A man of many talents and interests – from acting, to music industry, to making jokes – singer-songwriter Cameron Ernst has honed in on one specific talent that he feels is “his thing,” making music.
Originally from a small town in Kansas, Ernst moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but ended up on a more melodic trajectory in terms of his career. His journey as an indie artist began in Dallas, TX where he began creating his music seriously. In 2010, he wrote the song “Love is Louder” for the movement started by actress Brittany Snow, MTV, and The JED Foundation in response to teen suicides and bullying. Since then, he’s been spreading positivity, love, and acceptance to middle schools, high schools and communities, helping youth access the empathy in their hearts and minds.
With the release of his new single, Vagabond, Ernst continues to shine a light on that personal journey towards love, but does so through a comedic twist and catchy pop progressions.
Enjoy the beats, the sounds, and don’t forget. Listen to the lyrics. But first, read what Cameron Ernst has to say about his music, craft, and future goals.
How did your music making and career start?
“It started…I went to school at USC and studied theater and communications. I went to school for acting, but I had always been singing and songwriting—I’d been singing since a really young age and songwriting probably since high school. So about halfway through college I decided that I loved performing and I loved acting, but what I really loved was the songwriting process and the whole creative process. So about halfway into college I got an internship at Warner Bros. Records and decided to start pursuing what I thought would maybe be something in the music industry. I wasn’t quite sure if it would be being an artist or working in the industry, and after interning there I knew that I had to be an artist. Working behind a desk definitely wasn’t my thing. I love learning about music industry; I think it’s so interesting. But somebody at Warner Bros. was like, ‘If you want to be an artist, be an artist. Don’t work at a label and try to get your music heard. Go be an artist.’ That was really inspiring for me. Right after school I moved home and started working on my first project.”
Singer-songwriter is such a broad and versatile category. Some artists create alone and then play with a band; others prefer to do everything solo from start to finish. What’s your live performance like?
“Well my live performance started off very solo. It’s always been me and a piano or a guitar—I play both; piano is my main instrument—but it’s kind of always been a solo thing because I’ve always liked artists who play stripped down. Even if their album is a little more produced, I like it when it’s stripped down in an intimate setting live. But my new album and my new sound—new indie-pop sound—the music itself is a little more progressive in the production, so live is going to be a couple more elements. Definitely more emphasis on percussion so it’ll have a drummer. I’ll still be playing keys. But yeah, it should be more involved whereas last time was just like sit back and look at the camera and play and sing but this is going to be a little more interactive with the different elements.”
Your new single, Vagabond, is a really, really good song. It’s from the album that’s coming out September 14th, is that right? What’s the title of the album?
“The album is called Steadfast.”
Where’d you get the title from?
“It’s actually the last song on the album, and I felt like it really encompassed a theme for the album in terms of—I feel like bravery is a theme throughout the album and ‘steadfast’ is unwavering steadiness, and I feel like that relates to the path that I’ve been on, and coming back out to L.A.—I was in college and then I was in Dallas for about three years—so moving back out here and being steady with working on this new music and just my life in general. It’s just like this unwavering bravery and all of these songs just kind of had that theme. It felt like a good name for the album.”
The video for your newest single, Vagabond, looked to me like it was fun to film. Can you tell me about the process of shooting the video and your intentions with its content?
“Yeah, well first of all I love music videos and just concepts and brainstorming for all that. It’s really fun for me to come up with all that, especially with an acting background. It’s an avenue to use that hobby of acting. But for Vagabond I got together with the director and we just kind of brainstormed ‘What does this song mean? What do we want to say? What do we want to do?’ And I really wanted it to be something fun, because my music videos in the past have definitely been fun to make but had a more serious undertone, so I wanted this to be fun and have a little bit of comedy in it and humor. So the director actually had the idea of doing a kid pool and having it all take place in that, so it was really fun. Between the kiddie pool—we just literally dragged it out in front of one of my friends’ apartments—from that to the sand that we got to put in there with the inflatable tree, with the beard as well. It took probably almost an hour to put that beard on, which is crazy itchy. I’ll never grow a beard that long. Yeah, it was really fun. It was kind of a theatrical thing. Since I kind of grew up doing that and went to college for theater it was really fun to tie all that in to the music career.”
Does your creative process change song to song or do you generally write your songs in the same manner? What’s it like for you?
“It’s kind of different every time, actually. I would say sometimes it starts with an idea. With Vagabond it kind of started with the idea of thinking back on when I actually used to get chosen last in gym class when I was growing up. That’s a feeling that kind of sticks with you, and I think for other people who have gotten chosen last in gym they can always remember when that happened and how that felt. So I kind of wanted a thing with that idea, and I had the idea of pairing it with the word ‘vagabond,’ and I wanted to explore what that word meant for me. With that song, it was the idea that came first and then melodies came after. Sometimes it’s the totally opposite way. Sometimes I sit down at the piano and kind of fooling around and a melody will come out on the piano that I really like. Sometimes the melody comes out in my head first and I play with that, so it’s totally different every time, which is fun. That’s the fun part of songwriting.”
What projects are you working on currently/releasing? We already know about the September 14th album coming out, but are there plans of a tour in the near future?
“I have an album release event in L.A. on September 25th. That’s in North Hollywood. After that, I hope to definitely play more shows in the L.A. area. There’s no tour planned as of now. I have another music video that’s coming out right before the album comes out, and that’s going to be for a song called ‘Red and Blue.’ So we got this music video, the album, and then the release party.”
What else would you like your current and future fans to know about you and your music?
“Good question. I would say that I’m an artist that loves catchiness in terms of melody and songs that are catchy, so I love pop in that sense. I think pop music has that quality. I’m also a big lyrics guy and I guess I’m a softie at heart, and I think my lyrics speak to people with whatever they’re going through. So really pay attention to the lyrics. Oftentimes we can turn on the radio and just kind of listen and let it be background music, which is awesome sometimes, but I feel that the music that I write is meant to be processed a little more and think about. That’s what I hope to leave with listeners: that heartfelt, think-about-your-life kind of stuff.”