History of Camera Obscura
David Skirving leaves the band to form a new one of his own, CALIFORNIA SNOW STORY. Kenny —band guitarist up to now— and Lindsay —on keyboards— become part of the band On March 3rd they play Hyndland Church Hall, along with ASTRID and Stevie Jackson. The same year they also share the bill with AC ACOUSTICS in Glasgow.
They premiere the single live at the Westport bar in Dundee, the Hyndland Church in Glasgow and The Spitz in London, along with TOMPAULIN in the latter occasion. On August 14th they record their first Peel Session in BBC’s Radio 1. They play “Anti Western” and “Sun on his back”, as well as two new songs: “Number one son” and “Before you cry”, which would be later on re-recorded for their second album.
Soon after that, CAMERA OBSCURA’s debut album, “Biggest bluest Hi-Fi”, is released on November 12th by Andmoresound. This album is an exquisite collection of acoustic pop songs, simple but moving. Stuart Murdoch collaborates with them once again; apart from producing “Eighties fan”, they entrust him the subtle but majestic orchestral arrangements that appear from time to time. Stuart is also the director of the excellent video clip for “Eighties fan”.
The album is very well received by the media, getting to be Album of the Week on XFM radio station and the famous Rough Trade shop. “Biggest bluest Hi-Fi” turns into one of the all-time best selling albums on Prime distribution. They play along with HER SPACE HOLIDAY on November 15th in Brighton. On December 20th they are invited to play at John Peel’s Christmas party, the “Christmas Carol Special”, along with MELYS, LIANNE HALL and GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI.
“Eighties fan” climbs up to the 8th position on John Peel’s Festive Fifty list. The Quattro label also releases their first album in Japan, as does Gifted Records in Australia; in Spain, Elefant Records is the label that releases the fantastic debut album by CAMERA OBSCURA. The Elefant edition has two excellent bonus tracks (“Shine like a new pin” and “Let’s go bowling”), which had originally appeared as B-sides on the CD-Single “Eighties fan”, rounding up this marvellous CAMERA OBSCURA introduction to the Spanish audiences.
Lindsay leaves the band and is replaced by Carey (present keyboard player in the band).
On March 7th they play another John Peel session, featuring five songs.
They play at the “Pow to the people” festival in London, along with BUTTERFLIES OF LOVE and CANE 141.
On May 17th 2002 they play
their first gig in Spain, at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival
along with bands such as PULP, TINDERSTICKS, SPIRITUALIZED, APHEX TWIN,
NOSOTRÄSH, BIS, LE TIGRE... They appear in magazines as Rockdelux,
Mondosonoro, Neo2, Alter Ego... and are interviewed on air by Catalunya
Cultura, COM Ràdio, Disco Grande (Radio 3)... The “Eighties
fan” videoclip is very well received in many music shows on MTV,
Sol Música, 40 TV, TV3, Telecinco, Antena3, Telemadrid, LaOtra,
Cadena 40’s “Viaje a los Sueños Polares” radio show chooses “Eighties fan” as the Best International Single of 2001 and “Biggest bluest Hi-Fi” as the second Best International Album of 2001. On September 28th CAMERA OBSCURA play the tenth anniversary party of the excellent American fanzine Chickfactor, at the “Black and White Ball” festival, in London Bush Halls, along with FUTURE BIBLE HEROES, PIPAS, THE MONTGOLFIER BROTHERS and WOULD-BE-GOODS.
In November they come back to Spain, to tour the most important clubs and winter festivals in the country. They play at the Tanned Tin Festival in Santander, Pamplona University’s “Ciclo de Sonido Emergente”, Cadiz University, Madrid’s El Sol, Sta. Pola’s Camelot, Valencia’s Roxy, Madrid’s FNAC. More than 5.000 fans saw CAMERA OBSCURA during their Spanish gigs; Tracyanne Campbell’s lovely voice and their liking for acoustic and sweet pop charmed the audiences since the first time. It was a success backed up to a certain extent by the excellent feedback that got their debut album "Biggest bluest Hi-Fi" in Spain. During their Spanish gigs, the band was interviewed by radio shows, appeared in the press and specialized magazines, and did radio sessions —Radio 3, Telemadrid Radio, 40 Principales...—. They also played live on Radio 3/TVE2’s show (11-11-02) and Telemadrid’s LaOtra Unplugged (11-12-02).
