TRUE Magazine sits with Cam Lasley – The Artist & Role Model

Cam Lasley is an artist, role model and inspiration to people everywhere with any kind of people everywhere with any kind of disability – or anything that makes them different. He is the epitome of the change we all hope to see for 2014 and his message is to spread acceptance, equality and to stop bullying those who stand out in the crowd.

You went from Laz D to Cam Lasley. What’s behind the name change?
Growth.  The music seemed to change a bit. That meant that I was changing, growing, finding the way to express who I really am now, who Cam Lasley really is. My own name, my own strength. I tell the story– my true story.  I didn’t need the shadow of a “stage name” (Laz D) anymore.  ‘The Man Himself’ and ‘In My Face’ tell the stories of the earlier times of my life.  Cam Lasley is where I am now.  It was just the right time on ‘Against These Walls’ to be myself. And I just knew it.

How did you get into music?
School band and drums…and, didn’t every kid have Hammer pants back in the day??   I listened to a lot of music.  Any style music.  I messed around with a lot of sounds on my keyboard. I just got it, kept at it, it just felt good.
And MTV, although I wasn’t supposed to be watching it way back then…..oh well.

What were your biggest musical influences?
Definitely Dre.  He’s my number one.  I’ve looked up to him for a long time. I grew up to his music and sound.  He’s the master of beat making.  Eminem has the struggles and his rhymes are amazing.  He’s quick.  I loved Pimp My Ride with Xzibit.  His rhymes, style–so good.  Cube and 50 are way up there. Cube is an original from the 80’s and 90’s.  I actually met him when I was very young, it was random, and he was very nice. He told me “rap is fun”. He wouldn’t remember me, but I’ll never forget him! I met 50 at a Sirius radio concert in New York. 50 people for 50cent. The show was so good.  He rocked it. We talked after for a few minutes.  I’ll never forget him, or that night.  He understood where I was coming from. That night was magic.

Your story is different than the average.  What is the message you want to communicate to your fans?
The movement of acceptance, pushing out the messages of Peace and Love, telling the stories, caring for each other in a better way. The meanness, the bullying, that should stop. “Peace to this young warrior, without the sound of guns”–
Tupac had the message way back.  His message comes to me.  He had it right; I feel like he gave it to me.

With elements of pop and rock in your songs, how would you describe your music?
My music-my thoughts, my feelings, my commentary, what I see, what’s alive, my rants- the hard hitting rants–that’s what I’m good at, it’s my thing. ‘Against These Walls’- it’s a smashing rant.  I really let loose, just threw it all out there with that one! ‘Stuck In My Head’ – the anti-bullying one.  The complete message for an anti-bullying campaign.  The violence and guns at schools! And way back, ‘Street Anthem’.  I was younger then, but the message is still there. It’s still the same.  My music is just about the way I see things, how life looks to me.

You have 2 albums out, The Man Himself, and In My Face.  Which one is your favorite?
Actually, it’s 3 now.  I released “Against These Walls” at Lola’s Room in Portland on 6/18/13. I always release there.  Hometown.’Walls’, being the latest, is my current favorite.  Of course, all 3 are really good.  I’m in the newer growth phase with “Walls”, but I have favorites on the other 2, and I get requests from them, so I encore them at shows.
They’re all my favorites, like a story.  Chapters.

Check out the Latest Video on CAM

CAM LASLEY “AGAINST THESE WALLS” from CAM LASLEY on Vimeo.

What are you currently working on?
One project is completely quiet.  No sneak peeks. I have projects, concepts for projects.  I really don’t want to give any hints yet. I have a list of some players that I’d love to have on board. Epic.I have a great cartoon concept; I’m working on an outline for it. I keep busy. I have a lot of ideas in my head.  They just keep coming.

On top of performing at nightclubs and music festivals, you get an opportunity to perform at Buddy Walks and Special Olympic events.  What’s that like? Do you see a difference?

It’s nice to be asked to do the Buddy Walks. They’re like big city parties.  Lots of kids, families, friends. Just a good experience, always a lot of fun. It’s nice to see kids and families supporting each other.

I love doing the youth rallies for Special Olympics.  Those have mostly high school kids, and they’re so involved, trying to make a difference.  I do question/answer talks for their Spread the Word campaign. I’d love to do a performance one day for one of their big events.  It would rock.  I do think I’m a positive influence on them, yes.

Being a role model and inspiration to many others in your same situation, do you feel a pressure upholding that role?
Not really, I just do my thing.  It’s not that hard to do the right thing.  Everyone should just be the person they are, the best version of it.  That’s cool.

Who are some artists you’re feeling right now?
Kendrick Lamar, I like him so much. Macklemore, we’re both from the Northwest. Miley, I like her music and style.  I like her edge. Usher, his smooth style, very talented.

Are there any artists you’d like to work with in the near future?
Macklemore, Eminem, Miley, Chanel West Coast

Besides music, what do you like to do for fun?
I like to time out and rest my mind watching DVD’s, movies, old shows. And I like sports, especially my NW teams: the Timbers, Trailblazers, and of course, the Seahawks —skittles.. I love my gym workout, and getting out with friends.

You have a couple of videos out ‘To Be Strong’ and “Against These Walls”. What was it like shooting these and seeing yourself on camera?
I have fun getting out, looking for the just right places to shoot a video. Good locations, interesting colors. Being in the video is exciting.  Seeing a product getting made.  I like seeing myself in all the different shots, then editing . ‘Go For It’, making it in LA, finding the shots to make it happen, it was fun.  Sprout.org has a good collection of my videos. A good variety of locations.  All fun to make. Sprout is a really great  source for films with a difference.

With upcoming artists, it seems like internet exposure and  social networking is a huge tool in promoting yourself.  How do you feel about this?
It’s good.  It’s a lot of details, a lot of time.  It’s hard to keep on top of networking and getting the creative work done.  It works, but it eats a lot of time.

Being an artist with a disability, have there been moments when you were told you wouldn’t make it? What do you have to say to them now?
Big dreams come true.
Think about it this way:  I have a syndrome.  To me, it’s not a disability.  It’s a difference.  Isn’t everyone else different too? Maybe I’m the first in the biz today-in rap today-that has a syndrome and is serious about the business.
I have a mind for this.  Growing up, back in the day, I sometimes went to work with my Dad. I used to watch tickets for shows being printed.  Sometimes I watched stages being loaded in. It just seems natural to me. It got into me a little bit, I guess.  I just feel it. I don’t think about a syndrome.  Someday, maybe others won’t think about is so much either.
If I struggle in the business, then I’ll struggle. Good company there.

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