Radio UTD’s Amanda Maceda catches up with Cameron Lew from Ginger Root once again. Stream their latest release, Nisemono, here.
(Interview has been edited for clarity)
Amanda Maceda: Awesome. This is Amanda, also known as Geo, from Radio UTD. We are here in the back of Deep Ellum Art Co. with Ginger Root. Hello! Cameron right?
Cameron of Ginger Root: Yes!
For listeners, we did an interview with Cameron about a year ago when Ginger Root was doing another tour. I think y’all were in Fort Worth that night.
Yeah, we were opening, and this time we’re back here in Dallas doing our own headline show. We’re very excited to be here.
Looks like there’s gonna be a lot of visuals, a lot of multimedia stuff going on. It’s very exciting.
Yeah, totally. It’s gonna be fun. Tonight’s sold out, it’s incredible, so I’m looking forward to it.
Last time you were on tour, we were talking about how it was only a matter of time ‘til you hit 100k on YouTube. Maybe weeks, maybe a month after, you hit it. And now you’re double that!
Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s over 250 now. That silver plaque came in when we hit 100k. I showed it to my grandma and she was like, “Oh this is great! Congratulations!” Big milestone, happy to hit it, and hopefully one day we’ll get that gold plaque.
I have no doubt [both laugh]. DJs were telling me too, you took off on TikTok a bit.
A little bit. I’m trying to remember where Ginger Root TikTok was when we last spoke. But we’ve just been throwing stuff here and there, not really paying attention. Just being on there because I feel like everyone just needs to be on there. It’s funny because, I guess the algorithm has been very favorable to stuff I’ve been putting on there. It’s been cool just to ride it out.
When it comes to using TikTok and YouTube to promote music, and also to call out what I think a fan coined as the “Ginger Root Cinematic Universe.” [Cameron laughs] Did that tie into your daytime job now, because you’ve taken off? How is your multimedia situation looking?
Yeah, for sure, that’s a great question. I’m thankful enough now because Ginger Root is a full-time gig. I used to do free-lance video editing because I went to film school. It’s been fun to use those skills that I learned in film school for Ginger Root and to take advantage of what I learned, the people I met, and connections. It’s been really fun to meld film, and music together to try to create what that person has coined the Ginger Root Cinematic Universe.
Before City Slicker came out, you released two very cinematic ‘80s aesthetic videos. It’s almost believable, for how ‘80s vibes go. How did that come about?
From City Slicker, we tried to evoke the feelings of the ‘80s, or just nostalgia in general for that time period. With the new record, Nisemono, I really wanted to try to get as close to what it actually looked like back then. So I watched a ton of re-runs and VHS tapes of Japanese late night music shows, interviews, dramas, and movies. Me and my video creative partner, David, we sat down and wondered how they worked to get those looks, and how we would do it in 2022. Honestly, a big part of it was using gear from back then. A lot of video plug-ins try to do their best, but they look kind of all the same. So one of the key things we try to do is get equipment that actually came from the time period, and that’s the secret sauce.
Was it easy to find those materials, or was it a vintage tech hunt?
I think it was harder to find how they did it. Like the process of it and method. Once we figured what it was, and the medium, we then went on the tech scout. So we looked at the dates and manufacturers. It was like a big super sleuth trying to figure out how to recreate it, not digitally but for real.
It’s got big historians’ vibes [Ginger Root chuckles]. Do you have any recommendations for films or shows from your sleuthing?
This definitely influenced City Slicker more than Nisemono, but there’s a show called Skevandeka. There’s this highschool girl who also doubles as a secret agent at night in Japan. It was like 1978 or something, early eighties. It’s corny, it’s cheesy, it’s so good. There’s a show called Best of Ten, which is a music late night show in Japan that I watched a lot. Itomo is this late night talk show from the ‘80s as well. I can’t remember the name, but there was a ‘90s drama from Japan; it’s this business woman who tries to make it up in the ranks, and she eventually gets there. It’s also very cheesy, but just the right amount. But definitely all those things combined influenced the aesthetic of the new release, and the Ginger Root Cinematic Universe in general.
Promoting it on YouTube has been really cool to see, but to see how you pulled it off just adds to the quality. I did see you released a tour recap, what inspired you to do that?
