EXCLUSIVE: Camila Cabello on Leaving Fifth Harmony and Why She Keeps Her Love Life Guarded

Warwick Saint

And then there were four.

After spending five years as a member of the manufactured, yet super successful pop group, Fifth Harmony, Camila Cabello is officially a solo artist. With the break, and an outspoken stance on the anti-immigration sentiments coming from our new White House (she penned a thoughtful essay on her personal experience emigrating to the U.S.), the 20-year-old Cuban and Mexican immigrant is clearly her
own woman. Whether her move will be another group-to-solo-star hit (à la Fergie) or miss (sorry Nicole Scherzinger) remains to be seen. This is a makeor-break year, but one that she seems more than ready for.

RELATED: Behind the Scenes of Camila Cabello's Latina Shoot

Her Latina photo shoot took place in New Jersey’s Union City, a gritty town robust with Latino immigrant sabor and culture. It’s fitting for Cabello. During the interview she sits with her legs crisscrossed, answering each question in her distinct smoky voice. She doesn’t run away from uncomfortable topics — she tackles them head-on. She doesn’t know any other way.

Why did you decide to leave Fifth Harmony?
I started in the group when I was just 15. I needed to follow my heart and my artistic vision. I’m grateful for everything we had in Fifth Harmony and for [this new] opportunity. I am less focused on success and more on doing my best and pursuing my artistic vision to the fullest, wherever that takes me. Of course I also hope people will enjoy my music!

Tell us about your evolution as a solo singer-songwriter.
I’d been writing and creating songs the whole time that I was in Fifth Harmony.

It’s been a really important creative outlet for me. I feel like I found my voice in the process. Music has helped me become selfaware and know who I am as a person.

You've talked publicly about your struggle with anxiety. When did you realize it was an issue for you?
Late 2015 and the beginning of 2016. I had terrible OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder], and it was just totally out of control. I would wake up with a super-accelerated heartbeat and really negative, intrusive,
compulsive thoughts. I was so inside my head, and I didn’t know what was happening. I totally understand now, being in it, why there shouldn’t be such a stigma on mental illness, because it’s a pretty common
thing for people. But you can get help. If you’re dedicated to making it better, you can — because I’m in a much better place now. I started reading books about it and it really helped a lot when I understood [the
illness], and that [the thoughts I was having] weren’t real. Sometimes you have to remind yourself to slow down and take care of yourself.

Who helped you through it?
My mom is my best friend, I can tell her anything. Because she’s gone through so much in her life, she knows what’s important and what’s not. I feel like in the industry, there are beautiful, amazing things. But the only thing that I love about this is making music. Everything else can be very empty and very draining, soulless. My mom’s always been good about leading me to what’s real. Going back to Miami and being in bed with my family all cuddled up and watching La Familia Peluche… Going into the studio and spilling my heart…

Speaking of music, you're friends with Taylor Swift, is she also a mentor?
Our friendship has never been about career or anything professional. I tell her about boys and cry to her about boys. She’ll give me advice like, “No, do not text him back.” But I’m so excited for the day that I get to play her my music because she is seriously one of the reasons I started songwriting. I feel like we have something really cool where we can just be honest with each other, and we can just be girls, talking about stupid crushes. It’s the best.

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About this author

Jesus Trivino,

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Jesús Triviño Alarcón began his professional journalism career at Vibe. At 25, he became editor-in-chief of Fuego, the first national English language Latino men’s magazine, and served as senior editor for Scratch, a magazine dedicated to hip-hop producers and DJs. Since then he has guided the editorial direction for MyNuvoTV.com, the online component of the Latino lifestyle cable network, and BET.com's music shows and specials including 106 & Park. Additionally, he has written and reported for the NY Daily News, SLAM, The Source, XXL, Inked, SOHH.com, People.com, Essence.com, and many more. In his 16-year career he’s interviewed countless celebrities including Bruno Mars, Carmelo Anthony, Demi Lovato, Marc Anthony, Rosario Dawson, Willie Colón, Jay-Z, Nas, Jessica Alba, John Leguizamo, 50 Cent, Kanye West, among others. Today, as Latina’s Entertainment Director he’s constantly thinking WWJD—What Would Juanes Do? Follow him on Instagram @JesusTalks and Twitter @JesusTalkz.

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