Soul singer CAMEN (derived from his real name Pascal Camenzind) began his musical career imitating rock and roll singer Shakin' Stevens, who enjoyed international popularity in the 1980s. At the incredible age of 10, CAMEN was already performing concerts in hotels and festival halls with a professional band.
CAMEN: "Rock and roll was my first big love. But when Terence Trent D'Arby took the global charts by storm in 1987 and was feted as 'the new James Brown,' I was gripped by soul and funk fever and never looked back. I was 12 years old at the time and began to write my own songs. My first youth band came into being shortly afterwards. Stylistically, we moved between soul, funk, pop and rock music."
CAMEN, who comes from a family of classical musicians, became something of a "child star." With his youth band, Mighty Sharp, he enjoyed impressive national and international success between the ages of 13 and 17: he emerged victorious in the largest European music competition at the time for musicians under 18 years of age ("Talent Explosion," organized and broadcast by the German TV channel SAT 1); his band was named the best band in the Canton of Zurich by the renowned Swiss station Radio 24 at the Kaufleuten venue in Zurich; and the band was soul legend Chaka Khan's supporting act in Germany. Alongside international music journals and major teen magazines like "Bravo" and "Popcorn," even the "Neue Zürcher Zeitung" newspaper reported almost euphorically on the extraordinary talent of the teenager. After four successful years with his youth band, CAMEN embarked on a solo career. He first appeared for two years at numerous clubs and bars in Switzerland and nearby countries with renowned Swiss jazz pianist Christian Rösli. The Zurich piano bar "Splendid" contracted the duo to appear every other Friday and Saturday to play their R&B and jazz set.
CAMEN: "As a 17-year-old I was playing in clubs with a minimum age of 18, which I naturally found extremely appealing. This period lived up to the clichéd view of jazz gigs taking place in smoky, dark and dingy bars – I learned a lot. The year that I subsequently spent as a language student and street musician in England was also formative. I had always wanted to perform street music and fulfilled this dream there."
After completing business studies and military service, "PASCAL CAMEN," as he
called himself at the time, met his fellow countryman DJ Bobo (biggest selling Swiss artist) at the music fair MIDEM in Cannes, handed him a demo tape and provided him with a live sample of his
abilities there and then. CAMEN's exceptional talent as a singer and songwriter impressed DJ Bobo so much that he signed a recording contract with him (Yes Music/EMI Records) and also took
over his management. Bobo removed the first name "Pascal" and took him along on a European tour under the name "CAMEN." With the R&B ballad "5000 Miles Away," one of his own compositions,
CAMEN made it into the official Swiss charts for the first time shortly afterwards, achieving his national breakthrough. The song was one of the most frequently played numbers on Swiss radio
stations for months. It was followed by his debut album "Twelve," which reached number 32 in the charts.
In the following years, CAMEN rarely played in front of fewer than 10,000 people and saw several chart hits. Another highlight was a European tour as the special guest of US megastars *N SYNC (Justin Timberlake), which CAMEN was fully involved with. During the last show on the tour, the global stars sang a duet with CAMEN at their own volition in recognition of and out of respect for his talent.
At the zenith of his career, for artistic reasons, CAMEN decided not to renew his recording contract despite a lucrative offer.
CAMEN: "Despite an ever-increasing level of recognition, I felt a deep and growing need to become even more authentic as a musician and artist and to enjoy more artistic freedom. I didn't believe that this was possible under the circumstances at the time and so I parted company with my recording firm and management. I remain very grateful to DJ Bobo for our collaboration over the period. Thanks to him I was able to fulfill many of my childhood dreams.
In subsequent years, CAMEN returned increasingly to his soul roots, played hundreds of international club gigs and also brought out three more albums. With his last and most recent offering, the soul album "Move On," CAMEN made it into the top 10 in the Swiss hit parade.