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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Gaither

Up Next: Portland’s Mcamp Talks New Single, Attending USC Full-Time, Meeting Babyface, & More

As time continues to fly by, today's R&B continues to manifest in various forms, styles, and artists. From mainstream acts such as Jhené Aiko, dvsn, 6LACK, Kehlani, and H.E.R., to Giveon, SZA, Teyana Taylor, Summer Walker, Ambré, (and oh so many more), the list is impressively long. As the new wave of R&B further develops, the list of undeniably incredible, up-and-coming artists heavily grows even more. However, if your roster does not include Portland artist, Mcamp, it’s time to regroup and readjust.

An unstoppable force, Michael Campanelli, aka Mcamp re-envisions R&B with his refreshing innovative sound. With his raw talent, the progressive, experimental artist enhances the (already great) sound of R&B music today. At merely 21-years-old, singer, songwriter, and producer, Mcamp brings a new life to R&B music. Camp not only sings, but he masters, mixes, and produces the sound perfect for his artistry.

With his soulful interior and immense charisma, Mcamp contributes a refreshing, reinvigorating dynamic to the genre. Delivering incredible artistry, his new single, “Sexy in the Morning,” produces a contagious, unforgettable groove that leaves listeners wanting even more than they came for. Released Friday (Jan. 29), the self-produced track finds Mcamp gushing over the ways his woman brings him happiness. From her natural beauty, alluring sexual aura, and her overall charm, he’s truly love-struck. The ballad essentially tells the story of waking up to the one you love. He only desires to make love while sharing both time and space together.

Unlike those who don’t feel like they're most attractive in the morning, Mcamp sees nothing but flawlessness when he looks at his lover during the sunrise. He’s proud to be with his girl, the way she makes him feel, and he has no problem declaring it to the world. Much like a warm summer day, the song brings listeners sheer peace. His melodic, gentle voice both highlights and pays tribute to his influences and industry pioneers such as Smokey Robinson, Pharrell, D’Angelo, and Justin Timberlake. His musicality even channels past Musiq Soulchild appeal. Spotlighting his growing maturity, “Sexy in the Morning” ushers in a tasteful yet grown-and-sexy sensation. From the song's texture, to Camp's vocal dexterity and flow, "Sexy In the Morning" feels just like a perfect Sunday dinner. It highlights his versatility and adept range within his budding artistry.

I had the opportunity to sit and catch up with Mcamp to discuss the new single, being a full-time student at USC during the pandemic, producing his own music, performing for the legendary Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, making his mark in the music industry, and more!

How has where you’re from affected creating your music and developing your sound? Where exactly are you from? Strictly Portland or are you from different places?

I’m from different places. I grew up in Minnesota. That was interesting… Minnesota’s cold. I moved to Portland in my sophomore year of high school when I was around 15. I’ve been playing music my whole life, just not super seriously. I was a big soccer player. I moved to Oregon and I had just suffered a big knee injury and I couldn’t play soccer. I couldn’t do anything. I had no friends. I was just a big loner and I was like, “What am I going to do with my time, man?” That’s when I started to get into music and that is what shaped my future in music. – being alone.

As for being in Portland, I think a lot of my music is chill, a little slow a lot of times. It’s like you’re kicking it on Sunday with a cup of coffee. That’s kind of what I’m thinking when I’m hearing my music. I think that’s represented in Portland. It’s very rainy most of the year and it’s just a cool place to relax. I like being here. I’m in L.A. a lot of the time because I go to school there but being in Portland is just laid back and chill. And, I think that’s how my music was shaped into that.

The name “Mcamp,” how did that name come about? I like it. It's short yet catchy.

*laughs* It’s pretty simple. My name is Michael Campanelli - A cool name but not that many people are going to remember that. So, it’s like, damn, I gotta shorten this.

Since you mentioned school earlier, with you being a full-time student, and with Covid-19, the pandemic, and everything happening right now, how has that affected you?

It’s just a big bummer. I’m a Popular Music Performance major at USC and my whole major revolves around being in person and performing in front of people. And, not doing that it just sucks. I feel like it kind of takes half of the purpose out of what I’m doing because like I said, a lot of it is just getting in front of people and performing and getting comfortable with that, and learning how to do it well. The other half is learning historically relevant music that musicians should know. That part is still there. I still learn a lot of music and find my way through these sounds and grow accustomed to them and understand how they fit into modern-day music.

Now, as it pertains to music and your creative space, has it (Covid-19) changed anything? Has it made it better? Worse? Has it affected you at all?

I think in a lot of ways, in terms of making music, it’s been better. I don’t have a lot of the same distractions I had before. I think there’s less school work in some ways and there’s also less of that… it’s Friday night and you’ve got a song idea in your head and one of the homies is like “Yo, pull up to this party.” And I’m like, “Oh shit, but I want to make music.” But, you end up going anyway and you don’t make that song which could’ve been… a dope song.

So, a lot of that has completely disappeared, which has been huge for my productivity. Other than that, I think in terms of the other end of the spectrum, I don’t get out as much. I don’t experience as many things that are tough on my creative psyche. I’m like, “I don’t know what the hell to write about man. I’ve been inside for like 6 months. I haven’t seen a girl in forever, how am I supposed to write a love song?” *laughs*

As far as inspiration, when it comes to your music in general, where do you go for creative inspiration?

