From The Magazine

Camila Cabello, Unfiltered

“It feels good to be like, f*ck it, I could do something kind of dramatic.”

When you’re a pop star, nothing marks a new era like a fresh hair color. For lifelong brunette Camila Cabello that meant going platinum blonde. “I’ve had dark hair all my life, so it feels good to be like, f*ck it, I could do something kind of dramatic,” she says. “It really subconsciously changes how you feel about yourself and gives you some freedom.”

Cabello is sitting across from me on the roof of a hotel in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. It’s a little past dusk and the 27-year-old singer is clutching a red Hydro Flask (not a Stanley, she points out, because “there was something about lead”). She’s just wrapped her second day shooting her debut ad campaign as the face of Bacardi Rum, and she is eager to speak about what her new hair really signifies — a new musical era. Her fourth album, her first since 2022’s Familia, will be released later this year.

“If something different is happening musically, it helps to look like a different person,” she says. “You want to feel like a new artist every time you put an album out, even if you’ve been around for a long time.” Silver, pink, and light blue (a close runner-up) were other contenders, but ultimately Cabello felt blonde best suited her new music: a little grunge-y, a little edgy, and as raw as possible — a departure from her pop music of the past. “This music feels like an unfiltered version of me.”

Cabello has been making music since 2012, when she competed on The X Factor as a 15-year-old. She has since reinvented herself multiple times — as a member of the Simon Cowell–created girl group Fifth Harmony, as a Grammy-nominated solo artist, even as a literal Disney princess in 2021’s Cinderella — so don’t expect her to stand still now. “Constant change is the solution,” she says. “It’s the key to peace and the medicine to anxiety.”

Photograph by RAHUL B.

On the forthcoming record, she’s taken the lead on songwriting, and she teamed up with influential producers El Guincho, who has collaborated with Rosalía, and Jasper Harris, who has worked with Jack Harlow and Lil Nas X. “They turned me on to a lot of new music and new references, which all kind of fed into the next version of me,” she says.

Her first single, “I Luv It,” is a synth-y, club-driven earworm that set the Internet ablaze. It plays in the background of her new Bacardi commercial, a soundtrack for the sweaty dancers and Cabello, her newly blonde locks, waist-length and “wet,” whipping around her. (It’s “hair choreography,” she says, and it doesn’t come without risk. “My neck is killing me,” she adds. “I had to get some Icy Hot.”)

The synergy, Cabello says, was by design. “As you’re stepping into a new chapter, a new era, you want to feel like it’s all part of the same world,” she says. It doesn’t hurt that as a Cuban living in Miami, she grew up with Bacardi as her brand, and it’s her go-to when pregaming with friends before a night out. “We blast music,” she says. “Ideally, there’s a guy that I like that might be at the party [so] we’re all really excited, and I have some single friends in the group. Then when we head over, we dance all night… and maybe I find a new crush.”

It all sounds so good that I’m beginning to wonder… should I dye my hair? “I’ve heard that from a few friends,” Cabello says, laughing. “And I’m like, ‘Yeah, f*cking do it.’”