Brian Christinzio, or BC Camplight as he’s better known, is a native Philadelphian now living in Manchester. His 2020 album Shortly After Takeoff spans singer-songwriter classicism, gnarly synth-pop and 1950’s rock’n’roll; with Christinzio’s similarly distinctive vocal carrying a fearless approach to lyrical introspection. The album was subject to rave reviews in The Guardian, Mojo and Uncut magazine and looks set to place highly on many end of year lists.
He is very much looking forward to performing at Sound City Ipswich on Friday 1st October, particularly after lots of lockdown livestream shows! Read on to see what he had to say about his life with music and the past year, as he anticipates the upcoming show and tour.
Hello! Let’s have a bit of an introduction – tell us a bit about yourself and your music…
Well I’ve been around quite a while. My biography reads a bit like a horror story. I’ll leave that to Wikipedia if you want to get into detail. I suppose I am regarded as a bit of a loner musically. I make records that tend to defy genre… and logic. I’m a bit of an oddball and I allow my music to do whatever it wants to do. Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying complicated, just like humans.
What inspired you to get into music, and has it always been part of your life?
I guess I’ve always had a tough time expressing myself. I find it difficult to even look people in the eye. Music is how I communicate with people I love. I reckon I was like that as a kid. I was riddled with anxiety and general weirdness, so when I discovered I had a talent for music this quickly became my identity, almost forming an alter-ego Brian that could make better sense out of the world around me.
How has the past year been for you – what have you done to keep busy?
I released what many thought would be my breakthrough record on the DAY lockdown began. While it was very well received, I was not able to properly promote it. Like a lot of other artists, I took to live streaming to keep myself busy. At first I was basically just moaning and getting drunk on camera. After a few weeks I realised that my fans really needed these streams. I was reading comments about how they were helping people get through. I started taking more pride in the shows and made this helping people my main focus through lockdown. It’s made me a much better performer as well. Some of those live streams were 3-4 hours long and I had to be entertaining without relying on a band, lights, or crowd.
You released your album ‘Shortly After Takeoff’ earlier this year – how was the process, and has the response been good?
The album was one of the handful of best reviewed albums of the year. I don’t take a lot of stock in reviews but… sure, it was nice seeing The Guardian call it a “Masterpiece”. I try not to read too much into that stuff though.
What have you missed most about live gigs, and how is it being back on stage?
It’s really all the in-between bits I’ve missed. The walking around different towns, seeing new sights. One of my favourite bits about touring is leaving the hotel and the whole band will stop off and get breakfast together. That bonding time is what I miss the most. Sure, I love playing shows but (and you can ask any musician this) the parts we remember are the times we’ve had in the in-between hours where we get to experience life offstage.
How did you come to get involved with Sound City Ipswich?
In short, I was asked by my agents if I would do it and I said “hell yeah”!
What can you tell us about the performance?
I’m happy that the live show has the reputation that it does. It’s unlike most things you’ve seen. It’s a bit like my music. Widely varying, loud, quiet, raucous, funny, intense, moving, and I hope memorable.
To those who love live music, what would you suggest they can do to support the industry?
Probably just buy records, or consider joining platforms like Patreon where you can directly support an artist for a monthly fee in exchange for exclusive material and content. Outside of that the best thing you can do is show up to the shows.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
I’m currently recording my 4th album for Bella Union records. I think it is going to be pretty special, but we’ll see. I’m on tour from October as well!
As a fun one to end on: what would your ‘Desert Island Disc’ be and why?
Probably answer this question with the most un-fun music imaginable. Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ is my favourite “album”. Just a spiritually moving masterpiece by any standard. I find myself going back to it whenever I need to feel closer to a power bigger than myself.
Thank you to BC Camplight for his time in answering our questions! For more information visit soundcityipswich.co.uk/bc-camplight.
Sound City Ipswich runs on the 1st and 2nd October. For more information on the event visit soundcityipswich.co.uk.