Cam Blake

What's your favorite kind of soup?

When I was in Manchester, I was extremely broke and something I would snack on a lot was grilled cheese and tomato soup. It’s super cheap to make, so just regular tomato soup in a can, but specifically from Tesco’s because Tesco's tomato soup is really, really good.

         Cam Blake is such a highlight in Vancouver’s indie music scene, though indie is not a broad enough genre label to possibly encompass everything that he fits into his music. From creating tunes within his solo work that sticks out of the indie rock genre, to making music with other artists such as Molly Annelle, Jaden Bricker, Young Friend, and Max Cunningham of Ludic and CHEEYA. He is a crucial part of local band Bookclub, who released their album last summer, and has been a contributor to the projects of Clare Twiddy, and Hunker. He has released several EP’s such as Finding My Way Home (released last year), Fast Love (2019), and his debut album Bad Vacation (2021). I have seen Cam live a handful of times and each time he has completely blown me away with his energy and stage presence that brings his songs to life. Most recently I saw him perform earlier this year at the Fox Cabaret as he played his older songs, some unreleased upcoming songs, a surprisingly fabulous cover of Justin Timberlake’s “Sexy Back”, and a guest performance by Molly Annelle to play their song “Say Something”. The full concert video captured by First Floor Collective is available bellow. Cam also has plans to release his sophomore album later this year, and we sat down to chat about this as well as past and future projects.


First off welcome back, I know you were away in Manchester for a while. I’m curious if that travel experience has inspired some music or kind of helped creatively?

Cam: Yeah, I got to meet a lot of cool music people while I was there, and I had my computer with me, luckily. I bought a shitty acoustic guitar and was able to record some songs while I was out there. So, I was still being about as productive as I could be while also trying to enjoy myself and everything.


You’ve collaborated with a handful of local artists, I’m wondering if you have any other collaborations lined up, or any other artists you’d like to work with?

Cam: Yeah, I’ve been working with my friend Cody Lawless, and he's putting out a new record. I'm trying to record with whoever, really, I don't really mind. I've been really into Dwi from The Zola’s; he has that solo project. I've been really into his music lately and I want to record some stuff with him, hopefully soon.


How do you find that your creative process differs when you make solo music versus music you’ve made in bands or with other artists?

Cam: Well, the thing that's so beautiful about making music with other people is you're all collectively creating something together. It's only something that everyone could make together, and obviously that's kind of a given, but when you're feeling that with someone, or with a group of people, it's a really special feeling. I love making music by myself, all my solo stuff is so much fun to make, and the thing that it kind of came out of was more from convenience, and then became something that I really love to do, and it came out of something that I have a passion for, but they're definitely two very, very different things. They're both so beautiful and fun.


I’m curious about Bookclub, I know you guys are all sort of doing solo work and side project bands at the moment, is Bookclub taking a pause there or has that kind of come to an end, if you’re alright sharing that?

Cam: Yeah, the Bookclub stuff, we've all kind of just moved into different passions and had some creative differences. So, at the moment we're not really doing anything with it, and I don't really see it ever coming back unfortunately. I think we all just kind of got to a point where it just wasn't something we all had a lot of time to focus on.

Me: Everybody's doing their own thing now, and kind of gone and in different directions. You got to have this really cool thing and make some awesome music and now you’re all getting to make other awesome music in your own ways.

Cam: Exactly. Yeah, that's kind of how we want it to be; Ethan has got La Lune, Zach is starting a solo project and working on stuff, he's starting a band. Not sure what Jack's really up to as much, but I think he has a solo project that he's working on as well. We're all doing our own things, but all still together. Zach is still in my band; Ethan and I are working on a duo project at the moment. We have an EP that we recorded before I left that just got mastered a couple months ago. It's really, really good, too. I don't usually boast about my music this much, but the EP we wrote together is awesome. It's really strong and I'm so excited to put it out.


Is that something that's going to come out through your solo project or a new band that's going to surface soon?

Cam: It's a new thing, it won't be a band necessarily, it'll mostly just be something that we can focus on just for creative input. We are just best friends, Ethan and I, and we both have a passion for writing and creating stuff. We just want to do that and put records out and alleviate the stress of the live show grind and all that kind of stuff.


I was lucky enough to see your incredible performance at the Fox earlier this year, and you absolutely killed it. I had to snag the set list because there are a few unreleased tracks I’ve seen you play a couple times that are some of my favorites. “Another Desperate World” is such a highlight of your live shows that I’ve seen, is there any hope of that one coming out this year?

Cam: Oh man, I really hope so. I'm going to try to put out music at the end of the summer. I have a bit of a release plan scheduled, but the trip definitely affected things. I'm going to try my best to start getting the new music out cause I've been sitting on a full length album for almost a year now, and it has that song, and a couple other new songs that are like it. The album is very strong, and I've just been waiting, and listening to it, and making sure it still lives up to the amount of hype that I had in my brain when I wrote it. I think it still holds up, so I'm hoping that I can release it within the next six months or so.


