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Seismic Interview: With Mychal of Campfire O.K.

August 2, 2010


In the last few months I just so happen to discover the band Campfire Ok for myself …  and I was instantly smitten with their vocal harmonies, tight folky sound and fearless yet well thought out instrumentation. So not long ago I was lucky enought to sit down with Mychal (lead singer) to do a interview. Like two besties at a slumber party, we immediately hit it off, made fun of eachother and he spilt the beans. Much more was said that is actually here, and those secrets will remain just that…secrets. But this is what he did have to say.

 
Explain where the name came from?
The name was a total fluke.  I was working as a bartender awhile back and made a small doodle of a campfire, and below it I randomly wrote o.k.  For some non-sensical reason the name just stuck with me.  I thought it was funny and flowed well … like “cellar door”.  Just not as Donnie Darko.
 
Where did you grow up and what brought you here to Seattle?
I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona.  More specifically Paradise Valley.  Funny little town made solely of concrete and shopping malls.  Moving to Seattle was a very escapism tactic for me.  I needed to leave Az and after visiting, I realized that the city itself had huge potential for me to learn.  To be more clear on the answer, the thing that brought me to Seattle was distance. It was far away from my hometown and I knew absolutely knowone. 
 
First instrument?
My first Instrument was bass.  Yeah that’s right, I was a turd. 
 
How long has it taken for you to get from thinking of the name of the band, to now where the band is today? 
I thought of the name in 2008 with absolutely no idea where it would go.   
 
How did you come across each of the musicians in the band?
This is a sort of convoluted answer.  In early 2009 I tracked the foundation for 11 songs with a guy named David Stern who was a drummer at Jason Mcgerr’s studio called Two Sticks.  I took those songs back to my house to start working on additional instrumentation.  As I started that, there were a number of things that happened.   I met This girl Brit, Turns out that she is super smart and has a shit-ton of instruments at her house and was willing to help out with the recordings.  I also met a trumpet player named Hanigan.  I somehow convinced him to come to my house and work on horn parts for a bunch of songs.  At the same time I had asked My friend VanDerSpek to play bass to which he said maybe, on the condition that he still has time to work on his project called KOKO and The Sweetmeats, and I was starting to get offers to play shows.  So… Turns out that Brit could sing like Freddy Mercury, wanted to play music with me, Hanigan could not only play trumpet, but could also play banjo, (even though he didn’t have one) and was a brainiac who wanted to play in “the band”, VanDerSpek not only played bass, but also had an angelic voice and wanted to play with us as well.  David (the former drummer) and I parted ways and we were out of a drummer.  Big super bummer seeing that I knew there were shows coming up.  Brit being the socialite she is, had this friend Milner who played drums and said that he would play a show with us  as long as he liked the music and we were nice to him.  We weren’t.  After 5 practices where we made fun of him, didn’t include him in photos, and ignored him, he was in the band.  Kidding, Milner is great.  Is that confusing enough?  Everyone in Campfire Ok plays an instrument in the band that is not their main instrument.  
 
What would your local dream bill look like?
My Local dream bill would probably be with Telekinesis, Campfire Ok and Champagne Champagne.  Totally diverse but awesome! But with that said….this gig coming up on September 23rd at The Crocodile with Fences and The Head and The Heart is pretty amazing.
 
General dream bill?
Arcade Fire, Spoon, Campfire Ok.  Good god I would poop my pants for that bill.
 
 Did you study music?
I went to school at NAU in Flagstaff Az.  I was a composition and theory major. 
 
I hear you like fondling other people’s money…..explain?
(Laughing)  I do. I worked for a bank for quite some time as a banker and mortgage rep.  I really like the finance industry as a whole and had a fantastic time getting to know the “back roads” to the money that people have.  Basically, I liked being nosy and finding out how people had what they had, and how they got in to the financial position that they were in, whether it was good or bad.
 
Why have you recently decided to incorporate a choir into the band? Is it long-term?
Why? because it is flat-out awesome! that’s why.  It is going to add another dimension to live performances that you do not get to see very often.  Unless you are a choir nerd like we are.  As far as long-term goes… I think it would be fantastic to have a choir for a long time.  Of course we would not use the choir on every song, but there is no reason to limit our possibilities.   
 
If you hate talking about your band so much, why take on the responsibility?
First and foremost, I only DISLIKE talking about my band because I prefer not to come across as the guy who introduces himself as the “lead singer” in a band.  That guy sucks a big wiener… no offense 🙂 (On the contrary..not offended at all..I get it).  I love talking about my band because I love my band!  I think we are great at what we do and very cool people. I take on the responsibility because of that very reason.  I just don’t ever want to be the guy who never talks about anything else.
 
Does the stage effect your ego?
The stage itself definitely does not affect my ego.  I have been performing since I was 13 and have always been as confident as I am now.  Its ok, I know you think I am arrogant (not true).  I do too, but  to be honest with you I feel quite humbled when I get off stage.  It is like getting naked in front of someone for the first time.  You really have to put yourself out there. Maybe most people don’t feel that way after a show, but it really grounds me. 
 
What is it about Justin Timberlake that you enjoy?
Everything. Duh. 
 
Even though you know there are assholes in the Seattle music industry, would you work with them anyway?
I did say yes to doing this interview with you, right?  I’m kidding you big queen you’re awesome. (What a bitch)
 
Is it hard to give up control of the creating process … If need be?
The only reason it is hard to give up control of the creating process is because it is something that I do uncontrollably, if that makes sense.  Rarely do I sit down and say, “I’m going to write a song today.”   That is just not the way I work.  It is a totally spontaneous thing.  With that in mind, sometimes once a song  has been decided and lyrics are done it is actually relieving to give up control of the rest.  Songs tend to be better when you have multiple forces creating them.
 
Lets say you’ve achieved stardom..or lets say your work is admired by a hundred thousand people (or the amount you consider succesful)….then what?
Then we would keep going!  We were doing this before anyone knew who we were, and we will keep doing it once 200 million billion trillion know who we are.  It is just what we are supposed to do…….

 

Campfire O.K.-Strange Like We Are

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