Cameron The Public has some sweet sugary magic going on in their music and I couldn’t wait to chat with lead singer Cameron Rafati to get me some of that “Apple Pie.” Taken by the snappy playful sexy beat of the song, I knew with one listen to “Apple Pie” I was loving the sound of Cameron The Public, but it was the soulful deep “Broken Door” ballad that made me want to know more about how this band could wade with such ease between upbeat and heart melting music.
The transition is due mostly to the wide range of Cameron Rafati’s voice. He can sound folksy and acoustic like Gavin DeGraw, smooth as silk like Chris Martin or sail through pop rock notes like Ryan Tedder. With Cameron’s flexibility and the synergy of talented musicians that make up Cameron The Public, (Douglas Showalter on guitar, Peter Dyer on keyboards, Emmanuel Cervantez on drums and Bana Haffar on bass), it’s no wonder their music is popping up all over the place. “Cameron The Public is a culmination of five best friends,” Cameron explains. “These guys used to tour with me back in the day when I was just Cameron Rafati. We did a lot of touring and they stuck with me and they didn’t play with a whole lot of other artists. These people have just become my best friends.”
Cameron The Public’s song “Face Your Destiny” is the new theme song for the Manny Pacquiao movie narrated by Liam Neeson featuring Jimmy Kimmel, Marc Wahlberg and Jeremy Piven. “Unstoppable” was the official theme song for the “Unstoppable Summer” ABC 2013 summer promotion. Hot song “Apple Pie” was featured on MTV’s Teen Wolf and according to Cameron Rafati will be featured in the upcoming Taylor Lautner film. The band’s cover of Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror” premiered on Grey’s Anatomy. Currently, Cameron also says the band is putting the finishing touches on another song set to be released called “Born To Fly” on the Persimmon Grove project for ABC.
“A few years ago I went to the doctors because I was having throat problems,” Cameron tells me on a phone interview March 20, 2014 when I ask him about the huge range of his voice. “This was like four years ago and they stuck a camera down my throat and they looked at my vocal chords. …They told me my vocal chords were really big for the average human. And the doctor said, ‘You know, are you a singer? ‘Cause if you are a singer you could probably sing and thrash your vocal chords and still probably sing pretty well just because they are big they can take a lot of abuse.'” Cameron laughs and adds, “I don’t know if that’s the right word. …I’m six foot six and I have big lungs and I have these huge vocal chords so maybe that’s why I can do so many different things with my voice.” Whatever the reason, from one song to the next you can get lost in the transformative hypnotic powers of Cameron Rafarti’s singing.
I tell Cameron what a huge fan I am of his song “Broken Door” and his raw acoustic rock sound. “Most of your songs bring something totally different to the table,” I say, “but I like that song because when I watch you sing it, it looks like it means something to you personally.” “Oh man,” replies Cameron, “you’re asking really good questions.” We both laugh and he says, “Go ahead.. Yeah?” “So the opening line says trust in your broken heart and I’m wondering if you can tell me a time when you had to trust in your broken heart,” I ask.
A long silent pause ensues then Cameron offers a thoughtful response, “You know, life’s rough, I think for everybody. And we have these amazing experiences and then we have these let downs that happen. We have these crossroads I guess that we come to in our lives that literally they feel like the rug is taken out from underneath us whether it’s somebody close to you dies or you get fired from your job or somebody you love doesn’t love you anymore. I think that being in this business as a band together and going through what we’ve gone through and the things that we’ve sacrificed, our personal lives, putting all your money financially, all your time and all your heart and all your hopes into something that doesn’t come true is really difficult. But then you look back down the line and you realize that if you just trust in yourself, if somebody just trusts that whatever “bad” or difficult thing is happening is only for the greater good, life really takes on a different meaning. Trust in your broken heart really came out of a moment that I was in a really bad place, a really dark place. But I knew that intuitively I knew that whatever I was going through at that moment it would turn around. And really what Cameron the Public is about, what we are about as a band is really one thing: our music really aims to bring happiness to people and bring meaning to people who are in dark times, who have faced dark times or who will face those dark times because we can’t avoid any of it but if we have a blueprint–if our music is a blueprint for people–that helps them really live life on a deeper level I guess, we’ve done our job.”
