Cameron Lew, who graduated from Chapman this spring with a major in film production, doubles as lead singer and pianist for a powerful soulful trio: Ginger Root. Lew describes his sound as “aggressive elevator soul.” Ginger Root started making music in 2015 and are now on their first European tour, opening for Texan rock-duo Khruangbin. Lew sat down with Prowl to talk about Ginger Root and how he is preparing for his first tour abroad.
Ginger Root’s Mahjong Room captures youthful expression through multiple mediums, including dance, song, and film. Mahjong Room was directed by Ginger Roots own frontman, Lew. Everyone who worked on this video is a Chapman student.
Prowl talked to Lew, who graduated in 2018 and is now headed on a European Tour.
How did you come up with the name for the band?
Ginger Root came from a video of Vulfpeck I was watching late at night. There was this bit about “ginger root” in the video that made me laugh so hard that that phrase got stuck in my head for the next week. Then when it was time to figure out a name for the band, all I could come up with was ‘Ginger Root.’
When did you start Ginger Root?
I’ve been playing music for awhile in various groups, but Ginger Root started two years ago.
How did you all meet?
We all met in high school. There was an after school arts program that we were all a part of, and I had just started making music under the name Ginger Root and had already put out an album. I needed people to help me play these songs live and Matt Carney, who plays drums, and Dylan Hovis, who plays bass helped me out. They’re all quite a bit younger than me, they were freshman when I was a senior in high school, but we all crossed paths and now we’re best buds.
Where can we find your music online?
There are two albums out on streaming services (Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp). I just put out an album this past June, which is all over the internet. My first album is all cover songs, and I actually recorded the entire album in my car. In between classes I would go to Hart Park and record a cover. Sometimes a car would pull up next to me and I would have to stop so people wouldn’t see me drumming in my car. The first cover song I did was on top of the DMAC (Digital Media Arts Center) parking structure, and the cops got called on me for a noise complaint.
What type of covers do you do?
It’s a mix of old and new stuff, but a lot of the old stuff is Motown, The Beatles, or soul. I am a huge Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye fan and any of that stuff is really cool and a great amount of soul for me.
Call It Home reminisces through vintage motown sounds like Stevie Wonder, while also infusing new elements of funk and soul.
How would you describe your sound?
We describe our sound as: aggressive elevator soul. Take that as how you will, if people listen to the music after hearing that description then hopefully they say “oh that sounds about right.”
Do you guys have any shows coming up?
We will be leaving for our first European tour this October, where we are opening up for Khruangbin. We start off in England, then Paris. Then we drive up to Brussels , Belgium, Copenhagen , Denmark, and Berlin. This is the start of it, and the shows are sold out so we are trying not to freak out. We do not get a lot of money, but this opportunity is amazing for exposure and the experience is priceless.We are using every opportunity to learn from this first run.
Khruangbin infuses elements of soul and psychedelia with Como Te Quiero, and tells it through a visually striking animation.
Do you have a dream venue/person you would want to play with?