Last we heard from Philly expat Brian Christinzio, he had moved to Manchester, England, and set to work recording new music under his stage monicker, BC Camplight. It seemed to be an extremely beneficial experience, and in an Evening News interview a year ago, he said “Manchester saved my life.”
This week, we got more positive news from Christinzio. As the Inquirer‘s Dan DeLuca reported on Tuesday, BC Camplight signed a record deal with Bella Union, the boutique label founded by Simon Raymonde, guitarist for dream-pop greats Cocteau Twins.
Christinzio made a splash in 2005 with his debut Hide, Run Away and its irresistible single “Blood and Peanut Butter” (watch a snowboarding video set to that song here). But following that, he fell off the stateside radar outside of Philadelphia – even though he had continued success in the UK, where his 2007 followup LP Blink of a Nihilist was released (available in the U.S. only as a pricy import until around 2010).
In an email, Camplight filled us in a bit about what happened around that time, and how it led him to start anew overseas.
“At one point I was certainly going in the right direction,” he said. “I had two critical successes under my belt and was making plans for a breakout album. Unfortunately around 2008 I really started believing what I read when people would say I was special or some sort of genius. I waited around for some record company to hand me millions of dollars. It never happened.”
Christinzio says he became spiteful about not making it big. “I became a liar, a thief, a drugged up homeless wino, and just an all around sad soul. And the worst part is I became acclimated to it and didn’t feel guilty about anything.”
In 2012, Christinzio moved to Manchester, rented a flat, connected with the musical community locally and began working on his third record, making a splash last summer with the single “Thieves in Antigua.”
When recording finished last year, Christinzio shopped the record around, and it found itself in the hands of Raymonde – BC’s publishing agent used to be Raymonde’s old publisher, and the Bella Union head says he found the album instantly appealing.
“His music is a brilliant twist on pop, soul and ballads with a core of super-strong songwriting behind him and that edge, that unknown quantity that so many releases are missing,” Raymonde told me via email. “There is a kinda huge IMPORTANCE to it all. I can’t really describe it. I am more a musician than a writer.”
The record will be called How To Die In The North, and Raymonde tells me that though it’s a bit premature to announce a release date, the album will be out in early 2015 and the label campaign behind it will kick into gear later on this year.
When I asked Raymonde if he saw BC Camplight as a long-range artist, he replied “We [the label] only do the long range!! Four Beach House records, six John Grant records, four Flaming Lips records, eight Dirty Three records, etc.”
For Christinzio, it’s a relief. “This insane gamble actually worked about a million times better than I thought it would,” he says. “And now I can concentrate comfortably knowing that a lot of folks will hear what I do.”
Christinzio says a winter-summer tour is being planned for Europe and USA once the album is out, including at least two shows in Philly. Below, download a live version of “Atom Bomb” recorded on BBC Radio 6.