What started out as a DIY solo musical project for American multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Cameron Lew has transformed into indie outfit “Ginger Root” – producing studio albums as a one-man-band and performing them live with a full band.
He began his musical journey as a solo recording artist in 2017 while studying at Chapman University. Coming from an artistically creative family, Lew studied music technology, graphic design and film production at the California university. At the time, he was performing in bands with some of his friends, but has been interested in writing and recording original music all on his own.
During his four-hour breaks in between classes, he would head off to his SUV – which he turned into a low-fi mobile music studio – to record and film himself performing cover versions of some of his favourite songs.
In true DIY one-man-band style, he played the guitar, keyboard, vocals and drums (which he set up in the backseat of his 2004 Honda Element) on each song. He would then combine and mix the individual tracks along with the edited videos on his laptop, with his car stereo acting as monitor speakers. Lew would upload the finished music videos onto his Youtube channel as part of a weekly video series called “Toaster_Music.”
Ginger Root’s Toaster_Music playlists includes versions of songs like, Jackson 5’s ‘I Want You Back’, Bill Withers’ ‘Lovely Day’, Earth Wind & Fire’s ‘September’, just to name a few; along with some of his own songs. Eventually, he decided to release “Toaster_Music” as a 14-track album, featuring 13 of these cover songs plus 1 original.
In 2016, Lew came up with 6 original songs but didn’t feel like they fit in with the sound of “Van Stock,” the band he was playing with at the time. He decided to release the 6 songs on his own as an EP using the name “Ginger Root” for the first time. When asked in an interview by dopecausewesaid.com where he got the name from, Lew explained, “One late night I was watching a clip of Vulfpeck…and (frontman) Jack Stratton chanted ‘uh, uh, ginger root’…and it kinda stuck…”
Taking inspiration from a wide array of groove-based acts like Vulfpeck, Toro y Moi and White Denim, Cameron Lew’s sound as an up-and-coming solo indie artist has grown fittingly into his chosen moniker “Ginger Root”, much like how a baby would grow into the name chosen by its parents.
From self-released albums “Spotlight People” (2017), “Fresh Sounds of Ginger Root Vol. 1” (2019) under his own label ‘Clew Records’ through “Mahjong Room” (2018) and “Rikki” (2020) under Acrophase Records, Ginger Root’s music seems to float effortlessly and then perch comfortably onto an original-yet-familiar, modern-yet-nostalgic branch on the indie tree.
Working in collaboration with high school friends Matt Carney on the drums and Dylan Hovis on bass, Lew fronts Ginger Root as a live band. With this current member lineup, they’ve done some tours and have shared the stage with Khruangbin and Last Dinosaurs.
Lew describes his sound as “aggressive elevator soul” music, which leaves listeners intrigued and wondering about which ‘floor’ is coming next in Ginger Root’s musical elevator journey.