Premiere: Aaron Camper Talks "Fire" & Exposing Himself on 'Summer Camp'
Let’s get straight to the point: honesty is Aaron Camper’s M.O. Not that he’s exposing himself in some sort of read-my-diary-type way—on the contrary, he’s making a point to steer clear from that, by all means possible—but lyrically, he’s putting it all on the table. And the forthcoming Summer Camp mixtape is case in point number one: bringing us into Camper’s world, one track at a time, we’re inarguably led down the rabbit hole as he spits each verse to watch each narrative unfold.
“I’m not embarrassing myself, but I’m giving enough so you know where I’m coming from,” he says. “You can relate. That’s good enough for me. I haven’t John Mayer-d myself, yet.”
Unsurprisingly, Camper’s commitment to expressing his self truths (in a very non-John-Mayer fashion, of course) means that he’s almost always exploding with new material. There’s no shortage of universal experiences that he’s giving voice to, and, as far as the fans are concerned, no dearth of demand.
On that note, we called up Campers to swing by Milk for a heart-to-heart—on his new track “Fire”, which today, is premiering exclusively on MILK.XYZ, the upcoming Summer Camp mixtape, and its follow-up full-length album, coming at the onset of 2018.
I know “High Dollar Habit” just dropped a week or so ago—how are you feeling about that?
I’m excited. Glad it’s out, the feedback has been dope. It’s just one of so many records that I want to get out. To see how people gravitate towards it, that’s the best part. Now I’m starting to feel like they’re my kids, each of the songs. I’m glad people are saying they’re cute.
Do people’s reactions ever surprise you like how they interpret the song versus how you wrote it?
Yeah, it’s done that before. But with these songs, we were way more deliberate, way more intentional with the vibe of the songs, the sound. We’re more intentional now, but when we were just reaching for fills, we didn’t expect the reactions. Now we have a response we want people to have.
That’s off of the mixtape that’s about to come out, right?
Yeah, I’m trying to not add any more songs [Laughs] I’m writing every day, I’ve been in the studio pretty much every day for the last three years.
That’s a lot of material.
There’s so much, for sure. Just tons of records and vibes, I’m anxious to see how people react to it. This project comes out, then we’ve got another one, so we’re ready to roll, ready to get on the road and perform it.
Does the mixtape come out this month?
If we could put it out tomorrow, I’d be with it. But for sure in October.
And there’s a full-length album coming at the beginning of next year?
Absolutely. Maybe sooner, but for now we’re just putting singles out and the mixtape, getting everybody’s feelings on the records. We’re taking our time with it.
Do you feel that the vibe of the mixtape and the vibe of the album are super different or were you writing them at the same time?
Nah, they’re not too different. I think one thing I will say with the mixtape is that all the records on it are pretty much all singles. That’s how this project came about, we had a lot of records and a lot of singles that we just wanted to get out and get feels on immediately. This mixtape is pretty much the same as the next one, as in talking about flings and summer shit. We’re moving forward.
What kind of mindset were you in when you were writing the mixtape?
My most honest one—realizing where relationships are with social media and shit. Everybody’s being their most true selves now. They’re going to bed for themselves, working for themselves, thinking for themselves. Relationships are different, as well. With the music we just put out, I wrote according to my vibes and the way that I was dressed, what I wanted at the moment—I wanted something to get dressed to, something that said we were going out. Something that feels like that. Those are the things people are picking up on, it’s just everyday stuff. That’s where I was writing from—those most honest places, exposing myself.
That’s where I was writing from—those most honest places, exposing myself.
Do you feel nervous at all when you’re exposing yourself and it feels personal? All these strangers are gonna be listening to it.
No, not at all. You get used to the “you’re an asshole” texts after the release goes live. You get used to that. It happened when we released the single “Heat” a couple weeks ago. My phone blew up immediately—“I know you’re not talking about me,” stuff like that. I don’t mind it. It’s therapeutic for me, going into the studio and spitting shit off.
Is the therapeutic part for you the writing process or when it’s released into the world? You’re working on so much music—are you relieved because it’s getting out or because you made it?
It’s a duel satisfaction for me. You get that final relief when it’s out. It’s off your hands. Just knowing that I have it all done, I’m already pleased with it. You want the reception, you want the feedback, even as you’re creating. I like the feedback. Sensing what everyone’s thinking, what they’re feeling, what they want to hear. It’s all helpful.
Do you take into account fans’ reactions to your stuff?
It’s been personal so far—I’m writing what I know. What the audience wants is the truth, just being truthful and getting some things off my chest about old shit, old thoughts questions I have. I’ve let stuff out already. People send me their feedback and their responses, even what they’re listening to, to my DMs and I listen to all of it—“I love this,” “you sound like this,” “that record sounds like this.” I always pay attention to that stuff, I love that stuff. I listen to music all day, when I’m driving, coming home, going to the studio, it doesn’t matter. I have music going at all times, so I love that stuff.
Your big break-out single was “Hypnotizing” about a year or two ago. How do you think you’ve changed or evolved as an artist since then?
I think I’ve grown to a place now where I’m more confident to keep exposing layers of myself, keep painting over layers of myself. Writing a song, singing melodies, I just kinda write the vibe of my day, what I’m doing, what I’m feeling. If I’m feeling tension, you’re gonna hear it. If I’m feeling peaceful, the background harmonies may sound like that. It’s all layers, and it’s all growth to me. The first single came from an honest place, so as long as I’m creating that way, no one will be let down. There’s pressures that just shouldn’t be there.
The only real pressure is to just be honest and open and real.
That’s the pressure, and especially in R&B, talking singles, you’re straddling a fence.
It’s a lot to give so much of yourself.
Yeah, I think I’ve found my niche in it. I’m not embarrassing myself, but I’m giving enough so you know where I’m coming from. You can relate. That’s good enough for me. I haven’t John Mayer-d myself, yet. [Laughs]
That’s a good thing [Laughs]
I think I’ll get there at some point, but that’s good enough for me right now.
So the mixtape is coming up, and then the album. Are you gonna go on tour?
Absolutely, I definitely want to get back on the road. That’s been the only thing—the songs have been getting traction, I’ve been working hard in the studio, which has been good. I can just create, create, create. I don’t have to worry about little stuff like editing videos. I’m not editing videos, I’m a writer. I used to have to do a lot, now I’m in a place where all the records are lined up. The hard part to me is not writing new songs that replace the old ones.
The first single came from an honest place, so as long as I’m creating that way, no one will be let down.
Do you think you’ll ever run out of material?
Yes. [Laughs] As far as demographics go, R&B is in a weird place. Singing almost doesn’t matter anymore, because rappers are the R&B artists and vice versa. I can see how if you’re just writing for a certain genre, it can limit you. I also play guitar, it’s just tricky when you see an artist grow from one thing to the next. People get tired of one sound, but it’s hard to carry over into others. People are so fickle now, with streaming sites…
People want instant gratification. You put out something and the next day they’re on Twitter like, “Where’s the new music, man?” [Laughs]
Yeah, “Where’s the new music?” You can’t have just one thing. There are legit rappers that are my homies, they’re just singing straight-out. I just try to reach into everything. I got a guitar too, so I’m gonna do that. Even if it’s a country record—anything that gets people to say, “Oh, this is for me.” I’m optimistic, I guess.
Catch Aaron Camper next Wednesday, October 11 at 9 PM at Rockwood in NYC.
Stay tuned to Milk for more rising stars.