Camila Cabello loves control.
The pop star released her debut solo album last week and says the process was liberating.
In the new issue of PEOPLE, the “Havana” singer, 20, opens up about recording on her own, the FOMO she feels from growing up in the spotlight — and whether she has any regrets over the way things ended with Fifth Harmony.
Congratulations on the new album! Sonically, Camila is much different from your first solo single “Crying in the Club.” How did your sound evolve?
I think that everything’s just about timing, and “Crying in the Club” — it was super early. It came along really, really early, and I had not been in the studio for a long time. I think when I had enough of those, it kind of felt like pieces in a puzzle, and some of the pieces were just not in the same puzzle. I think it was just about finding exactly what my sound was for this first album.
So what was your breakthrough moment in the studio?
It’s just being in the studio long enough and having enough experiences worth writing about. I think “Havana” was the breakthrough moment — and everything else sort of just happened.
This was the first time you recorded an album on your own. Was that liberating?
She loves control! [Laughs] (Editor’s Note: “She Loves Control” is the title of the third track on her album.) Uh, yeah, it was completely different. I’d spent almost a year making this album, and I really didn’t stop until I felt like I was ready to close this chapter. I was like, “If I’m gonna do this my way, I’m gonna do it my way.”
It’s been a crazy year for you. You left Fifth Harmony in December 2016. Is there anything you regret about how things ended with the group?
I don’t know, I don’t really think about that. That’s a long time ago.
For more on Camila Cabello, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday.
You’re 20 years old, and you’ve already accomplished so much. You grew up in the spotlight and on TV — looking back on that as an adult, does it feel weird?
A little bit. I go home to Miami and hang out with people I’ve known since elementary school. My experiences are so different now. I have some FOMO. But I would never trade it for anything.
You got your start on X-Factor, and Demi Lovato was one of the judges. Now you’re performing on the same stages as her; you’re a peer. What does that mean to you?
There’s definitely a lot of those pinch-me moments, which are super cool. People that I grew up with that made me want to pick up a guitar and start writing songs — they’re people that I have friendships with. It’s amazing and weird and surreal and crazy.