Interview: A Conversation with BC Camplight

After releasing one of TMB’s favourite albums of the year in the shape of madcap masterpiece Deportation Blues, we caught up with the enigmatic BC Camplight. We discuss the tumultuous journey that he went through when making the album, his favourite tracks and his post-tour plans.

Hi, how are you? Been up to much lately?
I just released a record recently. Ever since I’ve been googling my name hourly trying to pick fights with anyone who dislikes it. I don’t really care, I just love a good scrum.

Deportation Blues might come as an exciting change to people who have heard your earlier releases. Why did you decide to go in the direction you did?
As you may have heard, I was deported from the UK 2 days after my last record came out. I am an American and had been living in the UK whilst making my previous record. I was unable to leave the country due to a leg injury so I filed for an extension whilst in the country. I received a letter back stating that I was being deported and banned from the country. So my last record campaign was more or less shelved. I managed to get back into the UK by becoming an Italian citizen. SO, my path back to sanity and my music for that matter has been unbelievably stressful. When I arrived back in the UK I was a mess. I had lost any sense of whimsy I had left. I was angry and vengeful. I decided to write this record and record it through this lens. I had no interest in making sense, in being on the radio, or adhering to the pop sensibilities I formerly had. I wanted the music to sound cold and urgent. This is where “I’m Desperate” came from.

What can people expect from the album?
Well, if you want to feel good don’t buy it. It’s not a downer but it is really a journey through calamity and stress. I span genres wildly in an attempt to reflect uncertainty. People seem to be loving this one. Maybe it’s no coincidence I’m getting this response the minute I abandoned all consideration for the listener.

Were you listening to any bands in particular whilst writing and recording?
Here’s where your readers label me as a pretentious prick. I really don’t listen to much music at all. Never have. It stresses me out. One day I’ll be able to put it in words. I do listen to a lot of classical music (“now he’s even more pretentious”). I’ve never been someone who’s in the know or anything like that. I think the last new song I liked was ‘Christine’ by Teleman and that was like 5 years ago. I always wished I was one of these artists that could rattle off a whole bunch of cool songs that no one has ever heard. It’s just not me. I live very much in my own head which is permanently inhabited with some pretty interesting sounds. And by interesting I mean terrifying.

Which is your favourite track from Deportation Blues? Could you talk us through the motivation and meaning behind it?
It’s far from a single but I like “When I Think Of My Dog”. Like a lot of the record it is to the point and without a lot of the opaque writing I used to gravitate to. It’s about missing my dog when I was banned from the UK. His name is Frank. He is half pug and half Jack Russel. He loves me and I love him. It’s our song and means a lot to me.

Are you looking forward to the upcoming tour?
Yes, I’ve done surprisingly minimal touring throughout my career. This is essentially all of October and November and then probably back out again. I love the road because it doesn’t give you time to think about anything too dark for too long. I’m going to try to do this tour sober. Whilst I have failed miserably at this before, I think I have to. The tour is too long for me to be acting like an asshole at some 19 year old’s house party in Bristol at 5:30am.

Can you recommend any music to us that you’ve been enjoying lately?
I think you know the answer to this one. Actually, I recommend putting your headphones on and taking a nice walk around town while listening to Mozart’s Requiem. It’s a bit of an obvious one but I guarantee you will feel some kind of weird afterwards.

What are your plans for after the tour?
I’m going to try to get in shape. I want to be in the best shape of my life when I’m 40. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean a whole lot. It basically means I have to go to the gym once a week and cut down on the mornings in which I wake up with loads of millionaire’s shortbread pieces on my shirt. I got really thin once and looked awful. When big people lose a lot of weight we think we look great but usual look like shit. I’ll call this the Jonah Hill effect.
I’d also love to start working on a film score. I’m pretty sure that’s what I was born to do. I hate when people say “born to do”.

BC Camplight is touring throughout October and November. Deportation Blues is out now via Bella Union.