Music 

Dove Cameron Breaks Down Her Debut Album

Dove Cameron tells Hypebae why she split her album in two, life after “Boyfriend” and more about “Alchemical: Volume 1”

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After sharing her experience of unreciprocated love with Hypebae, inspired by her latest single “Sand”, Dove Cameron delved further into her debut album. Known for her villain-like aesthetics and songwriting prowess, Cameron digs deeper in “Alchemical: Volume 1”. Within this album, she covers stories from her past and present, confronting emotions that may have been previously overlooked while wholeheartedly celebrating her identity. Read on to dive deeper into Dove Cameron’s journey and her debut album.

How was the experience of working on your debut album after the success of “Boyfriend” and “Breakfast”?

It was really a cathartic experience to write this first half of the record that feels like I finally gave myself the grace and opportunity to be really, truly vulnerable for the first time.

I wanted to give people context of these things that have happened very publicly. It’s pretty easy to listen to the record and know what I’m talking about or find context for a lot of things that I’ve never been able to talk about – especially with tracks like “God’s Game” being so clearly about an emotional volatile and abusive relationship or tracks like “Sand” which is about a different kind of relationship that was very loving but could never quite become solid – it was always slipping through my fingers because this person could just not love me as much as I loved them. No matter how much I gave, it didn’t result in the security or the long lasting quality that I was hoping a relationship would take on.

I think that I was really nervous to finally sit down and write a lot of these tracks. “Lethal Woman” and “White Glove” are so experimental, messy, crazy and fun. It was pure child-like joy as we were messing around in the studio seeing how far we can push it. Not including the singles from last year, I was nervous writing the remaining four tracks, but I was also relieved. I decided at one point to give myself space to be a human being and not an idea of a human being. These things were very difficult to acknowledge when you’ve spent your life in the public eye. That’s what a lot of the first half of the record is.

“Sand” ties in with “Fragile Things” – they’re sort of sister tracks where “Fragile Things” is the processing of the fall out of the relationship and “Sand” is the other side where I realized that I was maybe correct about this from the beginning.

The deeper voice effect that carries throughout the album, what inspired it and can we expect this to continue in Alchemical: Volume 2?

I call it the monster voice. I do that because it makes me feel really connected to the more animal side of it. It makes me feel power behind it especially because my vocals are so soft sometimes. I can sound sensitive and vulnerable and I wanted to make sure there was some power behind some of the lyrics.

I don’t know how to explain this but I’m a little freaky and weird and I’ve always been attracted to darker and more menacing sounds and it makes the more fragile tracks more full.

In the outro of “White Glove”, when it’s super crazy low, it’s just menacing and fun. As a kid, when I used to go to school, I would dress up as “your worst nightmare” on a random day. It’s very fun to me and I love everything villainess. It feels very powerful. It’s definitely one of my favorite devices in the studio.

Why did you decided to split your project into two halves? Alchemical: Volume 1 and 2?

I was writing all of these records and I just wanted to give a side A and side B of a record similar to a first half and second half of a story, or chapters. I wanted to give the fans as much music as I could. While there are eight tracks on this, I’m planning on also releasing a couple singles before the second half. I’m hoping to end up with a large body of work that will culminate to Alchemical overall sometime next year.

Congratulations on the VMA for the “Breakfast” music video. How did you decide on taking that approach and showing what women go through more often than not but through a man’s perspective?

We had already shot a big, pop-girl music video while Roe. v Wade was being overturned. I was getting all the edits back and I couldn’t care less about my video. I was watching the news everyday, crying everyday, calling my mum and asking her how we’re going to continue to function in a world that is so hateful against women. I didn’t know how I was going to walk around in the world. I didn’t know how to be present with my label to give them notes on the music video and they asked if I wanted to work on a different video that revolves around how I was feeling.

We started to dream about what that could be and what it could possibly look like. I wanted to make it very clear and didn’t want to have any confusion about what we were talking about. I didn’t want to be soft about it. I wanted to be really aggressive. We wrote the treatment and decided we wanted to shoot a mini movie that was clearly about what it was about. We wanted to encourage people to vote and look to and talk to the organizations that are fighting for women’s rights and women’s bodily autonomy.

I was only a little nervous about it because it’s such a divisive conversation. I was talking to my mom everyday and telling her that if I don’t do this right now, then I don’t think I’m behaving as the artist that I want to be and I think that I’ll look back and regret it. I’ll feel like a coward if I don’t say something right now. I saw everybody on Instagram going to rallies and encouraging people to get involved, but I wanted to do something bigger. I was really lucky because I had a label behind me that really believed in me and believed in what I wanted to say.

I was so happy with how the video turned out and even happier with how much women felt like they related and felt seen and heard. It really felt like this is what I want to do with my platform and this is what I want to do with my music and life.

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