The Heroine’s Journey of Kamerin Mcdonald

What is the best thing that I love about my work?
I’m not afraid to be honest and vulnerable in my music. I sing about very real emotions and experiences, and I don’t shy away from creating work inspired by my own struggles.

What is my idea of perfect happiness?
First, perfect health. Next, the freedom to make music and share it with others near and far without needing to worry about whether it will pay the bills. The ability to engage with each of my artistic passions on a daily basis

What is my greatest fear?
That I’m burdening others when I ask for help.

What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?
I am extremely critical of myself, and my work, to the point that it can prevent me from generating new material (I want to throw everything away!) I also tend to think in extremes, and get very impatient with things that don’t immediately show my progress. I have to remind myself daily that big creations happen little by little and not overnight: only by committing to the process will I get to the finished product.

Which living persons in my profession do I most admire?
Bjork, Regina Spektor, St. Vincent. They’re honest, quirky, prolific, and unafraid of being perceived as strange.

What is my greatest extravagance?
Groceries. All of my money goes towards food! I love to buy and cook fancy meals, and have the most delicious cheeses, bread, and sometimes wine.

On what occasion would I lie?
I’d likely lie if I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings, though I acknowledge this is actually a very unfair thing to do. It shows a lack of respect.

What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?
I tend to hold myself back from singing with my full voice, because ironically that feels too vulnerable for me. I’m afraid of losing control by going all out and belting, but I realize that this fear is irrational and I’m working on writing songs where I really let go.

When and where was I the happiest, in my work?
I am happiest now; I’m continually developing my style, my techniques, and compositional mediums. I hope this will always be true.

If I could, what would I change about myself?
Nothing. Everything that has happened and will happen to me has made me the person I am today.

What is my greatest achievement in work?
Releasing my first full length album (This past October!) Also, performing with Kronos Quartet in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Where would I most like to live?
I’m not sure. I’m pretty happy in Oakland, California, but the cost of living keeps going and it’s harder and harder to find time to work on my own projects. It would be very to leave my community and this beautiful city behind, but I have been daydreaming about finding somewhere to live where I can afford to truly be an artist.

What is my most treasured possession?
I try not to get too attached to material things, but I think I will have to go with my noise-cancelling headphones. I received them as a gift this year and they have changed my life. I tend to get overwhelmed by environmental sound and loud places, and the headphones truly help me to relax when commuting, or in large crowds.

What is my most marked characteristic?
My fierce tenderness.

What is my most inspirational location, in my city?
Old gnarled trees where I can climb up high to get a view of the lake. I bring my notebook up here often.

What is my favourite place to eat and drink, in my city?
Depends on what I’m in the mood for… I love bringing picnics to a beautiful spot (like the lake I just mentioned).

Who are my favorite writers?
Haruki Murakami, Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, José Saramago.

What music would I listen on my last day?
That’s a hard question… I’m not sure. Perhaps I’d try to listen to as many new artists as I could – it’d be my last chance.

Who are my heroes and heroines in real life?
All female artists who have become successful in male dominated industries; my parents.

Which movie would I recommend to see once in a lifetime?
Another hard one! I really struggle with picking favorites. My brain doesn’t work that way… Instead I’ll recommend the movie Get Out, which is the most recent thing I’ve seen. It blew my mind. It is billed as a horror movie (and I don’t like horror movies), but it’s not actually scary in the way you would expect. It’s a profound depiction on the experience of being a black man in a supposedly liberal city in today’s America.

What role plays art in my life and work?
It’s the lens through which I see the world. I’ve always got music in my head; I’m just letting it out when I work on my music.
I also engage with it by teaching: I teach voice, piano, and beginning guitar lessons to kids and adults (ages 5 – 40!)

Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?
My partner, Heather, is wonderful. She truly sees me and supports me in everything that I do, and she believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. She makes me laugh harder than anybody I’ve ever known. When I’m performing and I look up into the audience I can be sure I’ll see her smiling face.

Whom would I like to work with in 2017?
I’d like to collaborate with a filmmaker. I’d also love to sing with James Blake, Patrick Watson, or Andrew Bird.

Which people in my profession would I love to meet in 2017?
All artists that I’ve mentioned so far, plus many others. Mostly female singer-songwriters; I’d love to hear how they got to where they were (and maybe sing a little together).

What project, in 2017, am I looking forward to work on?
My next album, as well as developing my live set. I have just started performing and writing music with Ableton Live software. It’s completely changed how I write music; the possiblites for orchestration, compositional structure, and manipulation of details, are endless!

Where can you see me or my work in 2017?
I’ll be performing at a small show in Oakland on April 14th. I’m in the process of trying to book shows for May through the summer now. I may be touring in LA in August. Check the shows page on my website to stay updated!

What do the words “Passion Never Retires” mean to me?
While our bodies may grow weak and frail or our external circumstances may change, passion is an internal force that draws us like magnets to the things that inspire us. No one can take this away from us!

Which creative heroines should Peter invite to tell their story?
Heather Stockton, choreographer and dancer
Hannah Perrine Mode, visual artist

You can contact me through e-mail (
Album: Complicated Matters
Bay Area based composer, singer, and video artist.

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