Camden West Discusses New Vegas Releases, British Rock, and Christmas Songs

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Pop/folk/rock artist Camden West is back home and working virtually in Las Vegas after spending part of the past two years in Nashville, co-writing and trying to gain a better foothold in a business that doesn’t really exist in Vegas, the original music industry. West’s latest single release, “VI Feet Under,” is an almost industrial-meets-chain gang production about the dozens who died from gun violence in Las Vegas in 2017 during an outdoor Jason Aldean performance. “I actually wrote that a while ago,” he said, “a song about the horrible mass shooting event that we had. It’s different, it’s not the most commercial-sounding song.” It’s uncharacteristically dark of West’s work, and definitely not to be confused with Billie Eilish’s “Six Feet Under.”

That single isn’t the only thing that West has on his radar right now. “I have new live EP release, Live at 11th Street Records, recorded in Las Vegas,” he said. “And I have a lot of singles that I’m going to be releasing, I have them all lined up. I’m planning on releasing one a month. I’m going to focus on releasing singles right now, because it seems that people’s attention spans are not as great as they used to be. With the music industry today people want to hear one song and move on.”

West’s voice and songwriting can be reminiscent of artists like Kenny Loggins, James Blunt and Duncan Sheik, which is why his immediate answer, when asked to name his influences, is surprising. “The Rolling Stones. I really grew up listening to them a lot,” he said, naming an act that his grandparents might have grown up with. “The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, British invasion, all the classic rock bands, those were my influences. I just enjoy that music. I love the Killers too, they’re definitely my favorite Las Vegas band and one of my favorite modern rock bands. For acoustic, Cat Stevens is really awesome, Richard Thompson is fun to listen to. John Mayer, Jason Isbell.”

West is a band player when the situation allows, with full bands in both Las Vegas and Nashville when he performs in those cities. And he also has toured the world in different group configurations. “When we travel it can be a trio or four people, it depends on who wants to come on the trip,” he said. “I’ve played in Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, I’ve played all over the place.” And like some of the classic guitarists he admires, West goes for the onstage heft and humbucking of the Gibson Les Paul he bought as a junior high student. “I bought that when I was about 13, that’s the electric that I love to use.”

West’s hometown is known as the Entertainment Capital of the World, but it’s not known for much original music. He’s taken steps to remedy that in the past with a novel spin on songwriter rounds and house concerts. “I wish there was more [original music] in Vegas, and I think there will be,” he said. “I think people are getting more interested in unknown artists. There’s a thing I started before I moved to Nashville called ‘Game of Tones,’ kind of like a houseshow thing, where I have a few different artists come in, in an intimate setting where they play for 20 minutes each, play a few songs, and the audience and the artists can talk back and forth. In between songs, the audience can ask a question, you can talk, it’s to showcase art and music, and then I like to connect a charity to it. It’s a free show but people can donate [to that charity]. Each artist was allowed to invite 10 people, and the point was that each artist would leave with 10 or 20 new people who had never heard of them.”

Even though he just released a song that might not seem particularly uplifting around the holidays, West also has a Christmas song that is seeing streaming action right now, “Put Me On Your Christmas List.” “I only have one Christmas song and that’s it,” he said. “The goal is that I’m trying to get it placed in a movie or TV show, that’s a pretty good thing to do with Christmas music. Everybody’s gotta have one.”

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