Kiwi Rocker Emma Cameron Talks Decades' Debut Album, The 'Lorde Revolution' & Empowerment
Formed by Emma Cameron (vocals/guitar), Liam Muir (guitar), Daniel Perry (drums) and Curtis Booth (bass), Decades are far more than your ordinary rock band.
Previously known as Ashei, the Christchurch locals burst onto the scene eight years ago and the success of their debut album The Truth And Other People has made it clear they're here to stay.
We sat down with Emma to chat about Decades' debut album, empowerment and the impact Shihad's Tom Larkin has had on their music.
On Her Journey With Decades
"I started playing guitar when I was 8. Originally I wanted to learn violin but my mum said a lady at her work told her that it was too hard and maybe I should try guitar. I thought 'oh okay' but I picked it up straight away," Emma reveals.
"I was already playing songs in the first couple of weeks, it was kind of serendipitous, it was just like I was meant to do it. I have been playing guitar since then. I started as a dancer when I was younger - I have been a dancer for my whole life, I think that’s where I learnt rhythm and just the passion for performance."
"Then in high school I wanted to be in a rock band but no one in my school wanted to be in a rock band. So I started going to lots of local all ages gigs in the city and just met people through that. I started this band when I was about 15 or 16, met our drummer [Dan] and it all started from there."
On Working With Tom Larkin
"We’ve been playing since 2006, back then we were known as Ashei and we were more pop rock - we did our own thing for ages," she says.
"Then when we met our manager Tom [Larkin] he was our producer as well. He pushed us in another direction and we started writing differently. That’s when we changed our name and decided to start from scratch - even though we are still the same band. I think its been a really good way to do it. People knew about Ashei - especially the New Zealand music industry - but we were just doing the same thing for so long."
"We wanted something exciting and new. Just that name change keeps it exciting and new. I think it was a good move for us," she adds.
"Tom is insanely talented, driven and business-minded. He’s really into the mental health of artists and champions that a lot. He’s great at giving you the tools to help you deal with certain pressures from the industry."
On Opening for Taking Back Sunday
"It was very full circle for us, as we had started as a band over 10 years ago because of Taking Back Sunday. We actually started as a covers band called Taking Back Thursday [laughs]. So to get to open for them on the year of our debut album release, was very full-circle and momentus. It kind of symbolised letting go of our older musical tendencies to emulate our favourite sounds and focus on our own sound, on being Decades."
On Decades' Debut Album
Released earlier in July, The Truth And Other People tells the chronological story of a breakup, and the album's honest lyrics are something a lot of people can relate to.
“It kind of all fell into place randomly. We didn’t set out knowing what we were going to write an album - we just wrote songs,” Emma says.
“I had recently gone through a breakup & Liam also had his heart broken - he’s a bottomless well when it comes to drawing on the experience over and over again. So a lot of his writing at the time was resonating with what I was going through.“
"Liam wrote songs from my perspective and we both wrote songs from my ex’s perspective. He’s an insane talent like that. He’s really empathetic and can take on and tell stories from other perspectives."
"This album literally tells the chronological story of realising that we needed to break up and what needed to happen after that. So it was bizarre that the tracklist could fall into place like that."
Emma says the album is basically "a little feelings package of distortion and yelling."
"I was actually thinking the other day 'how are we going to write a second album?' Do we even have anything to write about now that I’m happy and in a really good relationship?"
On How Lorde Has Changed The NZ Music Industry
Emma also credits Lorde for helping pave the way for NZ artists who are trying to make it big overseas.
"It's buzzy. New Zealand has always been notorious for producing world class music, like Split Enz, Crowded House & Dave Dobbyn. But the Lorde revolution has really changed stuff," she says.
"Not just for the electronic genre and pop music - which is where the most obvious effects are - but I think just in general people are now watching New Zealand. I think she's set the bar so high, that New Zealand musicians are pushing harder to be like that, and be artists not just bedroom musos."
"I think it's even helped us as a rock band," she continues. "People are just watching New Zealand music to see what's happening."
On Sexism & Empowerment
When she's not busy performing, Emma writes for her blog Good For A Girl, where she documents her experiences in an inudstry that is normally dominated by men.
“I’ve been reflecting about it [Good For A Girl] because I’ve kind of been neglecting it. But it came about last year when we were still getting the album together. We had just completed a tour with Villany and we didn’t have much else planned. We were waiting for our record deal to go through and stuff like that. So we had no idea what was going on."
"I’ve had to deal with a few weird things about me being a woman. I was telling Tom about it as a joke and he was like ‘you should start a blog’. This is a unique experience in the rock scene in New Zealand. There are not many women and it might just interest people. It’s also just something for me to do. I just want to feel like I’m doing a project. “
“At that time I was stressing out because we were in this stagnant place with Decades. So that is how it started. Right from the first post it got a great response. Heaps of female musicians reached out to me, so I kept doing it for ages. But then when we started working up to this album I had to put it aside. Cause I was trying to write a blogpost a week, it’s not much but for me who isn’t a writer it was really intense. I would spend the whole weekend figuring out what I wanted to write about and say and trying to remember things that had happened - without feeling as if I was making sh*t up.”
“I would really like to do a ‘Good For A Girl’ tour or an annual festival. Even just a school tour, where we only go to girls high schools or co-ed high schools and play shows, and do workshops with girls who are studying music. We had bands come to my high school but I can’t remember any that had girls or women in them. It is important to me and I want it to keep going. It’s just about finding the time and wanting to figure out the actual plan for it. “
On Future Plans
"We just put out the album and finished the tour. That is the existential crisis. Oh sh*t 'it’s been 2 years getting to this point and now you’ve got here'. We still wanna release a couple of songs off the album," Emma says,
"We thought we were just going to release one but I think we might release a couple - so we’ve got a bit more of our music out there and a reason to do more shows. I just wanna get back out on the road."
"We’re all pretty committed to it [Decades]. We’ve come this far, so no one is bailing. If anything we’re getting even more committed, it’s good."
The Truth And Other People is out now on iTunes, Spotify & Google Play.
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