by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Camp Crush, the Portland, Ore.-based wife-husband duo of Jennifer Deale (synths, keys, vocals) and Chris Spicer (drums, vocals), is known for embedding important social messages into sonically luscious New Wave pop.
In their downtime, they’re just regular parents, trying to give their two young children the best, most balanced life possible in a progressive-leaning town. But over the past two years, under the eye of a Conservative-leaning legislative and executive branch, new and unexpected challenges have arisen. Specifically, the political divisiveness has wielded significant impact on interpersonal relationships, and challenged the deepest of friendships.
Camp Crush’s new EP Run, out Feb. 1, is the culmination of these challenges, a set of songs about the divisiveness that dealt huge personal blows. It’s an album about human connection, but also the tragedy of human disconnection. But Deale also wants it to be a record about hope.
Rockmommy caught up with Deale to talk about parenting her son and daughter, making music with her partner (and coparent) Spicer, and navigating political differences in the quest for a peaceful world.
Rockmommy: What’s the backstory for this record? How did it come about?
Jennifer Deale: With this whole new societal landscape we’re all living in, all of a sudden everything is divisive, and every single issue is incredibly important to everyone you know. It’s true the stakes are very high for everyone involved. And one thing I didn’t expect when this happened was the fallout between my family, my friends, my neighbors. I think the world is experiencing this wariness of human connection, they’re afraid of being attacked, saying the wrong thing. As musicians, we’ve seen that people aren’t going out as much. Or if you know you’re on a different side than someone, there’s distancing that happens. But a huge part of being a musician is building community — with your fans, with venues … and from a musician standpoint, we’ve seen the impact of [this distancing]. It really led to us writing these songs. Human connection is the answer. If we can get face to face with people, we can see them as human.
Rockmommy: Is your music community political?
Jennifer Deale: Obviously Portland [Oregon] is a very progressive city, but even within that there are these sub-genres that divide. Maybe you’re progressive, but you’re not progressive enough. Or it’s Bernie bros verses Clinton voters. And then you start subdividing. And we’re just like, ‘hey, let’s find some humanity. Let’s do the good that inspires you.’ If we can focus less on some differences, the world would be so much better.
Rockmommy: With so many divisive issues, how is that possible to come together?
Jennifer Deale: If you listen to our music, you know we don’t back down from our stances. There are some base issues we care about — like our safety and about equal rights. But at Thanksgiving, do you not attend because you’ll be around family who feels different? I’m not about meeting in the middle, but I can show a decent amount of respect.
Rockmommy: So let’s talk about the album.
Jennifer Deale: ‘Run,’ the first song we released, is featured with an animated music video that Chris made. That song is about that human connection. I say, ‘I want to run away’ … I don’t want to deal with the complications of society the way it is.’ But instead of running away, we should run to each other. Find community. ‘Vicious Life’ I wrote about losing friendships after this political divide happened.
Rockmommy: Why is this music important to your children, the next generation?
Jennifer Deale: It’s important to show we can still learn and grow. We want to show our kids that we’re not making blanket decisions. It’s important that we teach our kids to have an open mind.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.