Wonderland.

CAMILA CABELLO

The “Señorita” songstress talks being somebody new and her upcoming second album Romance.

Wonderland autumn 19 issue Camila Cabello interview cat

Rings: BULGARI.

Wonderland autumn 19 issue Camila Cabello interview cat
Rings: BULGARI.

Taken from the Autumn 19 issue of Wonderland. Order your copy of the issue now.

After nine months in the studio, Camila Cabello’s next album is incoming. As prophesied on her certified banger “Find U Again”, she’s somebody new on her second record.

On this Thursday morning, Camila Cabello is currently holed up a New York hotel room, rather than at home in her new Hollywood Hills hideaway. In the coming days, Cabello will be in full rehearsal mode for MTV’s Video Music Awards, where she’ll perform “Señorita”, her steamy, Latin-leaning ballad that’s been unofficially crowned 2019’s Song of the Summer. It’ll be the first time ever the collaboration with singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes has been performed in front of a live audience – and they’ll nearly break the internet in the process.

Strange as it is to say, moments like these have become the norm for Cabello. Since walking away from Fifth Harmony in 2016, the singer has helmed a relentless stream of multidimensional hits, from her breakout smash with Machine Gun Kelly, “Bad Things,” to her inescapable ode to Cuba, “Havana,” to last year’s swelling torch song, “Never Be the Same.”

This Autumn, Cabello releases the much-anticipated follow-up to her debut album, Camila. The as-yet-unnamed [at the time of print] record, she says, marks a new chapter not only in her music career, but in her life [Cabello has now revealed the name of the album, Romance]. Fuelled by a year of deep introspection and intention setting, Cabello says these new songs are more emotional and immediate than anything she’s written before. “It’s the first time I’ve [made a record by] thinking of it as a whole. I was very intentional about the world I was creating. I made mood boards, I brought posters into the studio to set the vibe. It was the first time I’d done something like that.” What was on the mood boards? “Lots of people kissing,” she laughs.

Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello leather jacket

Left: Bodysuit SHUSHU TONG, necklace CHANEL available at SUSAN CAPLAN, ring BULGARI, ring KALLATI, earrings HOUSE OF EMMANUELE. Right: Jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, briefs TEALE COCO, boots DATUNA SULIKASHVILI, necklace BULGARI, rings KALLATI and ENSO, earrings KYLE CHAN.

Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello
Left: Bodysuit SHUSHU TONG, necklace CHANEL available at SUSAN CAPLAN, ring BULGARI, ring KALLATI, earrings HOUSE OF EMMANUELE. Right: Jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, briefs TEALE COCO, boots DATUNA SULIKASHVILI, necklace BULGARI, rings KALLATI and ENSO, earrings KYLE CHAN.
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello leather jacket

In conversation, Cabello is as bright and bubbly as you’d imagine her to be. On 6th September she double-dropped tracks “Liar” and “Shameless”, and though she’s coy when it comes to discussing further details surrounding her forthcoming LP, she’s keen to talk about everything else she has going on – which is plenty. Most notably, she recently accepted the starring role in the live-action remake of Cinderella. The film, which is being produced by James Corden, will also prominently feature music from Cabello. “It’s going to be a new version of it – a twist on the classic Cinderella story,” she gushes. “It’s my dream role. I’m obsessed with musicals and I’m obsessed with princesses, and I feel like it’s going to be an amazing life experience.”

To prepare for the film, Cabello started taking classes with acclaimed screenwriter and acting coach Anthony Meindl. The process, she says, pushed her outside her comfort zone in ways that were both scary and life-changing. “I think acting and music have a lot of parallels, even though you wouldn’t think it. Acting is just really reaching into yourself and listening and reacting and making it natural. It’s not about playing someone else – it’s about playing different parts of yourself. I think it’s made me a lot more present [in the studio]. I’m in my emotions more and trying to do a good job less, and it’s made the songwriting process better.”

Though she laughs about it now, Cabello has been writing songs since she was just a shy little fourth grader in Miami. “The first song I wrote was called ‘Believe’ and it went something like, ‘Believe. Believe in what you believe. Your dreams…’” she belts through the phone before bursting into a fit of giggles. “Yeah, I definitely remember the melody.”

Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hoops

Left: Bodysuit SHUSHU TONG, necklace CHANEL available at SUSAN CAPLAN, ring BULGARI, earrings HOUSE OF EMMANUELE. Right: Jacket TAKO MEKVABIDZE, corset DIANA COUTURE, shorts SHUSHU TONG, ring LE VIAN, necklace JANASHIA.

Left: Bodysuit SHUSHU TONG, necklace CHANEL available at SUSAN CAPLAN, ring BULGARI, earrings HOUSE OF EMMANUELE. Right: Jacket TAKO MEKVABIDZE, corset DIANA COUTURE, shorts SHUSHU TONG, ring LE VIAN, necklace JANASHIA.
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hoops

Born in Havana to a Cuban mother and Mexican father, Cabello (born Karla Camila Cabello) spent her youngest years bouncing between Cuba and Mexico. At seven years old she immigrated to Florida with her mother. Her father came to meet them a little over a year later. Unlike so many of her pop star peers, Cabello says she was a very introverted kid growing up. In junior high, she recalls singing along to songs by Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift and Jordin Sparks as a way to calm her nerves when she got anxious. “I feel like my whole life there’s been two Camila’s in me,” she recently wrote on Instagram. “There’s little Camila that is terrified of the unknown, is aware of all the ways everything can go wrong… Then there’s the other Camila. And she knows what she wants out of life, is aware of how little time I have to let little Camila run the show… and grabs young me by the hand and forces her out the door saying, ‘Let’s go. You’ll survive, and I’m not gonna miss out on this.’”

