Marcelo Camela is a 25 year-old guitarist from Puebla, Mexico. His music, and his daily life is for the glory and praise of his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. On June 17, Marcelo released his self-produced debut album, “Praise & Strings”. The songs featured on this album comprise various musical styles, for the enjoyment of every listener. We got the opportunity to ask Marcelo a few questions about his music, his faith, and his upcoming projects below!
Entertwine: Could you give us some insight into your musical background? When did you begin playing the guitar and composing music? What (or who) led you to pursue a career in music?
My family is full of musicians. All my relatives either play an instrument or sing. I grew up listening to classical music, flamenco, jazz, gospel, rock ́n roll… All sorts of music! You could say I ́ve been surrounded by music my entire life. I ́ve also served with my church ́s worship team for almost 13 years.
I began playing the guitar when I was 12 years old, but wrote my first song at 16. Even though I studied Law, my true passion is music. I always wanted to make a living out of music. After graduating from Law School, I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a successful musician.
What was it like growing up in Puebla, Mexico? What is the music scene of your hometown like? Could you tell us about some of the most interesting or live performances you’ve been apart of?
It was wonderful! Puebla is a nice place to live! It is a 484 year-old city, so there are a lot of beautiful historical buildings. It ́s a very European-like place, with great landscapes, rich in history and art, wonderful cuisine, and awesome people! I love Puebla!
The music scene here is great!! There ́s music everywhere! Metal, rock, jazz, blues, you name it! Lots of local bands and musicians are able to get weekly gigs at some venues. There ́s a street called Los Sapos, where many artists perform for free, daily!! Internationally acclaimed artists perform often in Puebla. For example, a couple of years ago I attended a Paco de Lucia (the late flamenco legend) concert!!
One of my favorite live performances was back in 2007. We sold out a 1000-seat venue, and we were the only act!! We were teenagers at the time, and barely anyone knew who we were. It was a Christian concert, and many people received Christ that night! It is one of the most meaningful performances I ́ve been a part of. Another one was a televised performance last year. My church ́s worship team played at a crusade called “Megalopolis”, and it was broadcasted nationally!
What experiences and events inspired the writing of your debut record “Praise & Strings”? Could you tell us a bit about each of the featured compositions?
On the spiritual side, my main inspiration for this record is my Lord and Savior: Jesus Christ. He means everything to me. He ́s literally saved me from death itself. He ́s given me so much, and these songs are my way of thanking Him. On the more “mundane” side of things, I wanted to offer people a new, different approach to worship. It seems that Christian music is becoming more and more simplistic, so I wanted to create something of substance. A record with interesting music that invites the listener into a deeper, more intimate worship experience.
So, here ́s a breakdown of the record:
1. INTRO: A short track that sets the mood for the record. It features some metal riffs and chugging.
2. PRAISING: The melodies on this track were inspired by John Petrucci, my ultimate guitar hero. It has a nice, heavy main riff, and the melody is catchy.
3. THERE IS JOY: My personal favorite from this record. It is a high energy, happy song. I went crazy with many guitar layers and effects I don ́t normally use, like phaser and flanger.
4. FROM MY HEART TO YOUR EARS: Another happy song. The main melody is a tapping-based lick, and it just sounds so cheerful!!
5. TO HIM WHO LOVES US: A softer track than the previous four. For the main rhythm guitar I used open chords (Open C# tuning). It gives the track a very beautiful character.
6. ARMS OF GRACE: The rhythm section is predominantly acoustic. The melody is very simple, but effective in evoking emotions.
7. LIGHT OF THE WORLD: Simple chord progression, simple melody, but the instrumentation makes it an interesting track. The layers of guitars add a nice color to the song.
8. INVINCIBLE: My take on Spanish-like guitar. It has an aggressive, powerful feel to it.
9. LORD OF ALL: This short track is a nice blend between shredding and melody. It was originally composed for a guitar contest, but I liked it so much that ended up including it on the album!
10. MIGHT AND GLORY: A straight-up metal track, with very intense riffs, technical licks, and fast playing. This song is about portraying God ́s power and strength.
11. TE AMO JESUS: “I Love you, Jesus”, is a classical guitar arrangement I made, based on a song by Daniel Calveti. This piece is all about my love for Christ.
12. A SONG FOR MY SAVIOUR: It is my first attempt at composing something for piano and strings. Something so distant from what I usually do. The song is about connecting with God, praising Him, and feeling happy in His presence.
What does your writing and recording process look and sound like? You also produce, correct? What instruments, software and musical equipment do you utilize live and in-studio?
Writing/recording process… Well, it all starts with a little notebook, where I write down ideas, chord progressions, sections, key/tempo, and general concepts for a song. Then I pick up the guitar and start noodling around, trying some of the progressions from the notebook. Once I get the perfect set of chords, I figure out some riffs, or transitions. Finally, based on the general structure, I program the drum parts, and move on to record the rhythm section. It is not unusual for me to modify things on the fly. Maybe a key change, or add a new part; it usually takes a whole day for me to fully compose a rhythm section, including additional instrumentation. When all rhythm parts are tracked, I move on to leads. Sometimes I already have a melody around which everything else is composed, but most of the time I will come up with fresh licks on the go. When all is done, I proceed to record harmonies, usually in thirds.
Yes, I also produce. So far I’ve been involved in 9 records, mostly christian metal.
My equipment is not expensive, or all that fancy, but I get quite good results! I use various guitars for both live and studio work, which are these: PRS Tremonti SE, customized Ibanez JS100, Ibanez ART300, Ibanez ART100, Ibanez ArtWood, Crafter SN285EQ, and a Fender Precision Bass. For recording I use ProTools M-Powered, an M- Audio Fast Track interface, and a wonderful app called AmpKit, which provides me with all the effects and amplifiers I could need. For live amplification I use my trusty Peavey Vypyr, and a Vox Valvetronix; both 100w amps.
Aside from promoting your debut album, what does the remainder of 2015 hold in store for Marcelo Camela? Do you have any upcoming performances?
2015 will see the release of two more albums by bands I’m currently working with. I will also start touring central and southern Mexico, and possibly Honduras, not only promoting my album, but also imparting free music clinics for starting worship teams. In a few weeks I will be performing my entire new album for the first time.