussion profession. “You’re always going to face obstacles, but you have to keep at it. No one can stop you because there are doors that were opened for you, but you have to have your stuff together. You have to be able to play. You can’t not be able to play and blame it on people not hiring. You have to be on time and you have to be able to get along with people.”
Music influences lives and Camille’s genre-free music speaks a universal language, which is what music is ultimately about, she says.
“Categorizing music is basically a way for people to feel safe and to market things,” she adds. “But, it’s really an organic thing and when I sit down to write, I go with what comes out and that’s what came out. If I’m doing music for the spirituality of playing music, I’m going to let it flow, let it rip and let whatever comes out.”
Wayne Brady at BB Kings
Rolling Out Mag interview
Queens Chronicle Interview
A Queens girl through and through is marking a new milestone. On July 12 Cambria Heights native Camille Gainer will be releasing her first album with her as the lead musician, titled “A Girl from Queens.” The album is mostly instrumental with some vocals and a guest rap solo to accompany the upbeat, jazzy beats that come from her wide variety of influences. She received a full-ride scholarship to study jazz at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, but after graduation she didn’t stick just with jazz. She toured with hip-hop and reggae musicians from Tom Brown to Jamaica Funk, Juice Crew, Dr. Dre and Born Jamericans. “You can’t be afraid to go forward and get the scrapes, because it pays off in the end,” Gainer said. “Music is always changing and you can’t stop learning.” Being a woman in a sometimes male-dominated drumming world hasn’t stood in her way either. “It’s one of those ‘isms.’ You always have to prove yourself,” she said, “but I’m cool with it. You just do what you do and move forward. That’s someone else’s issue, and either they catch on or they don’t.” On her album she collaborates with many musicians such as Lakecia Benjamin on the saxophone, Patriq Moody on the trumpet, Raymond Angry on the keys, her husband, David Jones, a bass player who toured with New York City-based band Lisa Lisa for years, and many others. Many of her songs make social commentary about racism and spirituality. “Are You on Frequency” addresses speaking to a higher being. Whereas songs such as “My Name is Not N****r,” a speech by Orrin Evans, addresses just that. “Slave masters called their slaves that, but it had nothing to do with black people,” Evans says on the sixth track. “If everyone called me snake wouldn’t I start to think my name is snake, or start to rattle? “Call people by their right name, especially your own people. “So what is my name?” he asks. “We are African Americans.” “Street Metaphysics” is about growing up on Jamaica Avenue and the guys who used to post up on the street corners. Each piece Gainer picked, and in the majority she plays drums, keys or programs for. She said all her experience touring with greats from JT Taylor to Alicia Keys has helped her know how a band should be treated. “I’m looking forward to doing my own music,” Gainer said. She began drumming at 6 a.m. on her 12th birthday on 219th Street in Cambria Heights. For years Gainer, who follows the wise advice from Roberta Flack to never reveal her age, would leave drum pamphlets with circles around her ideal set on her parents’ nightstand. On that birthday her father returned from his night shift as a police officer at 3 a.m. He had her come downstairs and in the corner sat a drum set. “That set me on my journey,” Gainer said, adding that she woke up at 6 a.m. and started practicing. “My parents were very instrumental and always keeping us abreast of culture,” she said. “We played violin and piano. Everyone in my family had a piano, my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and now I have a piano in my house.” She would spend her days practicing in basements — “Queens was the home of the basement band. There was a band on every block, especially in Jamaica.” “I prefer to live in Queens,” Gainer said. “There were so many great musicians to learn from and that I knew.” She later met professional jazz musician Michael Carvin, who mentored her and continues to give her tips. Gainer now lives in Far Rockaway with her husband, where they are slowly digging out from Hurricane Sandy. “It was like being in a sci-fi flick,” she said of the 6 feet of water in her ground floor. She lost about 3,000 records, but was able to move the speakers and drums upstairs. “You never expect it — not in New York City,” she said. ”We lived for two months without electricity. It was like being on the frontier.” The release party will be at BB Kings in Manhattan and the record is available on iTunes, CD Baby and ReverbNation.