On its recently released fourth album, My Maudlin Career, Scotland's Camera Obscura continues to swathe Tracyanne Campbell's melancholy yet droll lyrics in the warm glow of '60s pop and classic country, creating one of the year's most lovable releases so far. On the eve of the band's Stateside tour, we rang up Campbell at home in Glasgow to talk about the professional hazards of irony and being a "sad" songwriter.
Westword: I read a review of your album recently that called you "sincerely ironic." Would you say that's a fairly accurate description of your M.O.?
Tracyanne Campbell: I don't think that's all I am. I'm not always trying to be ironic. I think sometimes people think I write lyrics where I'm always trying to hide behind irony or something, and maybe I am and I just don't know.
Camera Obscura, with Agent Ribbons, 8 p.m. Monday, June 1, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, $15.50-$18, 303-830-8497.
What about the irony that you're taking songs that are at least occasionally very bitter and dressing them up in the sounds of swooning '60s pop — how much do you think about that?
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People bring that up a lot, but it's not that calculated... When the band gets together, we just do what comes naturally. We don't have meetings and I go, "All right — I've written ten songs, and they're a bit miserable, and I really want to write ten classic stomping pop tunes...." It just sort of happens by accident.
Not to keep harping on the perception that you're this sad person, but do you ever worry about your art becoming dependent on this sense of melancholy?
Well, that's what My Maudlin Career is really all about, because I'm a very self-aware person, and I'm having a bit of a joke at myself. I'm not just a sad person, I'm not just a melancholy person; I tend to have a bit of a naturally melancholy aspect to my personality, but it's not something I want to sit around and do more of, you know? It's something I'd like to get rid of, and I try constantly to do that. I think it's important that one doesn't just sit and wallow and accept that. I may be prone to feeling a bit blue, but I try very hard to fight that. I want to be a happy person, because I think those are the best people to be around, and I don't want to just wallow in self-pity. I don't want people to think that I'm this miserable girl who sits at home and writes miserable songs and wants everybody to be miserable — anything but that.
Visit blogs.westword.com/backbeat for more of our interview with Tracyanne Campbell.