Some musicians surprise fans by not knowing how to deal with appreciation and disarm reviewers by willing to absorb criticism of their music. Carey Lander, the keyboard player with Glaswegian indie pop band Camera Obscura from 2001 until her death in October 2015, did both. Erudite and demure offstage but ironically confident in projecting her style, musical skill, creativity and charisma in public, Lander had become a key contributor to the band’s success over the last 17 years.
Originally from Maidstone in Kent, at the age of 18 Lander moves to Glasgow, one of Scotland’s bubbling musical creativity hubs, and gravitates towards Camera Obscura in early 2000s. Using its subtly energetic guitar sound with a solid keyboard undercurrent, the band electrifies fans by releasing its iconic song “80s Fan” in 2001. Having become friends with the band, Lander appears in the video for “80s Fan” later joining the band as a keyboard player.
As Britain’s legendary music presenter John Peel invites Camera Obscura to record a session in 2004, Lander makes her mark as the band’s sonic anchor. Her versatile fingers provide the gentle but vital electronic backdrop for “Ae Fond Kiss” and “I Love my Jean”, the band’s powerful musical interpretation of 18th century Scottish bard Robert Burns’ poems.
In 2009 Camera Obscura releases internationally acclaimed track “French Navy” that is used in television advertising, and reaches the top 40 in Britain, Ireland, and the top 100 in the USA. The song displays Lander’s impressive keyboard dexterity and her confident on-stage personality. The track’s video shows her auburn hair and her brightly coloured nails that intelligently glide along her instrument while sharply contrasting her retro-styled dress.
Offstage she modestly praises the band’s fans for their enthusiasm, and is grateful to them as well as reviewers for critiquing the band’s output. She is thankful to her school music teacher for being patient with her. Despite her charismatic stage presence, Lander credits him with her success while admitting her frequent difficulty in finding musical confidence.
Paradoxically, while acknowledging her helplessness at the fear of death, Lander fights her best after being diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, in 2011. The JustGiving page that she sets up asking the public to donate to cancer research charity Sarcoma UK, exceeds its target with over £60,000 in donations. While managing to help the band record its most recent album “Desire Lines”, she cancels all work commitments as her condition deteriorates by October 2015.
Carey Lander’s musical dexterity enabled her to help Camera Obscura find its now world-famous subtly confluent and softly energetic sonic brand. This allowed the band to effectively contrast the late 1990s aggressive guitar sound and the experimental electronic bands of the early 2000s. Playing in Camera Obscura inadvertently enabled Lander to show her many-sided personality that embodies life itself. She leaves a valuable and inspirational legacy to many in the music industry and beyond.