Summer Camp – Why We’re Getting Fans To Fund Our New Album

We’ve been going on about Summer Camp since way back when, so it was grand news indeed when Elizabeth Sankey and Jeremy Warmsley recently announced that their debut is finally on its way. However, rather than trotting down to your local HMV to pick up a copy, they’ll be selling their as-yet untitled record through fan-funded release site Pledge Music, and offering a host of goodies alongside a regular copy of the album for the most generous investors: batches of Elizabeth’s homemade chocolate brownies, one of Jeremy’s books, songwriting lessons and more besides. We quizzed jumpsuit-loving singer Elizabeth Sankey about why the ever-nostalgic band opted for a futuristic release…

Summer Camp

Summer Camp famously started out anonymously – now, (in a non-seedy way), you’re selling yourselves via private gigs, Skype chats and personal photos. What’s changed?

“We carried on being anonymous for a while because it kept us safe while we worked out how we were going to attempt to do everything. We were buoyed by the reaction our songs received, and in many ways people being supportive made us take the plunge. We’re often struck by how kind people are through Twitter, so it’s amazing to continue that by going straight to them. In terms of giving ourselves away – we’re in a band, we sing about things we care about, so we decided to give ourselves away a long time ago. Plus it’s not like we’re offering a striptease from Jeremy. Yet.”

You must have had loads of offers – why did you turn down deals from other labels to work with Pledge instead?

“We considered it, but there was never one label that seemed to fit, other than Moshi Moshi. By the time we’d started talking to labels we were already halfway through doing the album with Steve Mackey [from Pulp], so it was quite difficult for A&Rs to put their stamp on it. I think in many ways we’re quite a hard band to work with – we’re both control freaks and have a very clear idea of how we want to do things. Personally I always felt really uncomfortable with the idea that a label would give us money and then we’d be in debt to them if the record didn’t sell and decisions might be made that we had no control over.

“However, we’re still working with Moshi on the release as our label, Apricot Recording Company, is an imprint with them. They offer us all the support and advice of a label whilst giving us an abundance of creative freedom. We’re basically accumulating our own recording advance through pre-sales of the album. We won’t be in debt to anyone and we get to talk directly to the people who want to hear our music.”

Did you think you’d hit your 100% target so quickly?

“We’ve been overwhelmed by how people have responded. We never ever expected to reach 100%, let alone after six days, it’s an amazing feeling. For the remaining 110 days people can still pledge, it all stays up there.”

Summer Camp

What options have most people been going for?

“A lot of people have just been going for the option of a download of the album and then a CD when it’s ready, which is great as it’s basically the same as pre-ordering the album. One of the most popular items is the unique mix CD, which is where we talk to the person over email and then make them a mix based on what we think they might like. Also the brownies have been selling like hot, well, brownies. I’m considering opening a bakery. I’d be surprised if the sparkly jumpsuit went in all honesty – it’s not just an outfit, it’s a lifestyle choice.”

Is the album coming going to be in the shops too?

“Yes, in October, release date TBC.”

Why do you think bands are moving away from traditional release methods?

“The world of releasing records is changing, and in many ways that’s very liberating for bands. However it also means the number of bands who get signed in the traditional sense and consequently have the economic support to release and tour has reduced massively. It can be quite difficult to come to terms with the fact that the old system isn’t for everyone, which is why we were so thrilled to meet the guys from Pledge. It works, it’s fun, and it offers an alternative to the old school methodology.”