Camila Cabello on C,XOXO, Mental Health and DMing Drake

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Camila Cabello’s music often reflects her heritage

  • Author, Piet Allison
  • Role, BBC Newsbeat

“I’m very naive when I release music,” says Camila Cabello.

“I think everyone will love it because I love it so much and I think it’s good.”

Camila just released her fourth studio album C,XOXO.

For her, who has been in the public eye since she was 15, this is certainly not the first time.

But she tells BBC Newsbeat that the more experimental sound of her latest album made her feel “a bit more nervous” than usual.

Camila started out as a member of the girl group Fifth Harmony before going solo and finding success with a Latin pop sound.

Her best-known songs, Havana and Señorita, have been played billions of times on Spotify.

C,XOXO was a potentially risky move for the 27-year-old, but it did lead to collaborations with rappers Drake, Lil Nas X and Playboi Carti.

“It’s a testament to ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’” Camila says. “And that’s the energy I had throughout this album.”

‘The Immigrant Rush’

Camila has also been braver lately when it comes to talking about her mental health and living with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

She says it’s a “complicated” topic and one she “doesn’t like to talk about,” especially when it comes to taking medications and the stigma that can come with it.

Camila says she feels privileged to have had access to “things that have made my life a lot easier,” such as assistive devices, therapy and medications.

But sometimes, especially now in her early 20s, Camila feels guilty for not feeling her best, despite being a world-famous pop singer.

“One of the nicest things about getting older and experiencing life is that lingering sense of irony,” she says.

“Where what you often see is not reality.”

“I think it just shows how complex we are and how complicated we are as people. It’s not really black and white.”

Camila says she still has bad days, but that practicing “self-compassion” has helped her.

“I think it’s really about treating yourself with kindness and love,” she says.

“The more empathy, the less judgment, and the more compassion you have for yourself and your own difficult emotions, the more empathy and space you have for other people.”

Camila was born in Havana to a Cuban mother and a Mexican father. She moved between the two countries until she was six years old, when the family settled in Miami, Florida.

She says it wasn’t always natural to talk openly about her feelings.

“Latinx families — or immigrant families — often don’t have the time to realize what their mental health is like,” she says.

“They’re so focused on survival that it’s not on their radar.

“That was a big part of it for me in the beginning, the confusion about my own guilt and shame about ‘I’m supposed to be great.’”

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Camila’s mother Sinuhe was an architect in Cuba and worked in the shoe department of a store when they first arrived in the US

Family is an important pillar in Camila’s life.

Her previous album, Familia, was written during the Covid pandemic, exploring her Latin American roots and how her family inspired her work ethic.

She says this has trickled down to the making of C,XOXO.

“My mom is the epitome of hardworking,” says Camila.

“When I’m working, she’s like to work,” she says.

She says that her mother, like many “immigrant parents,” is constantly “trying to improve and create.”

“They just have that kind of hustle mentality. And I really needed that for this album.”

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, During her Glastonbury performance, dancers wearing dog masks melted ice lollies on her body

Camila says she and her team spent 10 days in the Bahamas recording the album and “barely saw any sunlight because we were in the studio the whole time.”

“When you try to make something big, it’s incredibly difficult,” she says.

“I remember being so frustrated and exhausted.”

But some things got a little easier.

Getting Drake involved simply started with a DM and wasn’t really a request to do a song at first.

“At that time, I was really looking for friendships and connections with other artists in the music industry because I had been a hermit for so long,” Camila says.

“I just felt a little antisocial.

“With this album I spread my wings a little further.”

When Camila speaks to Newsbeat, it is just after her performance at Glastonbury and she has just woken up from a nap with her mother.

She says she’s “still recovering” from her performance at Other Stage “and I’m pretty sure I’m going to be sick.”

But once she feels better, Camila wants to spread her wings even further and “just play shows in the UK.”

“They were so loud and everyone was so nice. I felt welcome,” she says.

“I love the British and the British love me.”

Listen to Newsbeat live on weekdays at 12:45 and 17:45 – or listen back here.