Cam Loves How Diplo Collaboration ‘So Long’ Breaks Gender and Genre Rules
The story of how "Burning House" hitmaker Cam found her way into Diplo's first foray into country music is hardly unique, especially when compared to the song's transformation of genres and gender roles. "So Long" was released digitally as a fully produced, country-leaning EDM mix earlier this spring, with the "Diane" singer doing her own version soon after.
Cam adds warmth country fans so often complain is missing from pop or electronica.
“It’s just so subtle and so vulnerable to say, ‘I get that you’re doing fine by yourself, but I think secretly you really just want to be loved,'" she tells Taste of Country about the lyrics while explaining what attracted her to "So Long."
Those entrenched in country music tradition should recognize an understated gender role reversal if the song is to be interpreted as a woman singing to a man (in truth it's broad enough to apply to any relationship). The guy is hurting and the woman is telling him she's worth it, but all characters feel well-rounded, even if the verses and chorus are relatively sparse. Smart production adds character details — or at the very least least, directs our emotions.
“I loved that," Cam says. "I think ‘Burning House’ is like that too, saying here’s a woman who you’re admitting guilt. It’s pretty deep into gender roles but a lot of times the men are supposed to be macho, so when they’re vulnerable, that’s like the next level.”
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Diplo and his team put word out that he was doing an album that would include several country artists, and Cam was sent several songs through her producer, Tyler Johnson. She heard just a fully produced verse and chorus and decided she was in, soon flying out to cut vocals and write the second half of the song. Keeping Diplo's easy vibe was crucial, but not difficult, she says.
“It’s kind of fun. He wants to make a country record but also he kinda does whatever he wants," Cam reveals. "He literally does whatever project he feels like doing, which is a really nice place to be in."
Cam lives there, too, but promises her next album stays true to the sound she introduced with Untamed (2015).
"I think of it as country music, and it obviously has specific unique elements to who I am," she says of a project four years in the making. "So I’m definitely not departing from the style of music that I’ve always worked on. Diplo’s song, like me singing on his song, I feel like there’s similarities to what I do."
On a broader level, Cam believes genre walls are crumbling all around us. Modern country music certainly reflects that with pop collaborations on country radio with regularity, and more and more frequently, country collaborations on pop songs.
Definitions are subjective, at least when it comes to music. "Some people think it’s traditional and some people think it’s progressive," the 34-year-old says of her sound. "It kinda depends on who listens to it.”
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