Far Out Meets: Sea Girls, an anthemic honesty unlike any other
Sea Girls haven’t even released the details of their highly anticipated debut record yet but this hasn’t stopped them selling out London’s Roundhouse next month. It suggests that 2020 could well be the year that they take over.
Their anthemic sound partnered with frontman Henry Camamile’s personal lyrics about love and loss has captured the hearts of their fans. Those fans resonate with tales of hedonistic young adult life with the frontman finding the delicate balance of the universal with the personal through his lyricism.
Far Out had a catch up with Leicester native Camamile who was holed up in a poky Caffè Nero. The singer had recently returned from a European tour when we spoke over a flat white and a biccy. It’s a ride that he finds himself strapped into and it feels like a surreal adventure.
The recent European tour was a stark reminder of how the band began, playing the toilet circuit to less-than-desirable empty rooms: “It definitely was weird, it was almost quite like starting again really it was kind of like two tours ago with the amount of people there. There were a fair few that were sold out and really kind of amazing energy. It was just super exciting and felt really novel.”
Sea Girls’ modus operandi is to turn ordinary autobiographical tales of a twenty-something into powerful energetic anthems. This approach is second nature for the songwriter now but leaving himself vulnerable for his audience took some adjusting to at the beginning. “I remember the first few songs being excited and a bit embarrassed saying how I feel,” he mused, “So it’s exciting to do that, and I guess, in something like ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ that comes across like I’m just saying how I actually feel and it’s not particularly ‘cool’, you know? Maybe that’s what people like to pick up on?”
Camamile continues to analyse his songwriting process: “Sometimes, I’ll write and just make stuff up or just to try and get excited about something and be a bit wild, to get out of your brain and to get out of yourself.” He continues, “You invent a scenario for yourself in a song, then there’s that other side of that where you’re like ‘I feel kind of sad at the moment I really fucking hope my ex-girlfriend still thinks about me because I think about her’ or whatever,” he added amidst a wry laugh.
The dread that Camamile speaks of comes hand in hand with using art as a coping mechanism of modern life. It acts as something which, while being a cathartic experience to get these feelings off your chest, it can also be an anxiety-inducing experience at the same time.
Camamile confirmed, “‘Open Up Your Head’ was one of the first songs I wrote about feeling down and depressed and I was super nervous.” The singer shares the doubts he cast over his vulnerability, ”I didn’t want to look my family in the eye, I was worried that they would listen to the lyrics and I was kind of playing a game with myself like ‘I’m being really honest with myself in this song and I hope people don’t actually hear it in the way that it’s intended’.”
It’s a delicate balance being both a valued and honest member of society while also spilling your guts to your audience, “There’s certain people that you don’t want to know that you think this way. But the energy you get from writing music and the whole point of writing music, I guess, is talking about things that may be a bit difficult, it’s a little like therapy.”
Lead single ‘Ready For More’ taken from their brand new EP Under The Exit Lights sees Camamile articulate the hedonistic lifestyle that being a lead singer in one of the most promising bands in the country lends itself to: “We’re not superstars or anything while but the expectations from people around you and getting away with behaviour which is seen as normal because you’re in a band you know.” But it’s a dangerous road to travel down as Camamile is all too aware of: “If I’m partying too hard people will be like, ‘you’re in a band so you should be’ and if I say ‘I feel like something’s wrong’ and ‘I don’t feel like I’ve got control about this’ then it’s easy to be excused because of who I am, even amongst friends. They’ll be like ‘of course you do that you’re in a band, your young and you’re enjoying yourself there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing’.”
Having to live up to what people expect a typical frontman to be, is something which Camamile finds himself grappling with, frankly disclosing with more than a pinch of honesty. “I think some people assumed it was my persona before it was, just partying too much, being unhealthy and kind of hedonistic. People assume you’ve always been like that and there’s been no change.” It’s a gnawing feeling that has clearly played on Camamile’s mind as he aligns his values both in and out of the band, “The stereotype of being in a band sort of makes it seem like you’ve got a safety net that excuses this behaviour when you don’t. You’re just a normal person like all the pitfalls of depression and habit, you get the same stuff happening to everyone.”
The new release, Under The Exit Lights, which is available now, has let the band have fun with different sounds and test things out before they finish their proper debut and it is something the vocalist is relishing. “It’s been so exciting, every time we would go to write a song then another song was written and it’s like ‘we don’t have one like that’ and just to keep pushing.”
The meandering through genres is clearly seen on the new record, “I think on this EP some of it is a bit more alt-rock so we’ve got probably the sweetest song we’ve ever put out as well. I found that all the tracks we made on this EP have been a joy to do and it’s just been fun using loads of different energies to express things, I think there’s a whole spectrum of energy across this EP.”
How it will translate across to fans at gigs is firmly in Camamile’s mind when he’s in the creative process, stating: “If it’s a moment for yourself when you’re writing it you think it’s probably going to be a moment for everyone else and it’s a shared energy in these big choruses. There’s quieter stuff on this EP and on the album but ultimately, there’s this real burst of energy that you find. I feel like I’ve been quite long-winded with this, Caffe Nero is distracting me.” The frontman self-consciously adds. Caffè Nero could distract anyone.
Not many bands can sell out Camden’s historic Roundhouse at any point in their career so the fact that Sea Girls have achieved such a feat without even releasing a full-length record is a rare achievement. That fact isn’t lost on the affable vocalist who sounds almost in disbelief as we discuss the upcoming show. “I know, it’s really weird. It’s kind of amazing because a lot of the songs that we play were written really recently when nothing was going on with our band, we weren’t anywhere, and we weren’t anyone.”
He reflects on gracing the Roundhouse stage, “Songs like ‘Lost’ and ‘Call Me Out’ I wrote in my room when I was feeling like ‘what the fuck is going on with my life’ and ‘where is this going’ and kind of having an existential crisis or whatever and ‘Call Me Out’ was when I felt like not much happens to me.” It makes for a stark contrast to today. “Now it’s the opposite, singing that line in ‘Lost’ and then playing to 2,000 people is kind of crazy, I love it. Hopefully, it’s just the beginning.”
Camamile rightly notes that without their audience, Sea Girls wouldn’t be where they are today, “Aall that energy we have put into it, it’s so rewarding to get that back and the amount of people that call themselves ‘fans’ of ours or just come to our shows have made this amazing for us, it’s just so cool.”
The venue is a poignant one for Camamile. The singer has been through Roundhouse’s doors many times as a punter and holds some incredibly sacred memories for him, “I’ve watched Radiohead at the Roundhouse and the last time I went there was for The 1975. Literally nothing. I had nothing going on and I was with my girlfriend at the time and she said ‘I can’t wait for you to be on that stage’ and I just didn’t say anything back to her because I didn’t believe that I would be,” but a series of cracking tunes and an adoring fanbase can do marvellous things. Camamile reflects, “next time I’m there we will be on that stage and we’ll be playing and she was right, which is crazy.” We imagine that he’s performing at Roundhouse, not that his girlfriend’s right. (Saved you there, Henry.)
25-year-old Camamile is living every moment of this journey as someone who spent years feeling like nothing important ever happened to them. It has made him grateful for the things that are happening to Sea Girls at this time and if their new EP is anything to go by then this is only just the beginning.