When she auditioned for the X Factor at the age of 15, Cabello says she still wasn’t convinced she had any sort of notable talent. “I always knew that I could kind of sing, but I didn’t know if I was actually good at it,” she recalls. “As I grew up I would sing in the YMCA and people would be like, ‘Oh, my god, you’re a good singer,’ but I didn’t really know. I think X Factor was the first time I thought, ‘Okay, so everybody’s not lying.’”

That audition eventually led to the for- mation of Fifth Harmony, a group that catapulted Cabello and her bandmates Ally Brooke, Normani, Lauren Jauregui, and Dinah Jane to international superstardom. Looking back on the experience, Cabello says, still stirs up a mix of emotions. “That show was amazing and gave me so many tools that I still use now, but I was so nervous and stressed the whole time. I really felt like I was surviving – it was like I was on a battlefield on stage.”

Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hair flick
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hair bralet

Left: Jacket and dress ELIZABETH EMANUEL, jewellery BULGARI. Middle: LOUIS VUITTON from VESTIAIRE COLLECTIVE, socks STYLIST’S OWN, jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, necklace BULGARI, earrings KYLE CHAN. Right: Bra DANIELLE LEIGH DAVIS DESIGNS, skirt SIMONA CORSELLINI, earrings H.CROWNE.

Left: Jacket and dress ELIZABETH EMANUEL, jewellery BULGARI. Middle: LOUIS VUITTON from VESTIAIRE COLLECTIVE, socks STYLIST’S OWN, jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, necklace BULGARI, earrings KYLE CHAN. Right: Bra DANIELLE LEIGH DAVIS DESIGNS, skirt SIMONA CORSELLINI, earrings H.CROWNE.
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hair flick
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hair bralet

Her decision to leave the group in 2016 sparked its fair share of backlash. For what it’s worth, Cabello says that they’ve all since made amends. Following her performance on the VMAs, Cabello even posted a “holy shit” shout-out to Normani in response to her gravity-defying performance of her hit “Motivation.”

Chalk it up to getting older, or just having a few more years in the spotlight under her belt, but Cabello says that now, for the first time in her life, she’s starting to see things differently. For one, she’s committed herself to conquering her fears, trying new things, and reclaiming the joy she remembers from when she first started making music. “I think it just got to the point where I was like, singing is what I enjoy doing the most in the whole world, so why am I constantly giving away this experience to everybody else and not giving it to myself? … When I performed at the Grammy’s [in 2019], I looked at is as a test. It felt like the most important performance I had done and I just decided that I was going to enjoy it. And I did. I realised that it was possible.”

She’s also scaled back her use of social media, and started using her voice to speak out about the issues that mean the most to her, whether that be coming to the defence of her friend and former tour mate Taylor Swift after she lost the rights to her recordings, or sharing her family’s immigration story in the wake of President Trump’s proposed anti-immigration laws. “When it comes to those issues, I share my story because I feel like it humanises a lot of the political stuff,” she says. “Looking at it in black and white, you just see these big, vague terms, but when you see a person telling their story, you connect with the fact that they’re a human being just trying to take care of their kids… I think it’s easier to hate when you’re seeing it from far away.”

Left: Jacket and dress ELIZABETH EMANUEL, jewellery BULGARI. Middle: LOUIS VUITTON from VESTIAIRE COLLECTIVE, socks STYLIST’S OWN, jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, necklace BULGARI, earrings KYLE CHAN. Right: Bra DANIELLE LEIGH DAVIS DESIGNS, skirt SIMONA CORSELLINI, earrings H.CROWNE.

Cabello also credits her tight knit family — and specifically, her younger sister Sofia — with keeping her grounded and mindful. When asked if she thinks of herself as a role model, she’s quick to point out that she really just wants to set a good example for her only sibling. “I remember being [Sofia’s age] and how much Taylor [Swift] meant to me,” she says. “I definitely don’t feel like I have to super alter my personality to feel like I’m a good example for younger girls, but at the same time, I am conscious of it. I haven’t sworn in any of my songs because of my sister.”

Most importantly, though, Cabello is looking at this next phase as an opportunity to really get “in her feelings” and create songs that speak to all the many sides of Camila, from the teenager singing “Defying Gravity” at the top of her lungs in her bedroom to the self-possessed young woman she’s become. “There was this whole manifesto for the album and how I wanted it to make people feel. There were moods and tones and what I envisioned for it musically, and I read before every session to every producer,” she says. “But I feel like there’s never a neat little box that music can fit into. Once you’re done, it never turns out exactly the way you were thinking it would.”

Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hair flick 2

Left: Earrings H.CROWNE. Right: Jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, necklace BULGARI, earrings KYLE CHAN.

Left: Earrings H.CROWNE. Right: Jacket LOUIS VUITTON, bra CLAUDIA SAVAGE, necklace BULGARI, earrings KYLE CHAN.
Wonderland Autumn 19 issue interview Camila Cabello hair flick 2
Photography
Christine Hahn
Fashion
Toni-Blaze Ibekwe
Hair
Dimitri Giannetos at The Wall Group using L'Oreal
Makeup
Ash K. Holm at The Wall Group
Video
Logan Rice
1st Photo Assistant
Michael Kinsey
2nd Photo Assistant
Aaron Morganstein
Fashion Assistants
Gorge Villalpando, Shaquille Williams, Nicole Cortez, Michelle McDonald
Words
Aly Comingore
Set Design
Robert Doran
Retouching
Slate Studios
Special thanks to
Brandi Howe
CAMILA CABELLO