School of hard knocks a reality for UA music hopeful

Camden West performing (Photo provided by: West, Camden)

U of A alumni Camden West has started his journey towards his fame and fortune. The young musician is traveling around Arizona and other West Coast cities to gain a fan base and hopefully a recording contract.

“The best part is when people, people that I have never met before turn up because they have heard my music and wanted to see a live performance” said Camden West

Camden West playing on tour (photo courtesy of camdenwest.com)

West started this journey nearly a year ago after graduating from The University of Arizona in the spring of 2016 with a major in communication and a minor in music. The Las Vegas native is currently touring Arizona and other parts of the West Coast.

His love for music started at the age of 6 when he began playing the piano. At the age of 9 he added the guitar and drums to his musical resumé. When he was 12 he began to write music and performed in front of his first crowd. However high school was when he started regularly performing.

During his time at the U of A, West was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, and interned at the U of A recording studio. During his membership in AEPi he was able to showcase his talents while performing during one of their Spring Fling late nights.

Camden West singing and playing guitar (photo provided by: West, Camden)

West does not credit his time in Tucson to where he is now, “I don’t think that U of A really prepared me for my pursuit in music. I think that U of A prepared me to manage my time with is a huge part of moving forward in the industry.”

West hopes to keep writing and performing, eventually being able to support himself with his passion for music. “I hope to write music for movies, TV shows, and bigger artists.”

When asked what his thoughts about the business was West said, “The business is very hard to get into. I think that it really does take knowing people to break into.”

But to West it did not matter whether or not the venue was big or small, “I have played in big venues and then I have played in very small venues. If I had to choose a favorite venue to perform at I would say it was The Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas. Sometimes my favorite shows are the smaller ones because of how intimate they can be.”

However West has not lost hope and encourages his peers to keep pursuing. “I would tell them to keep working hard and to be different. If you don’t try, you will never know what could happen. I would also say to believe in yourself and to push yourself to work harder.”

Moving into the music industry is a big step for any young adult, “There is a concern that I will not be able to support myself and a family or live the lifestyle that I would like to live.   I fear that I will always live with self doubt.  I have spent a big chunk of my life dedicating myself to my music” said West

Music as a whole is constantly changing and evolving, this intern changes how easy it is to get a fan base. West understands that this evolution will not only effect his music but has changed icons that have come before him, “There are  different concerns that I have regarding not making it into the music business.   The music business has changed quite a bit since the days of being support by a record company and obtaining fair music royalties. Even the Rolling Stones have  to make an effort  to stay current in these changing times.”

However there is a dedication to his craft that helps West move forward, “I have invested a lot of time and  money on my craft.   I have risked expressing feelings and opinions in my songs. I have also tried new ways of composing in order to appeal to a wider spectrum of musical tastes. Any artist that exposes their art to the public opens themselves up to ridicule and self doubt.”

This dedication has come with a lot of sacrifice. as is with most professions, West has missed spending time with his family, friends and other moments that he will not get the chance to make up because of his craft. Instead of going and doing what most young men are doing at his age you can find West practicing and writing his music, furthering his skills and art.

And yet with all the sacrifice and risk that he has taken he still understands that this dream may not pan out as expected. There is a chance that he will not get to his end result, ” I will always do music and have to be realistic that I may not get the acknowledgment   or recognition that I think I deserve. I do music for self fulfillment and to evoke emotion in my listeners. I do not do it for the notoriety. However I do need people to want to listen to my music in order to be successful.  I do not want this to be a hobby, but a profession.”

But with that dream comes a realism and a back up plan, “I have always been interested in the sciences and travel, My backup plan would be to apply to medical school and work for Doctors without boarders.”

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Alexis Oakley is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at aboakley@email.arizona.edu

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