Artist Spotlight: Sweet Street Songsmith Darren Campbell's Acoustic Anthems
Meet 24 year old Darren Campbell. He's a Scottish singer-songwriter spending his days busking on London streets, sweetly serenading passersby. With a whole bunch of powerful indie singles under his belt, we're still waiting for an album, but for now we're just happy to hear him in any capacity.
Darren's the type of artist who has mastered the recipe for success -- emotional vocals, unending passion, hard work, and catchy arrangements -- but also the recipe for humility. His talent, though immense, isn't in-your-face. It's a quiet aptitude, one heard in each single he releases and seen during his stripped-down performances in Piccadilly Circus or Trafalgar Square. His voice is distinct, an almost desperate plea that moves between despondent croons and fervent wails. Similarly, Darren's arrangements seem to vacillate between gentle acoustic strums for more minimalist folk moments and sweeping percussive rhythms for his romps in pop-rock.
One of our favorite performances by Darren is his live acoustic version of his track, "This Is Love," performed last year in Hoxton. Immediately, he gives us a fast-paced guitar rhythm that pulses like a heartbeat throughout the length of the track as Darren's emotive delivery grants a tender love song.
Another favorite of ours finds Darren performing his track "World Keeps Spinning" on SG Sessions. Less emotional and folksy than his usual work, this one is led once again by a colorful acoustic line but it's got a killer shoulder-rolling, head-bopping rhythm, a sunny arrangement, and quirky lyrics to sing along to.
Most recently, Darren released a visual accompaniment to "Wherever You Are." Nixing typical percussion or folk-toned elements, he opted instead to place his steady vocal track above a swollen electronic beat. The song pulses continuously with this empowered, gently rollicking flavor, making for an interesting pop-folk mix. The music video for "Wherever You Are" was shot entirely by photographer Patrick Zangl as he traversed Italy with friend Christina and their gorgeous canine vacation buddy. The cinematography is stunning, wide shots of breathtaking landscapes, winding aerial shots, and time-lapse scenes of, well, beauty in its greatest form.
Whether he's toe-tapping along to acoustic covers on London streets, treating fans to folksy originals, or experimenting with new sonic and visual details, Darren Campbell deserves our admiration. From his distinct voice to his thoughtful instrumentation, he's a powerful wordsmith we can't get enough of.
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
Darren Campbell: My name is Darren Campbell and I am a Scottish singer-songwriter based in London. My sound is influenced by indie, folk, pop, and rock! I love to perform my songs live and I spend every single day getting my music in front of new people.
TMM: You’re based in London -- what’s the music scene like there and how has it influenced your work at all?
DC: I think London is brilliant for aspiring singer-songwriters. During my time here, I've met lots of like-minded musicians and played numerous shows in great venues.
TMM: You dabble in busking on London streets. Lucky passersby! I imagine it’s crazy different from performing a regular gig -- there’s a chance for either a more intimate connection with your audience or, arguably, less. What’s that experience been like for you?
DC: Busking is great -- it forces you to get out your comfort zone and it has drastically increased my confidence, not just in music but as a person. It forces you to deal with very uneasy situations, [but] I've also had amazing experiences. I will always remember one night in Leicester Square where I played to an enormous crowd -- there must have been at least 300 people.
TMM: I can’t help but make the connection between you and Glen Hansard -- two UK artists busking on busy streets and putting out beautiful songs. Glen went on to do some incredible things. You’re next. What do you hope to accomplish with your music?
DC: I am striving for the level of success that allows me to sell out stadiums! Why aim small, right?
TMM: You’ve released a ton of A+ singles but we’re dying for an album! Any plans in the works?
DC: At the moment, I think singles is the way to go for me [because] it allows me to focus on each song individually to make them the best they can possibly be!
TMM: Which of your songs do you feel the closest to and why?
DC: Oooh, curveball! That's tough! If I have to choose, I would say “Talk." I wrote this song in 2016 to combat any feelings of doubt, anxiety, or stress in [my] life. The song is really a note to myself. [Editor's note: Hear Darren's acoustic version of "Talk" right here.]
TMM: Who are three musicians you think the world needs to hear ASAP?
DC: My favorites at the moment are Gregory Alan Isakov [Editor's note: "Big Black Car" is one of my all-time favorites], Harbour, and Clouds and Thorns [Darren's recommendation is "Come Say Hello" -- he thinks we'll love it!]
TMM: What has been your most memorable musical moment so far?
DC: So far, I would say the release of "Wherever You Are" and the amazing video shot by Patrick Zangl. I took a risk with this one by ditching drums and adding a beat with an EDM vibe and I believe it paid off. This song really made me reflect on how my songwriting has progressed and I feel a deep connection with it!
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for Darren Campbell?
Darren Campbell: I am in the process of recording yet another music video here in London, so watch this space! And finally, thanks for taking the time to conduct this interview!