Music Interviews

Interview: Summer Camp



2010 saw the near-unstoppable rise of Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey, AKA Summer Camp. Since the release of the Young EP in early September, they’ve supported Kele, co-headlined a tour with Frankie & The Heartstrings and played no fewer than 6 shows at SXSW (one of which featured none other than David Gedge of The Wedding Present on camera-phone fan picture duties)

The rest of 2011 is scheduled to be just as busy, with a support slot on Wild Beasts‘ forthcoming UK tour confirmed, and a headline tour pencilled in for late summer/early autumn. Factor in a newly-recorded album produced by Pulp‘s Steve Mackey (due in late summer) and it seems as good a time as any to catch up with electro-pop’s new poster duo.

Do you see this record as an opportunity for the focus to finally be on the music rather than Summer Camp’s conception?
Jeremy Warmsley: Ha! Apparently not! Yes, we do get a lot of questions in interviews about how the band started. To be honest though, we think that’s just something people like to talk about because it’s a concrete thing, with facts – much easier to talk about than music. We don’t believe that people actually think about it when they sit around listening to the music. At least, we hope not. So hopefully the focus is already on the music and will continue to be so on this record! But we’ll probably still get questions about how the band started. Guess that just means it’s a vaguely interesting story.

Describe working with Steve Mackey. Were there any difficulties in realising the sound you were envisaging?
J: – It’s great! He starts from our demos and just makes them better (much better). We let them (Steve and his engineer, the supremely talented Emre Ramazonglu) get on with it for a couple of days on each track, then we would come in and say what we thought. Most of the time they’d be bang on, occasionally it would take a bit of back-and-forth to get it just so.
Elizabeth Sankey: He’s really funny and lovely and he’s given us so much advice in terms of the band. Very smart, wise man.

Has Jeremy’s studio experience via his solo work proved an asset and eased the recording process, or has the difference in musical styles marginalised any previous experience?
J: Actually, it’s not so much the difference in musical styles, but more the difference in the working process. This is the first time I’ve been hunkered down in the studio with a producer working on a record for an extended period of time. Previous things I’ve worked on – including our own Young EP – were completely done at home with occasional forays into more professional recording environments and then in some cases mixed by someone else. This was quite different, which was exciting.
E: It’s helped me hugely, otherwise I’d just be singing into GarageBand and humming harmonies over the top. I know I’m biased but I’m pretty sure he’s a genius. Sometimes his synths are too farty though.

Describe your songwriting processes; have they changed any since the EP?
We never stopped writing since we sat down and wrote our first song together so it’s more that you when you’re doing something constantly you’ll find different ways to do it, and some of those ways will be better than others. We maybe take a bit longer over things now, working really hard to make things as good as possible.

Rumours about that you have 60 songs in stages of completion. When were most of these concieved, and how many do you intend to release?
We write about four or five a month, but most of them get put to one side because we don’t think they’re up to scratch. Don’t worry, we’re not going to put out a five-disc opus, there won’t be more than 11 or 12 songs on the album!

Would you say there is a greater sense of expecation on the forthcoming album due to the praise that the EP received, or on the EP due to the hype surrounding Summer Camp’s conception? Is this something that was ever considered in the studio?
Not really, we’re just excited for people to finally hear the songs we’ve been working on for, in some cases, over a year. We never worry about what people will think while we’re in the studio working (outside the studio is another matter, unfortunately). Although obviously we always want to make something better and more exciting.

Explain the reasoning behind the free download of I Want You. How representative is it of the overall sound of the album, and how does the record differ from the EP?
The song isn’t really representative of the sound of the album, which is quite varied. There’s other electro-y things on there, but also some hip-hop-influenced stuff as well as some more guitar-y things, and some things that hark back to the first EP. We just wanted to get something out there as it had been a while since we had released anything – being very proud of that song, it seemed a good one to give out to the blogs and The People as a thank-you for their continued support.

What expectations/aspirations do you have for the album this year?
We just want people to hear it and like it!

Having come back from a month in America, how well received have you been with American audiences compared to those in the UK? Would you say you have a genuine crossover sound?
Do you mean crossover as in crossing the Atlantic or crossing over from the “indie” world to the “mainstream” world? America was very good to us – the audience in New York in particular was very welcoming. We really love America and hope to spend more time out there. The supermarkets are amazing. We have family in California so it was great to hang out with them as well.

As arguably a still-emerging artist, do you believe SXSW remains an effective showcase for a band or does its size and scope mean that it’s all too easy for an artist to get lost in the crowd?
Both. It’s hit and miss. We’re really glad we went but we think it’s diverged quite a lot from the original way it was set up. It’s really hard to make an impact, but if you do it can be a big deal.

What can we expect from Summer Camp for the rest of the year? What highlights currently stand out for you?
We’re playing a bunch of festivals over the summer including the Pulp day at Wireless and a couple of things that we can’t, unfortunately, confirm for you right now. We’re still writing songs – if we come up with something really good between now and the album’s release it might make it onto the album. We’re touring with Wild Beasts in May which is a really big deal for us, too. And then hopefully we’ll do a headline tour after the album comes out at the end of the summer.

Summer Camp support Metronomy at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire on 15th April 2011 and join Wild Beasts at Wilton’s Music Hall on 11th and 12th May 2011.


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