It was half marketing, half building out this cinematic universe. We asked people to give testimonials who just came to the show through our fake news station, so it’s half fake, half reality. We really need to figure out how to get people excited for the second leg in the west, and the Texas dates in between. So I thought it’d be great if we interviewed people and we just had it as a fake news segment. The coolest thing about that was when I was editing it. When I’m at the merch table, it’s a very quick interaction and a lot of people are nervous to talk to me, but I’m just a normal person. To David, they got loose and described the show in the purest form. I’ll never get to see that, so it was really encouraging to hear and see how people’s reactions towards the show or their anticipations for the show were. That was a special thing to edit and watch. Just see everyone in that lens.
It is true, you did get very popular because of that. It creates that personality.
Yeah. Also, I think it was fun to invite the listeners and the audience to be a part of this whole world.
They might be making their own OCs, like 1983, like names and occupations.
Yeah, who knows. You know, the universe can only grow
Are you planning to extend it to the next EP? Or just seeing where it goes?
As of right now, I know the world’s not going away completely. I’m not starting a brand new journey, but I do know I’m not trying to do City Slicker 2 or Nisemono 2. But I definitely think the progression from City Slicker to Nisemono was in the same vein. The next project, I don’t know what it is exactly, but I have some ideas. It’ll be different and familiar enough to have people say, “that’s Ginger Root,”’ but it’s brand new and I’m really excited to see what happens.
We’re excited too. We love more cinematic, but also new and fresh. Have there been any new influences you’ve had since we last talked?
To be honest, I fell so hard in the past it was kind of like researching all the shows, researching this, and listening to music back then. I really just enveloped myself in that bubble of a universe for a while. I’m just now starting to peep around where, “oh, what’s this year have to offer?” As of right now, I can’t put my finger on anything from the last 30 years, maybe. I’m not sure. [chuckles]
How did touring affect your creative process? Because it’s been a hot minute since you got to experience that.
After that, a couple months went by and we got on a really big opener slot with Hippo Campus which was a lot of fun. It was definitely grueling to be honest, but I think the time away from creating and making and tending to the new EP—when I got back home, I was just ready to fire all these new ideas. I was really excited to get back into it. As we expand and as things grow, it’s gotten harder. But it’s been a great challenge to keep Ginger Root original, I still have so many things I wanna do with the project. And I’m just really happy that there’s finally people interested in what stupid or silly thing I try to make next.
You said that, and I’m immediately thinking of that hacker Instagram video you made. [both chuckle]
Making lemonade out of lemons or whatever. [chuckles]
Good acidic, good PH. I noticed this tour is also taking y’all to Japan, how are you feeling?
I’m so excited. It’s been a dream to play there ever since I started playing music. The craziest thing that I tell everyone is that our Tokyo show, night one, sold out faster than our hometown. And we added a second show, a second night, and that sold out faster than our hometown, too. I’ve been learning Japanese and I’m so excited to meet with the people and speak, just as colleagues. To be able to share that experience with the bandmates and everyone and the crew. It’s something I can only dream about, it’s not the only time we’re gonna go. Obviously, the music is inspired by that culture and the bubble era in the ‘80s. I’m very, very, very looking forward to it.
That’s great to hear, and it’s so awesome that you’ll be able to. That just shows the growth and how, this creative project you mentioned, you’re able to pursue it full-time and have all these opportunities. They’re coinciding with so many things post-panini.
With that, I have an out-of-left-field question. There was a Nintendo indie direct yesterday, and it had a great assortment in what were really great aesthetic buildings, music, and mood was a big thing for these games. If you ever wanted to pursue making a soundtrack, or even if you got into video game making, what would you envision as your ideal video game Ginger Root collab?
It’s really funny, that’s one of the ideas I wanna do. I don’t know if it’s the next project, I don’t know if it’s in three years or whatever, but I’d love to make my own rhythm game. And I’d make all the music. I grew up on Rhythm Heaven and stuff like that—for the DS and for the gameboy and for the Wii, I bought ‘em all. That might happen sooner or later, to make all the music and to make all the actual rhythm games. It’ll be super fun.
That would be very fun. I think you mentioned how it ties into the last time. Rhythm when it comes to music, video editing, it’s a very strong element.
There’s a lot of ways to design a game nowadays with the internet. Excited to see what you have in store.
Here’s hoping. It’s another challenge to see.
Listen to our Ginger Root interview on the Radio UTD Youtube Channel below!