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19-year-old working hard to be next star in music world


He writes. He plays. He sings.

Make way for Camden West, a Summerlin resident working his way toward music stardom.

West, 19, plays piano and guitar. He just released his first album, “Outside the Lines.” It can be found on amazon.com, camdenwest.com and soundcloud.com.

The 10 original songs hint at West’s early musical influences — The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, the Beatles and, more recently, Keith Urban. He credits his father with introducing him to those music styles.

“All my music influence probably came from my dad,” West said. “Growing up, he was always blasting all kinds of music around the house.”

West is a music major at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Each weekend from July to December 2012, he flew back to Las Vegas to work on his songs at the Omnitone Recording Studio in the northwest valley. Darren Sher produced his songs and recalled how West arrived for their first meeting with his parents and his guitar.

“He sat down and started playing for me, and I realized there was something special here,” Sher said. “Here’s a a guy who showed up with a complete record already written who’s between 17 and 18 years of age; he had a complete album written and ready to go. It just needed basic production work. Usually, I write side-by-side with the artist. This guy didn’t need it. Nothing was broken, so we didn’t need to fix it.”

Omnitone hooked West up with Jeff Juliano, an audio mixer who has worked on records for Train, the Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer.

Sher said selling an album without a huge record company behind an artist was “very doable. I have artists that have world-famous managers who are contacting them through Facebook because they’ve seen their numbers organically grow. … The Internet these days is a completely different game than it used to be.”

West, a native of Las Vegas, started studying piano at 6. He then took up the drums and later the guitar. He began writing songs when he was 12. By 14, he said, he knew that performing was his path in life.

Middle school saw him starting a band named Gunshow. Unlike most garage bands, which usually only play popular songs, Gunshow put out its own original music. West wrote many of the songs.

“It doesn’t take me long to get the melody of the song or the words,” he said. “It doesn’t take me long to get the direction of the song, which way it’s going. Something will just trigger it in my mind.”

Throughout middle and high schools, Gunshow was the go-to band for school functions, community events and benefits.

By the time he was 17, West decided to embark on a solo career, giving him the freedom to write and perform any style of music and perfect his own style. His first recorded solo track was “Next To You.”

He tested the waters at various local venues, from charity galas to coffee shops. By then he was studying at the Las Vegas Academy, a magnet school for the performing arts at 315 S. Seventh St.

Perhaps his biggest recognition to date came at the International House of Blues Foundation’s 2011 Bringin’ Down the House competition, where he had not one band but two. Bringin’ Down the House is an annual music competition for high school students. Held in the fall, it gives students an opportunity to perform onstage at the House of Blues venue and pay tribute to blues and blues-inspired music.

West played guitar and was a vocalist for his bands Gunshow and Generation Y, both of which took home awards. Gunshow won the People’s Choice Award, and Generation Y took first place overall.

“Generation Y, we only put it together that year, we just wanted to see what we could do with it,” West said. “The opportunity to play on that stage where so many different people had played on was just amazing for me.”

Other opportunities furthered his local exposure — appearing on live TV in 2012 through the For the Love of a Child scholarship, performing at benefit concerts for the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, the Humane Society and Child Focus. He wrote and performed an original song called “Shine” for the St. Jude’s Foundation gala. The House of Blues engaged him for private events hosted by its foundation. At each, he performs his own music.

“Outside the Lines” is an album with a wide variety of sounds and styles mixed in one. It is pop rock with blues, a taste of classical and even a little country feel. The music was written about what goes on in his life, world events and whatever comes to heart.

West can be his own worse critic.

“There are times when I listen back to something that I did, and it didn’t sound good at the time, but a little time goes by, and I listen to it again, and now it sounds great, like I did every note just perfectly,” he said.

This past summer, West took the initiative and spent two weeks traveling through Europe where he did solo gigs at intimate locations such as coffee houses in Germany, Belgium, Croatia and Switzerland. He said it was fun, flying somewhere and knowing he was booked at places.

“I wanted to build a following over there,” West said. “We would find different venues where I could play — bars and stuff. Sometimes I’d just play on the street. It was a lot of fun.”

His European audiences were small, no more than 50 people. But he doesn’t need to play small venues here. Most recently, West opened for Jake Miller, who won the Samsung and T-Mobile USA national Kick it With the Band talent competition. Earlier this month, he opened for Megan and Liz, whose debut single “Bad for Me” launched their careers.

As he awaits his own big break, West keeps writing songs and waking up in the middle of the night with a new inspiration.

“Music is my fuel,” he said. “When I write, a new type of energy takes over my mind.”

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

 

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