We followed Camylio around the city for a month, which included opening for Dean Lewis, visiting his old college campus, and working on his new single, “Monsters.”
Sitting inside the green room, a private lounge at Webster Hall where artists can chill and conduct their pre-show rituals before going on stage, Camylio faced a dilemma.
"Should I split the set with a joke in the middle?" he asked his agent. “Or just get to singing, no talking?”
The faint sound of an anxious crowd lingered on the background, but inside these walls, it’s all smiles and laughter. Lio – as those close to him call him – reminisced about the chain of events that led to this moment.
After yet another one of his TikToks went viral, Camylio got an unexpected phone call from one of his idols, Dean Lewis. In the video recorded by his mom, he received an invitation to open for a series of shows in Dean’s North American tour, which also featured Forest Blakk. A stunned Camylio agreed right away, not knowing that the next month would shake up his life in more ways than one.
Two weeks later, he was now preparing to take the stage for the first show in the series. Not even the unexpected torrent outside could put a damp on his mood. He’s excited, even though it’s not the first time he performed live in New York. A couple months ago, he did a show a couple of blocks down, at the Mercury Lounge.
"This is a lot bigger, that's for sure," he reflected.
Wearing his signature oversized black hoodie, it is likely that Camylio has made appearances on your “for you” page on TikTok. His voice holds the power to stop anyone from scrolling, a universal quality that builds a bridge between himself and the listener. And while the emerging artist has only released one EP and a couple of singles, his songs will strike a familiar chord after the first few notes.
Camylio at Fordham University in the Bronx, lensed by @cristigtzname.
Mere days before he received the call from Dean, Camylio and I visited his alma mater in the Bronx. With its tree-lined walkways and Gothic buildings, Fordham represents an anomaly of a traditional college campus that is steps away from a bustling city. Despite there been some nostalgia about his brief college experience, Camylio is aware of the reasons why he left.
“Did you know I was supposed to be an accountant?” He says in between laughs. “I can’t see it.”
During his first year, accounting represented a somewhat safe choice. It provided him with a future he could see years in advance. An answer that did not trigger ambiguous reactions from people who asked, “What’s next?”
And while Camylio confesses that he is secretly great with numbers, that track would have never fulfilled him.
"Class ended early one day, but we had to stay online for a couple more minutes. One of my friends was like, ‘Lio sings, he should sing something’ and I did. Some of my classmates recorded me, and then people shared the video. I somehow became the guy around campus who could sing," he said.
Yet, Camylio’s campus celebrity status is not where things end. As most teens did during the pandemic, he decided to download TikTok. Using it to cope with the never-ending free time in his hands, Camylio began to post covers. His set up was always the same: wearing an all-black ensemble with a hoodie, dark background, always producing and recording everything from his bedroom. Covers were followed by bits and pieces of original music. Soon, people were capturing his sounds and creating videos of their own, using the music as a soundtrack for their experiences with relationships, friends, and most often, heartbreak.
When I first met him, I was captivated by the juxtaposition of Camylio’s sunny attitude and his uncanny ability to concoct lyrics that tug at your heartstrings.
“The way I approach writing songs has changed so much,” Camylio admitted. “I’ve worked with so many talented people. They had me talking about things from my past that I never considered song-worthy, but then those things became lyrics. It was a process of trying new things, finding out what works.”
The more we spend talking about music, the more I realized that music and lyrics are two different worlds, and Camylio is the bridge that unites them. On one end, there’s the music component. He composes a melody using every single tool available to him, right from his bedroom, and makes it so that the notes match the feelings he wants to convey.
Lyrics is where his heart resides, though. It’s where his process truly begins.
If you listen to Camylio’s body of work, it is easy to be drawn to the lyrics. Every song carries its own narrative, and those stories become many things. Gut-wrenching, haunting, hopeful, filled with the kind of longing that tells you these lyrics come from experiencing love in its most raw form. Love captured as it is – no filters, no lies.
“I think I’ve learned how to write a really good pop song. Now I’m focusing on writing honest songs. It’s one thing to write a catchy melody, there’s another thing to write a beautiful song that you could listen to years later and it would still hit you the same,” Camylio said.
Camylio at Webster Hall in the East Village, lensed by Hector Gutierrez.
Days later, I got to witness Camylio’s theory in practice when he stepped onto the stage at Webster. Magenta lights hit him right on the face as the concert-goers began to cheer. In the green room, he'd admitted to be nervous as hell, but up on the stage, that seems to fade. Despite this being one of the biggest performances of his career so far, Camylio appears to be right at home.
“There were people around me constantly saying to soak it in. Do your best to be in this moment. Realize where you are and what you’re doing,” he said.
Considering he is from Upstate New York and went to college in The Bronx, it’s appropriate to say that this was a home crowd. While there were familiar faces on the floor, there were also others who recognized the music but were just meeting the guy responsible for it.
"He's the artist I sent you on TikTok!" A girl shouted to her friend on the front row. The friend's face lit up in recognition, and it didn't take long for both of them to start singing along to "i tried," a fan-favorite.
This energy set the tone for the rest of the set. From the furthest corner of the balcony to the back of the floor, people were singing along to songs like "unbreak" and "bones." As he worked his magic on stage, the crowd returned the same energy. Later on, Camylio confessed that he'd looked at videos after the shows and be captivated by the amount of people singing.
“There were people who came up to me and were like, I had no idea you were gonna be here, but I’ve had ‘unbreak’ in my playlist for months and then I realized it was you,” he recalled.
It’s been two months since his performance at Webster, and we made time to catch up once he was back from the West Coast swing. As soon as his face came on screen, I could tell the excitement from the last couple of weeks hadn't worn off.
“Dude, it’s been crazy,” is the first thing he said.
And that simple yet packed statement truly sums it up. For someone who had still been grappling with the decision to be a full-time artist, how the last month unraveled was indeed crazy. Unexpected would be the second-best way to describe it.
Camylio had not expected an artist he admired to invite him on tour. He had not expected his songs to go even more viral on social media. He had not expected the immense response for an upcoming single he'd only teased for a few seconds.
In fact, Camylio did not expect anything at all, and I think that is why he’s so easy to root for. He’s authentic and honest, a reminder that staying true to yourself results in receiving what is meant for you.
“By the last show, I felt comfortable. I knew everything, where I was supposed to go,” Camylio said. “As a live performing artist, I feel like I’ve grown so much over the past month and a half.”
Camylio at Fordham University in the Bronx, lensed by @cristigtzname.
Today, Camylio released his latest single, "Monsters." Teasers he released over social media caused a lot of excitement, with fans commenting things like, “i’ve just been listening to the tiktok audio on repeat” and “this song hits the right places.” While there is a familiar quality that Camylio carries into all his music, “Monsters” marks a special chapter in his artistic story. He is releasing this song after a whirlwind of a summer where he performed on some of the biggest stages of his life and experienced what being on the road is like. A summer where he saw friends and strangers alike in the crowd singing lyrics he wrote from his childhood bedroom. A summer where he shed the labels of “internet sensation” and “bedroom artist” to simply become Camylio, his biggest label yet and one that he continues to give meaning to every day on his own terms.
After following him all over the city during his biggest year yet, there is no denying that Camylio is on the fast lane to something great, something that is purely of his own making.