Music is in Celeste Buckingham’s veins. As a young girl, Buckingham pursued her passions through piano and singing lessons and by 15, she had made it to the top 10 of SuperStar, a popular singing competition in Europe. She released her debut album in 2012 and made her American debut in 2013. Since then, Buckingham has been nominated for best new artist at the Radio Disney Awards. A video for “Unpredictable,” her newest single, was released in June. She’s now preparing for a European tour and is planning on releasing some more music before the release of her follow-up album later this year. Buckingham is taking her old-school influences and infusing them into her catchy songs, proving that she’s got the star power necessary to stand out and add her own sound to the pop world.
Cliché: How did you first get involved with music?
Celeste Buckingham: I’ve been singing since I can remember. I started taking piano lessons at age 4 and singing lessons at age 7, but I really started to take music seriously when I was in my mid-teens. I’d been writing songs for a few years, and I had started recording my music at age 12. It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, and music has always been a huge part of my life. When I was 15, I participated in the reality show SuperStar, which is the European version of American Idol. That was the first time that I had to perform live and be viewed by millions of people. Soon after the competition, I released my first album. That was 4 years ago.
With your “Unpredictable” video, you portray multiple characters. Do you have a favorite costume from that?
I enjoyed playing those characters and each one of them was fun to portray. I quite liked the rock star’s costume; I guess I could say that was my favorite.
How was the concept created?
I had the idea of portraying the concept of “unpredictability” stretched a bit further than just a relationship, but rather showing life’s unpredictability. My good friend Mike Cahill, who is also an artist, came over, and we discussed it and expanded the idea. Then I wrote the script, and the video was the result.
What’s your favorite song to perform live?
There are a few. One of my favorites is definitely “A Man’s World” by James Brown.
What was it like being a judge on the Czech-Slovak X-Factor?
When I heard about the news that they wanted me to be a judge only 3 years after I had been a contestant [on Superstar, a different singing competition] myself, it was overwhelming and an honor at the same time. I enjoyed it very much. I could relate to the contestants and could feel how they felt and how nervous they were. I got to work with a team of five finalists, and that was an absolute pleasure. It was great that I could share the challenges and opportunities of being a young artist with them.
What has been one of the most surreal moments for you so far?
When I was 17, I won my first award for my music in Europe, something equivalent to a Grammy. It was the first time I’d ever won such an important award. I stuttered my way through a thank you speech and made it off stage with the award in my hand. Only afterward did I stop and realize I was living my dream life.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your songs?
I often write about experiences and issues that matter in everyday life, things that people, especially young people, are concerned about. I write about daily struggles and equality, as well as love songs. It also happens that I can’t sleep at night, and I wake up and start writing. One of my singles, “Run Run Run,” was born in this way at 2 AM!
Who would you love to work with?
There are just too many to list. Maroon 5, Bruno Mars, Eminem, and Elliphant to list a few. I also have no specific genre that I listen to. If I like it, I listen to it. I’d like to be a part of that music and work with the people who create it.
What’s next for you?
I am touring in Europe in the next couple of months and then back in the US. I will be working on finishing the album and a couple of music videos. Before I release the next album, I will have one or two singles to share with the fans.
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Celeste Buckingham interview: Photographed by David Bean