Interview: Camidoh on His Upbringing, Impact of ‘Sugarcane’, Charity initiative & ‘Kaba’

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Camidoh is a singer/songwriter and one of the young artists leading Ghana’s Afropop revival. Emerging on the Ghanian music scene in 2018, he has scored international success with P Montana on the Amapiano inspired track Fuego, hit collaborations with Kwesi Arthur and Eugy before scoring one of the biggest Afrobeats releases so far in 2022 with Sugarcane. With help from the #SugarcaneChallenge, the feel-good single has over 45 million TikTok creations and over 10 million streams since its release. Away from making music, Camidoh launched his own initiative ‘Save the Kids With Camidoh’ which focuses on raising funds for single mothers who are unable to pay their hospital bills. In the wake of his latest single Kaba, we sit down and discuss his upbringing, music, the impact of Sugarcane, and his charity initiative.  

Before we get into talking about your music, I would love to know what your life was like when you were younger. So, where did you grow up and what were you like as a child?

I grew up in Ho which is the capital city of the Volta region in Ghana. My mum was a teacher in a girls school called Ola Girls and we stayed in a bungalow in the school. It’s one of the major places I stayed growing up and I was raised by a single mother- I had a lot of girls around me because of the school. Growing up was beautiful. My mum did everything she could to make sure I was a happy kid- I was her darling boy, a mummy’s boy. Fast forward, she sent me to a boarding school so I could get experiences from other places. That basically sums up my childhood. 

So, when did music come into the picture for you?

Music came into the picture I think around the age of 14 or 15. It was just one time when I stepped out with my favorite cousin. He was going to submit an assignment or do some research at an internet cafe, so he took me with him. When we got there, because I was idle, he got me a space and played me some videos on one of the computers to keep me busy while he was finishing up. He played Akon and that changed everything for me because prior to that, I wanted to be a pilot. I would always make a lot of noise about it and every time I saw a plane passing in the sky, I would look until my neck would hurt. I was just a young kid who had an obsession with planes or wanting to be a pilot. Music came into the picture because I watched Akon and I got so inspired that I was starting to consider what it would take for me to be a musician and what it would take for me to be a pilot! I realised that it would take a lot of studies for me to be a pilot and bruh, I wasn’t interested in doing elective Maths, Physics, and all of that! I realized that I would be a better musician than a pilot because I wasn’t ready to study. So that’s how music came into the picture for me. 

You mentioned Akon. Who else were you listening to growing up?

I was really stuck on Akon. However, moving forward, I started listening to Sarkodie who came on the scene in 2008 and was literally dominating the airwaves. I wanted to see what I could draw from him so I started listening to him continually and then I started listening to other artists. Akon and Sarkodie were the most significant artists I was listening to. They shaped my music. 

You mentioned Akon and Sarkodie as artists who really inspired you but were there any other artists on your journey that also inspired your music?

Along the way, I allowed myself to draw inspiration from everyone. I may listen to an album and two tracks on that album may inspire me. It could be the composition, it could be the way you speak. Something about every artist inspires me, so I can’t pinpoint particular artists that I have been inspired by. My main influences were Sarkodie and Akon and then I started drawing inspiration from every artist I came across. I speak a lot of Ewe in my music as a result of watching people like Angelique Kidjo and King Mensa- they appeal to a lot of people on a global level yet they still sing in their native languages. That gave me the inspiration to confidently make music and sing in Ewe and not think about people not understanding what I’m saying in the music. 

Definitely! It’s so important to take your culture and share it with the world instead of trying to be something you’re not. You came onto the scene in 2018 and have collaborated with Darkovibes on For My Lover. You’ve also worked with Eugy, Kwesi Arthur, and Kelvyn Boy on your single The Best. I want to talk about your feature on P Montana’s Fuego which gave you some international success. How did that collaboration happen?

As an artist, I don’t discriminate. I always go for the music. I am more about music than every other thing. P Montana was introduced to me by one of my label executives and he told me that he really likes my music and he wanted to work with me. That was literally how it began. My in-house producer Nektunez produced the record. It was really easy. We went back and forth, feeding off ideas with each other. I’m really happy that I did the record with him because it boosted my presence in the UK and some other places in the world. I’m looking forward to making other records with him.

P Montana is a great DJ and I would love to hear more music from both of you! You have a 6-track EP called Contingency Plan which you put out in 2020 and I realized that there are no features. Why did you think it was time for you to drop a project, especially with no collaborations?

I didn’t even realize that there are no features! Well, it was lockdown. I had just come back from my first UK media tour and I decided that I wasn’t going to let the energy die down. It was obviously not a time that people were really willing to be in the studio with a lot of other people, it was not a time when people were talking to other people physically. Even though Nektunez wasn’t with me physically, we were able to Facetime and make music. We decided to just make all the songs over Facetime and just put it out. We used that as an avenue to cement the name Camidoh in the music industry be it global or local. Whatever effect it brings later, we are grateful because it’s better to do something than do nothing. That’s why there are no collaborations because we didn’t have the opportunity. I wouldn’t have wanted to send tracks back and forth to artists because the vibe wouldn’t have been there. However, I did collaborate with an artist called Mega EJ. He collaborated with me on the lyrics for Find Me which is on the EP. We did that over FaceTime as well and I definitely want to give him props for that. Camidoh

It’s a really solid EP! Sugarcane dropped in November 2021. The interesting thing about the songs is that they didn’t start blowing up till early this year! It’s one of the biggest Afrobeats releases in 2022, gaining over 45 million TikTok creations, and also has over 10 million streams since its release. How did you feel when the song started blowing up?

