As previously posted, local musician Cameron Dezen Hammon is currently working on Words Don’t Bleed, an album of cover songs from the 80s and 90s, which you can help support at Pledgemusic. There are currently less than 10 days left in the campaign for the album.
Houston Calling is happy to bring you the video of Dezen’s version of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m On Fire”:
I’ve also heard her version of “Addicted To Love,” which made me almost forget the original. It’s excellent.
Also, you can currently vote on which song by The Cure she should record for the album. I’m rooting for “A Night Like This.”
I recently asked Dezen Hammon some questions about the upcoming album.
Houston Calling: What prompted the idea for a covers album, or specifically an Eighties/Nineties covers album — songs originally performed by men, no less?
Cameron Dezen Hammon: I just finished a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing through Seattle Pacific University (I graduated in August,) and met some amazing poets and writers through the program. Poet Lisa Russ Spaar, during a talk she gave, said, “Art loves limits.” We were talking about how to manage one’s worldview and art. The concern was that having a particular idea of how things work, or seeing things within parameters, can limit what you create. Art has to be free, man! Her point was that when you give what you are creating limits, it has the chance to actuate, to become something. It has something to strain against. That’s why I chose those criteria. I don’t want to cover my sisters’– they’ve already done the best interpretations of the songs they sing. Interpreting songs that have originally been performed by men gives me the opportunity to think about gender and the way it influences the listeners’ perspective on the lyrics they are hearing.
HC: And also, how did you choose which songs to cover? I think I’d have a difficult time choosing one song from a band like The Cure, for example.
CDH: We are choosing the songs based first on requests, then out of that pool, I choose the ones that appeal to me, and then I sit down at the piano and see what happens. With The Cure, it’s been very difficult for obvious reasons. I had it narrowed down to “A Night Like This,” “Lovesong,” and “Just Like Heaven.” Then I played all three of them on the piano, and “Lovesong” came alive in a way the others didn’t. And then I realized Adele covered it, so I’m back to the drawing board.
HC: Is there any particular musician who’s influenced your music? How?
CDH: From a production standpoint for this record, yes. A friend of mine told me to get Lykki Li’s new album a few months ago and I did. I had heard of her, vaguely, but had no idea what her thing was. I got excited about sounds while listening to her. I love the way the drums and piano sound on her records. I love the way the vocals sound. She is not trying to make pretty records; beautiful yes, but maybe not “pretty.” There is a grit to the records I love. In terms of an artist who has influenced me nearly all of my life, and more than any other, Nina Simone. She wasn’t trying to make pretty records, either. Every note that ever came out of her mouth was devastating. That’s something to aspire to.
HC: Has delving into these songs changed the way you approach your own songwriting? If so, how?
CDH: It’s reminded me that every great song is profoundly simple. Like the most over quoted statement of all time– “All you need is three chords and the truth.” Don’t overthink it.
HC: What’s your time frame for putting the album out, or is that all dependent on the PledgeMusic campaign?
CDH: Because I am insane, my goal is to have this out the first week of January.
HC: What are you using to record these songs — a tool like GarageBand or something fancier like ProTools?
CDH: I’m working with Jay Snider, who runs ProTools in his studio. He’s an incredible Houston-based musician, engineer, and producer in his own right. It’s been wonderful working with him. We’ve recorded his grandfather’s piano on almost every song, and everything else we’ve tracked we’ve done at his studio.
HC: You seem to have a lot of projects happening. Will we be getting any new music by The Rebecca West in the near future?
CDH: I sure hope so. We’ve got a few new TRW songs that I’d love to record. We just have to all be in the same city long enough to record them!
HC: I see you’re playing a house show in December with your brother Alex. What can fans expect to hear at this show?
CDH: I’ll play most of the new record, and maybe a few favorites that didn’t make the cut. I may also dive into a few of my originals, we’ll see.
Thanks to Cameron Dezen Hammon for taking the time out for the interview. Be sure to help fund the new album at PledgeMusic.