USC-grad and up-and-coming artist, Cameron Ernst, released his debut album, Steadfast, last week. I love being able to support fellow Trojans and want to shine light on some great new artists I think my friends would really enjoy.
Cameron is super talented and has some bomb songs on the new album. I would also highly recommend checking out some of his videos. I got a chance to talk to Cameron and ask him a few questions about the new album, his inspirations and his life as a USC grad.
So, you just released your first album Steadfast earlier this week. What has it been like in anticipation of the album?
I have been giddy with excitement for this album. This a new sound for me, definitely more pop than anything I've ever put out there with interesting synth sounds and big beats. It's always exciting to put out new music, but I'm extremely proud of these songs -- especially as a collection of work. It has also been a lot of hard work that's finally coming to fruition. I love being able to look back over the process and think about the early stages of simply writing these songs on the piano, searching for a producer, imagining what these songs might sound like produced, and so on and so on. I can finally say it has all come together and everything I've been working on is out there for people to hear and enjoy!
Going into the album, did you have a certain concept or theme you wanted to tackle or does each song have its own story?
I didn't have any preconceived ideas about the theme or concept for the album, it sort of just organically came together. Every song has its own story, but what's interesting is when I looked at them all together, I realized that there was a consistent theme of bravery. I think that's why "Steadfast" seemed like the perfect title (which is also the title of the last track of the album).
Where do you draw the most inspiration from? And once you start kicking ideas around, do you usually do the music or lyrics first?
Inspiration for me comes in many forms, but mostly through real experiences I'm going through. I'm also really inspired by listening to different kinds of music and seeing great films or television. My writing process is always different, it can start with a concept or a lyric idea...or it can be a melody that was in my head or came out of playing around on the piano.
What do you hope listeners take away from Steadfast?
I hope listeners are inspired to look within themselves and reflect on their own lives, maybe asking themselves questions like "What makes me tick?" or "Who/what am I fighting for in life?"...I think within my lyrics are these big life questions that I've been asking myself and I hope others will begin to think about as well.
How was the transition from growing up in the Midwest to going to school in Los Angeles at USC?
It really wasn't all that crazy or as big of a culture shock as what people might expect. I'm a pretty "go with the flow" kind of guy and I think growing up in Kansas instilled in me my good morals and values, so I was able to adapt while sticking to my roots and who I am as a person. LA is definitely a crazy, exciting place and opens your eyes up to the rest of the world which is a good thing. Thankfully, I had the amazing USC college experience as an introduction to this city. I imagine it would have been a lot harder if I would have just moved out here and thrown myself into the hustle and bustle. I have so much respect for people who do that.
How have your education and experiences from USC impacted your music career or creativity and skill?
There are so many passionate, intelligent, go-getters at USC. I think being amongst these future movers and shakers of the world was really motivating and inspiring for me. I double majored in theater and communication and balanced my academic studies with my involvement in activities on and off campus. My busy schedule taught me discipline and organization. If I could go back, I would have gotten more involved with the Pop Music program (which was just starting at the time), but I'm really thankful I got to pursue music on my own time and eventually decided to intern at Warner Brothers Records. That internship was a great way of learning about the music industry firsthand and inspired me to pursue the road of being an artist. It's one of those unexplainable things when I think about the person I've become, but looking back I know that USC has had a crucial role in molding me into who I am. I mean, it's no coincidence that "Steadfast" is pretty synonymous with "Fight On" :)
Do you think your style, musically, has changed since being in college?
Definitely. While I still start out writing most of the time on the piano and my roots are still as a singer-songwriter, I think my sound has evolved and taken on a life of its own. I used to call my music "piano pop" but looking back it was pretty much just "singer-songwriter" -- I'm definitely settling into my pop sound now which is my "Indie Pop" style.
Do you have any plans to tour in the future?
No plans as of now to do a large tour, but I definitely will have shows coming up in some TBA cities. Los Angeles Album Release Party this Friday (9/25) and then off to Dallas next week for a show (10/2). I'll definitely play LA at least once again before the end of the year and we'll see what else comes up!
If you could only listen to three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
Such a hard question now that we live in the age of singles haha. But here goes...
Missy Higgins - "On A Clear Night" ... Missy is an amazing singer-songwriter and I love these songs. Her voice and these songs take me back to good times when I listened to her a lot in high school and college.
Broods - "Evergreen" - ... This album has songs you can jam out to as well as songs that you can get lost in with the ambient vocals. Reminds me of this past year - my first year back in LA.
...Ahhhhh my last choice! For the rest of my life!...ummm this is impossible. But I'll go with Ray LaMontagne - "Gossip In the Grain" ... His voice is medicine to the soul, gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling.
Can I also throw a Country music mixtape on there? Guilty pleasure :)
Where do you hope that the release of Steadfast`takes you next, career wise or in life in general?
I hope that it opens doors to expose my music to a bigger audience, whatever that might mean. I also hope that from this album I'm able to keep meeting others who are making great music and making an impact on the music industry -- I think collaborating with more of these types of people will only make me into a better person and artist. I know that making this album has already inspired me to keep pushing forward with my music career and where I'm at in life!
Be sure to check out Cameron's album release party on Friday September 25 from 7-9 PM at The Noho Pac at 11020 Magnolia Blvd., Noho! Find tickets here. (Special items from Boxed Water and The Giving Keys will be at the event!!)