Interview: Camera Cult

Interview & Photos by Emily Lopez 2.20.19.

Check out Camera Cult in our February issue!

Camera Cult is living proof that Houston, Texas has a solid music scene. Made up of Ricky Vasquez (vocals and guitar), David Gonzalez (launchpad and drum machine), and Skyler Scholtes (drums), the indie-synth-pop band has good beats and mesmerizing lyrics. The band is currently signed to Wormhole Records and is going further in the industry with the support of their friends, family, and fans. Their latest EP, Talk Nice, is made up of five songs that you'll keep singing for days along with their other singles. The band plays every show with their hearts, giving so much energy and interacting with their supporters in between. They’ll have you dancing, singing and jumping around with you the whole night. With their bright lights, retro aesthetic, and captivating atmosphere, they’ll have you feeling nostalgic with not only their sound, but also their style. Clearly set on having a good time on stage and putting things out there that their fans will love, this band is one you’ll start to love in a short amount of time.

How did you guys meet?

RICKY: David and I have been friends since freshman year of high school and that was a long time ago.

DAVID: Yeah, ninth grade, ‘08? ‘07?

RICKY: Maybe ’06-ish, ‘cause it starts there. So, me and him, we've been friends since all through high school. We've been in and out of bands together ever since and then we started Camera Cult, when, 2014? Yeah, just me and him, we had another friend, our lineups kinda changed but we were always the core members, and then Skyler joined a year and a half ago. And we met him through a mutual friend who had introduced us, and we were going to play a show, and our drummer at the time had sprained his ankle, like day before show. So, we called Skyler 'cause we knew he played drums and he was super down to learn our songs like in a day, and he did – he did a great job and he was our drummer ever since then. Yeah, we had to let the other guy go.

So, he sprained his ankle and then you were just like “So, you're out?”

RICKY: Basically, there were a few other things that kinda led to it but it was kind of our way – no disrespect to him at all, sweet guy, great drummer but we were just like not really vibin’ with him as much as we wanted to, but we got along with Skylar pretty well.

So, what is Camera Cult, like why’d you choose that name and what does it mean to each of you?

DAVID: Well, Ricky came up with the name.

RICKY: Yeah, we were just kinda throwing together, trying to see

what fit and it really was just a random thing. It doesn’t really mean anything. I think we tried to make up a meaning for it but we were just like

“Let's not fake it.” It doesn’t mean anything. We put two words together, we Google-searched it to make sure it didn’t exist, it didn’t, so we keptthat. Does it mean anything to you, Skyler?

SKYLER: No, I always heard the name and it just seems to stick with people. Everyone kind of just remembers that name. I've always liked it.

EMILY: Well yeah, how many bands have “cult” in their name?

SKYLER: I mean, how many people can pull off that and not scare off people?

Your music has such a dope aesthetic, so how did you guys go about finding themes for your songs?

RICKY: Well, for the last EP, we were listening to a lot of like hip-hop records, you know, like Lil Uzi Vert.

DAVID: Kanye.

RICKY: Oh yeah, lot of Kanye, even though he’s all psycho now. But yeah, we were just vibin’ off a lot hip-hop records and so we just took that aesthetic of like, you know, drugs and like sex and heartbreak, you know, things like that and we just kind of put it into our perspective and we just like to write about what we know in a sense.

DAVID: We were just playing around a lot on the sense, trying to find a cool sound, kind just went with the vibe.

RICKY: Yeah ‘cause we wanted to be like a pop group but not like I don’t know like a traditional one per say so that’s just kinda how we did it, just really vibin’ off hip-hop records and then we just put on our own spin to it.

Lyrically, who inspires you?

RICKY: I don’t know...I guess in the recent years, Toro y Moi, Neon Indian. We just kinda started getting into the 1975.

SKYLER: Oh yeah! Matt Healy, The 1975!

RICKY: Over the last few years yeah, I guess I write a lot of the lyrics. David helps me a lot, you know? To like rewrite, them and piece them together, he's definitely my toughest critic, lyrically. Actually, he inspires me the most. ‘Cause I always spit out something that I think might sound cool and then he gives me this look like “that's not it.”

DAVID: Yeah, we’ll check on each other on stuff like that. I’ll try and say something, and he'll be like “nah this isn't working.”

RICKY: Yeah and lyrically, I pull a lot of inspiration from things around me – things we hear people say, maybe. Certain phrases and then we kinda just make notes of it and then try to turn it into something later on.

When and why did you pick up your first instrument?

RICKY: I started playing guitar when I was about maybe eight, just 'cause it always kinda been around in my family. My dad played a little guitar, my grandpa was a musician back in the day, so it was just a love of music was always around me and it's kind of cliché to say but yeah it was, just always really cool and so yeah, I started guitar then to like drums and bass - stuff like that, keyboard later on.

SKYLER: Yeah kinda the same thing. My dad was really involved with music, like he played bass and stuff like that. I kind of started playing drums I guess around like freshman year of high school, like eighth grade ‘cause everyone else played guitar and nobody else played drums. I was like alright, I gotta step up and do that. DAVID: I bought my first instrument because of a band, a hardcore band, named Enter Shikari, that’s really why I bought the instrument.

