'24 frets, six strings and endless possibilities': 5 Q's with Dan Camargo
Like a true millennial boy in the 90s, Dan Camargo watched Blink-182 energetically perform on TRL and couldn’t help but pick up a guitar. But after reaching the apex of playing pop-punk on his Blue Fender Stratocaster guitar, Dan put the instrument down for much of high school.
After a college roommate expressed an interest to learn guitar, Dan was much obliged to teach the basics. This spurred a newfound passion for the instrument. Consequently, Dan decided to study applied music. Since then, it has become an integral part of his life.
Bands like the Strokes, the White Stripes and the Arctic Monkeys led him down a path to learn more about the roots of guitar driven music.
“Alex Turner is a genius in my book,” he says. “Those first two Arctic Monkeys albums changed the way I approached songwriting.”
Now, the 31-year-old’s gravely voice and heavy guitar riffs are a far stretch from his pop-punk roots. He’s seen playing a circuit of venues in North Jersey and started his own record label, Get Buy Records, this Summer.
“Even after 21 years, there are a lot of aspects of the guitar that I still need to work on,” Dan says. “That’s what keeps me coming back. A guitar has 24 frets and six strings, but endless possibilities.”
Dan was kind enough to spend a few minutes and talk about a few different topics.
When you first started playing, you were big into the Green Day and Blink-182 style of music. How’d you make that transition to what you do today?
“Once I was fully immersed in the popular bands of the 2000s era, I began to investigate who influenced these songwriters. I wanted to find out more about their idols and origins. The Strokes led me to the Velvet Underground. Blink put me on to early Weezer records. I had a guitar teacher that turned me on to The Doors and The Rolling Stones. I started reading a lot of music biographies and found that much of these 60s and 70s acts were actually replicating earlier Rock n’ Rollers like Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry.”
How did you make that transition over the years and find yourself in your music?
“For me, it was just about getting the reps in and not being afraid to make mistakes. In the beginning, I had a problem controlling the volume of my voice. I was like a balled fist when I sang in front of an audience. It created pitch problems. Once I started to relax and ignore the blemishes, the sound I was producing behind closed doors started to show up on stage. Open mics were the perfect proving ground. When you’re there, you just hit the gas and try to keep your feet under you. People understand if you’re trying out new techniques or working on a new concept. You have to find out what works for you.”
So with no real regular gigs because of the pandemic, how’ve you adjusted as a musician to a new world?
"The pandemic has helped me find more time to focus on my original music. I’ve gained two hours every day that were normally spent commuting to Manhattan. This provided me with the opportunity to play every day and work on songs. I know I’m on to something when my girlfriend starts singing the melodies to our cats. I also have had more time to delve into guitar effects and learn more about the sonic possibilities."
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in yourself since becoming a more regular performer?
"Creating an online presence with Get Buy Records was a huge step for me. I started out a bit self-conscious with what I let on social media, but the more I think about it, it’s more like, ‘Who gives a shit what people think? This is me.’ The experience has led me to new opportunities and exposed me to new local artists, many of whom I’ve forged tight musical bonds with."
What’s some advice that you’d give to someone getting into performing?
“It’s not about having the most expensive equipment, it’s about finding your own sound. Many popular artists have done a lot more with a lot less. My acoustic guitar is my childhood guitar. I thought about upgrading it to a Gibson or a Martin, but I just decided to just put a pickup in it so I can plug it in for shows. I’ve had people come up and tell me they love the sound. It’s not the most expensive guitar, but it’s comfortable. It’s me.”
Get to know Dan:
My favorite five artists: The Doors, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, The Rolling Stones, Television and The Replacements
My equipment setup: Fender Stratocaster, Epiphone ES-339, Egnater amps
My favorite concert: Television at Irving Plaza
My one offbeat artist in my rotation: The Darkness