Sugarcane is one song that really cemented the idea of marketing in my mind. It made me understand that every song has the potential to blow if the right marketing is done to promote it. I put out the song in November and I started to promote it with my platforms but it wasn’t catching fire the way I thought it would. I realized very quickly that songs don’t just blow. I started to pull resources to promote the song. I allowed Christmas to pass and started intense promotion in January 2022. That’s when I started to see the effects of promotion. I’m excited about what the record is doing. Now, it’s given me a lot of tension about how to replicate that with the next record because everyone loves success. I’m so excited about what Sugarcane has done, now I want to do it again. 

I want to talk about the remix with Mayorkun, King Promise, and Darkoo. How did this happen because Darkoo is from the UK, Mayorkun is Nigerian and King Promise is a fellow Ghanian artist? How did you pick these three people for the remix?

When I did the original, I said I would like to do a Nigerian remix. I spoke to my team and I mentioned Mayorkun because I connected with him musically. I wanted my team to bounce it off him to see if he was feeling it and if not, we could try another artist from Nigeria because I realized Nigeria has the market and listenership for my type of music. Mayokun got back to us! He was interested in doing it. A few days later, King Promise expressed a lot of interest in the record when we linked up and he was willing to give me a verse. I welcomed it and I was really appreciative of that. Not long after that, Darkoo also expressed a lot of interest in the record and I was like, “Okay, cool!” The most important thing was making sure the verses that they sent were strong enough which wasn’t a problem because they’re super talented. When I announced that I was dropping a remix, the people didn’t want it! I just wanted to make sure the product was really fit to come out as a remix and it did just that! I was excited! I’m super grateful, to be honest. It’s one of the best things to happen to me in 2022. 

You said something about tension and being consistent. With the success of Sugarcane, do you feel pressure to top the success of that song?

Yeah, unfortunately, I’m the type of artist that is never satisfied. I don’t stop to smell the roses, I am always setting goals and working to achieve them. Looking at what I did for Sugarcane, I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder. I believe that my music is really beautiful. If you have the necessary marketing it can appeal to the world and everyone would gravitate to it. It’s more about knowing that the product is already good. I don’t want to leave it to nature or chance, I want to give it my all and if it doesn’t do well, I know I gave it my all. That’s the type of artist I am so, unfortunately, I can’t just leave my next record to do what it has to do but, I have to push it to do what it has to do. 

I want to talk about your new single Kaba– how did this come about?

Kaba means ‘fast’ in Ewe. I was at the poolside at home just chilling and I made sure that my studio set up was close to me. In the pool, I went live on IG and the instrumentals were playing. I stopped on the one for Kaba and was vibing to it on IG live. I kept repeating the word Kaba. I got out of the pool and laid the vocals down. You could tell the people who were on the live were really feeling the melody and rhythm I was singing. That’s just how the idea came. I bounced it off my friends that were there and made a very beautiful record. A few days after that, I said it was going to be my next record. 

I want to talk about something that I don’t think you promote as much, which is Save The Kids With Camidoh. What inspired you to start this initiative?

I met a fan who asked to spend time with me over lunch. Some time into the lunch, she asked me a question, “All of the attention you’re getting now, how are you using that to help people?” I realized at that moment that you really don’t have to have it all before you start to help. She suggested that I start a charity to help people. I was raised by a single mother so I decided that I would look in that direction. I beat it down on mothers who are stuck in hospitals especially because they were unable to pay the hospital bills. I did the first one which was really successful. In 2020, I was able to raise about 6000 Cedis and also baby items worth a large sum of money. I then went to the 37 military hospitals in Ghana and gave them donations which made my soul really happy. I haven’t done the next one just yet because since that time, my brand has grown. I want to make sure that I’m set professionally and that everything is in place. It’s something I want to continue to do for a lifetime, but at the same time, I want to make sure I set myself up so that in the process of helping people I don’t lose my feet and break down totally. 

That’s really cool! You are a young and popping artist at the moment and I’m sure there will be a lot of young artists who read this interview and are thinking, “I want to be like Camidoh, I want the success he has!” What would you say to other artists to keep them going?

I would say that there’s never a right time to make a song. If you really love what you’re doing, always give it your best shot with all of the passion that you have every single time. When I was making Sugarcane, I was worn out but I just wanted to give it my best shot and look at how it turned out! Just do what you do with love and passion and it will pay. Don’t just put your mind on the money. 

What kept you motivated on your journey?

The love that I have for music is something that I can’t explain. This is how God made me. It’s mine, it’s something that I’m meant to do. It’s my destiny. We all get tired. No matter how tired I am, no matter how draining the business can be, I still don’t want to lose making music. I want to do it because I love it, not because of all the flashy stuff. I’m into this- it’s my life! Also, when I hear stories about people who are passionate about music. Angelique Kidjo is always excited when performing. There’s one thing that music does- it’s the joy and excitement that it brings people. When people tell me how much my music means to them, that keeps me going. Knowing that my music is inspiring and helping people keeps me going. 

That’s really amazing and I hope you don’t stop! What’s next for you? What should we be expecting from you for the rest of this year?

I’m basically just working on my album which I’m almost done with. It’s meant to come out hopefully at the end of this year. Sugarcane and Kaba are both on the album which is called L.I.T.A. It stands for Love Is The Answer. I’m looking forward to putting that out. I’m also looking forward to touring. I don’t just want to be here looking at streams and counting money, I want to get on the road. I love what Burna Boy’s been doing. I just want to tour, perform and find my joy and peace on stage with people. 


Photo Credit: Josh Snaps