Words like ‘epic’, ‘atmospheric’, ‘mysterious’, ‘Interpol’, ‘Kate’ and ‘Bush’ tend to come up a lot in any discussion about Sydney quartet Cameras. One word that should really come up more often, though, is ‘loud’.
“We're very loud,” concurs vocalist and keyboardist Eleanor Dunlop, the woman largely responsible for the group's distinctive sound. “We have this huge wall of sound going on. I don't know... I've never seen us, so it's hard for me to explain what we're like. It's just full on. It's not light and happy and fun. It's quite dark and loud and big. I can't really describe it any better than that!”
Neither can we, really, but we can tell you a little about where their 'dark and loud and big' sound has gotten them. First single 'Defeatist' scored Cameras a Rage Indie Clip of the Week gong, and debut LP 'In Your Room' – full of towering, beautiful cacophonies – earned them the number three slot on US network MTV Iggy's list of 2011's Best Debut Albums. As well as the prerequisite Triple J airplay, they've had spins on BBC6 Music (UK), KRCW (US), and even Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones' show on KROQ (US).
They pulled off a coup when 'Defeatist' featured in the worldwide trailer for 'I Melt With You', a controversial film starring Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe and Thomas Jane. The movie could generously be described as a hot mess, but 'Defeatist' scored a nomination for Best Song in a Movie Trailer at the Hollywood Music and Media Awards in LA. The other nominees were Peter Gabriel, The White Stripes and Lady Gaga; somewhat strange bedfellows for an indie band you probably haven't heard of.
“I don't think ['I Melt With You'] got released in Australia,” Eleanor admits, “so I haven't seen it. I haven't even thought of seeing it. I mean... it's a cool trailer, but I don't know where I can get a copy of it. It might be shit! It's had mixed reviews.”
Most Aussie bands would find all of this international exposure a little overwhelming (or at least a little intoxicating), but Eleanor seems to be taking it in her stride.
“We've always kind of felt that the international market – particularly the US – is a bit more open to the album,” she explains. “I don't know why, but from the very beginning, the US market has been quite receptive to our music. We really didn't push it on anyone. The label we're signed to over there, Manimal Vinyl, heard our EP and came to us.
“It's been really great to have their support. The sheer size of the US market means there are going to be more people who are into what we've done, but I wouldn't have ever guessed the market would open up to us like it has, because I always felt it was more commercial and pop. It turns out they're into a broad range of stuff over there. It's still weird, though, and I can't really explain why they're into us.”
We're guessing it has a lot to do with the interplay between Eleanor and Fraser Harvey, the group's other vocalist (and guitarist). At first listen, they almost sound like they belong in different bands – she sounds like Kate Bush's moody daughter; he sounds like Ian Curtis' even moodier son – but it's the combination of the two and their disparate influences that makes Cameras unique. Ben Mason's powerful, militaristic drumming doesn't hurt either. Whatever it is about them, there's no denying their mutual love affair with the US.
“The first night we landed in LA,” Eleanor remembers, “I hadn't slept in 30 hours, and I had no idea what to expect. We were playing this festival called Culture Collide in downtown LA. It was completely packed and I was deliriously tired, but it just added to this surreal feeling of being in this country with all these people coming out to see us. That first night was so fun.
“And being in New York for a music conference [the CMJ Festival], with all these musicians converged in this massive city... it was an intense feeling but it was a great experience, being surrounded by even more musicians than there normally are in New York. It was pretty full on... it was really strange, seeing people I'd grown up listening to just walking down the street.”
She'd better get used to these brushes with fame. There are probably going to be a lot more of them.
‘In Your Room’ is out now. Scene Magazine presents Cameras at Alhambra Lounge on Thursday July 19 and The Great Northern on Friday July 20.