RICKY: Enter Shikari?

DAVID: Yeah, Enter Shikari, a very good band. And then the other

stuff also just came from YouTube videos, too.

RICKY: That’s true.

Do you think music can change the world and how people perceive things?

RICKY: Definitely! I mean it already has in a lot of ways. Like for example, my favorite band of all time, The Beatles. I think just their influence in their short amount of like eight years they had their career going as a band, really shifted the way everything works and even now, Soulja Boy has been in interviews lately talking about his influence on modern music, which is so true.

DAVID: It does put a perspective on things like woah, you're right.

RICKY: The way he shifted and used the internet to his advantage to blow up and literally everyone does that now. Music definitely has the power to like shift the way things move and the way.

DAVID: Can make you feel a type of way, too, sometimes.

RICKY: Yeah, that’s true.

They invoke emotions that maybe you didn’t know you had or something.

What message do you want people to receive from your music?

RICKY: “Get lit, die lit.”

Honestly, the best message.

RICKY: No, I’m kidding, I don’t know. I remember saying like the main reason we started our group back in the day was 'cause we just wanted to make people dance and we really make music for ourselves because we weren't hearing enough of what we wanted in our surroundings so we created this group to kinda serve that channel of like emotions and soundscapes that we wanted to hear and all we ever really wanted to do is just make music that people can relate to, and ultimately move to and dance to. Whether it's at a show or if they're just listening to our music at home, or in the car or something. I just want people to feel the urge to like dance or move.

DAVID: Yeah, I think people will grab their own message.

RICKY: Yeah, whatever people pull away with it is fine. Whatever they get away from our music.

DAVID: Yeah! That’s our message.

SKYLER: Whatever you take from it.


Who are your greatest influences in terms of artistic aesthetic?

RICKY: Chance the Rapper.

SKYLER: I just want to say Chon- no not even them - I don’t even know.

RICKY: The Beatles influence everything I do.

SKYLER: Yeah! Honestly.

DAVID: Honestly, The 1975.

SKYLER: Oh yeah, The 1975!

What's your favorite 1975 album?

DAVID: Album? I only really listened to the last

two, the one with the long ass title.

RICKY: You look really cool-

DAVID: You look so beautiful-

SKYLER: When you’re asleep.

DAVID: Yeah, that one and then the brief inquiry. That one’s so good.

RICKY: Yeah, I would say their second album.

SKYLER: With “She’s American,” yeah.

Do you write the music or lyrics first?

RICKY: It changes every time. It’s different every song.

SKYLER: Depends on what the ghost writer wants to do – nah.

DAVID: No. All of our newer songs all have all the musical instrumentals down right now.

RICKY: Half lyrics, but when we started, all music.

If you weren’t doing music right now, what would you be doing?

RICKY: I’d be an electrician.

SKYLER: Yeah, I’d be a car salesman.

DAVID: Looking for a job.

What are your top three songs right now?

RICKY: Toro y Moi’s “Freelance,” I would say “Love It If We Made It” – you wanna throw one in there?

SKYLER: I mean I'm on a 1975 kick right now. “She's American” – a jam lately.

RICKY: Also – oh are you going?

DAVID: Actually no – that one Foster the People song they came out

with; Late Nights?

RICKY: “Worst Nites?”

DAVID: “Worst Nites.” That song goes really hard right now.

RICKY: Oh, I’m really into that song “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morrissette. It’s a super old song but I got introduced to it by listening to "Time Crisis" by Ezra Koenig, and he brought it up and I just think it’s a really cool song.

What’s your favorite 80s or 90s album?

SKYLER: Oh, probably the Stevie Nicks. I'm trying to think what album it's on with the-

RICKY: The White Winged Dove?

SKYLER: Yeah – forgot the name of it though.

RICKY: You're gonna have to fact-check that. Okay, my favorite - I

guess I’ll say 90s – no 80s album would be like New Order’s Substance which, I'm not sure if it came out in the 80s. I think like ’86.

RICKY: Let’s Dance came

out in ‘84.

DAVID: Yeah that was a really good album.

What’s a song you wish you wrote?

DAVID: I wish I wrote that “All My Friends Are Dead” song by Lil Uzi Vert.

RICKY: It’s a great song – Lil Uzi is really one of my favorite rappers. Everyone else is just clones after him.

SKYLER: It would be cool to write a classic that like everyone knows.

RICKY: I actually really love, because you brought up Stevie Nicks, that song, “Dreams.”

SKYLER: Oh yeah, that’s good.

RICKY: Fleetwood Mac, yeah, that’s a sick song!

Is there anything big planned for this year?

RICKY: Yeah! So, we’re currently in production of a new music video for “Location” which will hopefully come out February, maybe March, the latest. We also have a bunch of new music that we’re writing. We’re going to be recording really soon. Definitely, maybe a new EP or if anything, a bunch of new singles are going to be dropping.

DAVID: Hopefully a summer tour.

RICKY: Yeah, we’re looking towards that. It takes a lot of money to tour, so we’re working on that. So, new music video, new music, and a tour for 2019, yeah, it's going to be a lot.