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BC Camplight on testing his relationship with reality

22 August 2018, 07:30

With new album Deportation Blues out Friday on Bella Union, Brian Christinzio - aka BC Camplight - tells Best Fit how testing his relationship with the real led to his life as a song writer.

I grew up in a haunted house in New Jersey. I was raised by ghosts. This is how I choose to remember it anyway. My childhood was consumed by the supernatural. A gaggle of 9 year old boys, pregnant with Sunny D and fear, holding hands around my parent's old Victorian dinner table trying to contact one of our participants' dead father. The deceased's pendant does a flip on the piano striking a dissonant chord before sliding to the hardwood floor.

This was my Boy Scouts. This was my church. I fell in love not with the girl next door but to JoBeth Williams whilst watching the most influential film of my life, Poltergeist. In fact, I've put a nod to the film in every album I've done to date. It was the continuous background on loop to an adolescence brimming with spiritual wonderment. My friend David watched my cat float down the steps. Erik was mocked by a clown mask that would appear in odd places. My friends were always terrified of my house. I was too. But I was, and still am, in awe of the beauty of the unknown. It is magic.

As an artist I think it is crucial to stretch the tether to your reality. You will know when you are pulling too hard and then you ease it back. This awareness of something existing beyond what I can witness has always made me want to make contact with it through sound. I want to be a music medium. To what exactly? Fuck knows. But I know I have no interest in spending the rest of my career writing exclusively about earthly relationships.

I began writing music around the age of 16. I was having my usual nightmare, the ghost of The Elephant Man was trying to kill me. I was jolted awake by an enormous explosion coming from down the street. I said out loud "Good god!". A voice said as clear as day "God is dead". I bolted down the stairs to where my parents were still up and watching TV. Of course they heard no explosion. Of course I had dreamed the entire thing. Right?

Uninterested in returning to the bedroom where John Merrick was surely awaiting me, I took comfort in the family piano. I wrote a song called "Good God". It was the first time I married this ever-present fear to my talent for music. The two got along right away. Sometimes I hit a chord and my fear is usurped by a beautiful sadness. I think similar to the sadness lost souls must feel. Sometimes a melody feels like It's holding my hand, holding a machete in the other hand while it chops the impeding brush and guiding me to some sort of undiscovered reality.

The dark side of this fascination is that it is constant. As a man prone to severe depression sometimes this obsession is not a good neighbor to have. About once a month I still dream about the movie Poltergeist. I'm in the movie and am aware that the movie is about to take an horrific turn. When it does, I wake up and sometimes I feel the sadness right away. The weight of an entire childhood left unforgotten upon my chest. Sometimes I can get it to leave through my music. Other times it settles in for a long holiday. Often for years. When it leaves sometimes I wonder where it goes. Maybe just into the cosmos.

Music is a galaxy we far too often view as merely a solar system. Missing your girlfriend?.... Earth. You wanna dance the night away?.....Mars. Oh baby I want to fuck you?....Venus. Some more bloated "hey ho", bullshit about "Going Home"...we'll call that Uranus. I would implore artists to take out your telescopes. Dust them off. Set them as far and wide as they go. You can see into the unknown if you want to. Hell, you can see into the beginning of time if you are willing to be unsure, willing to be scared. Ha, I think I finally know what that big bang was that woke me up 23 years ago.

Deportation Blues is out Friday 24 August on Bella Union.
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