Six Degrees of Summer Camp

by: Alex J. Eccleston

February 3, 2012

There is no escaping it, every day the world is getting smaller and the people who populate it, more accessible. Friends who would once have been permanently lost in the ether of distance and time are now instantly contactable from almost any corner of the globe. The pace of change in how we interact with each other and share information can at times be bewildering. Of course, nowhere has that change been more apparent than in the music industry.

Where previously rock stars seemed to inhabit a mythical universe beyond the reach of the avergae person, the advent of the internet (and mass access to it) has been a great equalizer. For better or worse, achieving such untouchability is surely now a thing of the past.

Using social media, fans now have direct access to artists, and vice versa. Through Facebook and Twitter you can keep up to date with not just record releases and shows, but with the the normal goings on of their daily lives. If you want to have a conversation with your new favourite band about how much you liked their latest record, just log in and tell them so! Now the new online platform Pledgemusic is helping to further break down the the fourth wall, to hitherto unprecedented levels.

The concept of the site allows fans to directly finance a project that a band they like is working on. In exchange for donations, fans can pick from a menu of treats from their preferred artist. Only have 20 bucks to spare? Maybe that will get you an advance copy of their latest release and a signed poster. For a large contribution to the cause you could be rewarded with offers such as personal serenade via skype, or even get them to play your house party!

London based duo Summer Camp are one such band who have taken advantage of this recently. Their full-length debut was in part funded through the site. Their record Welcome to Condale is a remarkably confident and consistent collection of tales recalling teenage infatuation, love and loss. Based in the fictional Californian suburb of Condale, and drawing particular inspiration from 80′s high school movies (clips of which form the backdrop for their live shows), it is filled to bursting with hook-laden, perfectly crafted pop songs.

Their pledge page featured such delights as a batch of ‘Elizabeth’s famous brownies’, the chance to have the band write a song about you or most intriguing of all, a film night with the guys themselves. The whole thing just gave off a vibe of almost naive warmth and friendliness, not something you come across so often these days. I kind of had to go for it.

So after a few email correspondences the other pledgers and I about when would be an evening that suited everyone, a date was set. The event would be based in their managements’ office in West London. As we are pointed in the right direction by security to the courtyard and buzz to be let in, Jeremy greets us happily after a brief chat and some introductions and we head up to the office. Elizabeth and the other guests and curled up on a couple of sofas, surrounded by sweets and goodies with the projector set up in preparation. There is even a batch of Elizabeth’s brownies, oh the brownies were worth the hype.

We are going to watch Heathers, the American high school cult classic, a perfect fit for the band and the night. I am the only one there who hadn’t seen it. So as Winona Ryder and Christian Slater embark on their murderous escapades, we all giggle, munch and whisper-commentate; It just seems like any other time you would pop round to your mate’s house to kick back and watch something.

After the credits roll everyone hangs out for a little bit and the conversation switches from the wonders of IMDb to classic after-school TV like Eerie Indiana and Round The Twist. We say our thanks and goodbyes and everyone gets on their way, a perfectly lovely way to spend an evening.

For all the weirdness and lack of privacy that the modern world can generate, nothing has really changed that much except the option of increased access to each other. When used correctly in situations such as this, it is frankly hard to see a down side.


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