Kristen Jan Wong
A Self-Made Artist: Dove Cameron
We now know where Dove Cameron stands. Cameron does not regret the arduous journey she has undergone, as she knows better than anyone that it has made her the artist she is today. Now, through her music and with her influence, she wants to provide a space for others to express themselves freely.
Rather than following the paths established by other artists, Cameron has paved a personal and creative one of her own. The glamorous singer shown in music videos, the insightful and candid artist we see in this interview, and the delightful “Dove” who wants to remember her father for who he was are all parts of her safeguarded “self-map.”
And we are ready to dive deep into that map together.
A lot of Korean fans refer to you as one of the “triple threat.” How does all these three performing arts (singing, dancing, and acting) help you experience personal growth besides the fact that they are integral in your career?
First of all, thank you so much to all my Korean fans for reading and for listening. It’s very kind of you to refer to me as a “triple threat.” That really means a lot. I definitely find that all three practices give me different things. I probably do dance the least, but I need to do it more. I always start to dance again, and I take it back up when I notice that I’m not being very present and I’m not tapping into the feelin’s in my body like the nervous system, where you hold your trauma and your emotion. That’s all in your body. I notice if I’m really in my head a lot or I’m overthinking things or I’m anxious, it can oftentimes be solved by dancing, stretching, and exercising. Dance is something that I turn to when I feel really kind of locked in my brain.
I find that acting really helps me to leave my world and go into a different world, which is just a good practice. It’s the same thing as a hot and cold plunge with the change of temperature for the body. Acting breaks you out of your cycle so you can take some time to be someone else. I definitely don’t need any help emphasising with people because I find myself to be a very empathetic person almost to a fault. But I think just putting on a different character’s life and giving yourself a break from your life is a really good mental health exercise that honestly probably would benefit a lot of people. It’s also a safe space to help me connect with people and express emotions.
There’s a difference between singing and making music. Singing doesn’t really do anything for me because that’s just more performance, but the making of the music does everything for me. My music is everything to me. It’s how I process events that have happened. For example, today I just came back from the studio, and I wrote a song about a night that was really emotional for me. Now that I put it in a song, I can kind of look at it as a full complete piece of work. It’s like, “Oh, there it is!” and now that emotion makes sense to me. It’s what a lot of people say about songwriting, but it’s really true.
In other interviews, you told that writing “Boyfriend” is a powerful experience where you could express your true identity. How does it feel to be loved by your fans and supporters when you show vulnerability and authenticity?
It feels really incredible to have the success of “Boyfriend” be so warm, kind, accepting, and so global. I feel very moved and very emotional to finally feel like I am at a place where I can be my full self in the public eye and to have that coinciding with this really really warm, kind, supportive reception from my fans and from the world at large is a total treat and surprise that I never ever would have expected in my wildest dreams. I finally feel like I’m being myself, and it’s not just to do with my sexuality, but it’s also to do with just being able to exist in the world with complete vulnerability and authenticity. I feel like I’m closer to my fans than ever, and I actually feel like I’m happier than ever. It feels so amazing. I’m so surprised and very grateful.
Is there any group of people you would particularly want to empower through your music and performance?
I hope to empower everyone with my music. I definitely hope to empower the LGBTQ community. But at the same time, I’m not just a LGBTQ artist. I’m just an artist. I don’t hope to only empower some people. I want to empower everyone. I definitely hope that my music empowers people who identify as female or feminine. I hope I give them a safe space to express and feel strong and feel represented and celebrated. It’s time that women as a whole feel very empowered and feel like they are the main characters in their own story. I can feel the world around us changing and shifting in that way, and in a lot of other ways. I’m definitely very honoured to be creating music at a time like this.
You’re known to love tattoos so much that you live and breathe in ink. Which one is the most meaningful and why?
