After a year of waiting to make her SXSW debut, Denver-based singer Camryn is not one to let pandemic precautions get her down. Early last March, she was getting ready to play at the popular Austin, Texas, music festival when the entire event was canceled because of the encroaching coronavirus pandemic. Now, the singer, who splits her time between Denver and Los Angeles, is making her belated SXSW appearance at the festival’s 2021 virtual edition.
Gone are the crowded indoors venues, the packed pit in front of the stage and the waves of would-be concertgoers and street performers swimming against the current of Austin’s overflowing Sixth Street. But that doesn’t mean Camryn can’t still enjoy her debut.
“Performing is my favorite part of being an artist,” said Camryn, whose legal last name is Magness. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to do it in person at the moment because that always adds an extra element that is exciting and fun to be around, but I think we’re all pivoting in this new performance style.”
Camryn admits some changes have been harder to make than others. Her festival show was filmed in advance, and while on set, everyone involved was tested, maintained social distancing and except for those performing, were required to wear masks. But she misses the personal interactions she’d grown used to over her decade-long career.
“It’s weird to not be able to hug your band members that you’ve known for years,” she said. “It’s weird filming everything versus having a live audience, but at the same time, there’s so many things that you were able to do now in this sort of set up that you’re not always able to do at an actual performance out of SXSW.
“I’m really hopeful and excited and happy that we’re starting to move forward in this world of the pandemic.”
After over a decade of performing with and opening for acts like One Direction, Greyson Chance and Fifth Harmony, Camryn is using those skills to pull off the challenge of making an online concert engaging.
“I compare it to a music video shoot mixed with a live performance on the Grammys or SXSW, where you have a bunch of cameras throughout the actual stage,” she said. “When they’re filming these shows for the jumbotrons or for television viewers at home, you still have to be mindful of the camera. You still have to be mindful of playing to those people sitting at home. I treat that camera like it is a person, like you are talking to one audience member and you are just performing to them.”
Camryn said she is excited by some of the technical opportunities this style of remote performance offers her.
“I really liked playing with lighting, and when we have these virtual opportunities, we’re able to do things that maybe we couldn’t before in another situation,” she said. “I played around with a lot of video editing, and you’ll see some cool camera tricks in there that makes you feel like you’re watching a live show on the jumbotron.”
Like many artists, spending a year not touring also made Camryn aware of how important it was to stay in touch with fans.
“There’s an incredible app called Community, and they’ve set up a platform where fans can text their favorite artists and I can send out blasts,” she said. “Obviously, social media, especially right now, is really, really important. At the end of the day, there’s not many other ways we can connect with everybody. So, I’m constantly in my DMs, I’m constantly reaching out to my fans and the comments. I know a lot of them personally over the years. I really like to be that artist that is a real person — I’m accessible, I’m approachable.”
In addition to her SXSW show on Friday at 6 p.m. MT, Camryn is releasing her EP “Love Maps” as well. She said she has a lot more for fans in 2021.
“From this point on, you’ll have a bunch of new music to listen to,” Camryn said. “Hopefully, as we continue through this pandemic, you’ll be seeing some more shows, some more live performances. Maybe even more music in the future. Definitely some music videos. This is an exciting time for me, and I’m really excited to see what happens after this.”