CAM BEGLEY

TOP FLOOR MUSIC PRESENTS

Introduction written by Joe Prendergast and Amelia Durac

Cam Begley’s EP “Bread and Water”, released at the end of September 2022, has joined a vast and diverse catalogue of recent releases from Trinity’s thriving music scene. From Lifts to Last Apollo, the college’s musical culture has emerged all guns (and guitars) blazing in the wake of the pandemic. Cam, our first guest here at Top Floor Music, is one of many Trinity students producing new and exciting bodies of work that we are so fortunate to be able to highlight.

 

Despite his cross-Atlantic move, Cam Begley, hailing from Hartford, Connecticut, brings with him a healthy appreciation for the classic American singer-songwriter style. One listen to “Bread and Water” evokes trademarks of indie rock from across the pond, reminiscent of Kurt Vile or The Shins. However, Cam avoids any strict categorisation through his blending of rock genres. What remains clear and unique is, above all, his distinct and powerful voice, and his artistic capability.

Cam Begley TFM 1.jpg

Top Floor Music was delighted to welcome Cam Begley into the TFM studio to showcase his work. Later, our station manager Vivien Sweet sat down with the artist to ask him a few questions.

Cam Begley InterviewTop Floor Music
00:00 / 11:09

Listen to the Interview

Vivien Sweet: 

Hello hello hello. Welcome to the first episode of Top Floor Music. We're here with Cam Begley, who is our first artist in four years. How does it feel, Cam?

 

Cam Begley:

It feels monumental, really. I’m happy I can be a part of this wonderful movement.

 

VS:

The TFM movement, yeah! 

 

So your new EP Bread & Water came out this fall, and I was wondering: Why Bread & Water? I mean, there's the obvious biblical reference…

 

CB:

To be honest, it was just a lyric from "In Your Head" which I thought had a cool ring to it. And then after the fact, I was like, oh, yeah, that's got a nice biblical aspect to it. But I didn't really read that much into it at the time, to be honest.

 

VS:  

Understandable. How do you come up with your lyrics? What's your songwriting process like?

 

CB:  

I knew I was going to be asked this question! I don't really have one. With “In Your Head,” it came to me when I was about to go to sleep. I had a gig the next day with my old band, and as I was about to go to sleep, the whole song was just put into my head. I got up then and played it so I wouldn’t forget. 

 

Most of the songs on the EP were either joke songs or songs like "You're Such a Drag.” I had the music first for “You’re Such a Drag.” The song was recorded at home over the summer with my friend Caden, nearing when I had to go back to Dublin. I didn't have words for it at the time, but I knew I really wanted it to be on the EP, so I sat down and I was like, okay, I'm just writing words. Like, they're just gonna, they're gonna be words.

 

VS: 

"You're Such a Drag" wouldn't necessarily be associated with anyone in particular, right, whereas "Jason" is quite specific? 

 

CB:

Yeah. "Jason" was initially a joke song that I had written. A kid that I was friends with in high school had a baby brother––when I was in fifth or sixth year––and his name was Grayson. I wrote a little joke song about Grayson; obviously, at that point, the song was not about his brother being an illegitimate child. I just really liked the sound of the song, so I wrote the rest of the words and changed the name.

 

VS:

So Jason is not actually a purportedly illegitimate child's name? 

 

CB: 

No, no. I didn't want to imply that his brother was illegitimate because, to my knowledge, he is not. 

 

VS:  

I was actually talking to Audrey (ages ago now) about the EP and the idea of having a joke song. It reminded me of Lou Reed in “Coney Island Baby”––I wanted to play football for the coach––and other artists who have tried to take their lyrics less seriously and focus more on the sound of their work. I know you mentioned Bob Dylan, but what other artists is your sound inspired by?

 

CB:

I really love PUP, they're a great pop punk band. Ty Segall is one of my favorites, too. There's also this really awesome album by The Thermals called The Body, The Blood, The Machine. That album definitely influenced me a lot. I really like the way those people write their lyrics because, especially in the singer-songwriter-y genre, so many of the artists are so serious. Sometimes they're almost whiny, do you know what I mean? I love Jeff Buckley, for example, but he can be a bit whiny. So I wanted to make fun music that doesn't really have a deeper meaning. 