They start the recording of their second album, again at Glasgow’s Cava Studios. Once again, they work with the renowned Geoff Allan as engineer and co-producer, along with the band. The album is recorded on different sessions between April and December.
On July 25th, “Teenager” is released as their second album’s advanced single, featuring “Teenager” as the main track plus two other previously unreleased and exclusive songs: "I don’t want to see you", recorded during the same album sessions, and "Footloose and fancy free", an intimate pop piece recorded in April in Kenny’s room. During the month of July, the videoclip for “Teenager” is shot in Glasgow. Luis Calvo —Elefant design— does the single’s summery cover. Radio 3’s Disco Grande chooses “Teenager” as their International Song of the Month in June.
In August, the band comes back to Spain to premiere the new album at the Benicassim Festival (featuring BLUR, BECK, MOBY, SUEDE...), where their fans can purchase the first copies of "Underachievers please try harder", a delicious handbook which summarizes the best pop keys, proudly released by Elefant worldwide from now on.
On August 25th this second album is finally released. This LP collects the virtues of their successful first album and announces a new stage full of big achievements and unforgettable moments. With hard work and good taste, CAMERA OBSCURA have reached an enviable worship state which takes them closer to massive success everyday. CAMERA OBSCURA’s songs grip the listener with each new hearing: they’re the perfect example of classic pop with that “something special” that is so hard to define: is it Tracyanne’s voice? Is it the varied and always delicious influences - from 50s girlbands to 60s soft pop or country-pop? Is it just that songs like “Teenager” are simply, absolutely perfect? CAMERA OBSCURA know how to touch people deeply with sweet melodies, subtle arrangements and bittersweet lyrics. A marvellous proof of maturity, wisdom and elaborate pop jewels. Cover design is by Divine INC. The album pics are signed by Stuart Murdoch. A limited edition on vinyl is also released.
In September they come back to Spain, to play at the Lemon Pop Festival in Murcia and also at the premiere parties of Elefant’s “Modapop” compilation, at the Clamores Club in Madrid and the Mond Club in Barcelona, where they share the stage with fellow Elefant acts NIZA, LA CASA AZUL, LES TRÈS BIEN ENSEMBLE and ENTRE RÍOS. Halfway through September they begin the premiere tour in England, and record a new John Peel session. “Suspended from class” is chosen as one of the Best International Songs from 2003, according to the staff at Rockdelux magazine.
In March they travel back to Spain, where they take part on the second edition of the Soft Pop Tour, along with TREMBLING BLUE STARS, THE CLIENTELE and LA CASA AZUL.
In May, Elefant releases “Keep it clean”, second single taken from their second album. This Cd-Single features “Keep it clean” as the main title, plus two exclusive, previously unreleased tracks: “San Francisco song” and “Amigo mío”, the latter being their first song in Spanish, written and sung by Kenny McKeeve, the band’s guitarist. An additional track is included, featuring the videoclip for the song “Teenager”, directed by Blair Young, a name we find in many videoclips by FRANZ FERDINAND, BELLE & SEBASTIAN, SONS & DAUGHTERS or MY LATEST NOVEL, and who also took part in the making of “Eighties fan”, the first videoclip by CAMERA OBSCURA.
The record walks a triumphant path all over the world, and it’s licensed to many different countries: Konkurrent is releasing it in Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg, whereas Pop Frenzy does the same in Australia, adding as bonus tracks the songs “SF song” and “Amigo mío” (both B-sides to “Keep it clean”), plus the videoclip for “Teenager”. In Asia, a territory that has always shown a big interest in the band, Ales Music releases the album in South Corea (featuring the same bonus tracks as the American release on Merge); Avant Garden Records does the same in Taiwan, but with a different artwork; and Imperial Records releases it in Japan, adding as bonus tracks the four B-sides on both singles, “Teenager” and “Keep it clean”.
At the end of the year they included and acoustic song on the “Sunsets and Silhouettes” compilation, released on Planting Seeds Records, where they share the line-up with FREEHEAT and SISTER VANILLA, the new bands fronted by the Reid brothers (ex JESUS AND MARY CHAIN).
A new videoclip is shot of the song “I love my Jean”, the title track on the new single, which is once again directed by Blair Young. On the British Independent Lists issued on March 27th, “I love my Jean” is featured on number 28th after its first week out, sharing space with such artists as MERCURY REV, BRIGHT EYES o DIZZEE RASCAL.
