Ricky Vasquez and David Gonzalez of local electro-pop trio Camera Cult are sipping nitro cold brews, their standard drink order, at Black Hole Coffee on a Wednesday night. A few minutes into discussing their recently released “Location” music video, Skyler Scholtes joins the table. It’s his 25th birthday.
“The quarter century crisis is about to begin,” declares Vasquez, the group’s lead singer and guitarist, from across the table after a series of birthday hugs and handshakes.
Banter on Scholtes’ fading youth morphs into an attention-deficit discussion of the guys’ favorite music videos. When Scholtes, the band’s drummer, brings up Arctic Monkeys’ “The View From The Afternoon” video, Vasquez describes it in its entirety. Gonzalez, Camera Cult’s synth-man, divulges a soft spot for Fat Joe’s “Lean Back” before asking if anyone at the table has seen Tyler the Creator’s “Yonkers” video in which the rapper indulges in a freakish delicacy.
“It’s just him. It’s black and white. He eats a roach. It was real too,” says Gonzalez. After a beat of silence: “He spit it. Out.”
The band bursts into laughter; like a cadence, Vasquez steers the band of music video scholars back into focus.
“I always like the really cinematic music videos, though, that are kind of long and extended. Like what inspired our little cut scene. Videos like that are really cool,” says Vasquez.
He’s referring to a heated moment from their own music video for “Location,” an addictive, infectious gem from their 2018 Talk Nice EP, in which tensions are high between him and Gonzalez. In the video, Gonzalez runs a jaripeo, or Mexican rodeo. When he catches his girlfriend and Vasquez together, the music video halts as Gonzalez confronts Vasquez with a Smith & Wesson 41 revolver and a body slam.
“I think even, like, the production team there was pretty surprised the first time they saw us do the take ‘cause it’s so real. He just like slammed me into this bar and it, like, hurt my back for a few, like, right in my - right in between my shoulders,” Vasquez says, hand over shoulder trying to locate the exact pressure point.
“It hurt for, like, two days. But it was for the video. It was worth it, yeah.”
Inspired by Red Dead Redemption 2 and Narcos: Mexico, Vasquez says he had an image in his head of Camera Cult performing alongside horses at a rodeo. One day while scrolling through Instagram, he watched an old friend’s bull riding footage from a Mexican rodeo in Fort Worth. In love with the locale, Vasquez reached out to his friend who, by happenstance, had ties to a rodeo in the Aldine area.
“It just fell right into our lap, that this guy’s dad owned this place. And we were like, ‘Hell yeah’ and he let us in,” says Vasquez.
Fully committed to the western vibe, the boys embarked on a 17-hour video shoot at the rodeo, complete with show horses, cowboy attire, and a love triangle standoff. The end result is a glorious amalgamation of southern roots, Tejano culture, and night club dancing. After a handful of choruses performed in-the-round, circled by horses, the video cuts to a sleek dancehall performance lined with silver tinsel and neon lights.
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“When we shot the, like, tinsel lit up section, we were, like, we were in it. I think we were feeling it,” says Vasquez. He adds: “It felt like we were playing it for, you know, a crowd or something.”
With their Talk Nice EP album cycle now complete, the guys plan to perform new material at their upcoming show at Satellite Bar. Adamant on perfection, Vasquez says they won't be rushing into their next release.
“We don’t feel the pressure to have to, like, put out another EP or, like, even an album. I think we just like the single idea of – just make a cool song. If it’s good? Cool, let’s put it out. And then just keep rolling.”
You can catch Camera Cult at Satellite Bar on Friday, April 12. $7 in advance, $10 day of show. All ages. Follow them on Instagram and Twitter @cameracult