Welcome to Zoom Date, our feature series where we get up close and personal (via Zoom screen) with our favorite celebs. They'll be giving us an honest peek into what their "new normal" looks like—from new rituals they've adopted since quarantine, to work projects in the age of isolation, to the beauty and health products they've been using to self-soothe.
Chatting with Dove Cameron via Zoom feels more familiar than I thought it would. Her space is cozy, flooded with natural light, and full of plants. Her cat is balancing on the sofa behind her (definitely in an attempt to steal her attention). She doesn't have a fancy interview set-up; there isn't a ring light in sight. Through the screen, our Zoom Date feels like just another chat with one of my co-workers—that is, if I can overlook the fact that her new song "We Belong" has over five million streams on YouTube. Of course, I can't overlook it, and neither can her 37+ million Instagram followers.
Cameron got her start on Disney Channel, just like a few singers you might know today: Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, and the Jonas Brothers, if that rings a bell. She played (both) identical twins on the series Liv and Maddie before joining the cast of Disney's insanely popular movie series, Descendants (which has a cult-following amongst Gen-Zers). She went on to play Amber Von Tussle in Hairspray Live! in 2016, followed by the starring role of Cher in an off-Broadway production of Clueless in 2018. Today, Cameron is following a similar career trajectory of the aforementioned artists; she's shifting her focus to music—and doing one hell of a job. Her new song "We Belong" is a huge hit, and a miraculous silver lining in 2020. Ahead, I press the singer, songwriter, and actress about releasing her new single during a pandemic, life in isolation, and her favorite quarantine beauty finds.
What has quarantine looked like for you?
"My boyfriend very sweetly drove from Los Angeles to New Mexico to pick me up so I wouldn't have to fly. And we've been here ever since. We have not left. We went on a social distanced road trip to Utah a couple days ago, but other than that I've just been in L.A. I'm in our little apartment that we've had for a year now. It hasn't been too terrible."
I kind of agree. If I'm not traveling—which I miss doing—then I'm a complete homebody, so my routine hasn't changed too much. What are your days looking like?
"I feel like everyday is very different for me. I'm in the process of developing a bunch of projects that I'm producing and starring in. So I'm still working very consistently. It's lots of Zoom meetings and interviews, so a lot of my day is structured around whenever those things are. I would love to be one of those people that says 'I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. And then I stretch, and then I fill my belly with lemon water.' But I'm not. I wake up anywhere from 8 a.m. to noon. I'm really, really bad. But my at-home coffee game has gotten really strong. My lovely boyfriend also makes these incredible smoothies in the morning that are protein, collagen, grain octane oil, blueberries, spinach, and sometimes oats. We've been doing that basically every morning—it's the closest thing that I have to a routine. But mostly I just try to get into the natural light as quickly as I can [in the morning]. The natural light is kind of my best way to not get into a mini seasonal depression. It just makes you feel like you're more involved in the world. So I'll come into the natural light [by my window] and I'll have my coffee and my smoothie and I'll get my work day started."
When things were really bad in the city in May, I found myself sitting in front of my tiny window and trying the weirdest face masks I could get my hands on. Have you tried any fun or weird beauty treatments during quarantine?
"Let's talk about it, because I feel like I have a million things. So I haven't dyed my hair in six months, which has been great for me because as a blonde this shit requires so much maintenance, as I'm sure you know. I feel like my hair is actually growing for the first time in two years, which is amazing. Also shoutout to my hair stylist Cassondra Kaeding, she's incredible. She is the most incredible colorist. She saved my hair. It was falling out, it was white from over-bleaching, it was all different lengths and she turned my shit around. This person is from another planet. She's from the Gods.
"I've also been using this Gisou product a lot and just putting on a lot of apricot oil, avocado oil, all of the oils in my hair whenever I can. Lots of Olaplex, lots of Kerastase, and my hair is thriving. Thriving, baby. I've also gotten two tattoos in quarantine (safely.) I got this massive snake on my foot and ankle and it's my biggest one yet. I'm really feeling it—she looks very cute in high heels. It hurt so bad though—if you're going to get a tattoo on your foot or ankle, definitely take Ibuprofen.
"And then I got another little tattoo that says 'She' on my hand. It's my fourth hand tattoo—they're so cute. I love being able to see them. And 'She' for me is a piggyback on the snake. It's all tied into etymology stories of women being equated to the snake and the snake being equated to the underworld and all of the bad things, and a way to shame women into being unsexual or anti-expressive with their bodies or just demure. So I decided to reclaim the snake as a figure of divine feminine energy and not a way to be shamed.
