by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: CC(TV)

by Silke Hartung

NewTracks New Artist: CC(TV)

A bitter orange-flavoured soft drink combined with mellow electronica create the sound of your new favourite Maltese-Kiwi Carla Camilleri, who artistically goes by CC(TV). NZ On Air Music featured the Tāmaki Makaurau-based artist on the NewTracks compilation this July.

What is your full name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

Carla Camilleri. I was born in Malta and have been living in Aotearoa since I was six, living in between Te Papa-i-Oea/Palmerston North, Te Whanganui-A-Tara and Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland. I play piano, keyboards, guitar and sing.

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

I studied opera at the University Of Auckland for four years, which was super important to my development as both a musician and a singer. I really value the techniques and discipline that I learned during those years and I continue to apply them every day.

Any other projects that we might we know you from?

I play in the band Recitals, and currently play keyboards and sing backing vocals in Fazerdaze’s touring band. In the past, I have performed with bands such as Merk, Jonathan Bree, Kenny Sterling and Boycrush.

What’s the background story of how CC(TV) came to be? Who else is directly involved?

For a long time, I was pretty shy about sharing my solo music. I am always collaborating with others and keeping busy with other projects, but CC(TV) was always bubbling away in the background. At first, it was just my Soundcloud username and not really intended to be my solo alias as such – that platform was a safe space for me to upload rough demos and experiments without much overthinking involved. Through that I began to find my sound and develop the confidence to eventually share my music more widely via CC(TV) as a sonic identity.

How has your writing evolved from your beginnings in songwriting to now?

I’ve been ‘writing songs’ since I was a kid, but back then it was just improvised rambling, essentially my internal dialogue projected into melodic form, using words that I overheard in conversations or on TV. In high school I tried to sit down and write music formulaically, but honestly that method didn’t really produce songs that felt like me.

Back then I mainly played piano and guitar, so my songs never really branched out instrumentally. My music writing really started to develop when I met people in the scene and started to collaborate, and over the years I think I’ve realised that my strength still lies in improvisation and tuning into my inner dialogue. When I discovered synths, that improvisation/experimental element really kicked up a notch, and I was finally able to improvise with sound and melody together.

Right now, I’m trying to find a happy balance between ‘traditional songwriting’ and ‘improvisation’ – I’m finding ways to harness that through learning new techniques and new instruments. I still have a long way to go, but I love learning!

How did you come up with the CC(TV) name?

CC are my initials and my nickname, and (TV) just followed suit after that. It’s catchy, and having my nickname in there makes it feel personal, whilst granting me a little bit of anonymity. In saying that, though, I’m still unsure whether it is the smartest artist name to have, because googling anything with CCTV in the search bar produces some pretty George Orwell-esque results these days. That might put people off, haha.

Aside from this release, what’s been the highlight to date?

My first public performance of my solo music, which happened quite recently actually, supporting D.C Maxwell at Whammy Bar. That was a big milestone for me and one that I’ve avoided for years.

What makes Kinnie stand out for you as a single?

Well, aside from it being my first, it’s pretty different sonically from my other music, which tends to lean more towards the ambient folk spec. Kinnie sits in a more electronic, euphoric, dance space.

What is the story behind Kinnie?

Kinnie is the name of the national soft drink in Malta (where I was born). It’s truly the most thirst-quenching drink on the planet, mark my words, and the song is an ode to my memories of the hot, 30-degree-plus summers on that island!

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I think my favourite moment is actually right at the end, where the knobs on the drum synth that I was playing were so twisted that the beat ended up combobulating into the sound of water and bubbles. I can’t tell you how I did that. A happy accident!

Who did you write/record/produce the single with?

I wrote and recorded this song with my friend Alistair Deverick in his studio at The Lab in Mount Eden in 2021. I was doing a NZ On Air Development-funded session with him, and for about half an hour we jammed non-stop over two chords he was playing on his Nord Lead synth ,while I twiddled on a Korg Electribe ER-1 drum synth. The rest of the song came out pretty quickly over that night, and I remember we were watching old footage of Malta while the lyrics came out. It was a really cathartic experience and a lesson in channelling lighthearted energy through personal memories. Usually I take a more brooding approach.

I’d also love to mention Amamelia’s contribution with her remix, because it was such a dream to have her on board for that, and she truly spun it in a magical way that really gripped my nostalgic harness on this song.

What would you like listeners to take away from this song?

Go try some Kinnie if you can.

How do you generally work out what song would make a good single?

I really don’t know, it’s an obscure thing, isn’t it? To me, there isn’t really a formula – it’s more of a gut feeling.

Who else is in your team?

Technically, it’s just me at the present, but I really lean on my friends for support. So thank you friends 🙂

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song. 

  • Amamelia: Dancing MMM
  • DeepState: Butterfly
  • Nice Girl: Take Me Home

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice to share?

I’m still in the early stages, so I don’t really qualify for single funding or anything as of yet. However, I suppose my advice would be (and is the advice I tell myself) to just be patient with it, and seek advice from people who have done it before if it ever gets overwhelming.

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

On Youtube I really love this channel called Haburu – just videos of a very content cat who loves to lay on or inside the piano as his owner plays it. I really love looking through the Bleep website and blog, they always have amazing musical recommendations. Also love reading through Audioculture, especially when they do a full deep dive on a period of Aotearoa’s music scene. I also love Hahko’s blog, the Hahko Express.

Any last words?

I have no business in surveillance.