Camerton Reunites for 15th Anniversary Extravaganza!
Interview by Courtney Niday-Nyan
Photography by Thantcyn Nyan
If you are a 30-something Mongolian, growing up in Ulaanbaatar, chances are the soundtrack of your youth was sung by Camerton. The vastly popular ‘boy band’ transcends the moniker, by paving the way for future Mongolian musicians soon after the fall of communism. They were the right sound, at the right time to help usher Mongolian music to the modern era.
Camerton reunited on August 28, after five years of pursuing individual projects, at the Tsengeldeh Hureelen Stadium, for their 15th anniversary extravaganza. It was a spectacular night of song, dance, acrobatics, pyrotechnics and nostalgia, for all who were present. Even stone-faced security guards couldn’t help singing along!
Courtney Niday-Nyan, of www.OurTravelingCircus.com, had the rare honor of interviewing Mede, before the festivities, about Camerton’s past, present, and future.
Courtney: Please introduce yourself, and the other members of Camerton, for your English-speaking fans.
Mede: My nickname is ‘Mede’, like, ‘mayday, mayday, SOS, SOS’, but my full name is Mend-Amar, which means ‘peaceful’. The second member is ‘Eba’, whose full name is Erdenebat, which means ‘precious strength’. Our third member is Bold, whose name has the same meaning in English. Camerton’s last member is ‘Ganaa’, whose full name is Gan-Erdene, which means ‘precious steel’.
Courtney: I love how Mongolian names have meanings. In America, we don’t have meanings to our names, so most people don’t know the meaning of their names.
Mede: Actually, some Mongolians have Tibetan names. Tibetan names have such beautiful and interesting meanings!
Courtney: Speaking of names, what does ‘Camerton’ mean, and how did you guys come up with that name?
Mede: ‘Camerton’ means tuning fork. Actually, ‘Camerton’ is an old Russian name, but the whole world’s musicians use tuning forks.
Courtney: How did you guys first get into music? Did you study music in school?
Mede: We all went to the same classical music college. We started 1995, in 9th and 10th class in college. The school required all students to learn how to sing, and play the piano. All four of us were in the school’s choir. Students also had to choose a musical speciality, so two of us studied cello, and two of us studied violin. We loved to listen to Boyz II Men and Take 6. We practiced really hard in our free time so we could be like them. We love the pureness of the ‘a cappella‘ style of singing.
Courtney: How did you guys get your ‘big break’? What shot you into, fame, fortune, and stardom in Mongolia?
Mede: (Laughs) We did not think we would be famous. We just loved to sing! Fifteen years ago, when we first started, ‘show-business’ was very different, in Mongolia. At that time, we didn’t have so many ‘modern’ bands, just traditional music. We performed for the students at our college. Time was very good to us. Our ‘a cappella’ style was a fresh new sound, in Mongolian music, and people accepted us quickly.
Courtney: That’s why your music has stayed around so long. You have the heart and love for music. You didn’t know you would become famous, now look at you… Camerton is a legend in Mongolia!
Mede: God gave us all the opportunities! Our parents and college also helped!
Courtney: Camerton won the Pentatonic award for the best debut band in 1995. Was it hard to stay focused and deal with fame so early in your careers?
Mede: We had only one wish, to be professional singers, so we worked very hard to achieve our dream.
Courtney: Were there other musicians, or people in your lives that shaped the direction of your music?
Mede: We met an American journalist, in 1995, when we were just starting out. He told us he could put us in contact with Boyz II Men. (Laughs) We really did not believe him, until two months later, when he came back with many Boyz II Men CD’s, and signed memorabilia! Boyz II Men is our favorite band, because they have a very precious sound. We still follow them today.
Courtney: How has your music changed over the years? How would you describe your music now?
Mede: We changed our style. Mongolia has become more open as a country, and we are able to freely choose the direction our music will take. We have more access to global information, and the freedom to choose our musical direction. Our style is changing with the times. Our first two albums were very near the ‘classical’ Mongolian style. For our latest albums, we followed R&B and pop/ soul style. Until today, we were looking only forward, but now we want to revisit our past. We are thinking we must blend traditional Mongolian music, with our modern sound. We want make new music using traditional Mongolian instruments and love songs. But how?
Courtney: I enjoy music that combines the traditional with the modern. So who do you guys listen to? Can you name some musicians that you constantly play on your iPods?
Mede: Many! We each have thirty days of music on our iPods!
Courtney: That’s cool! Sounds like a good party! Thirty days of partying to music…YEH! Are there any American or ‘western’ musicians you would love to perform with?
Mede: Music is a very, very huge language! Maybe we can join with musicians from other countries, and make beautiful music together! We went to Japan three times. Our first time was in 1999. That’s just fun and cool!
Courtney: So, what is in the future for Camerton? Will you guys work as a group, or work on your individual projects?
Mede: We will be working together, but we also will be working on our own projects.
Courtney: I know some of the members have been in movies…
Mede: (Laughs) Bold… only Mr. Bold.
Courtney: Well, you all are stars in your videos, so would you like to be in movies in the future?
Mede: (Laughs) I don’t know, but if I make movies, and am successful making money, then that’s good!
Courtney: Do you get stopped on the streets a lot, and get asked for autographs?
Mede: (Laughs) Sometimes, they stop me and say, ‘I know you, are you my boss’s friend’? Some people say, ‘I know your face, who are you? Maybe we are cousins’?
Courtney: Do you have any crazy fans?
Mede: We had crazy fans, maybe ten years ago. Now, we aren’t as young anymore. We are adults. We are all fathers, and our fans are also the same.
Courtney: Finally, tell us something about yourself that even your biggest fans might not know about.
Mede: (Laughs) I can’t sleep the night before the concert. Ten seconds before the concert starts, I feel like running to the toilet! It’s the same for every member! I start feeling something special, thinking, ‘Maybe, I need the toilet’! Talking, talking to yourself, until you hear the 10,9,8… countdown. It’s a very special feeling; nervous, happy, I can’t explain that feeling.
Courtney: Must be amazing to perform in front of so many people! Everyone we spoke to about Camerton’s concert was so excited! Everyone here knows your name, and loves your songs! Thank-you so much for the interview…bayarlaa!
*Portions of this interview were translated into English from Mongolian, by O. Uyangaa.