Cam Holmes: New music, SoundOn, and why 2024 is 'going to be an exciting year'

Tipped for big things in 2024, UK artist Cam Holmes is looking to follow up his first two singles Roses and Aftertaste with a raft of new releases and some live shows to boot. Headliner caught up with him to discuss his route from reality TV stardom to finding his voice as an artist, and how SoundOn is helping take his career to the next level.

Many will be familiar with you from your star appearance in Netflix’s reality TV show Too Hot To Handle, but your passion has always been music. When did the music bug first bite?

Music has always been the dream since I was about eight years old. It was one of those things I always wanted to do, but like it is for a lot of people, it felt like a pipe dream, so I just buried it. I then went to uni, studied criminology, got a degree, and just assumed music wasn’t going to be a thing for me. But luckily, I got cast for this reality show and I knew it was going to be a big show and I thought it could be my opportunity to open up a lot of doors and give myself the kind of backing I need so I could pursue music without some of the stress that a lot of artists go through. So when that show came off it was almost like my dream being realized. Music has always been present in my life, but whether or not I could pursue it was a bit up and down, so I have to thank the show for giving me that platform from which to push my music.

Did you have a musical upbringing?

No one in my family was involved in music or anything like that, but my parents loved music. It was a musical household, so it was always something I grew up with. I dabbled in a lot of music when I was younger. I played a few instruments; I would sing and perform in the school talent show and things like that. But it was mainly lyrics and writing that I loved. That was my way of breaking through the barrier I had in my head. For me it was like therapy and that was why I wanted to do it.

From a young age I realized the importance music can have emotionally. It can tie you to things and memories and people, even people you’ve lost. There is music you associate with those things and from a young age I realized that. And I thought if I could do that, if I could make music that would have a sway on people’s lives, that would be a beautiful thing. That’s where my passion started.

What were some of your musical influences around that time?

At the point I started writing it was very indie-led. Ben Howard was one of the first artists I saw live and I was fascinated by his songwriting. And then I dabbled a lot in the indie route and that is where I want to push my music now. When I was growing up I would take a lot of influence from what my parents were listening to. My dad would listen to a lot of David Bowie, Simply Red, and my mum would listen to Janet Jackson. I love a lot of ‘70s and ‘80s music. But it was indie stuff that really got me into writing.

SoundOn offers more control and there is more trust in the working relationship. Cam Holmes

After your Too Hot To Handle appearance did you find that doors started to open for you in the way that you hoped?

It did open doors, but not to people who were necessarily interested from an artist perspective. They saw me as someone with a few million followers, good engagement, but they didn’t want to hear what I had to say. It was like: this is your lane, and this is the music you are going to make. But over the years I have met people who listen to me and want me to go in my own direction. When you are new to the music industry you feel like you haven’t got a say. So, yes, it did open doors, but not in a way that would have legitimized me as an actual artist. These people would say, ‘you’re doing R&B, you’re doing pop’, and I’d say OK, but then I’d get home and realize this wasn’t what I wanted to be doing. Luckily, I’m now in a really good space with my music and I’m really excited about what’s coming up as it’s absolutely the music I want to be making.

You’ve been releasing music via SoundOn – TikTok’s music distribution platform. Why has it been such a good fit for you?

I would say that the main benefit is that nowadays social media is your main platform for getting your music out there. You are essentially your own marketing. I know a lot of artists that get very overwhelmed, but I was very lucky as I was already in the social media field because of the show. But for some it’s a whole new world. With SoundOn, we sat down and looked at different trends, discussed different ideas and different ways to promote the music, and just having people that have that insight into the platform is absolutely amazing.

Does the platform offer you greater control and freedom over your releases than other distribution models?

I haven’t had that experience with a label yet, but I definitely know from other artists that it offers a lot more control and there is a lot more trust in the working relationship you have with them when compared with more traditional routes.

What’s the current situation with regards to new releases and live shows?

I’m just working on finishing my third single which is my favorite song I’ve made. It’s really personal and means a lot to me so I can’t wait to get that out there. I plan to be releasing a lot more music this year and we are currently looking at some intimate live shows, and then it’s a case of playing it by ear. There’s lots in the pipeline. It’s going to be an exciting year.