It’s Valentine’s Day, and Camille Trust is bathed a pool of red light on the stage at Baby’s All Right. In a deep and throaty purr that escalates into a uniquely progressing riff, she lets loose her cover of Bonnie Raitt’s classic “Something to Talk About” with a funky, soulful spin, a throbbing drumbeat keeping time behind her. Her swirls of luscious 1970s, Biba-esque curls shake as her shoulders pulse back and forth then one hand dramatically climbs toward the sky.
I shiver and a rash of goosebumps appears over my arms. They don’t go away the entire show. And I do mean show: this is not just some chick singer in some random concert venue in Brooklyn. This is a capital-P Performance with backup singers, choreography, and even costumes of sorts–Trust wears shiny black bell-bottoms and a black top embroidered with roses while her singers also wear black with accompanying rose embroidery. Artists don’t put on shows like this anymore, I realize while I’m watching. In fact, with her ‘70s aesthetic, I’d almost be pulled back into the decade where they did but Trust’s arrangements and look are so distinctly modern, not at all cheesy or nostalgia-pandering.
The crowd was quiet when Trust first made her way to the stage, not quite knowing what to do with this singer they’ve possibly never heard before, but by the end, after several rousing, energetic, stylish and sensual original songs–with lyrics like “If you like good girls/keep on’ walking/’cause I’m a bad bitch/and I’ll do the talking”–and a couple of covers, they’re chanting her name. “TRUST, TRUST, TRUST” rings out into the room that’s now filled with people. They’re hers and she’s earned them. It’s the first time I think I’ve seen an opening act get begged for an encore.
On an unseasonably warm February day, Camille Trust is nestled on a couch in her publicist’s office wearing a bright red jumpsuit that covers the length of her long legs, a gold belt, and a pair of giant white platform shoes on her feet. I heard her before I saw her, this warm, sing-song “Hey giiiiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrrrrrl!” echoing in the hallway as she greeted her publicist. I will soon learn she is as charismatic in person as she is on stage, her speech peppered with sass but never shade.
Camille Trust was born Camille Trzcinski in Lutz (pronounced “Lutes”), Florida, a small town outside of Tampa. She has been performing since she was eight years old, when she won an Annie lookalike contest, and later joined an all-girls singing group called Entertainment Revue, in which she participated until the age of 18. “I always knew that this was not my forever place,” she says of Lutz. “My dreams were beyond Lutz and I think living in Lutz, it was just always like, ‘this is cute for now, but once she has her own way she’s not here anymore.’”
Trust studied Theatre and International Affairs at Florida State University, all the while singing in a college a cappella group. She then taught English in Italy and sang at a bar there, eventually moving to New York five years ago. She began auditioning for musical theatre because it was the best way she knew to get on stage at that time, to “have that moment of being on a stage and performing my face off,” she says. She was auditioning with Beyoncé covers instead of standard musical theatre fare, and directors praised her voice but thought she might be a better fit for pop. Ultimately she agreed with them. “I realized that I didn’t love playing another person, I didn’t like playing another role. I like being me and I like doing whatever the fuck I wanna do on the stage and being completely in control of the show and every aspect of it,” she says.
Trust immersed herself in New York’s music community instead. She changed her name because “she’s Polish, she’s consonants, she isn’t fitting on a billboard,” she laughs, plus “trust” is something she genuinely says all the time—it pops up multiple times in our interview, a celebratory/affirming relic from her a cappella days. Now, five years later, Trust is a full-time singer, arranging and writing her own music, leading her band, managing her career. She found her sound, that soul-funk infusion that makes your shoulders and hips move involuntarily, with vocals that make you wonder the last time a voice like that so marvelously addled your brain.
Influenced by a lifetime of what she calls “power performers” like Janis Joplin, Etta James, and Stevie Wonder, Trust harnessed their energy into her own stage presence, one that’s also very much influenced by her time in theatre: dramatic endings, big swells, and “choreo, girl, trust.” It’s why every Camille Trust show is a performance. “I’m doing a whole thing to make it a whole spectacle and not just like, ‘Okay, cool, this girl’s sitting here singing songs,” she says. While Trust also performs occasionally with just a guitarist, she hopes one day to have an all-female band. “I definitely want to exude confidence but also this female badassery. Just like, ‘Yes, look at these bitches!’” she says. “I also want to give people this overwhelming feeling of self-love through confidence and through like, ‘If this bitch can do it, I’m gonna go do that thing that I wanna do, I’m gonna go kiss that boy that I wanted to kiss because bitch, this is the only life we have to live! Do those things [and] take those leaps.’”
The next leap Trust is taking is to release her latest single, “Lose You,” which comes out today, March 9th, and you can listen below. This will be followed by another single in April, and an EP in May. “I’m ready for bigger stages and more people and to really give people what I have to offer and what I’m meant to do,” she says, from slaying on the festival circuit to playing for more and more crowds to projecting a powerful confidence into the audience and just looking absolutely fabulous. “I’ve also learned that if you look fucking famous, people will be like who is she?” she says. “Bitch, @camilletrust, thank you ssssso much.”