If you could describe the album without giving anything away, how would you sum up the feeling that you’re going for with those future releases?

Cam: My elevator pitch for the album, hmm. I would say that it's completely different than all the music that I have out. If you just know me for Bad Vacation and the indie songs that I wrote when I was nineteen, when you listen to this, you're gonna be like, holy shit this is different. I'm much more proud of these songs. I still love the old songs, but I feel like the older I get, I'm liking them more for nostalgia, and less about the actual songwriting. I'm hoping it will still be able to kind of stand with the test of time, and I feel like it does. Obviously, I've only been listening to it for a year, so it's not a super long time, but especially because this is the first album that I've written by myself. It’s fully mixed and pretty much 100% of it I did. All the drums, all the mixing, all the production. It's really like my baby, the same way that the last record was, but with this one I got even more in tune to what I wanted it to sound like. It’s ten tracks, and it's very strong in my opinion. I'm hoping that it translates the way that I want it to. I'm sure you can kind of imagine making something and having this thing that you put all this work into, and you just really want it to fulfill its destiny.


Would you say it's still kind of within that indie wheelhouse, or have you kind of genre shifted a little?

Cam: The first four songs, it's kind of 80s pop inspired, and then goes into early 2000s dance music, then a rock song, then back into pop. The last two tracks are grimy as hell, and intense. It's a bit of a trip, it's kind of hard to say what the genre is necessarily, because there's lots of things going on, but it's definitely not indie. I still love making indie music, and I love playing the old songs that we have.


Who are some of your influences in music that you took inspiration from into this project?

Cam: Oh man, Big Kill, they're a local band from Vancouver that are really, really good. The 1975, their old music. I was just listening to a lot of weird music. Very modern kind of hyper pop but straying away a bit from it. I've just been trying to listen to music that is trying to be different.


I know you’re playing Khatsalano fest in July, which is really exciting, do you have any other shows coming up that you want to share?

Cam: Yeah, I’ve got lots of shows this summer. July 14th at the Cobalt with Grade School, August 18th I'm playing with Rain City at the Rickshaw, August 25th I'm playing at Red Gate, September 16th, at the harvest festival in Ladner. There are some pretty cool bands on the lineup. That's most of my summer shows that I can think of.


Do you have a favorite underground venue you’ve played or anything from a show that stuck out as memorable for you?

Cam: I think there's a lot more DIY venues, especially now post COVID, and I feel like there's been quite a bit of growth. I might just be being overly optimistic, but just following YVR Underground and stuff like that, you see quite a bit of it, and it looks like people are having a lot of fun, and looks like a pretty safe environment. I've definitely had some good times when I was younger in it, but it also can be a little rancid.

Me: Yeah, very fun but the overwhelming BO of the back-alley shows is very there.

Cam: Yeah, somewhere on East Hastings once I was playing a show alongside Magnolia, I was drumming for another band just kind of filling in, and the whole venue got maced. Somebody pulled up with bear mace and the entire venue of 60-70 people were all on the street crying. People were running down with jugs of milk, pouring it into people's eyes and stuff. The thing that sucks about DIY is it's kind of a double-edged sword. People get to do what they want and it's pretty freeing when you have the sense of we don't really have to follow the rules. You get to do really fun things, like how in the summer of 2021, we got to play on the roof and stuff like that. It had a crazy view of North Vancouver and was beautiful, and kind of sketch, but super fun. Then you have the other side of it, where scary stuff happens, and people are unsafe. Lately though, I'm not in it as much because I'm trying to get past the DIY stage, because hopefully we can use the DIY stage to be able to get on to bigger stages and snowball from there.

Me: Yeah, it's like a like a building block.

Cam: Exactly. They're super fun, and it looks like the new wave of people that are going into that scene are having a lot of fun, and from what I've seen and heard, it seems like everybody's having a good time and people are trying to be respectful.


Do you have any advice for artists trying to break into the Vancouver scene?

Cam: I mean I'm still breaking into it, there's always plateaus within every kind of stage you get to. The first stage is just finding people that you like to play with, finding people that you have mutual respect for, and finding people that you can trust. I think those are really important things, and understanding how much work goes into being an artist, if that's what you want it to be, and deciding if you want it to be purely fun, or if you want to build a career, then you kind of have to start capitalizing on opportunity. I would say that's kind of the biggest thing. Getting your priorities straight and once you find the people and you have your priorities straight, then I think just try to create music that you are extremely proud of, at the highest quality that you can and trying to avoid having outside influence your creative process. Just making things from your heart and from your soul. At least that’s what I'm trying to do, those are guidelines that I think most people should follow, and I’m trying to follow them as well because it's hard to always be consistent with those types of things.

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Photos by Raunie Mae: