NEOCAMP is an Irish born musician and artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do. I am NEOCAMP and I make “underground pop” music, images, videos and performances that hopefully all correlate with each other. I’m from a very small rural town in the midlands of Ireland and I’m very interested in identity politics, pop music and contemporary web culture.
Top 3 favorite or most visited websites and why? Most visited that aren’t gmail: Tumblr because it’s art memetics in action, Soundcloud because it’s the best place to find unknown musicians making truly new sounds, and the Guardian news site because it’s free, funny, fairly liberal and not American.
How has living in Brooklyn affected your music? Moving from Ireland to London a few years ago had a profound effect on how I felt as an “Irish person”, and I think there’s a sense of embattled, displaced cultural identity at play in the music I made at the time. I’ve been making a new record for the past year and a half in New York and I think in some ways its become a kind of diary of sounds, ambience and language. Obvious things like the dominance of hip-hop everywhere and house music in the clubs has definitely had an impact on the newer stuff.
How long have you lived in Brooklyn and what brought you there? I’ve been living in New York since Christmas 2012. I came because when I visited back in 2009 I fell in love with the energy and sense of possibility. All the New York cliches are true.
What kinds of things are influencing your music right now? A friend recently described my music as “SoundCloud music” which is a bit of a back handed compliment, but it’s true. I’m really interested in micro trends and web culture, and I’ve found kindred spirits that have become friends in all these amazing bedroom musicians who put their work on SoundCloud, Tumblr and Bandcamp. The stuff I’ve found deep in this community is way more interesting than whatever Pitchfork has decided is relevant. It’s the new underground.
What are some recent, upcoming or current projects you are working on? I just did a soundtrack for BCALLA’s Fall/Winter 2015 fashion film which was essentially a super faggy, eye-poppingly colourful porn film made in collaboration with the gay porn site Cocky Boys. It’s available online and it’s definitely worth a watch (VNSFW). Next is my upcoming album WAVEWAVE, which I’ve been working on for too long. I’m hoping to release it before summer.
If you were a drink, what drink would you be? Gin and tonic. Sugary but tasteful with a dry finish.
How did your interest in music begin? The piano in my house growing up was such a huge gift. My mother and sisters all played it beautifully. I was so in awe of them. My mother’s friend used to teach my sisters and they both got really skilled. I had zero attention span for lessons. I used to wait until there was nobody around and I’d bash really basic tunes out of it for hours and sing my heart out! That hasn’t changed. But honestly, I think the greatest gift was decent broadband. My hometown was an early adopter of fast broadband, and my mother was very tech savvy at the time so we had a great computer set up ever since I was small child. I used to download crazy music on Limewire all day and make weird tracks on the voice recorder and play with pitches.
What other musicians/bands are you interested in right now? Like most people now, I have zero attention span and I listen to everything. Lots of 90s R & B, ’00s UK garage, early disco, some post-rock and lots of Internet music from unknowns on SoundCloud. When I’m going out or performing I like some heavy house music or dancehall. I listen to hiphop for the ego lols. Newer popularish stuff that I listen to a lot right now are Death Grips, Com Truise, Shamir and Active Child. Very recently I’ve been listening a lot to the 80s ‘gay’ pop acts like Bronski Beat and Erasure. I’m so into those soaring androgynous vocals by Jimmy Somerville and Andy Bell over the irresistible hooks and dance beats. So passionate and bittersweet, and obviously I’m obsessed with how they infiltrated the pop scene at such a homophobic time with insanely good songs and managed to be part of changing the cultural landscape.
Who would you ideally like to collaborate with? Enya.
What do you want a viewer to walk away with after hearing your music? Musically, I try to invoke a kind of ancient, elemental immediacy into my music which I find entertaining because it’s all digital. I like playing with traditional instrument plugins and making pop sounds with them and mixing them with electronic sounds or vintage synths. Conceptually, I’m aiming to posit an alternate reality that’s post-place and post-queer but still human. There is definitely a strong political aspect to the work, but it’s personal first. I make music I want to hear and that I find helpful for my own survival. I love the idea of pop song as Mantra or folk song.
What’s your absolute favorite place in the city to be? New York in the very beginning of summer is pretty magical. The energy is intoxicating. My favorite thing to do is bike to Jacob Riis beach, ideally with friends, and just basque in the glory of the sun and Atlantic Ocean, and then go dancing on a roof somewhere in the city.
Most embarrassing moment on stage? Sometimes just when the energy isn’t great and the sound isn’t good the whole experience of performing can be pretty embarrassing, but then if you can turn it around it’s even more satisfying. I did play a show where nobody applauded after each song, it was just silence. That can be tough!
What were you like in high school? A disaster! I continually failed all my subjects except art. I found it impossible to engage with the inanity of the school system and basically drank and smoked my way through the last few years of it, making art and music in private. I had great friends in high school though; I was blessed with a bunch of freaks. Then I somehow managed to get into a good art school and everything changed dramatically. I was very lucky!
Can you share one of the best or worst reactions you have gotten as a result of your music? YouTube comments! The venom spewed about my videos and music is kind of astonishing. I usually find it totally hilarious and telling: lots of “kill it before it lays eggs,” etc.