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Setting Up Summer Camp

We catch up with Elizabeth and Jeremy of synth-pop duo Summer Camp after the release of their first EP

One of the reasons that Summer Camp rock (or gently soothe, perhaps?) is because they make the kind of starry-eyed, saccharine synth-pop that would soundtrack your imaginary date with Molly Ringwald, or Rob Lowe circa 1985. They’ve been around long enough now for you to have heard the gorgeous Ghost Train single, but seeing as they’ve just released their debut EP, Dazed decided to catch up with the duo of Elizabeth and Jeremy for a proper, getting-to-know Summer Camp chat.

Dazed Digital: Hello, Summer Camp. To fill in for the uninitiated, there was a lot of mystery with the beginnings of the band. How did everything get started?
Well, I made Jeremy a mixtape and one of the songs on it was 'I Only Have Eyes for You' by The Flamingos. One weekend we thought it’d just be fun to cover it, and that was our first recording. After finishing and whilst Jeremy was mixing it, I made us a Myspace, just for something to do, really. I put that we were from Sweden just because it was the first default setting on the drop down computer menu. We were going to call the band Morgan Waves, but I had a discussion with Jeremy about how we could say we met at summer camp when we were 14… and, yeah, the name came from there! I think the Myspace had been up for half an hour before Sahil from Transparent blog found it and asked to put it out… that was that really.

DD: You kept your identities hidden at first. Why?
Well, it’s weird, because, y’know, we weren’t a ‘real’ band initially, it was just some hobby… We didn’t originally plan the whole anonymity thing…
Elizabeth: Yeah, it took a while before we decided that maybe we should make a proper go of it and by that time it seemed people had already started hearing the songs and speculating on who we were. I mean, Jeremy was already making music and I’d been writing for Platform. I think we were a bit scared about what people were going to say, like, we didn’t want people to think that ‘Oh, they’ve just used this connection’ or whatever, Basically we didn’t want to be written off because of who we are, but we also didn’t want to use any connections we might have because of the things we were involved with. We had this plan to not say anything and to just play gigs and then people could come and see who we were, but then we got exposed by a magazine, which was kind of the best way.

DD: There’s a very romantic feel to much of your music and imagery. Was this something you set out to capture or has it just happened naturally?
Jeremy: I’d say it’s something that just came about, but it’s now something we purposely try to capture. It was something we were both drawn to and something that came about very naturally in the song-writing and production and stuff. When we combine it with the pictures on the blog and the found-footage it gives us this very specific aesthetic that makes it easy for us to know where to take it next.

DD: What kind of person do you think listens to Summer Camp?
Jeremy: Maybe… a dad?
Elizabeth: My dad? Dadrock? Yeah, maybe my dad.

DD: Ah, you’re headed down the Ocean Colour Scene route?! Dadrock?!
Elizabeth: Hmm… I don’t know who listens to our music. I mean with boy indie bands, you know guys are going to want to be them and girls are going to want to be with them, but I don’t know.
Jeremy: I think if you start thinking about things that way it hampers you. Like, you start to second guess yourself and start judging your songs on commercial potential and stuff rather than just trying to write great songs. So, I’m not sure!

DD: So far quite a large part of Summer Camp’s sound and aesthetic has been to do with your lo-fi, bedroom-recording approach. Do you think you’ll ever go into a ‘proper’ studio?
Elizabeth: Well we have worked with people to some extent, but I think if we ever went into a studio we’d want it to be a similar set up to ours at home and with a producer who really understood what we were doing, so they could just help us tweak things, more like a co-producer.
Jeremy: Yeah, fundamentally we’d want someone who’s simply just going to take what we do and make it better, rather than have them just tell us what to do. I mean, I think if we recorded an album it’d be a bit more pop and a bit more gloss, but that’s just the nature of the beast – you get the chance to play around with new bits of gear and have the opportunity to make things glossier and stuff.

DD: Do you feel an affinity with any bands out there at the moment?
Elizabeth: Hmm, I’m not sure about an affinity, but, I really, really love Ariel Pink. The whole 70s cop shop meets emotional… thing… it’s just brilliant, haha!
Jeremy: Yeah he’s great. I really like the Wild Nothing album at the moment, too. It’s like Cocteau Twins meet My Bloody Valentine meets something else.