Interview: Campfire Ok

First, let’s all take a personal moment and watch this beautiful acoustic session at KEXP:

The band is Campfire Ok. I have not seen this band live at a club yet, but will soon (see below).  Yet, thanks to their collaborative creativity, talented friends, and the internet, it feels like I already know them intimately.  I found myself humming “Strange Like We Are” every morning walking to work and spending a large portion of my valuable procrastination time watching this and other videos.  So I contacted them, set up an interview, and they gave me an advance copy of the debut record (also titled Strange Like We Are).  My love, it expanded.

Frontman Mychal Goodweather’s bright, present vocal (think Ben Gibbard but less indulgent) leads a vast, Americana orchestra reminiscent of my favorite Sufjan Stevens records.  The album’s arrangements are lush and playful – experimentive without losing either accessibility or pop sensibility.  At the same time, songs like “Primp and Prune” take an opposite approach – setting up what appears to be a standard pop chorus but turning it around at the last moment to something more interesting.  From a recording/engineering perspective, intensive time, care, and meticulous standards are evident in the sound of every instrument, every harmony, and every dramatic moment.  The end result, however, sounds as effortless and natural as it does endearing.  I am hardly the first person to say it, but expect very big things from Campfire Ok very, very soon.

It was my pleasure to sit down with frontman Mychal Goodweather at his local Stumptown Coffee and discuss the origins of Campfire Ok, the ever-changing Seattle music scene, and our place in the world as musicians.  Enjoy the full interview in short mp3 clips below, and check out two of my favorite tracks from their album Strange Like We Are on the Mid By Northwest Pop-Up Radio Player.  Thanks to some encouraging requests, you may also download one big mp3 (Podcast) of the entire interview by right-clicking and save-as-ing here.  Fair warning:  this one’s got more background noise than usual, sorry for that.  Onward!

“I respect all the other musicians in Seattle because they write music I don’tIt’s invaluable to listen to other people’s music. The things you pull away from it are fantastic, and I should never exclude myself from their community because they write different music that I do.  In fact, I should include myself in that community because they have an idea that I don’t.  It’s like school.”  -Mychal Goodweather, Campfire Ok

“We’re all really weird.  We’re brave, strange, complex humans.  Everyone is, but we never feel that way.  A community sometimes doesn’t feel like a community.  Sometimes you feel like you’re on the outside but you’re really in the thick of it.” -Mychal Goodweather, Campfire Ok

MH:  “What is the origin story of Campfire Ok?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 1]

MH:  “In your own words, how would you characterize the Seattle music scene?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 2]

CAMFIRE OK IS: Andrew Hanigan, Brandon Milner, Bryan Appleby, Melodie Knight, Mychal Goodweather, Scott Teske

MH:  “What is it about the Seattle music scene that has made music community possible and vibrant?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 3]

MH:  “How did you get into the Seattle music scene at first?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 4]

MH:  “What have been some challenges, setbacks, or inhibitors to building good community around music?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 5]

MH:  “How has living in Seattle, being part of this community, affected you artistically?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 6]

MH: “What advice would you give to someone with a new music project in a big new city?”

[audio:|titles=Campfire Ok Interview 7]

Video by Christian Sorensen Hansen, photos by Kyle Johnson.

Campfire Ok will celebrate the release of their debut album Strange Like We Are with a big show at the intimately-majestic Columbia City Theater:

Campfire Ok Album Release Party
with Koko & The Sweatmeats, Bryan John Appleby
Saturday, February 5
Columbia City Theater
9pm · $10 · 21+
A few tickets still available here