Cameron Ernst
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Cameron Ernst

Los Angeles, CA | Established. Jan 01, 2010 | SELF

Los Angeles, CA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2010
Solo Pop Indie

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Dec
12
Cameron Ernst @ Molly Malone's Irish Pub

Los Angeles, California, United States

Los Angeles, California, United States

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"The obviously attractive, rather inexplicable, immensely musical Mr. Ernst"

Cameron Ernst hears things in his head. These things drive him mad — until he exorcises them into his iPhone. Melodies. He hears melodies. And no matter when one comes — even in the wee hours — he hums it into his phone recorder to capture it. “Then I’ll go back and listen to that melody,” the 27-year-old singer-songwriter says. That’s just the beginning of his obsessive process. Next comes the racing to a piano, over and over, whenever inspiration strikes, to develop that melody, to divine the lyrics. “It just has to come out,” he says.

Ernst is nothing if not fixated. He works on writing one song at a time, when others might work on 10. He’ll think about it under the hot water of the shower. He’ll think about it in the isolation of the car. “It’s the focusing that I love.” Pairing one of these ineradicable melodies to lyrics (those come at him from all over, too, even the commitment speech at his little brother’s college-graduation ceremony) is “my most favorite part about songwriting — when you’re, like, Oh my gosh, this idea goes really well with this.” Ernst has poured his words and music and heart into three albums now. The third, Steadfast, is brand new, and, for him, a new direction. “Definitely pushing the pop,” he says, compared to his older “indie, singer-songwriter, kind of folk” stuff. “There are more synth sounds, bigger beats. It’s — I don’t know — a little more mature, more focused.” (There’s that word again.) Move over, Bruno Mars? “It’s not candy pop. It’s a little deeper than that.”

Ernst’s story could’ve gone — and could still go — a number of ways. Born in Michigan, reared in Kansas, he moved to Los Angeles to go to the University of Southern California just as his parents moved to Dallas, where they live now. “You know when you go home for the holidays or for breaks? Dallas has become that place for me.” But the Ernsts knew back in Kansas that they had an anomaly on their hands. Little Cam sang — he preferred to do it a cappella — in plays and talent shows. In a choir, he belted it out at Carnegie Hall. At 11, he got into community theater. Zing went the strings of that little performing heart. That ultimately led to USC to study acting, and then something changed. About halfway through his studies, he thought, “I want to see what this songwriting thing could be like as a career.” He heaped all his coal onto that fire, finished a double major — theater and communication — then moved to Dallas to pursue songwriting full-time. He got acting and modeling work through the Campbell Agency here, but it was Focus on the Road, his first album, released in 2011, and Always, Always, his next, in 2013, that had his full attention. He moved back to L.A. about a year ago.

Steadfast happened only when Ernst was good and ready. He had taken several songs to his producer. They settled on four, then the producer challenged him to write four more, building upon those. “When I looked at all eight songs,” Ernst says, “there seemed to be this consistent theme of bravery.” The last song on the album, “Steadfast,” became the whole work’s title. My eyes are locked ahead / I’m in this game so I can win / I’m ready like the white horse. And then he makes a promise. I can fight the fight, I’ll survive / There’s no looking back now / I’ve come way too far to fail. The melodies are infectious; the arrangements undulate from spare to layered. Ernst’s vocals are breathy and beautiful, with an almost British lilt. But he is most definitely traversing a rocky road: himself. I’m a vagabond / Where do I belong? he pleads in one. I’ve been fighting for answers / But the thorns are a fortress I can’t break through, he declares in another. Ernst is resolutely a do-it-yourselfer. He handles his own business affairs, his social media, his marketing. He designed cameronernst.com. (“I wouldn’t say I’m a control freak, but I would say I’m a perfectionist.”) He is proud that he is an independent artist on his third project, with no Kickstarter campaign and no big team — yet. “I’m the driving force. There’s no one slapping my wrist saying, ‘Get your album out.’” He’s done well with the Fort Worth-based Musicbed, a song-licensing service for indie films and videos, and he himself secured his next Dallas gig, October 2. He’ll be atop Reunion Tower, almost 500 feet up in the GeO-Deck above the place he calls home, singing his heart out. It’s what the noise in his head makes him do. - FD Magazine


"Cameron Ernst goes in a different direction with new album 'Steadfast'"

Indie-pop artist Cameron Ernst is releasing his debut album Steadfast next month, but AXS got an official preview of it now when we conducted an e-mail interview with the Kansas native, to find out why he characterizes the eight-song record as a step in a different direction.

