Interview: COLAROO Producer Cammi Boon!
Local musician & senior entertainment management major Cammi Boon has spent the last few months putting together a music festival along with other musically-driven USC students. In addition to production, Boon is also performing at the festival this Thursday with the locally known “Best Band Below Blossom” Bull Street Garage. The Philadelphia native has been dabbling in all things music since middle school, from touring across the country at 18, singing both covers and originals alike, and putting on music productions in her hometown. WUSC DJ Groove Girl sat down with Boon to talk about the upcoming 2nd annual Colaroo fest and who Boon is as an artist.
So what have you done within production and event management prior to Colaroo?
My first internship I did was with ESM Productions in Philadelphia. They’re an event company that produces Made In America, the music festival that happens in Philadelphia every year. Unfortunately it was COVID when I started with them, so we did one of those virtual music festivals that everyone was doing when COVID first hit. It was called PHL Love. We got a bunch of celebrities that were born and raised in Philadelphia to participate and record videos and we edited it all together and put it on TV which was super cool. I actually got to do a zoom call with Kevin Bacon!
That’s so cool! Now focusing on more of you as an artist, how long have you been making music for and what’s your personal style?
I started piano lessons when I was seven, then I did theater for a little bit in grade school, and I actually decided that [music] was just not what I wanted to do. I started playing sports, but then I got too many concussions playing, so then I had to go back to music. I joined this program called School of Rock, there’s a bunch of different School of Rocks all throughout the country, and we would do themed shows every trimester. My last year there I joined the house band and I got to go on tour where we basically lived on a bus for 10 days. We did 10 cities in 10 days and we got to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which was super cool.
Wait, how old were you when this was happening?
I was 18. Me and my band, we were a cover band, were just going down the East Coast stopping in every single city. We stopped in Tennessee and then went back up the Midwest, the LA area, then back to Pittsburgh and to Philadelphia.
And were you a singer in that band?
I was a lead singer in the band. I also did some backup vocals and keys. My main instrument is technically piano, but I try to focus on singing. I dabble in guitar a little bit when I’m writing my own stuff. After that [School of Rock] I started writing and producing my own music just using Garage Band and Pro Tools. When I came to college, I decided to take a break from singing and just focus on schoolwork.
Now that I’m done with all my required classes, I just started a band called Porch and Company. We’ve had two shows so far, we’re really brand new, we just started a month ago. We played at Bonnamu at the Tin Roof, and we also played a Halloween mixer at Jake’s, which was awesome. For this event [Colaroo] I’m playing with my friends in Bull Street Garage. I’ve played with them before at one of their shows, so we just decided to combine for this one to make everyone’s lives a little easier.
That’s so cool to have musician friends to like just hit up and be like, we’re doing this.
That’s the best, it’s super cool being in all these music classes cause I get to meet different musicians and try to collaborate with them.
So you talked about like playing with a couple of different bands and touring when you were 18, do you have like a favorite memory from performing live that you really want to share?
Oh, yeah. One time I was playing at this place Ardmore Music Hall in the Philly area and my band was playing there during the day and my favorite artist Allen Stone was playing there that same night. My dad and I stuck around the area to see the show after, and we’re pulling into the parking lot and we see Allen Stone just walking down the street.
I chase him into like this taco shop and I got to talk to him, and then we DMed back and forth on Instagram for awhile after that, just sending him covers of his songs that I did. When my dad and I were going back into the venue later that night one of the security guards stopped me and they were like, “Hey, you played here today.” And I was like, yeah, I did. And he was like, “you got some voice on you for a little girl!” I was like, Allen Stone’s security guard knew who I was!
And there was also another time then I got to play with one of Bob Dylan’s bass players in a show because my director at the time, his name was Wally, he’s like this cool, hippie dude, does music work so he knew him. We were doing a summer of love show, so, Bob Dylan’s bass player played with us for one of the songs which was super cool.
And that was during the “School of Rock era” of your life?
That sounds like a great opportunity. So, you talked about playing and doing some original songs as well as covers. When did you start doing original songs?
I’ve been writing my own little silly songs since I was really, really little, and I guess once my School of Rock phase ended and I didn’t have any songs to learn and I wasn’t doing anything, I guess that’s when the creative side kicked in and I was like, let’s write some of my own songs. It was also at the same time I was learning to play guitar, so I would write lyrics in my head and try to figure out a melody, and that’s how I taught myself guitar, by teaching myself what I wanted the song to sound like.
I love that. There’s a lot of people that tend to write the music first and then put the words to it, and you do it opposite, and I think that makes music feel a lot more accessible, so that’s pretty cool. You also just mentioned that you started a band. How did that come about?
