Note to readers: As we were in the middle of this interview being completed King Youngblood released on 01.28.22 a single “A Thousand Songs”. It’s great, check that out today!
Cage Riot: Ok I would like to start by saying you are the band that 100% wins the, “We do it all award”. You have a legacy and a history already built-in and it’s well deserved and all from hard work.
There is so much to talk about that I’m going to (TRY) and keep the jokes and nonsense to a minimum.
Cameron Miles Lavi-Jones
“Cameron Lavi-Jones is a 22-year-old award-winning, musical artist, producer, sound engineer, songwriter, bandleader of his alt-rock band King Youngblood, multi-instrumentalist, graphic designer, filmmaker, and the executive director of his own non-profit project – Hold Your Crown”.
CR: Cameron, The new single dropped 1/28! How exciting! We absolutely loved the calm before the storm intro that so perfectly accompanied your voice and the lyrics. “A Thousand Songs I’ve never heard”, is awesome. I love lyrics that get my mind going. You have SOOO much press already the big outlets are all talking and saying great things. Congrats to you and the band and the team.
Cameron: I wrote Thousand Songs with Eric Lilavois who is one of the owners of the famed London Bridge Studio, part of the acoustic duo The Copper Trees, and well known for being the president of the PNW chapter of the Grammys where I am also a member. Thousand Songs is about the rock and roll journey. King Youngblood is a band of brothers and we are going back on the road after the COVID hiatus - this coming July right after our performance at Capitol Hill Block Party in Seattle (https://www.capitolhillblockparty.com - editors insert) and we ain’t coming back until we absolutely have to. Roadlife is a roller coaster - great shows, shows to no one, van breaking down, van driving well, road food, truck stops, but mostly as a rock band our best thing is live performance so touring is our best way to build our fan base down the West Coast, across the South West - up into the rocky states and back across through Spokane back home - and then do it all over again fanning out wider and wider. That is our mission and purpose. This song is all about the journey. It’s all fresh and hopeful right now and really exciting.
CR: That is some team, Eric Lilavois’s resume is so long we need two articles to cover his contributions and accomplishments in the music industry. Congratulations to all of you because the song is getting a lot of well-deserved attention and you chose (well maybe you were chosen is the correct way to express -lol) the right group of individuals. As far as touring, I have to agree, band life is the hardest yet most rewarding and heartbreaking experience with equal parts exhilaration and disappointment and by equal I mean 90/10 lol.
CR: We heard that you are dropping more music - a single called “Cried in my Cadillac” that drops in early March. Is there anything you wish to leak or debut here with Cage Riot so we can say we knew it first?! (we have a little TMZ in us lol)
Cameron: So anyone that knows anything about King Youngblood knows that we love to produce stuff - songs, music videos, lyric videos, unique posters, more songs, and more songs. So every song we put out has a lyric video to start educating our fans on the lyrics of our new songs (editor’s note: the lyric video for “A Thousand Songs” is out now also) and then a few weeks later a full-on music video comes out. We are in pre-production for the music video for Cried In My Cadillac which will be directed by me and Lara Lavi the head of our label and shot by our head of cinematography at our label DICE LAB - Eric Luck. It’s a tried and true team. The storyline for the video is centered around me in a therapist office (a very very warped looking office) and the therapist keeps changing and then sends us all into these weird other places like colored boxes in the sky (we will use a drone) and a skateboard park - we have a lot of skater fans so we gotta show the love there. With the album coming out in May - May 13, 2022, to be exact - we will keep putting out singles and videos and stuff until that date and then keep putting out videos until all the songs on the album have visuals - then we will have a movie night and show all the videos live in a theater and send them out to film festivals to go find more love for King Youngblood - all part of our grand plan. On top of all this, we have a crazy merchandise plan that includes creating a comic book series called AfroThunda where the band members also have superpowers (anime style meets DC/Marvel modern comic drawing style) and save the world - more to come on that next month. There is even more cool merch planned including old school view masters with carousel slide shows with King Youngblood images. Seriously we could go on and on but it’s all good.
CR: That video sounds great! We checked out Eric Luck’s IG @mistahluck teaser for the video at @thenoooook and it looks sick. Also, LOVE the ideas! Superheroes, comics, skateboard parks, I think you may be Peter Pan.
CR: So we wanted to mention a favorite song of ours and (and obviously the fans) “too late, too soon”. What was the motivation and message behind this song? We read the lyrics (we always search for meanings because reading lyrics gives us a different perspective) but there’s always a secret message that only the creators can share. Tell us what this is.