That begins with the first single, "Vagabond," which you can listen to by using the media player included with this article. Cameron told us that he considers the track to be a coming of age piece in a sense, because he can remember writing it and thinking about how he used to get chosen last for gym class as a kid, and the resulting feeling of being unwanted that sticks with you. The song, then, is an exploration of how he's owned the label of 'vagabond' even though he never wanted it.

"This song has a strong voice for the rest of the album in that it's ultimately a story about bravery," he explained. "I think each song on the album has that theme, and I'm proud of 'Vagabond' for leading the way in telling the bigger story."

Also important to him is the title track, "Steadfast," that also has its own meaning. Cameron wrote it after attending his brother's college graduation ceremony at the University of Texas at Austin, where Naval Admiral William H. McRaven was the commencement speaker. McRaven's speech was extremely inspiring to Cameron, who had also just seen and been moved by the military dramas "American Sniper" and "Lone Survivor." These three things moved him to sit down at the piano and write what became the closing number of the album.

"'Steadfast' is about never giving up, never backing down, and having the courage to fight to the end," Cameron told us. "It's a song that is extremely relevant to me in my life right now, and I think it is one of those songs that will remain relevant because of the challenge it poses to stay strong."

The album also contains the tracks "Danny," "The Knockouts," "Reach," "Red & Blue," "Bittersweet" and "Naked." It's a small collection of songs each with their own meaning, showcasing Cameron's ability as an up-and-coming storyteller. With songs like these, this developing artist should easily find his way onto many people's fall playlists once the record arrives next month. - AXS


"From Bullied Kansas Kid, to Handsome Indie-Pop Artist Making It In L.A."

Cameron Ernst is from Andover, Kansas – but the indie-pop singer-songwriter had big city life on the brain from the time he was young.

During early youth, he began singing in a prestigious local choir, per the suggestion of a mom in town who heard his impressive vocals. The experience excitedly led him to a performance at NYC’s Carnegie Hall.

And after years in Kansas of piano lessons and participating in his school’s band, Ernst spread his wings and made his way to L.A. to attend USC, later deciding move out here for good to pursue his dreams of being a musician.

“I’ve learned not to wait around for someone to help me with my career,” he tells skyelyfe of making the proactive transition from small town to big city. “I’ve got to keep pushing forward in creating great music and be the driver in my career moves. I’ve also learned that I can be content with where I’m at now and still be proactive with pushing forward, which is hard to do in a fast-paced culture where we’re constantly looking at what’s coming next. The move was a big milestone in my life, and takes a lot of courage and determination, especially as an indie artist.”

The emotional decision to move is much of what is featured on Ernst’s debut album Steadfast (scroll to the very bottom to listen), which was released on Sept. 14.

All of the songs are from personal experiences or situations I was inspired by,” he says. “It’s interesting to look at the songs individually and connect them to what I was going through when I wrote them. As a collection, the album is definitely a chapter of my life where I was putting things that have scarred me in the past and learning to move forward and see the bigger picture in life.”

Ernst addresses some of those moments that have “scarred” him in “Vagabond,” the first single off the album. The song touches on his days back in Andover when, for example, he used to get picked last in gym class – which caused him lasting feelings of isolation and being unwanted. But in retrospect, he feels like that pain contributed to the journey that led him to where he is currently, and now he is only looking ahead.

“In a year from now, I’d love to be putting out new music with a bigger team of people and touring with a larger artist so my music can have a bigger reach,” he says.

Among his dream touring partners?

Perhaps Walk the Moon, Troye Sivan or Jarryd James, who he notes as some of his favorite artists right now. But Ernst credits Taylor Swift, Broods and M83 for inspiring the work on Steadfast, while not failing to acknowledge that country music is his “guilty pleasure.”

Although Ernst no doubt wants to live the L.A. dream and experience the mainstream success of some of his beloved acts, he insists he won’t be changed by potential fame.

