Q&A with Cam Smith of Hotel Books

It's hard not to feel moved by Hotel Books' latest release, Run Wild, Young Beauty, both because of the band's heartfelt lyricism and the stunning music videos that accompany some of their most touching songs. Vocalist Cam Smith has made a point to write his songs about love, and the outcome is a gorgeous record. 

We recently had a chance to chat with Smith about the heart behind Run Wild, Young Beauty, his songwriting goals, and much more. Check out the entire interview, as well as music videos for "Run Wild, Young Beauty" and "Constant Conclusions" below.

Interview by Jordan Altergott

Congratulations on the release of Run Wild, Young Beauty! What changes and noticeable areas of growth can fans expect to hear on the new album?

Thank you so much. For the most part, I think this is the first album that we approached as one cohesive effort, which I think makes it our most binding album yet. Over the past few years as a band, each release has been a compilation of some sort other than this one.

I’m Almost Happy Here But I Never Feel At Home and Run Wild, Young Beauty both have very beautiful and thoughtful album artwork. Do you believe that album artwork plays a role in your releases? If so, how do you use it to convey the ideas and emotions in the music?

Thank you! I believe album artwork is very important. With I’m Almost Happy Here, we did two different covers, both showing a girl’s back, which to us, they both represented the idea of moving on, just in different ways. With Run Wild, we want to connect human to nature, which is why we used the hands with trees in them. We wanted the artwork to symbolize running wild in this world. I think it’s really cool when bands take time to convey a special message with their artwork.

How do you choose which songs will become singles? What makes the singles stick out from the other tracks on the album?

For Run Wild, we knew we wanted to share the title track first, because we felt it was our biggest departure from our old sound. "Constant Conclusions" was a single we decided on with our management and label team, because we felt it was the best representation on the album.

What was the idea behind the music video for “Run Wild, Young Beauty” and what do you want viewers to take away from the video?

We wanted a video that symbolized an adventure, which is why we did the shots of the girl following a compass, and also why we decided to do the performance shots in nature. I wanted people who see the video to feel like they were on some sort of freeing adventure.

What prompted you to include ASL in The “Constant Conclusions” music video? Did you expect the immense and positive reaction to it?

We were actually very nervous about it because we knew it was not something commonly done before. I wanted to include ASL because I feel it’s something that “spoken word” fails to reach out to, so we decided to shoot the video where it cut between me speaking and her signing. I was overwhelmed with the positive feedback, we were definitely blessed by that.

With your post early this year about the fact that in the music industry there is the mentality that “Depression Sells”, you made a bold statement that needed to be said. How can fans and others who are involved in the music industry stop that mentality and the urge to monetize mental illness and depression?

We try our best (and often fail) to write songs that tear down emotional reserves so people can feel invited to step out of their comfort zone and into Love. I think if bands in general spent less time writing about “what sells,” music would mean a lot more to people. We play with bands all the time who sing sad songs from the heart, and I see their raw passion bring kids a sense of comfort, I think music should look more like that more often.

You have made it a point to write all your songs about love. What kind of impact do you believe that has on your fans?

Love is the most important thing to me. I feel like I would not be doing any good if I spent my time singing about anything else. I was blessed with this crazy opportunity to hold a mic on stage, and I don’t want to waste it on my own agenda. I have heard people from our community who have felt very encouraged by our approach, and that is reason enough for me to never want to stop.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Thank you. I hope people take the time to listen to Run Wild. We put our hearts into it, and we hope it means as much so someone else as it does to us. 

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