Interview with Mychal Cohen of Campfire OK

We had the pleasure of seeing Mychal Cohen and his band, Campfire OK on their recent tour with Anberlin. Mychal was gracious enough to field a few questions about his personal journey with music. 

SPCS Records: What first got you interested in music?

MC: I remember being about 12 years old, and having a group of friends that said they were starting a band. For some reason I just decided I was going to be in it. I had loved music up till that point because of my mother, but for some reason never thought about playing. After the 12 year old me decided I was going to join a band, I asked for a guitar, and got a bass. I had no idea what it was. But I just started playing, and listening, and playing, and listening.

SPCS Records: What keeps you interested in music?

MC: Constantly listening to music that I did not think was interesting. I know that sounds strange, but I look at some genres that have huge amounts of listeners and think, "There must be something awesome in there." So, I start listening to music that I don't actually like at first, and learn to find the cool parts in it. Also, playing music with friends, and having listeners who are extremely generous. Having people tell you they care about your music is reason enough to continue doing it, but having friends in your band is like icing on a cake.

SPCS Records: Do you have what you consider to be an indispensable piece of gear? If so,  what is it, and why is it crucial to you?

MC: Yes. I bought a piano when I was 13 at a garage sale for $120 in Arizona, and started playing it on a daily basis when I was 16. It just reminds me of where I came from. It sounds kinda bad, but it sounds like me, so I have a huge affinity for it. It has moved with me in every house I have lived in, and will continue to do so until it breaks.

SPCS Records: In your experience, is private instruction important to musical growth?

MC: I think private musical instruction is extremely important. I think budding musicians need to be able to hear how other musicians think about their instruments, how they feel about playing, learn how to communicate with them, and how to be comfortable not being comfortable in a musical setting. I feel that learning music is just like learning whatever language you speak first. You have to have someone or a group of people show you how to do it, and in what context. I also strongly feel that at a certain point, every musician must travel on their own musical path without instruction. It is the only way they can find their musical personality.

SPCS Records: Is your personal songwriting process more of a solo or a collaborative effort?

MC: My songwriting is much more of a personal process to begin with. I write all of the lyrics, chord progressions, and forms of the songs. But at a certain point I need the rest of my band to come in and develop the sound. Everyone brings an interesting element to the table, and luckily for me, they are both smart and the let me direct their musical path within a song, just like they direct where they see the song going. So in a way, it is both.

SPCS Records: Mychal, thank you for your time today.

MC: Thanks so much!!

Mychal Cohen's latest endeavors can be seen and heard here.

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