“My morals and values were definitely instilled in me from growing up in Andover,” he says. “I’ll forever be a good ol’ small town boy.” - SkyeLyfe


"Cameron Ernst"

Have you ever been in a room full of people and felt like you’re completely alone? The feeling of being unwanted burning like the sun on the back of your neck? Singer and songwriter Cameron Ernst is here to show you that you’re not alone in these experiences with his song “Vagabond”.

“Vagabond” is a song inspired by Ernst’s feeling of inadequacy, from being picked last in gym during his childhood in Andover, Kansas, to the lasting effect those experiences has on his life.

“That feeling of being unwanted sticks with you. The “Vagabond” label that’s put on you is never something you desire or choose. It’s just given to you, and you have to learn to adapt,” said Ernst. “It hurt a lot to be chosen last in gym class, even though that was an event so minute in my past. But I think it’s through hurt and isolation that we have to rely on an inner strength, which is what I learned to do.”

In “Vagabond” Ernst sits in an inflatable pool and imagines that he is on an island. Over time his imagination gets the better of him and his peaceful island daydream turns to him being stranded on said island for years.

“Being stranded on an island is a feeling that I think a lot of people can relate to, whether it’s feeling alone, misunderstood, weak, lost…I think for me, it has sometimes been a combination of all of those things.”

Ernst considers “Vagabond” to be a scarlet letter in a way, something propelled onto him without his consent, which he eventually did become.

While Ernst’s life inspires his songs, “Vagabond” is the furthest he has ever gone with his childhood memories. His other source of inspiration is the intense emotion he feels from watching new films and listening to music. Once the onset of inspiration hits Ernst he has the intense compulsion to create music.

“Once I start working on a song, I can’t stop. Even if I take a break and come back to it, I’m constantly thinking about perfecting the lyrics and melody until I feel like it’s done.”

Ernst upcoming album Steadfast releases today, inspired by the commencement given by Naval Admiral William H. McRaven at his brother’s graduation from the University Of Texas. Ernst describes bravery as being the consistent theme of the songs on his album, deciding that the title Steadfast as being the obvious choice.

While Ernst’s life has been filled with struggles, heartache and frustration he wants listeners to also know that there is always hope, love and perseverance in life and his songs, “That’s the story I’m telling.” - ARTSY Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Cameron Ernst has an indie pop sound that is candy to the ear. With infectious melodies, arrangements that undulate from spare to layered, and heartfelt lyrics, Cameron takes his listeners on a journey led by his breathy, beautiful vocals. Catchiness isn't simply what makes Cameron's music stand out - his clever lyrics are thought-provoking. In a sea of sounds floating around out there, Cameron's music will be sure to touch a chord with listeners.

Even though he is currently based in the big city of LA, Cameron has always been a small town guy at heart having grown up in Andover, Kansas. From a young age, Cameron's life has been immersed in music. He began piano lessons when he was in elementary school and to this day, piano remains his main instrument. Cameron moved to California to attend the University of Southern California, studying theater and communication. It wasn’t until interning at Warner Brothers Records and experiencing the music industry first hand that he knew he felt called to the road of being an artist.

Cameron moved to Dallas in 2010 to start his music career where he wrote and recorded his first two EPs. His song "Love is Louder", inspired by the movement started by MTV and actress Brittany Snow, allowed him to take his music and positive message for young people into middle schools and high schools on his Love on the Road Tour. Following his album releases and tour, his musical journey led him towards a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel around Australia when he won Tourism Australia's Best Job in the World competition in 2013. Chosen from over 300,000 people around the world, Cameron adventured for six months around the land down under as Virgin Australia's "High Flyer", gaining incredible life experiences that would shape his next chapter.

After returning from Australia, Cameron made the move back to Los Angeles. In September 2015, he independently released his album "Steadfast". His first two singles from the album, "Vagabond" and "Red & Blue", paved the way for the album with their catchiness and sincere lyrics. In "Vagabond", Cameron's chipper whistle and melodic hooks paired with the story of being a lost loner will give hope to any person looking for their place in life. "Red & Blue" promises to rescue the listener from a world of distractions, and it does just that with Cameron's captivating, layered vocals and gradual build to its pop climax. 

With bigger beats and unique synth sounds, Cameron hasn't lost the singer-songwriter roots that he's always had. The songs from "Steadfast" have genuine heart and soul, just like the good ol' small town boy he is deep down.

Band Members