I love this question so much – “living and breathing in ink” – that makes me smile. I have a lot of meaningful tattoos. They all mean something. I definitely think that the tattoos I have gotten on behalf of other people, like the tattoo that I have for Cameron, my best friend who passed, are the most meaningful. Continuing on the work that Cameron would be doing if he were still here is very meaningful to me. The tattoo really represents carrying him with me wherever I go. The tattoo I got for my dad that says, “Candy is dandy”, which is a little inside joke that we had growing up, means a lot to me. I always knew I wanted to get a tattoo for my father, but I wasn’t sure what I wanted to get because I didn’t want it to be heartbreaking or sad. I didn’t want to look at it and feel sad every time I saw it because that’s not how my dad was. My dad, when he was alive, was a very alive person, a very joyful person, a very funny person. I wanted the tattoo to make me feel that way and remember him as he was, not how he died. That one means a lot to me because every time I look at it I smile, and I remember the person that I knew growing up – my dad, my hero. All of the tattoos mean a lot to me though. I got one with my cousins on my birthday. It’s our family sword. A lot of my tattoos also have to do with feminism and the feminine divine. I don’t have a single tattoo that doesn’t mean something deeply emotional for me.
The track, “Boyfriend,” is a love story between two females. Why is it titled the way that it is?
“Boyfriend” is called boyfriend because obviously the hook of the song is “I could be a better boyfriend than him”. It’s just the most memorable lyric of the song. I have this joke I’ve been saying for years to all of my friends who are women – ones that are just friends, not anybody who I’ve dated – that I’m always the boyfriend. I’m ALWAYS the boyfriend, except for maybe my friend Veronica, who is more the boyfriend than I am! But usually, there’s the “mom friend”, the “little sister friend”, and I am the “boyfriend friend” in almost every group. I’m definitely taking care of the girls. I’m always thinking ahead. I’m always lending my jacket. I’m always very protective and very grounded. I’m definitely very rational and problem solving, and I definitely love to spoil my friends with gifts. I love to listen to them talk about their emotions. I am a very boyfriend-esque kind of girlfriend. So that was also part of where the title “Boyfriend” came from. I’m kind of a national boyfriend. I’m a boyfriend to all my girlfriends.
Through music, you were able to freely express your worth. The process and effort throughout your music career to your official debut has been quite a journey. What’s something that you’ve learned and cherished along the way?
I think it’s been a long journey for me to become the artist that I am now, but I don’t regret any part of how long it took or the struggles or the missteps or different things that I did that were kind of experimental. I definitely think every single thing adds up to get you to where you’re supposed to go. But I think that exactly along those lines, the best and biggest lesson that I learned throughout this whole experience with making and writing all my music is that it’s always the thing that you make for yourself, that you only make for the joy of it, that you make because it’s authentic, because it feels good, because it’s honest and you don’t care if anyone hears it, THAT’s always the thing that is going to do the best. When I wrote “Boyfriend”, I wasn’t sure that anybody was ever going to hear, if they were going to like it, if anything was going to happen. I really didn’t think anything of it. So watching the world react in a way that it did, the only conclusion is that I didn’t write it for anyone. I didn’t write it to be popular. I didn’t write it to be commercial. I didn’t write it to be successful. I just wrote it because I loved it. It was my story. It was honest, and I wanted to listen to it. I think in large part that’s the reason why anything does well. If you create for yourself, you end up creating for everyone. I’ve taken that with me not only in the experience of writing music, but in everything – in acting, in communicating with my friends or people that I love in my life. With creating anything at all and putting it out into the world, if you do it for yourself, you end up doing it for everyone. Same thing with self love. If you end up loving yourself, you end up loving everyone. That’s just how it works.
Now that the pandemic has gotten better, you can meet with your global fans again. Any plans of visiting Asia or Korea?
I definitely would love to come and meet my fans in Asia and Korea. I’ve never been to Korea, and I know that I have some wonderful, beautiful, and very loving fans in Korea. I would absolutely love to come visit. I would really love to perform in Korea and spend some time getting to know my fans and the culture. I think it would be an amazing place to come on tour. Hopefully I’ll come to Asia within the next year. That would be really special.
Any words for the Rolling Stone Korea Subscribers?
For the Rolling Stone Korea subscribers, I want to say hello and I love you. Thank you so much for reading and for listening. Thank you for loving “Boyfriend”. Thank you for supporting me. I’m so grateful for your support. I couldn’t love you more if I tried, and I hope to meet you all really soon. Be safe. Take care of yourself. Love yourself. Put yourself and your life first, and you will end up helping everyone because you can’t pour from an empty cup. I love you and thank you so much.