 

VS:

How long did it take you to make Bread & Water? Did you start it in Dublin? 

 

CB:

Some of the songs were very old. "The Only One Left" I probably wrote, like, three or four years ago. "Lullaby" was also pretty old. I think there were only three songs that were actually written for Bread & Water specifically. 

 

VS: 

This is a question from Buster Whaley (a member of the subcommittee) who also grew up in Connecticut. I, myself, was born in Connecticut, so I've got a personal connection, as well. Buster did forget where you lived though...

 

CB:

Suffield! Shout out Suffield. 

 

VS:  

Shout out Suffield. Well, Buster asked: How, if at all, did your experience in northern Connecticut influence your music? Were you exposed to any local groups that inspired you or aided your development as a musician?

 

CB: 

No, there was a complete lack of local groups in Suffield, to be honest. I started playing music and playing guitar because there was nothing else to do. My mom had me take piano lessons when I was really young, as well. Shout out to my mom, lovely woman. 

 

VS:

Shout out Cam's mom. 

 

CB:

Yeah, but there's nothing to do in Suffield. Eventually I did start a band there called The Johns, so shout out to The Johns as well. Yeah, there wasn't much going on. 

 

VS: 

Is there any recorded music that The Johns put out?

 

CB:

There's not. There are some videos of gigs and voice memos, but no proper recordings. 

 

VS:

Right, makes sense. I hope you've found musicians in Dublin! Another question from someone on the subcommittee: How do you identify as a musician? Would you say you're an American musician in Dublin? Or are you a Dubliner? How has the Dublin scene affected your own music? 

 

CB:

Well, I can't come on here and tell you with a straight face that I'm a Dubliner. I don't really think about the nationality aspect that much. I guess there are some people that get really hung up on the whole American thing, which I understand. But also if you're having fun, playing music, and getting along well, that's what matters. 

 

VS:

I think they meant it more in terms of how the sound of Fontaines D.C., say, influences you. Because I know that, since coming to Dublin, I hear a lot of different types of music that I wouldn't have heard before at local gigs and whatnot. Has that influenced your music? 

 

CB:

Yeah, for sure. I don't really listen to Fontaines D.C. too much, but a lot of pub music is super fun. Even, like, Trad music. I was with Audrey in the Aran Islands, and there were these two young guys doing this Trad session. They were having so much fun with it. I feel like a lot of times, especially at tourist bars, Trad is almost mechanical. But these guys were having so much fun––they were knocking over tables while they were playing. That type of attitude towards playing music is really cool. 

 

VS:

I feel the same way. I was in Donegal with a couple of friends and people were playing instruments that I've never seen before. I still can't describe them to you. Whereas if you go to Mary's on Grafton Street, it's a bit different. I know you just released your EP, but I was also wondering what you see next for yourself as a musician?

 

CB:

I'm playing with a new group now, so hopefully we'll be gigging around soon. I have some snippets that I've written, but I don't think I'll have new music out for a little while. I'm in an in-between period right now, I guess.

 

VS:

Right. Right. I think it's very cool that songs come to you so organically, like when you're about to fall asleep. 

 

CB: 

Sometimes I don't get out of bed. Sometimes I convince myself that I'll remember (which I never do) and then I'm sad. 

 

VS:

Long lost songs… that happens. My last question is: Where do you see yourself as a musician and as Cam in 10 years? That's a long time; you could have a house by then. 

 

CB:

It'd be nice to have a house by then. I'll be 29 in 10 years. I would hope that I'm still gigging around. I don't really, you know, think I'll get famous or anything. If the option was there, I would take it, but I don't really mind. I'll definitely still be playing music. 

 

VS:

Cool. Thank you Cam Begley, and thank you to everyone who's still listening!

 

CB:

Thank you guys for coming. Thank you so much. 

 

VS: 

That closes our first episode of Top Floor Music! Stay tuned for future episodes.