Q&A: Camille Cortinas and Eric Neal

Photo by Grant Meeks

Newlyweds Camille Cortinas and Eric Neal make an unstoppable pair. She is a singer-songwriter who recently released her first solo album, “Taken Apart,” and he is an accomplished instrumentalist who recorded and produced the album in their Lakewood home studio. Born and raised in Dallas, the couple met through Fishing for Comets, an award-winning band created and fronted by Camille — before her solo career took off. The voice of the infamous “Hot Pockets” jingle, Camille also sings in commercials, including the catchy “Lucky Day” campaign for the Texas Lottery. Eric is a member of countless bands — playing with five or six regularly — and can play pretty much any instrument he picks up. He also teaches guitar and bass lessons to students ages 7 to 60. And if that’s not enough, the musical duo performs puppet shows in their spare time with their Band of Puppets.

What’s it like to be a couple working in the same industry?

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Neal: I think it’s wonderful that we like each other so much, because, to be in each other’s business so much, I think it takes a unique couple. We somehow make it work, but I could definitely see it being a challenge.

Cortinas: You get to share your woes and frustrations that you’re experiencing together, so that’s a very positive thing. But, at the same time, you don’t have the outlet of venting to a person that isn’t part of what you’re doing.

So, how does it feel to be married to your producer, Camille?

Cortinas: It’s kind of awful sometimes because he’s very nit picky — you have to be. I do this commercial side of stuff where I am in the studio with people that are not my husband, and it’s just cohesive; it works so well. With Eric, it’s tough at times, but the good thing is, he has my best interest at heart.

Tell us about your solo album and 
the process of creating it.

Cortinas: It was something that Eric and I had done among getting married and laundry and doing the dishes and going to work, so it took about two years. Basically, it was all pretty much done out of home. I would say 90 percent of it is made from our hands.

Neal: Maybe even more than that.

Cortinas: 90-plus percent.

Starbucks chose three songs from the album to be played in stores nationwide. How did that happen?

Cortinas: I sent a letter and a CD to the head of the music programming at Starbucks, but I didn’t even know who he really was. I didn’t even expect anything; I just wanted to give it to him. When he wrote me back, it was like a dream come true. I’m very proud to say that the album is Starbucks-worthy, because that’s where a lot of people look to get music nowadays. It gives me chills, because who knows what will happen?

What’s it like to sing in commercials?

Cortinas: It’s been a trip. That’s how I got a lot of really cool press. I think it’s definitely given us a boost.

Neal: It was the weirdest thing — we were watching the Mavericks Finals, and there were two [commercials] with Camille singing in a row. We were like, “Oh my God, that’s Camille!” and then right after that, “Oh my God, that’s Camille!”

Camille: I get so embarrassed!

How did you come up with the idea for Band of Puppets?

Neal: I was big into the Muppets as a kid — a huge Jim Henson fan, borderline obsessed. As I grew up, a piece of that just stayed with me. A few years ago, I found a really cool website that had some basic patterns of how to build [puppets]. I started building a couple, Camille came up with a little song, and it just kind of grew from there. By the end of this year, I want to get different local musicians to do kid-friendly songs and videos with the puppets and put a little DVD together to put out in the world and see what it does.

How do you balance all of your projects?

Cortinas: It’s ridiculous. This is such an unconventional lifestyle. Our gears are always turning, and it’s always chaotic around these parts, but it’s fun.


Learn more about Camille Cortinas at camillecortinas.com and Eric Neal at ericneal.net. For guitar and bass lesson inquiries, email lessons@ericneal.com.



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