We got the chance to talk with American Idol alum, Casey and discuss her new single, “Beautiful” as well as her favorite music inspirations and more!
Beyond the Stage: Introduce yourself for our readers.
Hi everyone! My name is Casey and I’m a singer/songwriter originally from Boston, now living in Brooklyn. I’m a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music and competed as a finalist on American Idol. However, I’m most proud of my work founding The “You Matter” Tour, an anti-bullying concert series I have performed for over 35,000 students. Currently, I’m excited to be releasing a new wave of music that speaks to those relatable experiences of love, insecurity, and personal growth.
BTS: Describe your music for someone who may not have heard it before.
My goal is to write every song so honestly that I’m a little embarrassed to perform it for the first time. I like to think my music sounds like Halsey/Adele hybrid; the heartfelt emotional vocals of Adele, combined with the cutting edge production and storytelling Halsey uses.
BTS: What’s something our readers should know about you and your music?
My music is all about vulnerability; sharing with the world how I feel, most especially during emotionally difficult times. With this new music, I didn’t hold back; I embraced that vulnerability by writing about mental health and heartbreak, expressed my experiences exactly, even if they included bad decisions, and explored unique productions styles I’d never attempted before. Through my music, I’m trying to shine a light on my imperfections, doubts, and regrets because it helps me deal with those issues on a personal level and, as a songwriter, connects me with my fans in a way that bonds us together.
BTS: You recently released your single, Beautiful, what was the recording process like for that?
The recording process for “Beautiful” was really a transformative process. Originally, the vocals to “Beautiful” were recorded while I was still at Berklee, with a very standard acoustic arrangement. While in New York, as I continued to grow as a musician and embrace different musical genres, I felt less and less represented by the original recording. So my producer, Charles Humenry, and I decided to completely re-arrange “Beautiful” with those different genres and sounds in mind. This new production is my first song in this new style.
BTS: What was the inspiration for the single?
This song has a pretty complicated origin.
I wrote “Beautiful” almost 10 years ago, when I was 17 years old. I was in high school and about to go to the school gym. Before I left the room, I went to put on makeup—which is bad. I should not have felt the need to wear makeup in order to go the gym. However, I wore makeup every time I went to the gym; actually, I wore makeup every time I left my house.
As I was staring at myself in the mirror, this idea struck me as very sad; when had I started to feel that way? When I was 9 years old, I did not feel the need to wear makeup to go outside and play. Somewhere between 9 and 17, I’d learned that my bare face was not acceptable.
So instead of going to the gym that day, I sat down and wrote this song “Beautiful”. It begins with me at the tender age of 13, believing I would fit in if only I were prettier. Then I’m in high school, believing the boy I loved would love me back, if only I were beautiful. And finally, the song contemplates what it must have been like to be my mother, watching her daughter go through the same cycle of self-doubt that she herself had gone through, and knowing there was not much she could do to stop it.
To the outside world, I was not a sad person. I was active, happy, and social. But just underneath that confidence, a tiny voice in my head was telling me I wasn’t good enough – wasn’t beautiful enough. This message of self -doubt came from many external sources: magazine covers, TV shows, and makeup ads. They affected how I perceived myself for years. Through the song “Beautiful,” I hoped to take away some of that voice’s power to shame and control me by shining a direct light on it. By sharing my insecurities through “Beautiful,” unaltered and unpolished, I hope to help other women feel understood, help quiet all those thunderous voices in our heads, and to support a healthier dialogue together.
— Casey (@listentocasey_) March 1, 2019
BTS: Who are your musical influences?
I listened to a lot of pop story-tellers growing up; Michelle Branch, Avril Lavigne, and Taylor Swift to name a few. I would hear their singles on the radio, buy their albums, and fall in love with their deep album tracks. These songs express their raw emotions, and I always strive to share my stories as honestly as possible just as those great ladies do!
BTS: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I saw a TED Talk once on ‘power poses’; stances you make with your body (like the Superman pose) that make you feel strong and capable. If I’m feeling nervous, I’ll hit a power pose and focus all that strength and confidence into my body. It started as a joke to make my mom laugh, but I found that it actually worked! Backstage on Idol, I would even lead groups in them before we all went on stage.
BTS: If you could plan your dream tour, who would be on it and why?
My favorite artist at the moment is Lauv. Listening to his first hit single “I Like Me Better,” I had a bit of an epiphany; I could write heartfelt, story-based songs, and produce them super weird and pop just like him! I think his songwriting is simple but effective, and his performance style is invigorating. I’d love to work together!
BTS: What music are you currently listening to?
Well, as I was just answering that last question, I put on “I Like Me Better” because it’s such a great song! But in addition to Lauv, I listen to artists telling a story; everyone from Betty Who, to J. Cole, to Passenger. I love getting to the end of a song and feeling like I know exactly what they experienced. As Taylor Swift recently said, songwriting is like “putting a picture frame around a feeling you once had”; as per usual, she hit the nail on the head.
BTS: What’s next on the agenda for you?
We’ve got a ton of new music rolling out! I spend my life capturing my stories in songs, and I am so excited to finally be able to share those stories with the world. Make sure to follow me on social media so I can let you know when they drop!