Q&A with Casey
Being a solo artist has it’s perks. You get to set practice times whenever you want, getting to a show is a cinch, and you, of course, get all the glory. But the thing is, you also have to have talent to be alone. And that’s something Northern Virginia artist, Casey has in spades. If you needed proof, just listen and you’ll agree. The folks over at The John Lennon Songwriting Contest did and made him a finalist in their 2009 competition. We catch up Casey and get some insight into him and his single name approach to making some of the most compelling song writing this side of the Key Bridge.
So you record and perform under "Casey", is your last name terribly unpronounceable or was it just easier since it's mostly just you, your guitar and a harmonica?
Since my musical style is a mix between Beyonce, Seal, Madonna, and Sting, I thought Casey would be appropriate. My last name isn’t odd by any means…but I wanted to keep it separate…plus the last name “Cruise” was already taken.
Folk Rock has had it's share of heroes throughout it's history. Are there many artists who you admire or draw influence from, even outside the folk genre? We know you're not afraid to cover a Bob Marley song or two.
Anyone with the first name Bob really. Bob Dylan has so many different sounds to him…but growing up I would hear a song and say “Who’s that?”, and it would be Bob Dylan. Then I would randomly hear another song months later with a completely different sound, and again say “Who’s that?”, and it would be Dylan again. That happened about a dozen times until I finally realized that I really liked that guy.
Being a finalist for a songwriting contest (especially one named for John Lennon) had to have been a great honor. Is there a particular process you have for writing your material?
It was a great honor, especially since I had just recorded that song and decided to send it to one of the most popular international songwriting competitions out there. I didn’t know if anyone besides my family would like it…so it was great to get that kind of response from some unbiased professionals.
If an idea hits me, I make sure to write it down. I’ll then revisit it when the time is right, and put some words and music to it. After that, I let it sit with hopes of forgetting about it. I’ll listen to it a few weeks later, and hopefully it is fresh and sounds like I am hearing it for the first time. That way I can think of it as a listener and tweak anything that needs a tweakin’.
You have a show coming up at Jammin' Java (Aug 30th!) one of the best coffee shop/ venues in the area. What are some of your favorite types of venues to play?
I wish I had a long answer to that like 9:30 club, Wolf Trap, and Madison Square Garden – but unfortunately I haven’t played those places yet.
Jammin’ Java is an awesome venue – so are the other venues I’ve played at locally. I like a place where people actually come to listen to new and hopefully good music. It probably will be my downfall, but I am picky about scheduling gigs. I don’t want to play at a place where everyone has their backs to me and are chugging beers. They can chug beers, as long as they are facing me and listening.
Being a solo singer/songwriter can be challenging and possibly exposing, but do you prefer this setup compared to being in band? Do you record this way as well?
It is challenging and exposing. Being in a band there are multiple opportunities for a fan to think someone is ‘cool’. If they don’t like the singer, they like the bassist, if not the bassist, the drummer. For me, it is just me – there are no backup plans. So I sure hope people like me.
I have always been drawn to the guy performing by himself with his guitar, voice, and maybe a harmonica. There is something very raw and honest about it. I would certainly love to have a band with a drummer, steel lap player, bassist, and lead guitarist one day. It’s just something that hasn’t happened yet and I don’t think you can force it. Right now it is just easier for me to practice and record when it is convenient for me – you don’t have to try to match up 5 different schedules. Plus I get the entire share of my 59 cents taking from iTunes…splitting that 5 ways would be like 12 cents in my pocket…that’s not gonna pay the bills.
It looks like 2010 has been good to you on the heels of a great 2009. Any big writing/recording/show plans or goals for the rest of the year into 2011?
I’m learning that the music industry is a “Sounds good, what else you got?” kind of place. I just finished my CD in January, recently got on iTunes, and have been accepted to Pandora but that won’t be up for another month or so. So I’m still trying to get this CD out there and schedule some meaningful gigs.
The Jammin’ Java show is huge – I’ve been trying to get in there for a while and I think I got lucky with this one. Now I just have to make sure I kill it so they will invite me back. The end of 2010 and 2011 will definitely allow for some time to sit down and think about the next album.
I have dozens of ideas and little musical sound bites scattered around, so I will be tapping into those…and hopefully bumping in to some additional inspirations along the way.
Head over to www.caseyofficial.com for music, clips, and info. And be sure to head to Jammin’ Java this Monday, August 30th to catch him live.