Welcome To Cam Country: Arista Nashville Singer Has a Short Name, Potentially Long Career

Kristin Barlowe

Cam photographed in 2015.

One artist who has definitely made an impact at country radio in the first quarter of 2015 is Arista Nashville’s Cam. The California songstress has definitely made a positive impression with fans and programmers with her debut single, “My Mistake,” as well as her bright and vivacious personality. What’s her last name, you ask? Mind you, she’s not trying to be haughty by going by one name. She insists there is a story behind it.

"Day one through three of the radio tour, I actually went by Camaron Ochs. I went to my first set of radio remotes, and everybody was just like ‘What’s your last name?' It’s not easy to pronounce. The first two minutes I got with people, that’s what they wanted to talk about, and sometimes those two minutes is all you get. So, your chance to talk about your music and your art is gone. I decided I couldn’t do that. Because this music is relatable and friendly, and Cam is what my friends all call me. It’s nice to feel that my fans can call me like my friends would -- like we are having a conversation. I do get people who say ‘Who do you think you are, Cher?” No, I’m not. My last name is weird!”

The singer has just released her debut EP, Welcome To Cam Country, and she takes a lot of pride in her west coast heritage -- saying that it shaped her personally as well as musically. “We’re the melting pot of America. The coast is a little more developed, but the middle is still a lot more agricultural. My grandparents lived in Oceanside, which is a coastal desert area. It was just a normal ranch, with barns, hay, tractors, horses, and there’s palm trees too. My grandpa was a big cowboy in his values and the way he lived his life. For our family, the ranch represented our family time when we got to drive down through all that desert farmland and Grandpa would wake us up at 5am to feed the horses if we wanted to earn the right to ride them later. I always had so much fun. We would listen to Patsy Cline, Bonnie Raitt, and Willie Nelson. That reminds me of home and family -- that whole little scene or snapshot.”

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Once she decided to make the move to Nashville, she began to hone her skills as a writer, eventually landing a cut with rising star Maggie Rose. She admitted to The 615 that she wanted initially to be known as a writer and an artist, but people she knew in the business advised against that route, saying it couldn’t be done. “That’s not true, and I don’t believe that now, but at the time, I did. I decided I was going to be an artist who wrote my own songs, and turned down the publishing deal. That meant that the first few years here were really tough financially. I didn’t know if I was going to have gas to get home sometimes or could put gas in the car.” Struggles aside, she’s glad she made the move. “That was the time where I told myself that you only get one chance to make an impression with the labels in this town, and if you want to make something that is really unique and original, you’ve got to sit down and do it yourself. There’s no shortcuts or you’re going to wind up sounding like someone else. So, we built it from the ground up at that point.”

What is the meaning of “My Mistake” to her? “Generally, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, and I think that everyone has. The worst part is when I plan ahead for things that have not happened and I see all the ways those things are going to go wrong. All of that keeps me from doing what I should be doing because I’m so afraid of what might be happening. Instead of trying to avoid all of that, it’s a reminder to me that I’m owning it, and I’m happening to life as much as it is happening to me.”

And, if you have seen any publicity photos of Cam, you know her affinity for the color yellow. She says it’s very much intentional. “The first time it really resonated was when we were doing a Kickstarter video. We were working really late on it. I went to grab a mug for some coffee to keep me going really late. I saw this yellow mug, and it was bright and cheery. Lindsay, my manager and best pal, looked at me and said ‘That’s it. That is the color you are.’ Everybody is nicer to me when I’m in yellow,” she reflects.