Alt World

Before a visit to Nepal, Nick Campbell says inspiration for his songs always came “from a snippet of a melody, a unique chord progression or an unusual rhythm.”

Carmel-raised singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Nick Campbell honed his songwriting skills in the turn-of-the-century psychedelic melting pot of San Francisco’s music scene when he moved there in 1999. He stayed until 2014, bouncing with a half dozen bands before recording Lazy Circles with psych-rockers Casual Dolphins, a session on which Campbell played all the instruments himself.

But it was the epiphanies of a month-long trek to Nepal last October that bore both impetus and completion of his latest release and first solo album Nepali Crow, an immense suite of uber-cerebral loops, dense sound layers and trance-like melodic and vocal explorations. Campbell credits his trip with substantially informing the record, claiming it was more than just a game-changer.

“Everything is so different over there, on a fundamental level,” he says. “It’s totally transformative – it just changes you. It was completely mind-blowing.”

Campbell adds that the trip seeped into his writing and music, giving it a different organic energy. Until now, his songwriting was music-based. All that shifted for Nepali Crow.

“Each of the songs on the new album started as a poem that I had written about my experiences over there,” he says. “So everything flows from the words first, not the music. That’s a first for me.”

Campbell shares this billing with Thomas Jay Burks, a mainstay of the Carmel folk scene whom Campbell just met a few years ago, in spite of the fact that they both have been in and around Carmel for decades.

Sandwiched between solo sets by first Burks and then Campbell will be a confabulation between the two, and Campbell is excited about it.

“It’s a one-time-only set,” Campbell says. “We’ve been rehearsing it together for quite a while now. Thomas has a harmonium [pump organ] the sound of which is totally reminiscent of South Asian music. The Nepalese people use it in both prayers and in songs. It’s all sounding pretty special.”

Campbell’s music has achieved a number of labels from the music press, ranging from indie to alt-psych-rock to experimental psychedelia. It may be best to call it indie-alt psychedelic rocktronica, given the heavy electronic passages.

“It just kind of happened little by little over time, but now I’m able to create my own world, separate from all of that.” he says. “I just call it psychedelic rock and roll.”

NICK CAMPBELL and THOMAS JAY BURKS 7pm Saturday, June 29. The Lab, 3728 The Barnyard, Suite G-23, Carmel. $10. info@thelabarts.com, thelabarts.com
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