Small Band on the Rise: A Look into Skidmore's Campo
Saturated in the red light of Putnam Den on Friday night, Skidmore’s own Campo performed an hour long gig for a sea of adoringly supportive students. The group has been together for nearly a year, piecing themselves together with a guiding interest of making music with friends for friends. Their stage presence proves that this ideal is succeeding -- inseparable both onstage and off, Campo oozes personality and authenticity.
The band consists of Emie Nathan ‘19 on vocals, Ethan Simon ‘19 on vocals and rhythm guitar, Neale Donovan ‘17 on lead guitar, Paul Goldfinger ‘20 on bass, and Ben Stolman ‘17 on drums. The band has formed slowly but surely, allowing their sound to evolve with its members.
“[Neale and I] were in Pre-O together and we’ve been jamming together ever since. I met Ethan through Pulse -- which Paul is also in. Ethan was looking for a band. We were talking in the library one day and I mentioned jamming with Neale, so we brought him on board. He then showed me an audio clip of him and Emie singing,” explained Ben.
“Ethan and I had been writing music our first semester as freshmen together in our dorm room not showing anyone. When [Ethan, Neale, and Ben] got together, I got pulled in,” said Emie.
As for their new addition of Paul, the band heard rumors that he was an experienced bass player. After having Ethan switch between guitar and bass for so long, they were looking for a full time player to add grounding to their sound.
“Our sound has only changed positively. We didn’t really have proper bass lines -- not that it sounded bad, just empty. I think people have been surprised by how much it’s grown,” said Emie.
With this newly improved sound, the band is excited for what the future holds. As can be seen from both the performance and getting to talk to the band, the EP means so much more than a collection of songs, it is a way of validating and professionalizing the fun they have together.
“We are working on our tenth original song right now, but we bashed four that we thought complimented each other well into the EP,” said Ethan. “Some of them are from right when we started and it was the four of us, and then one or two are from when Paul’s been in the band. We wanted to take some of our original sound from when we were starting out and also integrate some of the newer sounds that compliment each other.”
Campo’s sound definitely represents the band’s greater whole -- with such a focus on diversity and independence when it comes to creating the songs themselves, no one song sounds the same. However, they all seem to have the same idea of being a rock or jazzy take on emotional songs that could easily be cliché, but are given new life within Campo’s personal renditions. Their new song “Distance” is written as a letter to Ethan’s ten year old sister in response to his family moving to California -- with such an honest approach, it’s easy to ignore the familiar presence of distance in artistic forms. Their musical individuality truly comes from how they form their songs from start to finish.
“A lot of the time the riff will be met by the lyrics halfway, so whatever one of us hears at the time is what we run with. Sometimes [the lyrics are not based on personal experience], they’re how I imagine a scenario going. But it really depends on the appropriateness of the melody and what we think best describes what we’re trying to play,” explained Emie.
“With the first EP we really wanted to make it us but also show that we are fairly diverse in style and that we like to include different genres in the way we play. We’re not a one trick band that plays one sound -- it’s all different flavors that come together,” described Ethan.
As for what the release catalysts, the band is looking forward to making the most of the time they have together -- as both Ben and Neale are seniors -- to continue to be creative and play gigs as much as possible.
Campo plans to release the EP to Bandcamp, Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes and wherever else they can get their hands on -- even joking about Tidal as an option -- sometime in mid-February. After competing in Battle of the Bands last year, the group has set their eyes on Fun Day this year as their next big performance.
As for the idea of great success, I got the feeling that Campo truly just has a lot of fun playing together and are doing everything in their power to continue this. There is a collective exuberance of simply enjoying life and what that entails.
“We’re really thrilled to be in the paper and to have a base here in just a short year. We’ve watched people come to the shows and it’s so rewarding for us and we love going through this process together,” put Ethan.
“It’s my favorite thing at school. Hands down,” said Emie.
Ben added, “Every Friday we practice for as many hours as we can. Those are good days.”
What I found surprising about Campo is how truly humble the band and members are. Rather than dedicated to “making it” as a college band in a superficial sense, Campo focuses on doing -- with passion to spare, they put in the hours and create a connection that could sustain a hundred years let alone one. Campo just wants to mean something to Skidmore, and they are nearly there.
In the wise words of lead singer Emie: “Dream that big.”