In 2019, Nieman J and Eric Bellinger released their first collaborative album, Optimal Music. Boasting features from Young Thug, Wale, Jeremih, and others, it was an unexpected project that exceeded expectations. Taking a deeper dive into the album’s liner notes, you’ll notice an executive producer on the album, 27-year-old Cam Fairfax. This past April, Cam released his debut album, Waves, working under the label OFF TOP. I recently sat down with Cam to get to understand his inspiration and love for music.
Tell us a bit about Optimal Music.
In 2019, Eric Bellinger, Nieman Johnson, and I started working on a debut music album, Optimal Music. We released it in 2020 under our OFF TOP Records imprint. Me and Nieman started from scratch- going through beats, hosting writing camps, cutting demos, etc. When we felt like we had something, we started to get Eric involved on the topline side, and from there started reaching out to the features. Getting artists like Thug, Blxst, and Wale on our first project was incredible.
How was it collaborating with Eric and Nieman? Can you tell us what’s the mystery factor that binds this dynamic trio?
I mean, when you think about independence from an artistry standpoint, I think those guys made the blueprint. There’s very few people that understand music monetization and management like Nieman and Eric, so when you add good music on top of it, you get something special.
Tell us about your album Waves, and how did the idea strike you to produce your own album?
Optimal Music was my first taste at getting to publicly show off my contribution to all this music that we put out. Nieman gave me free will in the studio to try out anything that felt right, so there are a lot of my little tactical touches throughout that album. After that, I felt like I was ready to release something on my own.
When it came to Waves, I really wanted to make my own album, something that was authentically mine. I love just driving down the PCH and listening to music, and I’ve always wanted to make a project with that specific sound in mind. I’m lucky enough to have some of the most talented friends in the world, so I made a few calls and got to work.
It’s not wrong to say that Waves is your brainchild. As the executive producer, did Waves turn out the way you envisioned it?
Absolutely. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand what you contribute to these records when you’re not the artist or producer, so having a chance to show how I can add value to music was something that was really important to me, and something I think we did a good job on. Waves is truly a project that we made with passion in mind, and nothing else. Every song on there you can hear my touch, hear my influence, hear my presence. Beat selection, demos, writing camps; I was there for everything. Even down to the mixing- I was in every session, going through every stem, tweaking every bar. I was the one doing producer agreements, side artists declarations, beat clearances. I wanted this project to be as personal as it could be; I even called in a favor to Meagan Good to cut a voicemail intro that you can hear on the intro track.
Who inspires you, and what makes you want to keep producing music?
I think my inspirations in the industry are the people like Lyor Cohen, Jimmy Iovine, Jermaine Dupri, Diddy; those people that were able to have an impact and influence on music without necessarily having their voice on a record. I love creating music, but I’m self aware enough to know that artistry was never going to be realistic, but also smart enough to know that I could make an impact on music without having to be an artist.
I’m working on my follow up to Waves right now. I’ve been in the studio putting some finishing touches on my next project, “Girls That Do Drug$” (working title). I really just want to keep curating projects that have a specific, tailored sound, and I think this next project will be a good listen for the winter.