“It’s a mix of madness!”
If the Fringe has a royal family, then Camille O’Sullivan is its queen. With a long list of five-star reviews and shows which pack in the crowds and build on the successes of the year before, a Fringe without an appearance from this Irish singer would feel strange indeed.
“I thought to myself this year ‘are you crazy?’, she laughs. “This new show will have its debut in Edinburgh – most people give a show a trial first. And I’m always very Irish about it – always expecting the worst!”
Camille O’Sullivan: Feel is an eagerly awaited new show, which Camille and her band are currently in the middle of rehearsing. Many of the new additions she will be introducing are rock songs; in addition to those dark, fatalistic Waits, Cave and Brel numbers she has covered so distinctively in the past.
“You build up a bond with certain songs over the years,” she says, “and letting go of them can be tough. I’d love to be able to play more than we can in 75 minutes, but it’s important to keep shaking yourself up and out of your comfort zone.”
“I love quietness, but I also like letting rip. I did ask myself if I could be more enigmatic, whether I should be darker or quieter; but each show has its own theme. In Feel, it’s a very loose one of the asking where is home; where do you feel present?”
“I always had a love for fairytales when I was young: the belief in things like happy ever after. So it’s an attempt to recapture a little bit of that magic – the notion of being on stage is a fantasy anyway.”
“Though it’s typical – I chose the name and designed the poster before thinking too much about any theme. I was worried for a while people might think it was an advert to Feel Camille O’Sullivan!”
There will be some other changes in Feel besides the songs themselves. In previous years, Camille has played with a full band with a big sound which has provided backing to her powerful and emotive voice.
“It’s a three-piece this year – piano, drums and guitar. We’ve tested it out and it has a more acoustic, intimate sound. I think it’s typical after a while for singers to want to sing a bit more; so we’ve scaled the music back a little.”
This – after two years at the Assembly – will also be Camille’s first time playing at the Pleasance.
“It was like leaving the mothership,” she says. “We had wonderful years at the Assembly. Though I think leaving the Speigeltent was hardest of all – it’s like my spiritual home.”
“And it’s really scary moving to a new space, knowing you have to do something with it. But it’s also important you change things and move around too.”
“And I’m always a bit scared playing Edinburgh itself,” she says. “It’s a big psychological step for an Irish person to leave home, and the Fringe was the first place which gave me the opportunity to perform.”
“It’s an amazing training ground; the place that launches you. I always feel the urge for every Edinburgh show to be better and better than before; the shows have got bigger, but you can’t rest on your laurels there.”
“So I have a big love for Edinburgh – and a big fear!”
You’ll be able to witness Camille O’Sullivan feeling the fear at The Pleasance from 3-29 Aug (not 9,15,18, 24 or 27) at 20:00. More details are on the Fringe website.