Cameron: Too Late Too Soon is blowing our minds as organically it has over 300,000 streams on Spotify. I wrote the song with my really close friend Jon Corn and the song is really about self-doubt and the “would have, could have, should have” all artists feel - that fear that they are insane to pursue a career in music - it’s risky and full of rejection and creates so much self-doubt but in the end - we can’t see our lives authentically going in any other direction. So in this music video for the song, I examine what if I didn’t do that BIG SHOW and instead I leave the dressing room before the show and I win the lottery and everything goes crazy in a boardroom, then I follow my girl and end up getting married with kids in the suburbs and then in the last scene I end up a loser who gets stoned all day and works at a guitar store being a “wanna be” - not that there is ANYTHING wrong at all with working in a guitar store (that is kind of like guitar heaven for a guy like me) but still, it isn’t the same as risking all and going out and trying to make it….
CR: That’s a trip. Nice way to wrap up how a lot of people feel each day. “The Road Not Taken” but in contemporary form.
CR: What’s in store for touring? I don’t want to get too excited but I feel this COVID nightmare is almost over. “This too shall pass” is as true as science gets in words, so are you guys gearing up for the road?
Cameron: We have shows all through now in the region through the end of July in and around Seattle including a thing we are calling the “Big Thank Blitz” which is three shows, one at the Crocodile, One at SubStation with our rocking friends Asterhouse and one at the Central (where it all really began for grunge and us) and fans can get a Blitz Pass to all three as all three shows will be completely different plus Treefort in Boise coming up in March and then Capitol Hill Block Party where we headline Barboza on the Saturday Night stage. Then we launch our West Coast, Southwest, Rock States, Pacific Northwest Big Thank Tour part one through the end of the year - and then after the holidays we get up and do it again and fan out wider. That’s the plan.
CR: We saw the announcement on Alix the drummer. This was exciting news for us! We have worked with and toured with this great guy. He’s a literal story of being young and reaching success with just plain hard work and focus. Disclaimer -He’s a great drummer and if you let him venture too far …we WILL steal him back! Anyway… what’s the story with “Lix” (as we hear you guys call him) How did you find him?
What's the story behind this?
Cameron: Alix Daniels is my mother fucking dream drummer. PERIOD I courted him for two fucking years to get him to join this band. He is amazing. He is my brother and I am never letting him out of my sight. I have never had a drummer rock so hard with so much passion, finesse, spirit, and understanding of the songs ever. We waited for him and it was so worth it. I can’t imagine doing King Youngblood without him. If you try to steal him back I will have to kill you LOL. We found him through a producer we used to work with Adam Kasper who introduced us. Adam is an old school grunge rock producer and we learned alot from him but ultimately we found our dream producer with Eric Lilavois and we recut the entire album with Lix on drums to make sure we had all the Alix Daniel juicy love on this album. So so worth it.
CR: That’s hella cool bringing him into the band like that. Now he’s forever KYB.
CR: Cameron, we see you recently graduated with honors with a communications degree from the University of Washington where you focused on marginalized communities, BIPOC social justice issues, and the democratization of media. Many famous people (Denzel, Winfrey, Jobs) have a nugget of information they drop and it becomes something that opens the eyes of a generation or at least leads them down a path. What quote would you like to share as a result of what you have learned that you feel is relevant?
Cameron: We are on this planet for a minute. I am Black and I am Jewish - to sectors of the population that know their share of persecution and racism. My eyes are wide open with both my heritages with how the world sees me. But I can’t let racism define me. I have to rise above that and let talent and perseverance and good deeds define me hence like Maya Angelou once said “I rise.” But seriously my father was an active Black Panther trying to bring food and health care to his black community in Seattle. My mom marched to save South Africa while in college and still marches for women’s rights and climate change issues. I found King County hard to eliminate the Youth Jail and now me and Dow Konstantine the King County Executor are friends enough that I sing at his birthday parties. I want to use the media attention I get leading King Youngblood for social justice and change for young people. That’s why during the protests in the summer of July 2020 while other musicians were using the large crowds to promote themselves and their music, I set up with a lot of help a BIPOC teach/sing in called This Ain’t No Picnic and had BIPOC speakers and artists alternating with a stage (provided thanks to Marshall Law’s drummer) to get us out of the Coachello mode the CHOP was going in and get us all back to the issues. I declined all interviews and instead wanted the speakers and the music to say it all. I am super proud of that work. There will be more.
CR: This is so well put. I have to say your efforts will leave behind your name spoken in many conversations just as your father and mother also accomplished. Bringing politicians together with the voices of the voters is a necessary part of fixing our broken system.
CR: Cameron, now knowing about you and Eric Lilavois being the producers of the music, we have so many questions because we love to “see” a picture of how a song is created. Tell us where you record, some of the process and something about the dynamic of you and Eric that creates the final product that the fans love so much.