On March 25th they record an acoustic version of “I love my Jean” for the Fred Macaulay show on BBC Scotland, and on the 28th they record three other songs for the “Air” show, on the same station. In April, the band goes out on a short tour of Sweden, promoting the songs on their latest single.
In September, the band enters
the studio in Stockholm in order to record the follow-up to the successful
“Underachievers please try harder”.
This is the first time the band works under the supervision of a producer, apart from the collaboration with Stuart Murdoch on the “Eighties fan” single: the chosen man this time has been Swedish producer Jari Haapalainen, whose CV includes previous work with Ed Harcourt and, especially, with Swedish band THE CONCRETES (with whom he also works as a satellite musician; in fact, Haapalainen keeps a side-project, named HEIKKI, along with Maria Eriksson from THE CONCRETES).
CAMERA OBSCURA being
a part of this movie is even more interesting to us if we note the background
of the movie's Music Supervisor: Liz Gallacher won a Brit Award for her
job in "The Full Monty", and was shortlisted for Film Music
in 2003's NME Awards for her job in "24 Hour Party People",
as well as having worked with such directors as Atom Egoyan, Michael Winterbottom
or Istvan Szabo.
In March, the band visits the USA for three live shows. The most important being undoubtedly their slot at the South By Southwest (SXSW) media and industry meeting in Austin, Texas. But they also play NYC's Knitting Factory, as well as Chapel Hill, North Carolina; the city where their American label Merge Records is based. On both these shows they're supported by Maria Taylor.
In May comes out "Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken", first single taken from the band's new album. "Let's get out of this country" -title of this third album- was recorded and mixed in several studios in Sweden (studios that have been previously used for recordings by THE MAGIC NUMBERS, Neneh Cherry or even Per Gessle from ROXETTE), and produced by Jari Haapalainen, producer behind such gems as THE CONCRETES or Ed Harcourt. The string arrangements are provided by Bjorn Yttling, from infamous trio Peter, Bjorn & John. On this album, which comes out in June, CAMERA OBSCURA teach us all a lesson on classic, timeless pop with drops of country and soul here and there, featuring ten instant classics where Tracyanne Campbell's beautiful voice is wrapped in majestic and exquisitely arranged string arrangements (for which they had string musicians that have been in recent tours with Brian Wilson or Arthur Lee & LOVE).
This single's video was directed by Domingo González, the director behind the videos by Elefant Records' act LA CASA AZUL, as well as director of the celebrated short film "Las Superamigas contra el Profesor Vinilo" (you can know more about it on its website www.lassuperamigas.com). For this new video of CAMERA OBSCURA, Domingo González paid a tribute to the choreographies we can find in the best classic cinema, and he joined it with a constant bombing of retrofuturistic pop images: from the neons in Shibuya to the fabrics, dresses and furniture that reflect the glossy universe that all pop music lovers dream about, the same universe we endorse at Elefant Records.
By mid-year, in less than six
months online, CAMERA OBSCURA's page on Myspace.com got over 90.000 visits
to the site, and more than 350.000 plays of the songs they uploaded on
the website. Special mention here to their single "Lloyd, I'm ready
to be heartbroken", which in a few weeks got more than 145.000 plays.
In May and June, the band embarks on a successful UK tour, and during the whole month of July they tour the USA and Canada, coast to coast, on a 22-date tour which starts in Toronto on the 4th of July and ends in Cincinatti on July 30th.
English music mag Q Magazine reaches in their August issue the mag's 20th anniversary, and as part of its ongoing celebrations they release a cover-mount CD compilation paying homage to the decade the magazine was launched: the 80's. The CD, which comes out on sale with the magazine on June 30th, features fifteen cover versions of classic eighties tracks by some of the most interesting current artists: PLACEBO covering Kate Bush, THE FUTUREHEADS tackling David Bowie, Katie Melua taking on THE CURE, ORSON covering HALL&OATES... Among all these names, and showing the place of privilege the band is achieving on top of the international pop community, CAMERA OBSCURA included their own, newly recorded cover version of Sheena Easton's "Modern girl".
