Interview Summer Camp: ‘Brought To You By Orange Wednesdays’

Film nights and 90s hip-hop: Summer Camp’s new record is born from some unexpected places.

Post the sad demise of Kim ‘n Thurston, Summer Camp’s Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley are probably the most prominent married couple in indiedom. And (whisper), they’re cute with it. As they discuss the evening’s dinner plans (take away, as it happens – though Jeremy makes a mean pad thai and a “particularly nice fresh tomato pasta dish”), they repeatedly point out how the other reacts. They don’t just finish each other’s sentences, they talk over them, one starting before the other’s finished.

“We’re very different,” Elizabeth reiterates several times throughout, though in this instance she’s referring to the pair’s work ethic – and, given them living, travelling and touring together - how they keep work, well, work. “I think Jeremy wants to be working every day,” she continues, “he feels bad if he isn’t, whereas I’m much more of a ‘when the muse arrives’ kind of person.”

“I’ve always taken a lot of inspiration from Nick Cave,” Jeremy adds, “who literally has an office, with a piano and a typewriter, he goes in Monday to Friday, 9-5.” “Whereas sometimes,” Elizabeth interrupts, “I do not want to be in that room, it’s the last thing I’ll want to be doing, and I’ll just be like…” She pulls a face.

“But, I think our band life is actually probably more regulated than it is for most,” she adds, “because we’re in the same house, we have the same schedule, so it’s not like we’re calling each other up going, ‘Do you want to write today?’ We have this great thing where we have days off during the week, which is amazing.” Jeremy butts in. “The new album is basically brought to you by Orange Wednesdays.”

Oh, yes. The album. Eleven tracks, self-titled, features a photo of the pair snogging on the front. It’s also a bit disco, which may or may not have been deliberate. Jeremy “didn’t think it was at all disco” as they were writing, but it did start life as an attempt at “ethereal disco”. Those songs, “none of them were very good,” he adds, got scrapped early on.

But, thanks to Elizabeth’s influence - “she introduced me to a lot of 90s hip-hop stuff I didn’t really know too much about” (which may in fact not be that obscure: he’s never heard Cleopatra’s ‘Comin’ Atcha’, and can’t tell the difference between Jason Orange and Howard Donald) - “there are a few songs on the second half of where we just took classic 90s hip-hop loops from old funk records. To me that’s the really obvious part of the aesthetic, but nobody seems to have picked up on it!”

While it’s a question to which the answer will be obvious – it’s still got to be asked. Bands argue. Couples argue. What happens when Summer Camp argue? “I think we’re actually really lucky,” Jeremy reassures, “because we’re actually able to be honest with each other. Whereas I think a lot of people in bands have to be really diplomatic and tiptoe around each other.”

Elizabeth – thankfully – agrees. “We know that we’re too invested in it for one of us to just walk out. So we can be harsh to each other. Although I tend to be the one that’s harsh to Jeremy. Jeremy’s never that harsh back.” “You’ll be harsh about it in the moment,” Jeremy confirms, “whereas I’ll just kind of finally mention three days later that, you know, I think the entire song is a bit shit and we should do something else instead. Or I won’t mention it again, and we won’t finish it off. I’ve done that a few times.”

The album was co-produced with someone who is a bit of a legend. The pair met with Stephen Street a year ago, at a Blur gig at Hyde Park. They’d wanted him to work on their debut, ‘Welcome To Condale’, but it didn’t work out. “I remember being so nervous,” Jeremy says of the meeting, “because he’s made so many records that I love so much, and just the idea of him actually recording one of our albums seemed so unlikely…” “…and then it’s so crazy watching Blur and being like, ‘Oh my God’,” Elizabeth interrupts.

“He works with what you give him much more. I mean, if you think of the difference between [Blur’s] ‘The Great Escape’ and the album that followed it, the self-titled album, they have almost nothing in common, sonically, apart from the bare facts of Graham playing guitar and Damon singing, and I think he’s just so great at letting the band just do what they want.”

They wouldn’t, they begin to explain, be totally against the idea of a super producer, a Mark Ronson type taking on Summer Camp and giving it their own style. “I would like to do a one-off single with someone like that,” Jeremy suggests, “Dave Sitek or someone, just to see what it was like as an experience.” He pauses. “No, I wouldn’t. No, I couldn’t do it.”

And remixes? “Oh no,” he dismisses, “that’s brilliant. I love remixes.” “Errr.” Elizabeth isn’t so sure. “Sometimes you feel weird.” “Maybe once I’ve felt weird.” “You’ve got better now.” “Now I’ve got a bit more confidence, I guess,” Jeremy decides. “I think both of us,” Elizabeth sums up, “until we’ve got to the end point with the producer, we’re still very much invested in it and are very precious about things that get changed. But as soon as it’s signed off, I’m like ‘I’m outta here!’”

Summer Camp’s self-titled new album is out now via Moshi Moshi.

Read the full interview in the new edition of DIY Weekly, available from iTunes now.

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