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Dirty Sweaty Hot: Cameras

With two lead vocalists and songwriters, Sydney band Cameras’ sound can lift you into a whorl of air and breathy mystery and then drag you back to earth (in a good way) into stomping guitar chords. The ethereal Eleanor Dunlop and the earthy, rooted-in-dirty-rock Fraser Harvey make up the vocals, while Ben Kingshott take charge of the bass. Eleanor is obviously intrigued by dreamy and delicious escapist sounds and pictures – the music she writes, the bands she listens to and the films she loves all have a certain elemental feel. In person, she is warm, friendly and practical. She knows what she wants to achieve and she works hard. Damn hard.

In 2008, she was picked as one of the Top Song winners for Triple J’s Unearthed. In 2009, Cameras were featured artists on Unearthed and were put on rotation on Triple J. Since then, the festival circuit has seen them treading the boards across the country from WA for Southbound to Sydney for Playground Weekender. What with being noticed so quickly, luck may seem to be on the side of Eleanor, but that’s a short sell for someone who doesn’t simply wait around for success to fall in her lap. She’s the one making it happen, committing time, money and energy on building a career in a field which is traditionally difficult to crack. And there’s plenty of work to do, debut albums to be made and tours to be travelled.

Cameras grew out of a desire for collaboration after Eleanor met Fraser through a friend. While listening to other bands like The National and Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Cameras honed their own sound with well-known producer Scott Horscroft (The Presets, Silverchair, Sleepy Jackson, The Panics) and produced a delicious demo of their first few songs, of which Eleanor is justifiably proud; it was fun and feisty and free of wannabee rockstar pretension. Although working with Horscroft was a thrilling and scary experience, it helped to tighten their band and allowed them to get as much time in the studio as humanly possible. “For that small amount of time, it took the band to another level… Recording made [us] understand the songs better,” she reflects.

When approaching the issue of being the only woman in her band, Eleanor puts it bluntly: “it’s not like there’s a huge amount of choice when the majority of people [musicians] you come across are boys.” Back when she was younger and the idea of being a musician was still a pipe dream, the dearth of women doing anything other than eyeball-scraping pop music was bordering on scandalous. Not to minimise the success of artists like Blondie and PJ Harvey (among others), but they were the exception rather than the rule. Since then, happily, things have improved. The Karen Os, Beth Dittos and Katy Steeles of this world are fuelling the aspirations of young female musos everywhere. For Eleanor, the dream came a little later on. “I didn’t think I could write music… but when I was 19 I realised it was the only way. Once I did start writing, it was the best thing ever. So liberating.”

Eleanor’s favourite gigs are dirty and sweaty and hot, which is exactly what Cameras aim to achieve this weekend at Playground Weekender on Saturday in Wisemans Ferry. You can get tickets from Moshtix. Throughout March they’ll be performing at Adelaide Fringe Festival before heading back home to Sydney for more gigs.

words: Kristen Hodges


February 17, 2010 at 11:23 PM Ben Trump said...

Cameras' are a wonderful band mate! heard them live only a while back and am still reeling! :) You can do a cover version on any of the karaoke cabs doing the rounds of Melbourne & Sydney streets. Or you can vote on a similar vid! I think this will interest all you guys.

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