"I've also been putting castor oil on my brows and they're finally growing. I also got a gel machine for my nails. It's amazing and so much easier than you think. I thought it was going to be really hard but it's great. I've also been doing vitamin E on my skin day and night—straight vitamin E oil. It's been doing more for me than anything else. I've also been doing this new thing where I only wash my face at night. So I wash my face at night, slather it with all the creams and oils, and then I wake up in the morning and just moisturize it in the morning, or use the vitamin E oil. These have been my best quarantine discoveries."
I need my morning time with my skincare and my coffee before I can give my time to anyone else—it's my favorite form of self care. As an artist, do you feel like working on music is a form of self-care at all?
"That's a well-phrased question. I don't feel like it's self-care, because I've never been one of those people like... writing songs in my diary on my bed. I've never been one of those people. But I also wouldn't say it's stressful. I'm so involved with my career to the point that I'm so managerial and I'm so particular with the music that I put out. I'm sure my label is so annoyed with me all the time. Because I'm always like 'This is almost perfect! But—' and they're like 'No one is ever going to hear that.' But I don't care because I'm going to hear it. Here's how I can best describe it: You know how people go to the gym because they're like, 'I need to get this stored energy out'? Music for me is like that. It's very much something I can focus on and something I'm very acutely attuned to and involved in. It doesn't necessarily feed me as much as I feel fully involved and in perfect flow with music. I'm also a highly manic person, so it's a good outlet for me. Again, I wouldn't say it's soothing, but I also wouldn't say it's stressful if that makes any sense.
It can be an exhausting feeling to pour energy out of yourself like this, so what do you do to recharge and give back to yourself?
"I'm such a manic creature. I feel like certain things can feel meditative for me. I definitely go to therapy, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it makes me feel great every time. I don't know if you go to therapy, but sometimes it can fuck up your day. But I definitely think therapy has been very important.
"I also have a very regimented skincare routine. I love oils. I know it'd be great if I had a definite answer. But I think for me it's more about the environment that I need to feel that way. I need my space to be clean. Fresh flowers. Soy candles. The environment just feeling welcoming, clean, uncluttered—my brain will always zero in on the thing that needs to be fixed. So if there's something that needs to be done, I can't focus on anything else. So if the space is done, if the candles are lit, if my skin is being moisturized by a million oils and I have fresh flowers, then I'm in a good space.
If the space is done, if the candles are lit, if my skin is being moisturized by a million oils and I have fresh flowers, then I'm in a good space.
"And stretching! Stretching can make me feel like I'm dropping into my body. But it can also make me feel more anxious on any given day. I feel like sometimes dropping into your body, you don't really know what you're going to find. I don't know if you've experienced trauma or extreme loss, but sometimes dropping into my body can be the thing I need to get in touch with my emotions. But other times I also feel like dropping into my body makes me be like, 'Ah, there's shit here that I haven't processed and I don't want to be here.' But you have to. It's necessary. So I feel like self-care is less sighing and relaxing and having a spa day and more like, 'Okay, I have to do this. I don't know if I necessarily want to do this but this is the work that needs to be done.' That's self-care. And self-care is not always pretty."
And maybe your new song "We Belong" came from this same place. I'd love to hear about how it came into the world.
"'We Belong' came into my life about a year ago. I pretty much always write with co-writers, and what I love about that is we can zone in on a story in the song or something that we are kind of all collectively feeling, but for different reasons. I've never been in the exact same situation as a co-writer where it's like, 'Oh you just went through a breakup? So did I!' After the first hour of coffee and talking you start talking about your feelings in different capacities and you end up with this song that's not necessarily just one story or one perspective. It's a million different things. So then when people ask what it's about, I always say well, it's kind of about whatever it's about for you. Because it has all of these different stories in it, even though it may have the illusion of being one story.
What is "We Belong" about for you? What's the story you hear?
"For me, it's a story about being independent and being good on your own, being a solid whole. I had an ex tell me one time that we were two halves and without me he was not whole, so we had to be together. And that's so fucked up. That's not love, right? That's not healthy love. And it's hard as well—I understand the impulse to feel that way, especially these days. We're kind of driven to believe that love is the answer, even though we seem to be living in a highly unromantic time. So I love 'We Belong' for it's kind of reluctance. It's a reluctant love song. It's that I'm good on my own, I'm whole on my own. I'm in this whole other city, but also I can't stop thinking about you, I'm so in love with you, and we belong together. It makes me think of that sometimes kind of volatile young romance. Those conflicting feelings inside of you wanting to focus on your work and yourself, but also what I wouldn't do or what I wouldn't trade in to be in some city with you doing something stupid. That's that young love feeling, and that's what 'We Belong' is about for me."
You can stream Dove Cameron's "We Belong" now on most major platforms.