A Mountain Brook Musician’s Debut in an Aching World
By Helen Camp
Photos by Brit Huckabay and Courtesy Denson Camp
An artist’s first album is arguably the most significant in many ways; it introduces the musician to audiences and should be the finest representation of the musician’s capabilities that it can be. Though creators are expected to evolve and change over the course of their careers and experiment with new concepts, their first impression on the world is often held sacred by adoring fans who treasure feeling that they knew who an artist was before the artist even understood themselves. Denson Camp’s self-made debut album, Good Morning, My Love! Tomorrow It’s All Over, arrived on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music on January eighth. Camp describes it as “blue, green, and nostalgic.” It’s introspective and dewy-eyed lyrics and melodies reflect the isolation felt by people around the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but at the same time, it’s filled with hopeful and exuberant moments which capture the fascinating feelings of youth and propel listeners to move forward into this new year.
Camp’s album opens with a song called “Overture,” which clocks in at exactly fifty-nine seconds. Somewhat of a tribute to the opening of The Who’s concept album Tommy, it serves as a preview of what a listener can expect from the story the following nine songs tell, both lyrically and musically. Camp notes that he was inspired by Billie Eilish’s “goodbye,” the final track of her Grammy-winning album, and the influence can certainly be seen. While his love of bands such as The Who, The Beatles and Simon and Garfunkel can certainly be traced in his melodies, Camp admits that it was only recently that he came to appreciate current popular music. After listening through Eilish’s debut album for the first time and learning that Eilish and her older brother Finneas O’Connell produced it in their bedroom using Logic ProX software, Denton realized that he too could create something on his own. “If [they] had said they produced it on FL Studio, I would have bought FL Studio the next day. [I thought] I can do it if they can do it. I had never listened to modern music.” Camp jokes about his lack of knowledge about the world of producing, laughing that the next day [he] googled: what is a compressor
At twenty, Camp is still somewhat new to the art of expressing his own thoughts and feelings in original songwriting. Though he’s explored writing lyrics for years, he recalls, “I kind of had that phase where I instantly hated everything I made. I thought they were naive and cringy. [I thought], I am a sixteen, seventeen-year old…what am I writing about in my life that is really authentic? I don’t think I had anything to say back then.” That feeling has vanished as young adulthood has brought him new experiences. In the creation of this album, he says “writing was like extracting poison from myself.” The depth of thought and emotion is evident in his lyrics, which Camp attributes to the value he places on authenticity in writing. Comparing early drafts of his songs to diary entries, he asserts, “My goal is to write an honest lyric.
Camp explains that learning to mix and produce on a computer program by himself was daunting. “Creativity took up about ten percent of my energy on this album,” he says, “and about ninety percent went into the production, the recording, and the mixing. It made me look at music not as a creative thing, but as a sound.” Speaking to the overall challenges of the creative process, he points out that “every single aspect of creativity can be easy and every single aspect can be very difficult. It’s a gift when it comes easily.” When asked if he is interested in collaborating with other artists in the future, Camp confirms eagerly, pointing out that exposure to new artists is what helps him realize what he himself wants to do artistically.
The COVID-19 pandemic has in some way affected everyone and everything, and Denson Camp and his album are no exception. “The lack of social interaction has probably made this album more self-centered,” he admits. “This album was not about other people, but how other people affected me. It’s very egocentric in that sense.” While the isolation has been difficult, being alone has allowed Camp to spend more time with his own creative thoughts and focus on making something he is proud of. Denson took his sophomore year off from Pomona College in California because of the pandemic, and his daily schedule seems to revolve around music, whether it’s the soundtrack to his activities or at the forefront of his personal goals. “My best friend is music, which is kind of lame,” he confesses.
Having come of age in an environment where technology impacts practically all aspects of life, the young artist has an interesting perspective on the effects of streaming services and social media platforms on the music industry. “Technology has given benefits and disadvantages to humans, and music streaming platforms are no different,” he claims. “I’m all for removing barriers to entry because otherwise I wouldn’t be making music and releasing it. Spotify gets twenty thousand to fifty thousand songs a day. I worked on this album for a year, and it’s ten songs. How can I expect to make any noise at all as an independent artist?” Nonetheless, he’s cognizant of the fact that technology has provided opportunities for him that past musicians were not afforded. “On the laptop that I’m talking to you on, I have the technological capabilities that the Beatles had in 1960.”
The self-awareness that makes this album special is apparent in the artist himself. He is surprisingly critical of his skills, claiming: “I am not even close to being the best at anything I do. I would love to get my hands on instrumentalists who are far more talented and gifted than I am in their fields to play the parts I’ve written.” He is excited to make music in the future that may be deemed more “listenable” and accessible to audiences. “With this album I’m taking myself so damn seriously. I also want to make music that’s fun, that I would love to blast out of my car on a summer day.”
Until then, if you’re looking for music that will be blasting out of Camp’s car, here are five songs at the top of his current playlist:
1) “See You Later,” Elliott Smith
2) “Sofia,” Clairo
3) “Vacation,” Still Woozy
4) “Good Days,” SZA
5) “Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want,” The Smiths
For more, densoncamp.com