Carey Lander: 1982–2015
Malcolm Jack remembers the musician and Camera Obscura keyboard player, who has passed away from cancer
Carey lived around the corner from me. We were the same age, 33, when she died from cancer. I can’t claim to have known her especially well, but I do well know some of her friends and bandmates, and above all the wonderful music she made with Camera Obscura. My heart breaks over and over again whenever I think of how her passing affects them all.
Carey joined Camera Obscura as their keyboardist in 2002, and played on all of the Glasgow indie-pop band’s next four albums from 2003’s Underachievers Please Try Harder through to 2013’s Desire Lines. Together with singer Traceyanne Campbell – with whom she is pictured on the cover of Underachievers – Carey was in many ways the face of the band, always so beautifully turned out in her vintage dresses and spectacles (when not on tour she could sometimes be found serving behind the counter at a popular Glasgow second hand store). Her playing was a completely integral part of the Camera Obscura sound as it matured and developed from shy and inauspicious beginnings into the lush, handsome, yearning, treasurable pleasure it is today. Listen to the swirling organ intro of ‘Lloyd, I’m Ready To Be Heartbroken’, the elegant piano line of ‘My Maudlin Career’ or the soaring synth-strings melody of ‘Break It To You Gently’ and you’ll appreciate exactly what I mean.
The first I heard of Carey’s illness, a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma, was in 2013 when I interviewed Traceyanne for The List ahead of the release of Desire Lines. By that time she had successfully undergone treatment, and her outlook seemed very positive. She went on to tour Desire Lines all over the world, playing some of the biggest and best shows Camera Obscura has ever played. The last time I bumped into her she was at the pub with her pals, talking and laughing and enjoying life.
In the summer of 2015 Carey’s illness returned suddenly, 'tripping me up again' as she put it. Her final public act was one of humbling bravery and generosity that channeled all the love and respect she and her band have earned over the years into helping an exceptionally worthwhile cause. Her online fundraising campaign for the charity Sarcoma UK went viral and attracted donations and endorsements from friends and strangers alike from every corner of the globe. Carey smashed her fundraising targets several times over ('Well this is embarrassing... we seem to have exceeded £25K ALREADY,' read her last update), topping £60,000 by the time she passed away. That’s the largest single appeal in Sarcoma UK’s history. Perhaps even more significantly, Carey has raised awareness immeasurably for a type of cancer which tragically occurs most commonly in children and which, because of its rarity, receives scarce attention or funding.
Carey’s Sarcoma UK fundraiser remains open in her memory and the total continues to rise. You can and should donate now, to try and help prevent more talented and precious souls like Carey from being taken from among us much too young.
Help raise funds for Sarcoma UK by donating at justgiving.com/carey-lander