Cameron: LOL well it's not as glamorous as it might sound as I am probably more in the early stages of Billie Eilish approach to making music. Songs start in my head - then to my guitar then the lyrics and then to the band or a co-write with someone or a co-write with the band with hopes that we capture something to move forward with. Once written and tracked either at the home studio my dad and I run (Red Room studio) or these days often Sage Studios where I am an engineer and a producer (day job) - then off it goes to Eric Lilavois to make the magic of mixing, editing, refining and hopefully making some hits. Then mastering goes to our friend Justin Armstrong in New Orleans and then we send these babies out to the world to fly - hopefully they fly a long long life.
CR: We looked and we didn’t see the origin of the name “King Youngblood”. Is there a meaning or something you can share about how this was chosen?
Cameron: So in the band’s days of lore (LOL) we were called Gypsy Temple. I named the band in like 8th grade. The word Gypsy came because my mom’s side of the family are Romanian Gypsy Jews and I wanted to honor my ancestors - especially the ones murdered by the Nazi Holocaust during WWII. But then some well-intentioned folks hammered us that Gypsy is a racial slur and as a team, back in 2018 we decided it wasn’t the fight to fight and we had one of our best songs doing well called King Youngblood so we changed the name - it was a REALLY smooth transition. Youngblood is a term that black dads, uncles and grandfathers refer to young black males - and of course, our plan is to be at the top of our game here - hence the name King Youngblood. We are happy with the change and are forward thinking with it. We call ourselves KYB for short.
CR: In 2018 King Youngblood played at high schools and colleges in the Puget Sound, WA area. You had volunteers helping students and parents register to vote. That goes well beyond any hashtag or post. What response did you get and how did it make you feel?
Cameron: Again this goes to the whole social justice BIPOC activism that we are centered on a lot as we navigate blowing this band up. My maternal grandmother was HUGE on the right to vote. She would constantly lecture me and my friends about how precious this right is and what happens to BIPOC people and people in general if we lose the ability to vote. I guess it stuck and so we came up with a plan to get young people to vote called MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD LOUD & VOTE. The first election season we did this was 2018 and we got over 3200 kids to vote - going to high schools and colleges and performing - sometimes on a flatbed truck with voter registration people in tow. The second time was the 2020 election cycle - crucial to get Trump out and we had to do streaming shows which was harder to get folks to motivate but we got about 10,000 young people to register. The campaign for us wasn’t about who to tell people to vote for but rather they just need to go and exercise the right to vote. It’s a good message I think.
CR: That is amazing. 20 or so years ago I was told to “Never do a good deed without getting something in return”. I liked the man who told me, but I was confused at first, thinking the message was selfish. As time went on I saw as his life improved and he had more power, he used his increased resources to continue to improve the lives of more and more people. This is what KYB is doing and from my experiences, it works. Your increased fame will only provide you with a bigger bullhorn for more ears to hear your message.
CR: Adding to the list we saw your podcast “The Revolution Will Be Harmonized”. This is new to us; we had not known of this before. Can you give us a quick synopsis of this?
Cameron: Funny you should ask about this as when Covid got really bad we had to put it on hold but we are bout to reactivate it. This is with fellow DICE LAB artists singer-songwriter Jaiden Grayson (who starred in our AfroPunk hit video for Yakubian Antics) and staysafeknox - awesome hip hop artist and producer in response to the hot mess in the CHOP in Seattle during the summer 2020. We did a ton of podcasts that were distributed by PodBean (still are) and then also by community radio station KVRU FM which is based in South Seattle where the majority of BIPOC and immigrant populations live in Seattle. We talk about anything and everything from politics to Black Joy, to controversial news, to art and poetry. We laugh alot to take the stress off of living in a racist world. It’s a conversation among three close friends that we let the world in on. It’s a good thing
CR: It’s becoming apparent to us that you are a werewolf or a zombie (the good kind) because now we want to also ask you about your 501(c)(3) organization, the Youth Mental Health initiative Hold Your Crown.
First of all.. Are you tired? JK ya you are! Seriously, tell us about this and how you want it to make an impact.
Cameron: I guess I will sleep when I die LOL. In high school, the two original band members I had for the original Gypsy Temple band both had serious mental health issues - cutting, depression, sexual identity etc. They are both doing great now THANK GOD. But it really opened me up to how much stigma there is in youth mental health. There should be no shame to acknowledge you are not mentally well and need help. PERIOD We had a cellist in the band before Chet joined who was very public about his own issues with manic depression and other mental illnesses and he really helped me push Hold Your Crown - see