Cameron goes on to explain, “That’s the reason that I left making ridiculous money as a real estate broker to get in the music business, because I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives. For the first few years of my twenties I was a real estate broker making a lot of money selling shopping centers after I graduated from USC and I used to have a suit that I would roll around and have that fake smile and do deals but I wasn’t doing anything for humanity. I think the second I actually pursued my dreams and realized how difficult it was, I’m like man there’s probably a lot of other people probably pursuing these same dreams or just trying to live life having a rough time, maybe I can have some kind of impact on them. The long answer, “trust in your broken heart” is really what the band is all about. That one line.”
The band is working now to release their first official EP this summer after a couple of years of continuous writing and building a fan base that grows significantly by the day with the massive placements Cameron The Public’s music earns. “Tyler Johnson who is Jeff Bhasker’s understudy (Jay-Z, Kanye West, fun., Bruno Mars, Alicia Keys), is an absolute pro. …The reason that we found Tyler is because he kind of came out of that of that culmination of everyone to band together and create this group. Our keyboardist, Peter Dyer who helps produce with Tyler and [Douglas Showaiter] our guitarist–Peter co-produced and co-wrote the ‘Wake Me up’ Avicii song because he plays for Aloe Blacc as well. …[Tyler] has taken all of his knowledge and just dumped into this project full heart, full tilt. It’s been incredible to work with these guys. And we’re all best friends. We’re all homies. We hang out. …You stick in this business long enough these things start happening, you know?” Happening is an understatement. Great things are to come for and from Cameron Rafati and Cameron The Public.
WE ASKED CAMERON RAFATI
Q: “Apple Pie” is such a hot song and I love the line “that sugar gonna bring me back to life.” What three things act as “sugar” in you life? What lights you up and brings you back to life?
Cameron: “Well, besides one of the sugars,” laughs, “which is pretty implied, I think being around family is that kind of sugar for me at least. It brings me back. There’s nothing better than being around people you trust that love you and have your back regardless if you’re a rock star or not. The second sugar being in the studio with four of your best friends, creating new music that nobody’s ever heard before. …I think another ‘sugar’ is somebody like you that gives a shit what an artist has to say. I think the funnest times I’ve had have been in interviews with people that ask really good questions. …It makes an artist that spends so many hours going nuts over one little lyric–it makes us feel good when you actually listen to us!”
Q: In the Manny “Face Your Destiny” song the lyric “I was born to live through all the pain” incorporates the idea of staring down personal pain for a greater destiny. Do you have any personal heroes in life that you see actually doing this today?
Cameron: “I love Bono. I’ve loved Bono since I was a kid. There’s two people that I’ve truly loved hands down in my life and you know you look at somebody like Bono who has all the money in the world. The guys a billionaire but he still is concerned about wanting to make a change, wanting to be relevant in people’s lives. ..He’s still not satisfied with what he’s given to the public, what he’s given to society and that’s what I love about him. Another person is Johnny Cash. Since I was a kid I loved Johnny Cash. That’s one of the reasons that I sold door to door uniform cleaning services in Texas after going to school at USC in LA. I went out to Texas to become a door to door salesman before I got into real estate because I knew if it was good enough for Johnny Cash it was good enough for me. …He sang and he released songs and albums that essentially spoke out for prisoner’s rights, spoke out for Native American’s rights…kept being about creating some kind of a social change when he could have just retired as well with all the money he made. I hope one day I can actually be one of those people that do the same.”
Q: Which song title would you say best describes your personality?
Cameron: “‘The Gambler’ [because] I honestly gave up an insane amount of money just to be an artist. And I pretty much gambled everything that I made in selling shopping centers in the music business. I’d say I’m a gambler for sure.”
CAMERON THE PUBLIC AND CHARITY
Cameron the Public supports The Tyler Robinson Foundation created by Imagine Dragons. “Tyler Robinson was my first cousin,” shares Cameron Rafati. “He’s one of the people that I wrote ‘Broken Door’ for and he passed away last March. Our friends Imagine Dragons started the foundation for our family.”
Be sure to check out Cameron The Public’s heart rendering ballad “Broken Door” with soaring vocals that are so gorgeous they could almost mend a broken heart.
Watch “Broken Door” on YouTube Music Videos
ON THE WEB
By Nicole Hanratty
Posted March 30, 2014