Amidst the ever-prevalent Soul/R&B revival we often face, there are very few takeaways that actually stick in one’s craw rather than flirtatiously passing through. For Troy Cameron (nee Ambroff), creating a sound that embodies the hallows of jazz, R&B, soul and everything in between was paramount to his success on the track “Eye of the Storm” off his record Sex On Wax.
Ditching the conventional hallmarks of a placid “retro sound” the track is a nouveau realization of the genres Cameron drew upon while elegantly nuanced by a feeling of rushing into the hardships of personal acceptance. Now featured in the Ben Stiller film Brad’s Status, Cameron has made a name for himself as an artist and producer whose visions are nothing short of true musical fusion.
Combining a unique approach to a style that combines several different tiers of tastemaking, “Eye of the Storm” finds itself in tandem with the film on many levels.
“This song in its origins has seen a few different incarnations,” said Cameron. “I wrote the initial guitar lick when I was in high school. That was me when I found myself exploring the different niches of my musical taste and my comfort zone as a guitarist. At the time I was listening to quite a bit of metal and pop-punk – this was new territory for me. A lot of this came out of me devoting time to play my instrument at the highest level that I could, which ultimately led me into jazz-related sounds.”
“Looking at a group like The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Funkadelic helped me look more at the jazz elements of music rather than just the rhythmic intricacies that metal or pop-punk bring to the table,” said Cameron. “I was listening to a lot of more of artists like Herbie Hancock and Wes Montgomery, who was especially important to me as a guitarist. Snarky Puppy was also a big influence for me – looking at artists who clearly defined an era and genre with their virtuosity and their own wildly unique elements was essential to nailing down a sound.”
As an artist on his own, Cameron realized that while his musical horizons were expanding, he needed to enlist a voice that invoked the same stylistic tendencies of Sex On Wax as well as someone who could put their own indelible lyricism into key tracks on Cameron’s debut record.
Cameron said that enlisting the help of fellow musician and visual artist Keihla Rivera was a natural choice. Rivera and Cameron have roots leading back to early adulthood and frequently found themselves running in the same musical circles as collaborators in the Southern California music scene.
“Keihla didn’t have a choice to sing on the track since she wrote the lyrics (laughs.) Her voice exudes the feeling of confidence despite disarray on that song,” said Cameron. “It makes ‘Eye of the Storm’ sentimental. There are certain vocal qualities that you just can’t teach someone. The actual timbre and tonal qualities of Keihla’s voice is such a powerhouse that it’s almost difficult to describe.”
Cameron went on to mention that one of the most important qualities of Eye of the Storm was Rivera’s vocal track. In providing a narrative for the song Rivera is both a steward of the oncoming storm as mentioned throughout the piece, but she is also a veritable refuge throughout the track.
Musically, “Eye Of The Storm” fits the narrative of Brad’s Status, a tumultuous yet condensed look at the flurry of natural occurrences that life may throw an individual’s way. However, perception plays a big key in both the song and the film, lending one another to intimately intertwine.
“Lyrically Keihla brought the sentiment that Brad’s Status was trying to convey to a head – it’s a melancholy sentiment but one that ultimately ends on a positive note,” said Cameron. “That’s what the film does as well – as viewers we relate to Brad more because we’re looking at success and the perception of individual success. There will always be someone who you can perceive is better than you.”
Musically, “Eye of Storm” conjures up the feeling of instilling a feeling of confidence despite how unconfident one may be. Though initially playful and representing a Motown groove, the track is anything but some retro-glazed capsule – it’s an incredibly prescient reminder of our own internal affairs.