No Disguises ~ by Shady
I’m tired and it’s raining—not exactly a brilliant combination. My day sucked from the get go, having woken up painfully early for work and having fight slower-than-death traffic in the rain. I find a surprisingly close parking spot, start walking, and evade raindrops as I prepare to meet up with Casey Desmond. If you aren’t familiar with Casey, she’s a young and talented singer-songwriter who’s made quite a name for herself in not a long period of time. Casey is funky, laid back, and from well known stock. She traces her lineage back to The Bentmen and the Sound Museum family. At a mere 20 years old, she has already recorded and released two discs with Taylor Barefoot as her co-producer. She was in the ’BCN Rumble last year and she tours all over the country. Casey has a tireless work ethic and is able to support herself through her musical efforts. I’m amazed and excited to see such a bright spark; it’s not common for someone to be so focused at such a tender age. This focus bodes well for her future and her talent for writing beautiful and interesting pop songs adds immeasurably to this mix. Casey’s passion is music and it shows in her enthusiasm, drive, and motivation.
Noise: Tell me how you got started in music.
Casey: I was in high school bands— I started real young. I began writing lots of folk songs and just acoustic guitar stuff. My parents were very supportive; I was doing the café thing because I was too young to play in clubs and bars. They really liked what was going on and they started to push me, and thought that I should do it full time. They wanted to make sure that it was okay with me.
Noise: That’s rare. Most parents want to at least make sure that you go college and are able to get a day job. Who manages your career?
Casey: My parents are actually my managers. They know tons because of being in the Boston rock scene for so long.
Noise: Tell me about your latest release No Disguise.
Casey: One of my favorite things about being a musician is the recording process. It is so much fun to me. My guitar player, Taylor Barefoot, is also my engineer and my co-producer.He is amazing.
Noise: What is your plan of attack now that No Disguise has been released?
Casey: I took a break from college and this is my full time job. I don’t do anything else but this. I usually get up and go to the office and do promotion. I go on tour and play colleges and clubs all over the place. It’s so great and such a blast.
Noise: That’s quite a luxury. Most local bands or artists aren’t lucky enough or maybe dedicated enough to do that.
Casey: Well, if they don’t mind living life with not a lot of money. I miss school, but I’m going to do one or the other. I will do this as long as I can and hopefully I’ll be able to finance my art career and then go back to school.
Noise: What’s your writing process like?
Casey: I write on acoustic guitar and piano. Sometimes I use the computer and write some synthy MIDI things and then just build on that. I’ve written three songs off of my two albums with Taylor [Barefoot], sort of spur of the moment—I love that stuff. I also wrote a song off of my first record with Will Ackerman.
Noise: How different is your writing approach now compared with how you wrote when you were younger?
Casey: There were always instruments around when I was younger so that I could mess around and be creative.
Noise: Does the melody come to you first?
Casey: At the moment I write the melody first and then write the words on top of the melody. I also write poetry and then set that to music. It’s all over the place. I don’t always have a specific way of writing. It’s more what comes to me in a given situation.
Noise: I want to go back to what you said in the beginning about writing folk songs growing up. Is that what you were inspired by or just what came to you?
Casey: I guess I was being stereotypical with the description of folk. I played acoustic guitar and I wasn’t really playing piano yet—at least not live. So, because I was doing everything solo acoustic, people always described me as folky. I would play all of the cafes and outside of the hippie shows, so they just started calling me folk. It’s the same exact music I play now, just played on an acoustic guitar.
Noise: I was noticing on the song “No Disguise” I can definitely hear the folk influence on the verse and then it progresses into more of a rock type of song during the choruses.
Casey: That song was one of the songs that Taylor and I came up with spontaneously in the studio. It came to us very quickly; it’s so great when that happens.
Noise: Where do you get inspiration from now—do you write every day?
Casey: I try to write every day—it comes in spurts. I’ve found that whenever there are emotional things going on in my life, that’s the toughest time for me to write. I tend to write after things have happened and I have all of these parts and things just come pouring out of me. It’s actually one of my favorite times in my life, because I feel so energetic and I have so much to say.
Noise: I want to go back to an earlier question. What was your recording process like on this record?
Casey: Some of it was demos that I made on my computer and then we would build on top of that. Or some of the songs I wrote on piano or guitar and I would come in and record them very simply and we would build around them musically. Mostly everything was done at Taylor’s place [Barefoot Studio].
Noise: What is your ultimate goal with your career?
Casey: Well, I love the rock star lifestyle of touring; it’s a lot of work but a lot of fun. I would also love to do soundtracks or commercials. This is what I want to do for a career and have fun.
Noise: Who are you influenced by musically?
Casey: This may come as a shock, but I’m a huge Nick Cave fan. He’s my favorite person in the world, his Birthday Party stuff into his solo stuff. I’m just starting to get into Grinderman.
Noise: I haven’t picked that up yet, is it any good?
Casey: I actually just got it, so I don’t really have an opinion yet. I’ve been a big fan of Ani DiFranco, from 11 years old on. I don’t really think I sound anything like her, but sometimes when I hear myself play, my picking patterns mimic hers a bit. I don’t limit myself to one style of music to listen to but I listen to a lot of trip hop. Most people don’t hear that at all.
Noise: I’m surprised; I wouldn’t have ever expected that.
Casey: I’d love to do a trip hop side project.
Noise: In your spare time? You mentioned earlier that you played in bands in high school, what style did you focus on then?
Casey: In high school I had a band called Adore. We were a really big Smashing Pumpkins style of band, obviously.
Noise: Really? And you were called Adore, picture it?
Casey: [laughs] Yeah, I know. You couldn’t imagine how many people would be like, Adore? You mean like one you walk through?
Noise: That is so lame. [laughs]
Casey: I’m also a big fan of the band Garbage. I did the rock stuff and then I did the acoustic stuff, so I basically combined the two to come up with what I am doing now.
Noise: What are you up to now with the record just being released—are you starting to tour?
Casey: Yeah, we played in Delaware and we just played the Paradise. My main focus is getting the record out to radio and doing promotion. We will be on tour for the next year though. We will be back in Boston too, because it’s my home and it’s where I love to play. It’s such a great experience to be on the road and seeing other places. Also, I love to see how people will respond to me. For some reason I’ve done really well in Cincinnati. People there totally love indie rock and just crave live music. People get drunk and dance. It’s really great. The people who like you will buy you drinks and dinner. It’s crazy.
Noise: I never knew that it was such a rock ’n’ roll town.
Casey: My favorite place to play is California, just because it’s California. When I go on the road, it’s just such a different thing. My band is my family all crammed in a van we have such a great time. Still, there is nothing better then coming home to play. I’m really proud of being from Boston.