Music Interview: Summer Camp

Dave Newbury
By Dave Newbury Last edited 86 months ago
Music Interview: Summer Camp

Summer Camp's timeless indie-pop is a rare treat indeed. Often alt-pop has a bland 60’s feel, a disposable modern hipster edge or the cringworthy quirkiness of a dating site advert, so when Summer Camp bust into our hearts in 2010 it felt as though our dreams had come true. Here was a girl-boy duo with sprightly guitars and tickling keyboards to make the indie kids swoon, straight from a John Hughes movie.

Their career to date is a real life coming of age movie: Elizabeth Sankey a drama student at Goldsmiths and Jeremy Warmsley a frankly brilliant solo artist, meet up at a gig and build up a friendship, through sharing mix-tapes they eventually fall in love, then secretly form a band under the ruse of being Swedish which sent blogs and the indie scene spiralling with joy. As their identities are revealed and their beautifully polished pop stole hearts and minds, Summer Camp become the band everyone wants to be.

Fast forward to October 2011 and Summer Camp are set to release their debut album, Welcome To Condale   a record oozing with romantic synth-pop which could equally soundtrack High School prom dates or open top road trips along the Californian Coast. Recently married and officially the nicest people in indie pop Welcome To Condale is Jeremy and Elizabeth’s gift to a public eager to be part of their 80’s teen dream.

Describe your musical philosophy to us
We don't really have one. We just try to write really good songs and make them sound nice.

Who has influenced you?
Fleetwood Mac, our parents, Freaks and Geeks, Zach Morris, Kate Bush, Cocteau Twins, Blur, Radiohead and each other.

You’ve used Pledge Music to fund the album, why did you go through this channel?
We were in a position where we wanted Steve Mackey to produce the album, but didn't want to ask a label to fund it because we wanted to retain control. Michael from Moshi Moshi had the excellent idea of using Pledge. We met them and they were brilliant and super-enthusiastic and we loved the idea. It's an amazing way to have a connection direct to the people who like your music, and we've been overwhelmed by the support we've received. It makes a lot of sense - you can get people who like your music to pre-order your album and use the money to make the album. Ta-dah!

How has your area of London influenced Summer Camp’s music?
We grew up pretty close to each other in south-west London, but didn't know each other. Although we've since worked out we were at the same gigs on occasion and used to hang out in the same town. We now both live in North London and are very happy here. Big cities are amazing because you have so much on your doorstep but at the same time it's easy to make friends and have your area feel like a little village.

What’s the London gig circuit like for bands starting out and is it good to grow in?
There's a little circle of really crummy venues that basically exist by charging bands' mates for drinks. Apart from that it's great, people are very supportive and there's always lots of opportunities.

That said it's not like it is in towns like Leeds or Norwich where there'll be a really tight-knit community of bands who all know each other and play gigs together. Here you have to really work to get to know people I think. People don't go down to venues or nights just because they're there, they go when there's a band they want to see playing.

If you could have yourself projected on any building in London, which would it be and why?
Tinderbox, a cafe in Angel. Because we love it so much.

What’s your favourite…
…London monument?

We like all the bridges, although not well enough to know their individual names. Hungerford, is that the one from Embankment to Waterloo? That's awesome because it takes you from Charing Cross and the galleries to the South Bank and the BFI. (Hungerford is the original rail bridge- the footbridges are grouped as The Golden Jubilee Bridge, but I’ll let you off- Ed.)

…tube line?
Northern because it's the one we're on and because it cuts a line straight through London... but then we guess they all do that... but the Northern Line always just seems so reliable and awesome.

…place to hang out?
Angel. Or Soho. We LOVE Soho.

…area for food?
Soho is the best, especially in summer when it's balmy and you can sit outside and pretend you're a tourist.

Is there a London secret you’re willing to share?
We've already shared Tinderbox.  Wasabi is brilliant for healthy sushi fast food, also the park near us is lush, but we might need to keep that one a secret...

The first time we saw you play was at the Owl Parliament in Union Chapel when Elizabeth joined a solo Jeremy on stage. Most bands aspire to play there but you already have so where would you like to play if you could play anywhere in London?
Wow, that was the first time Elizabeth had ever sung live!  We like venues where people can sit down like that, it's nice to be comfortable. We sound so old. Maybe Battersea Dogs' Home? With all the animals howling along with us.

What other London venues do you like?
We really like the Lexington, and we also played at Paul Morley's special Christmas show at the South Bank last year which was awesome.

Are there any London bands and artists would you recommend to us?
Theme Park, Slow Club, Emmy The Great and the Rolling Stones.

What does it feel like on the eve of an album release and how does the build-up affect your personal life?
Just makes you incredibly busy and there’s no time for coffee at Tinderbox. It's great though, we're so excited!

Finally what do Summer Camp sound like in a sentence?
Like all your worst dreams rolled into one.

Welcome To Condale is released October 31 on Apricot recordings/ Moshi Moshi. A plethora of Summer Camp goodies, including a jump suit and brownies are available through Pledge Music.

Summer Camp play Efes Pool Hall 17B Stoke Newington Road , Dalston N16 8BH  on November 17. Tickets £8, and Relentless Freeze Festival, Battersea Power Station October 29.

Last Updated 28 October 2011