In September the band releases "Let's get out of this country", the second single taken from the album of the same title. It also comes with an excellent videoclip. A precious melody dressed with violins and melancholy, where Blair Young (on his best work yet - and that's a lot to say when we're talking about the director of all the videos by CAMERA OBSCURA, plus many other Scottish acts like TEENAGE FANCLUB, SONS AND DAUGHTERS or BELLE AND SEBASTIAN) shows the band lazily going through their repertoire in a living room rehearsal, matching perfectly the feelings of boredom and need to escape from routine that we find in the song's lyrics. An evocative video with a deliciously mellow atmosphere, giving even more charm and emotional impact to an already outstanding song.
On September 16th the band played the eleventh edition of the Lemon Pop Festival in Murcia, where they shared the stage with THE REZILLOS, TENDER FOREVER, SCARLET'S WELL or THE FRANK AND WALTERS. The show was aired live nationwide in Spain through RNE-Radio 3.
It's clear: the music by CAMERA OBSCURA is perfect to go along with the footage of the best TV series. In the fourth chapter of the third season of "Grey's Anatomy", the two first minutes of the opening credits are soundtracked by CAMERA OBSCURA's song "If looks could kill".
At the end of the
fifth episode in the new NBC series "Friday Night Lights" you
can hear another song by CAMERA OBSCURA: "Let's get out of this country",
almost the whole track!
Since "Let's get out of
this country" came out, the band has been touring the world and playing
its songs live: concerts all over Britain, North America from coast to
coast, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands... And finally Spain, with fourteen
packed venues between November 16th and December 16th.
On this very succesful year, indie pop label from Singapore Fruit Records organized a party to celebrate the domestic release of "Let's get out of this country" at club BarbaaBlackChic, a two-storey building at the Little India district in Singapore.
One of the latest countries to join the international fever for the band from Glasgow was Mexico: on December 4th "Let's get out of this country" was released through the Noiselab label (in their roster we can also find THE ARCADE FIRE, BRAKES, BLOC PARTY, CANSEI DE SER SEXY, CAT POWER, MORRISSEY, THE LIBERTINES or VERACRUZ).
Thanks to this domestic edition in Mexico, CAMERA OBSCURA take advantage of their second American tour -starting at the end of January 2007- to play their first show in Mexico: february 10th at Poliforum Siqueiros in Ciudad de México.To give a perfect end to this magnificent year, the video of "Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken" appeared on the list of the best videos of the year for the TV show "Subterranean" on MTV2.
The new single is released at the same time the band travels again to the USA for a second tour promoting the album, starting January 18th until February 18th. After this, the six-piece will travel to Australia for seven dates in the Antipodes, and from there they will follow through to Asian territories.Their coming back to Europe is due for the spring of 2007, with a new British / Irish tour in March and more shows in Spain in April.
During the summer of 2006 CAMERA OBSCURA had already toured the States, playing the songs from "Let's get out of this country". During those shows they travelled with Blair Young, who we can consider as CAMERA OBSCURA's visual biographer (he's filmed most of their videos, as well as others by TEENAGE FANCLUB, SONS AND DAUGHTERS or BELLE AND SEBASTIAN). Taking advantage of a colourful month travelling through the American states, Young filmed a frantic videoclip of the song "If looks could kill".
In the first weeks of 2007 we start receiving the Best-of-year lists, where the third album by CAMERA OBSCURA is well ranked. In other musicians choices, too: in Mojo magazine Richard Hawley chose "Let's get out of this country" as one of the best records from 2006. On The Independent we can read Brett Anderson (SUEDE, THE TEARS) saying that this is his favourite record this year, and that it reminds him of the bes moments by THE CONCRETES.
On The Daily Telegraph, the song "Let's get out of this country" is one of the five best singles of the year (along with worldwide megahits like "Crazy" by GNARLS BARKLEY or "Hips don't lie" by Shakira), and on the same newspaper we can read Stuart Murdoch (BELLE AND SEBASTIAN) saying this is "the best contemporary album I've heard in a long time".
At the same time, "Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken" appears on Q magazine's list with "100 Great undiscovered songs".
In Spain, "Let's get out of this country" can be found high up on the lists of the main specialized magazines (Rockdelux, Go Mag), and the radio show "Disco Grande" (Radio 3) chose it as best record of the year. On that same show, "Lloyd, I'm ready to be heartbroken" is the second best song of the year.
Notes On The Songs By Tracyanne Campbell
Ready To Be Heartbroken - I still can't believe there are
6 choruses in this song!
To view larger and/or download full size print versions of these images. Please select the thumbnails below