So my friend group has been wanting to start a band since freshmen year. One day it just came up that I was a singer and I’ve been on tour and everyone was like, what the heck? So then me and my friend found a bass player, and then we found a drummer, and then we just started practicing. All of a sudden our one friend was like, yeah, I signed you guys up for Bonnamu before we had even practiced together. I was like, wait, what happened? We never even heard what each other sound like yet. But then we brought this together and it sounded great. So we were like, alright, we’re doing this. And now we call ourselves Porch and Company because the guy’s house we practice at has a big porch.
Oh, I love that little insight. That’s cool. Where do you personally find the inspiration for your music and for your sound personally?
I mainly listen to classic rock. I love doing classic rock covers like Led Zepplin, Motley Crue, Guns and Roses, screaming stuff. I love doing that, but when I’m writing my own stuff, I tend to be more singer-songwriter, soul and R&B, just because I’m not awesome at guitar. I get my inspiration from other singer songwriters. When I’m listening to songs, I’ll hear a specific word I like and write it down. In my music book there’s just like pages and pages of random words that I like. Every night I try to like pick one word off that list and make a whole song out of it. I have thousands of songs in my music book. Some have music to it, some don’t, there’s just a lot of sketches and ideas in there.
Well I’d love to hear some sometime!
Production stuff is so hard! I had to take a production class last semester and I was like failing it for half of this semester. I have zero idea. What’s going on here?
No, I don’t blame you. It’s like a whole other beast.
It’s easier once you get your hands on it, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to master that. So I’m going to stick to the writing side and then find myself a producer later.
That’s the way to go, it’s good to have a partner. I know you spoke a little bit about liking classic rock, but do you have like a favorite current song right now artist?
I listen to a lot of Janis Joplin.
Wow, I love that that was like instant.
Yes! She’s my favorite person in the whole entire world, even though she had a little messy background, her voice is just so insane, unlike anything else. So I love singing Janis Joplin stuff. Right now my favorite song is “Ball and Chain” by Janice Joplin. My favorite song to sing overall though is “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zepplin.
Well I’m known at home for singing at bars and for doing “Whole Lotta Love” because of my parents’ friend, Mike Raman. He plays in our area all the time and I used to get up there and play the tambourine with him. I’ve been showing up to these bars since I was like 12 and going up and singing with him. So all of these people are like, “where’s the little girl that sings “Whole Lotta Love” up there?”
She went to college! Not little anymore, guys.
I’m still little! I’m like 4’11!
Oh my gosh just kidding then! Transitioning to the Colaroo route, you are one of the people in charge of making the event. So, how did you do it? Can you walk us through the process of how you started with this idea?
Yes, it’s for a class called Producing a Music Festival. It’s a Sport and Entertainment Management class, so there’s I think 10 or 12 of us in there. We all have the same assignments. We all had to make a graphic, reach out to a sponsor, do a press release, and we all had to pick a band to play in it also.
We started out by picking a venue, and that was a little tricky because there’s just a lot of live music going on here lately, and we didn’t want it to be on a football weekend either. It ended up being on a football weekend, but it’s on a Thursday, so it doesn’t conflict. We were in between Main Course, Market on Main, and the Senate. We exed out Market on Main because we decided we wanted two stages.
And what can people expect to see at the festival?
We’re going to put some bands on the main stage inside, and then they have a little courtyard where the DJs can spin, and we have one singer-songwriter that’s going to play out there, too. There are seven bands, and most of our acts are students which is super cool.
Our headlining act is a student, and then the people in Bull Street Garage are also students. DJ Tony Chu is a student here and Mary English is also in the class, she’s the singer-songwriter. We have one band called Travel Therapy and they’re from out of town, and then two DJs that are from this area. For sponsorships, we actually ended up getting enough money from sponsors to fund the whole event, so we’re already making a profit before we even started selling tickets, which is super cool.
Yeah! And then a portion of our profit will go towards the budget for next year’s Colaroo, and then some of the profit will be donated to Palmetto Lifeline.
Oh, that’s great!
Yeah. Actually, one of our sponsors is White Claw, so white claw deals will also be there!
That’s a very good thing to advertise, for college especially. Are there any other future projects you have coming up they want to plug?
Just Colaroo, I’ve put all of my efforts into this. Also follow Porch and Company on Instagram!
Check out this press release to find more information about Colaroo happening this Thursday and to get tickets! And be sure to follow Cammi Boon and her band Porch and Company to be aware of their future shows!