Seattle singer-songwriter Camille Bloom recently returned home from six months of touring in support of last year's eclectic, enticing “Never Out of Time.” And tonight she'll pay the South Sound a visit as she brings her sultry vocals and inspiring tunes to headline an acoustic show with fellow troubadour Nicole Torres, at Parkland's North Pacific Coffee Company. Tacoma Weekly caught up with her ahead of the occasion.
TW: How did you get started playing music?
Bloom: The crazy thing is I didn't pick up a guitar till I was 19. Before that, I was an athlete my whole life, and … when I stopped playing college basketball I just needed an outlet. So I picked up my dad's old guitar that he'd loaned me, and started playing. My songs that I first wrote, I'd be so mortified to play for you right now. (She laughs.) I could barely play at all, and I used to have terrible, terrible stage fright. But, essentially, my entire career I was just learning guitar as I would pick up a new chord here and there, and my songs were dictated by what I could play on guitar. In the beginning, I really wrote from personal perspective only. That was kind of my only way of processing. Then as time has gone on I've stepped outside of myself and written some political songs and songs about other people's perspectives and situations outside of me which I find to be better songwriting.
TW: Which of your songs get the biggest response?
Bloom: The one that gets the biggest response (is) “Pretty” (from her 2006 album “Say Goodbye to Pretty.”) Women, particularly, responded to that song. It was kind of me saying that I refuse to buy into the U.S. ideal of “pretty” and what that is. I'm just going to be me, and I think that's pretty enough.
TW: Do you feel that idea of beauty is still entrenched in our society?
Bloom: I think people are waking up to the fact that the magazine beauty is not actually that beautiful. It's airbrushed. It's way, way too skinny. It's not even possible, right. They even airbrush the models that are anorexic. So I think that we are waking up to that, which is very exciting.
TW: The last CD I've heard of yours is “Never Out of Time.” So are you working on the follow up?
Bloom: I do have some new stuff I'm gonna play, and also I am going on a writing retreat this February in Hawaii. I do plan to take my guitar and sit and work on the new album.
TW: But I can foresee a problem going to Hawaii to write.
Bloom: Yeah, tell me.
TW: You might wind up kayaking instead of writing.
A: Right, I'm a little bit nervous about that. … It could be a drastic failure, but at least I will have been in Hawaii. (She laughs.)
TW: I've also read you do have a program where you mentor kids in school up there.
Bloom: Yep, I like to visit youth centers and do presentations for at-risk youth. But I also direct a rock n' roll camp for kids in Seattle: rock-school.org. It's the only non-profit camp, and it really caters to all kinds of kids, and it's pretty magical. It's a big part of what I do.
TW: Why is that important to you?
Bloom: Honestly, it's important because I had kind of a tumultuous childhood. My outlet, the way that I felt OK and safe, was by going to school; and my teachers were my mentors. That's, initially, why I got my teaching degree and ended up teaching high school for five years. But I felt my music pulling me in a different direction. ... I've always taught my kids, my students, that it's important to follow your dreams. And so I did, but I wanted to keep them a part of it.
TW: One thing I didn't realize is you have a few cuts we might have heard on MTV and E.
Bloom: Sure, I signed up for a company call Broadjam where I could submit my own stuff, and I've had quite a few indie placements for songs. I guess it was three songs that were licensed for use on E and MTV and Oxygen. I have a TV, but I don't have any channels. So unless BMI sends me a check I'll never know what shows they've been used on and when.
TW: So you don't have the thrill of watching “Honey Boo Boo” and all of a sudden your cut is on there.
Bloom: (Laughs) Right.
TW: Though I don't know if that would be a good thing.
Bloom: Yeah, I'm not sure.
Camille Bloom in concert, with Nicole Torres
7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7
North Pacific Coffee Company
401 Garfield St., S., Parkland
$7 per person, $20 per family
(253) 537-8338 or http://www.brownpapertickets.com