Ginger Root aka Cameron Lew is a Huntington Beach, California based indie soul singer-songwriter whose EP "Spotlight People" is one of our favorite releases of the year. We connected with Ginger Root to discuss the "Spotlight People" EP, find out how his unique name originated, how he would describe his music to a stranger and much more.
After reading this exclusive Q&A with Ginger Root, be sure to follow him on Facebook and IG, and stream/download the very DOPE "Spotlight People" EP below.
Tell us about the name "Ginger Root"; how did it come about and does it have a special significance?
I watch an obscene amount of live clips from bands I listen to. One late night I was watching a clip of Vulfpeck playing “It Gets Funkier” and Jack Stratton chanted “uh, uh, ginger root”. This, along with the rest of his mid-breakdown chant threw myself into a laughing fit. The rest of the week, I would chant that to myself for some reason? (I’m not crazy I swear). I was working on demos that didn’t really work for the band I was in at the time and just slapped the name “Ginger Root” onto them because that phrase was all I could think about at the time haha. And it kinda stuck and now that’s my pseudonym I guess?
After being a part of several musical projects around Southern Cali, what motivated you to start focusing on your solo music?
I think after sharing the stage, backing people up, and seeing/being a part of other’s creative processes, I thought it was time to see how I’d tackle it myself. I write way too many songs and so originally, I wanted to write a batch of stuff that was out of my indie rock/power pop comfort zone.
What do you enjoy most about performing live?
Oh man, when Anthony (bass), Matt (drums), and I all lock into a groove, I can see it both on their faces, as well as the audience’s. That’s such a rewarding feeling. Seeing both your bandmates and the crowd bobbing their heads kills me every time. There’s not really a cohesive music scene where I live and so a lot of the time, I’m booked on a bill where my sound really doesn’t fit. So coming in, and playing a set while being the most “you” you can be, is super rad. I played this backyard show once and in the middle of the set, this guy yelled “what the f#$k is happening?”. I’d like to think that’s a personal victory.
How would you describe your music to a stranger who has never heard a Ginger Root song?
Hmm… The short answer that I have only recently been saying is “an indie soul sound”. Though, I have a hard time describing music in general to people haha. I would say I attempt to channel the words of Feist, the vibe of Toro Y Moi, the groove of Vulfpeck and a very slight homage to the days of Motown and Stax. This is as far as the record goes. When I play live, it’s just me really wanting to be Reggie Watts.
What's the most important thing you have learned about yourself as an artist and musician from when you started working on the "Spotlight People" EP to now?
I think what I learned, and what I am constantly learning, is nothing has to be perfect. A lot of what happened during the recording of the album is using the first take when tracking, or keeping not as polished parts from the demo in the finished song. “I Might Just” on the LP was tracked entirely outside and the vocals were actually recorded on my iPhone. The raw and in the moment parts of the record are what will always stand out to me.
How long did it take for you to put the EP together? Do you have a favorite song from the EP to perform?
Originally this was supposed to be a 5 track EP. I recorded most of the parts in 5 days in Kentfield up north in my Aunt and Uncle’s house. (Shout out to Uncle Rob and Auntie Donna). But upon returning home, I wanted to bring some of my friends to help sprinkle their talents on the project. (Shout out to Kira, Emily, Nick, Antwon and my Latin Music Professor!). So I ended up writing more songs and now the 5 track EP expanded into what is now the finished 9 song LP. So after writing 4 more songs and mixing during the school year, it took about 9 months. I think my favorite song to play live is “Emulous”. Anthony, Matt and I kinda rearranged the song to be more dynamic live. Matt does this thing where he waits as long as he can during the break before we go into the last chorus and I crack up every time. When we played a small outdoor festival at Chapman University he set down his sticks, sprayed sunblock on his arms, and then led us back into the song. I die every time I watch the video.