Growing up in a musical family, Reuben Apirana was always destined to find his way to music, but it’s only in the last few years that he has really showcased his singer-songwriter prowess under his musical moniker Camp 8.
Born in New Zealand, Apirana moved to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast when he was two years old before making the move to Melbourne five years ago.
Apirana’s parents had him in piano lessons for as long as he can remember, and from there, his spark of creativity was ignited. At age 21, the beginnings of what would become Camp 8 were born when Apirana began experimenting with cinematic and orchestral elements to create his own sound.
It wasn’t until 2019 when the world got to hear Camp 8’s penchant for songwriting with the release of his debut single ‘Everything’. Quickly, he became an up-and-comer to watch, garnering impressive coverage across local and international publications – from Spotify to triple j, Clash Magazine to American college radio.
In April 2020, Camp 8 took the next step of his career when he made his live debut during Australian live-streaming music festival and fundraising event Isol-Aid!.
Now, after a string of singles, we meet Camp 8 at his next milestone – his debut record.
Everything is delicate in its delivery, but every softly padded piano note, sweep of percussion, and lyric is purposeful. Alongside producer Hayden Calnin, not a single moment of the EP is wasted. Packed full of heart-on-your-sleeve, raw emotion, it tells the story of the ending of Apirana’s own five-year relationship, the heartbreak and then acceptance that followed, and finally the journey to meeting his current partner.
Warm, soaring cinematic landscapes carry Camp 8’s vivid, heart-wrenching storytelling across the EP’s five tracks. Apirana’s demandingly captivating vocal forces you in place, swirling within the sonic landscape – from the solemn pain of heartbreak drenching the EP’s title track right through to the full circle conclusion of ‘Shudder’.
Everything as a record is nothing short of heart-achingly breathtaking. It will stun you into silence and wrap itself around you, leaving you begging to spend more time with Camp 8 once its 22 minutes ticks over.
Before Everything‘s official release we are premiering the EP, and we sat down with Camp 8 to chat about the record and everything that led him to it.
The Camp 8 Story
From the beginning
Camp 8: “Eleven years ago, I started playing around with piano and guitar compositions. A few years later I started writing songs. Coming from a family of songwriters, making music was always something that was encouraged. I’ve been playing piano for as long as I can remember, and composition was always something I was drawn to.”
What you’ll hear
Camp 8: “I like to think it’s a cinematic sound with specs of soul and melancholy. I’d say it stems from all the music I’ve been interested in. I listened to a lot of classical music as a kid. This was my mother’s influence. But I was also surrounded by a lot of ’60s music. I spend a lot of time finding layers and sections of songs that stand out to me and tend to take inspiration from them.”
Influences & inspiration
Camp 8: “Bon Iver, Radiohead, Frank Ocean and Unknown Mortal Orchestra would be the biggest influences. Also, the Beatles would be a big one as my childhood is filled with memories of listening to them. I get a lot of inspiration from movies and movie scores as well.”
Inside the creative process
Camp 8: “The writing process was quite fast. I’d put all these songs together and decided I should try and do something with them. I was lucky enough to have met Hayden Calnin soon after and I showed him the songs and he was interested in tracking them.
“The recording process was really cruisy. It was a lot about being comfortable in the studio and not pushing things that weren’t there or didn’t feel right. We made a lot of decisions with this EP which was against the advice of management.
“It was mainly me and Hayden in the room, but we experimented a bit with a group of friends with some backing vocals which was cool, and Hayden had a few friends feature throughout. Hayden’s studio is in Mornington which definitely had an effect on how the songs came out.”
Tell us the story
Camp 8: “The EP centres around a breakup I went through a few years ago. It was a messy breakup which basically exploded my whole friendship circle. I ended up living on my friend’s couch and the songs kind of poured out of my after that.
“The EP starts at the point of knowing your relationship is not in the right place and works its way through the stages of breaking up then finishes with the conclusion of ‘Shudder’, which is about meeting my now fiancé.”
Down memory lane
Camp 8: “My favourite memories of creating Everything are definitely experimenting with the choral synth that comes in at the second chorus of ‘Barbie’. We felt like it needed something a bit extra and we brought up a bunch of different synths and Hayden played the section on a loop while I played around with all the different sounds. When we hit the choral sound there was a feeling in the room which was pretty special. It’s become my favourite part of the EP.”
Camp 8: “Playing Isolaid was big for me. I’d not done any shows before then and I have spent a lot of time figuring out what Camp 8 will sound like as a live act. But having my first live show being just me and my piano in front of an iPhone felt like a really vulnerable thing for me. Also finishing this EP is something I’m extremely proud of.”
Overcoming struggle town
Camp 8: “I suppose being nearly 30 has its downsides in the music industry and I’m very cautious with every decision I make. People have come through wanting a lot more control than I’ve been prepared to give them which is challenging. But I’ve met a lot of amazing people who I consider a part of the team.”
For the love of music
Camp 8: “I really love the art of songwriting. Putting melody and lyrics to music is such a delicate process and it just feels really pure for me. It’s a really good way for me to heal and grow as a person. Songwriting is the place where I am my most honest self.
The year ahead
Camp 8: “I’m currently writing and recording an LP which is still in its early stages, but I’m super excited about it. It’s definitely a different feel from the Everything EP which is a step in a direction I’m really proud of.
“I think after this EP is released, it will be a good time to reassess the year and figure out what the next steps will be. A lot will depend on the current climate, but at the very least I will be spending a lot of time writing and hopefully recording.”
Camp 8 – Everything
“The lyrics to ‘Everything’ have taken on so many different forms that I’ve never sung them correctly and probably never will.”
Camp 8 – Barbie
“Every song except ‘Barbie’ originally went for over six minutes. ‘Barbie’ originally went for two minutes to try and bring the length of the EP down. When I wrote the songs, I indulged a lot in instrumental sections.”
Camp 8 – Happier
“I had no idea what ‘Happier’ was about until months after I’d written it. It always felt special to me, but it wasn’t until I realised it was written as a letter to my sister that I knew just how special it was to me.”
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