I love this question. One thing I’ve discovered over the last year, which has been huge on me developing my sound and being creative in general, I listen to ALL sorts of different shit. I’ll be listening to John Coltrane and then I’ll throw on Young Thug. I think what’s so cool about music and being an artist is that if I want to make R&B music – which I used to think like that, but now I’m just like… I want to make music in general. But if I’m making R&B music, who says a Green Day record can’t influence that?

I like that. That’s dope.

Yeah, like I listen to Pharrell Williams a lot. He’s sick. And one of the things I love about him the most is, you’ll be listening to a song of his and it’ll be Hip-Hop, and then you’ll hear a sound or he’ll go to a groove and it does not sound like Hip-Hop. I think that’s one of the secrets about staying creative and listening to music – listen to everything! You never know when that punk rock guitar is going to fit into that ballad that you write.

You jump-started my next question. As it pertains to artists that you are listening to, if any, who are you listening to right now?

Right now, I’ve been listening to The Spinners. That’s actually for school but I’ve been listening to them a lot. I’ve been listening to Pharrell Williams of course. I wasn’t listening to anyone specific but, I was playing a lot of the Alternative R&B playlist. I like this song, “Take Me Where Your Heart Is” by Q. Then, I was listening to BeBop Essentials Playlist on Spotify just to hear that sound and get acquainted with it. I’ve been listening to all sorts of shit; Kanye West; Yeah, just all over the place.

Your new single, “Sexy in the Morning,” gives off very heavy Justin Timberlake vibes to me. How did you create it?

I had this idea for sexy in the morning and I ended up writing probably three different half-songs to the idea of "Sexy In the Morning" with different beats that I had made and none of it felt right...nIt started at the beginning of quarantine (that idea) and like I said before, I didn’t have any inspiration. I genuinely had not seen a girl in months. I was like “How am I going to write this song about this?” So, I couldn’t get past that barrier. I made three different beats. I tried three different times.

Eventually, I was quarantined in this hotel in Los Angeles and I make this beat and I started freestyling over it. “Sexy In the Morning” comes back and I come up with this hook idea. I gave my friend a call and he helped me flush out the lyrics. I get the hook down and I sit on it for a couple of weeks, and then I meet my now-girlfriend and she pushed that inspiration to the next level where I was able to finish the song.

"Sexy In the Morning" Cover art.

As far as your creative side, you’re very hands-on with the creative process in your music. How important is that to you to be heavily involved within that process?

Once again, I love this question. I take a lot of pride in the fact that I do it all in my music. That’s not to say, I wouldn’t hop in the studio with another producer, two other writers, and make something for me. I think I have to have at least some input in every process even down to mastering. Right now, especially with Covid, it’s hard to collaborate because there are not that many people you can meet up with and it’s hard over the internet.

But, when I’m making music… I’ve been doing it all myself since I started so it’s very important to me because that is how sounds are created. You can’t have your sound if you just let someone else do it. It’s fundamentally not yours. I like just having my hands on everything. It’s fun too.

If you had a dream collaboration who would it be?

They’re so many people that I want to collaborate with. A few that come to mind, Pharrell Williams of course. Quincy Jones! I don’t think he’d work with me… He’s just too up there for me. That would be insane; Justin Timberlake! Honestly, I love Justin Timberlake; Anderson .Paak! That would be crazy; Daniel Caesar of course; H.E.R. would be pretty sick! H.E.R. is insane. They’re a million people I want to work with. There are just so many dope artists.

Now… I heard you received the opportunity to perform for Babyface. A lot of people don’t understand how important that is! How did this even happen?

Honestly, the funny thing is… it’s quite embarrassing. At the time, when I was about to do it, I didn’t understand how significant that was either. I quickly learned! That was just my manager, Rob. Honestly, it beats me. I guess he just had some connections that were close with Babyface and that guy suggested, “Yo, you should meet this kid.” That was it. It was actually like the night before type shit too. He (Babyface) didn’t even know it was happening until that night, less than 24 hours before I went over there. That was one of the most nerve-wracking days of my life. I remember I was on the street about an hour and a half early. I don’t think anything could have prepared me for that.

So, where does Mcamp see himself five years from now? You’ll only be 26, where do you see yourself?

My aspirations are just crazy. Of course I want to be an artist. That’s the main goal. I just love producing. I love writing. So, I want to produce records for other artists. I want to write records for other artists. I’ve already started a little bit. I want to do all of that shit. Another thing I want to be someday is a musical director. I don’t know at 26 if I’ll be there but I want to be able to play an instrument in the band and then arrange the live performance. For example, If H.E.R. were playing a show or doing a tour, I want to be the guy who arranges that live band to make it sound like the record but translate it to the live performance. That’s a hard-f**king job. I feel like that might be more down the road.

But, in five years, I want to be this popping artist, producer, and writer. I want to have hella music out.

Do you have a project coming out? Can we expect a mixtape? EP? Anything?

*laughs* Uh, no mixtape or EP, but lots of singles! I’m hoping to have 6-8 at least and who knows, maybe by the end of the year, it could be an EP in the works or by the end of the year. You never know. I'm going to hold off on the album. The album will be a couple of years from now.

At only 21, the future is truly bright for the gifted, young star. You can stream Mcamps’s “Sexy in the Morning below on Apple Music or watch the lyric video above via YouTube!

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