Last week I went to see Summer Camp play in Oxford and needless to say they were amazing. Starting off in the middle of the crowd they launched into Better Off Without You and kept that level of energy up for the whole set. It was a great gig and really showcased why they’re one of mine, and A LOTE of other people’s favourite picks for the year. After the show, I caught up with Elizabeth and chatted about, what feels like, everything under sun from the John Hughes movies, Fleetwood Mac, Coming of Age novels, Meryl Streep in the new Margaret Thatcher film, our shared love for American comedy (and why Community should be saved) and what we were actually there to talk about, Summer Camp music.
You guys started off with the cover of The Flamingoes track Only Have Eyes For You and you can hear that 60s type influence throughout the album, but there’s also this massive 80s pop, synth pop influence too. What made you go in that direction?
Well the weird this is, loads of the reviews (cause we read all our reviews) have said how 80s it is. There’s definitely, aesthetically the concept behind the album, we stole that completely from John Hughes but sonically we don’t think it sounds 80s. At the same time, we listened to Fleetwood Mac, which is 70s and we definitely do love the music that we grew up with and what our parents listened to.
I think the most 80s one for me is Better Off Without You with the footloose-esque beginning?
What’s the footloose beginning? (I explain the footloose beginning, and embarrassingly say how I thought they ‘stole’ it from that) Oh I guess, no not at all, its funny people always say that, but no. I haven’t listened to that song in 20 years! We don’t mind the 80s comparisons, its funny that its what every review has said.
You created the whole back story for Summer Camp when you first came out, did you do that because Jeremy was a successful singer/songwriter and you are an actress/journalist so you didn’t want to be judged on that and wanted to remain anonymous?
No, I mean in the beginning we were anonymous because we didn’t really want to be in a band, we just did it for fun. Then stuff started happening and it was a bit awkward to be honest, we didn’t know if we wanted to do this, it was all a bit surreal. The reason we like writing for characters because we don’t think our lives are that interesting and we like to put our experiences into the mouths of other people because then you can look at it from a different perspective, its much richer. Jeremy has done the autobiographical singer-songwriter stuff and he never wanted to be like that, he wanted to be in a band. I love playing parts and writing.
I read in an interview that you also wanted to be anonymous because you didn’t want you friends to hear it, what do they think of it now, big fans?
Yeah, well my oldest bestest friend, Louise, is our manager now. Later this week, we’re having our London show, and we live in London, my friends DJing and we’re having karaoke and all our friends are going to take over so its going to be a huge party.
Pop seems to be having a bit of comeback with the whole chillwave movement, why do you think people are going back to the nostalgic pop music?
I don’t know. I’ve always been incredibly nostalgic, and I think Jeremy is as well because its comforting. I can try and say I think its because people aren’t happy with the economic situation and the government, people want some kind of escapism. For me, music was always about escapism. I think its just that pop music, 10, 20, 30 years ago was amazing. There are songs that we still listen to that our parents played us and things like that. Our generation had parents that were really into music. That said, we only started listening to Fleetwood Mac this year. I think its that dreamy, synthy yet poppy music and dealing with darker issues, is something that everybody, well nearly everybody, can connect with.
You’ve talked about your love for John Hughes, what’s your favourite John Hughes film?
I can’t pick. I just think he was a genius, he had a way of portraying teenages and understanding them that was both empathetic and in a way that they would want to be portrayed. I think some people have managed to do that, but he remains the one true great. I think we wouldn’t have all of the tv shows, films and books, all the stuff that we have now if it wasn’t for his influence. Personally, sixteen candles I love it. Duckie is just the best character, he’s just amazing, he dresses so well.
Who would you want to be in The Breakfast Club?
Ally Sheedy, I think Molly Wingwald is amazing but I could never be her. I always thought she was the coolest and then they give her the makeover, love it.
You’re a fan of the coming of age narrative, was that an influence in writing Welcome To Condale?
Louise always mocks me because I only read coming of age novels. I think its because of what happens to you when you’re ‘coming of age’, whatever that means, the things that happen to you then are so formative, although you’ll never experience the exact same experiences again, we’ve all experienced something like them. When you fall in love for the first time or break up for the first time, this will happen again, but everyone goes through it. That’s what we tried to make happen with the album and thats why we have the 50s and the 80s, two women of different ages but going through similar things.
I saw your post on twitter about saving Community, sucks doens’t it?
Yeah. I want them to make a decision so I can make my peace with it.
Also read you guys like Arrested Development, so would you rather Community be saved or have the Arrested Development movie?
If I’m honest, I think Community is brilliant but the last series hasn’t been as good as the earlier ones. It’s the kind of thing where you really want it to be amazing, because it has been. The flashes of genius that have happened on Community outweigh what Arrested Development did. So I think I want to give Community another shot. But I’d sit Community down and say to them you have to make THE BEST series, you have to get what is good and keep it.
What’s your favourite episode?
Ah…The zombie one. But where’s Chang gone, and he’s so strong, he’s my favourite character. The paintball episode and the zombie episode are both amazing. When Chang comes out with the two guns…amazing.
Back to the music, 2011 has been pretty crazy for you, what’s next? Anymore remixes, the Jodie Marie On The Road was really good.
Jeremy has been asked to do about five remixes while we’re on tour. Its amazing, he’s so talented and its something that he really wants to do, he wants to get into production. He did the Jodie Marie one, and he wasn’t expecting much and it hadn’t had many plays on soundcloud and then people started tweeting about it. I think he wants to do as much of that kind of thing as possible.
Have you had any ‘wow’ moments so far?
Yeah this whole tour. To be honest all of it. We started this as something silly we were doing one weekend and to be still doing it two years later. This year has been amazing at points, but its been really tough, we didn’t know how we were going to put out the album for quite a while and it was difficult. We got to that point where we were like is this even going to happen because we couldn’t decide what to do. So that’s made it even sweeter because we are doing it. Everyone on the tour has been so lovely and such lovely audiences. We’re feeling so lucky, we’re on such a high at the moment.
The blogs called I Think You’ll Like This Song, can you give us a song that you’d think we’d like?
We had a really amazing day back in October where one of my friends was DJing and he played Fleetwood Mac’s Everywhere. It came on and it was one of those nights where you’re completely exhausted and you’re on such a high, everyone had gone off to sit down. He played it and everyone ran to the dancefloor. It was one of those moments when I didn’t realise how much I love this song, so that for both of us is our all time fave at the moment.
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