Hellhound Music chats with Synth-Pop princess Casey Desmond about her new album & its latest music video, as well as a number of other interesting topics including: her experience on NBC’s The Voice, fashion, and music production.
HHM: In being widely recognized for NBC’s The Voice, what a lot of people may overlook: is that you had already released (correct me if I’m wrong) 3 professional album’s prior that 2011 season?
I’ve released a lot of eps, and albums, and even some projects with different names. My first album was a self titled, the second was No Disguise, and the third Deja Vu. I put out an ep of music that didn’t go out on an album called Chilly Allston. Before this, I released things in high school alone, and with my band Adore.
HHM: Can you briefly tell me a little bit about those releases and your musical evolution over their extent?
I believe my writing style has always been very similar, and that the surrounding instruments are what have evolved. Taking it upon my self to learn protools, and accumulating enough instruments to start my own studio opened many doors. I spend hours a day writing, and producing on my own. I’ve always been afraid to restrict myself in one style, so I let the inspiration sort of direct me to whatever feels natural. Sometimes I want to write on a ukulele, and other times, a moog synthesizer.
HHM: How was it coming up in the Boston Music scene? And was/is there a lot of electronic/pop influence present?
I grew up with music. My parents are both musicians and producers, and my father owns the biggest and oldest rehearsal facility in the country the Sound Museum. Instead of being raised on popular radio, I drew inspiration from my exposure to local music. Real, hard working artists surrounded me, and it was an incredible start for a budding artist. My family have been incredibly supportive for my entire career. At a very young age I was in the studio, and luckily the lifestyle stuck with me. Soon it became my own craft, and I’ve been living in a hoard of keyboards, and guitars since. I listen to everything, and I think its evident in my music, but my writing style is primarily pop. Pop has a happy home in Boston, there’s plenty to go around. As for electronic, there are a few good electronic bands, but mostly the electronic fans go out to dance nights. I like to play these nights with primarily DJs, or said local electronic bands.
HHM: What is it that sets Déjà Vu apart from your previous work?
Deja Vu is my favorite, and probably the most consistent from song to song. It’s very electro pop dance, while the older ones are genre hopping, and more acoustic.
HHM: What did you bring back with you, creatively, from your trip to The Voice? And did any of this influence/change your musical direction that would ultimately be taken with Déjà Vu?
I wrote a lot in my hotel room, and wrote my title track “Deja Vu” on the plane ride home from the voice. It had no effect of my style, as most of the album was written already previous to being invited to LA.
HHM: Which song off of the album are you most proud of and why?
This is a very hard question, as my favorite changes all the time. Probably “Deja Vu” for it’s personal message, and “Talking To God” for it’s production and pop quality. “Heartbeat” is my top single pick after those two. See? I can’t choose [laughs].
HHM: Your latest video for “Bad Habit” turned out stellar, great contrast – can you tell me a little about the concept and your experience shooting it?
My sister Mary Lee Desmond was directing it with her partner Zack Schaefer (Red Hot Box Studios), and they both know me very well. I trust them, and we all have compatible tastes. They are so talented, and have an organic approach to filming. Jean Renard directed a lot of the glamour shots, and is an exceptional photographer. He´s worked with the best, and really knows how to light a shot. I felt like I had a lot of amazing support. The costumes were designed by myself for my line OHDEERGOD, and additional costuming by my best friend Jessie Ammons-Carswell who is also my make up and hair artist. I don´t know where I would be without Mary and Jessie honestly, those women are muses, and hard working in the name of art. The video is supposed to tease the audience, much like a bad habit teases your senses. I´m mostly silhouetted, and the bright and colorful shots are flashing in and out until the climax. There´s actually a story line that follows the theme, and the extra footage is being edited for my live visuals, and a remix video. More to come!
HHM: How did it feel to have MTV feature your video; seeing your music as Buzzworthy?
Very excited. I felt proud, and very motivated to keep going!
HHM: “NBC” and “MTV” aren’t exactly the worst acronyms to have attached to your name as a musician are they?
Thank you. It’s an honor to have them attached actually. I have been working very hard for a long time to get where I am. Hopefully more opportunities like that will present themselves as I continue onward!
HHM: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience on the production side of the industry?
I sort of grew up in a studio. It has always intrigued me, and collecting instruments is in my blood. There were always musical things to play with in my house, and at my fathers work (The Sound Museum) where I grew. After many years of recording with other producers, and experimenting with computer recording programs, I decided to take it further and record my own albums. I still work with other people in the studio like Anthony Resta, Taylor Barefoot, Karyadi Sutedja, and Eric Hart. My studio is a room with a hoarder like collection of synthesizers, and silly noise making toys. Music is my life, and the production of my songs is half of the songwriting process. Most of the time I start by recording melodies and synth loops, and write lyrics over a basic track. Other times I´ll come up with a hook or phrase while I´m doing normal things. I immediately record a memo on my iphone and save it for later. Sampling vocals and looping them to create drone like melodies is one of my favorite techniques. My go to toys are my Teenage Engineering OP1, my Suzuki Omnichord, my Korg Kaossilator, and my faithful Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano.
HHM: You seem to have quite the “passion for fashion” tell me about Casey Desmond the designer?
I was invited to play a fashion show years ago, and decided it’d be fun to make my own outfit for the occasion. I’ve never wanted to wear anything that wasn’t hand made by myself since. Eventually I started sewing my creations for special events, music videos, and promotional photos. I’ve since created under the name OHDEERGOD, and collaborated with my best friend/make up artist Jessie Ammons-Carswell. Now fashion, and art are a huge part of my direction, and style. This is great because it’s what I went to school for when I was younger, and sort of had to put on the back burner to focus on music.
HHM: Who are some of your favorite designers? And from where do you draw most of your inspiration with respect to design?
Pam Hogg, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Betsey Johnson, David Bowie and many many others. Most of my inspiration comes from life experiences, psychedelia, and my true feelings. Color, nature, and sexuality are big influences on me.
HHM: Final question before we wrap up: how the hell was it sharing the stage with The B52s?
It was a night I will never forget. I have loved them since I was a little girl. I feel lucky to have played with them.
HHM: And before we go, what is in the future for Casey Desmond?
Stay tuned for my upcoming single-music video release for Heartbeat, for a few remix videos, more crazy fashion, and a show with Andrew WK on April 18th!
Interview by Matt Crane – HHM
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FOR MORE INFORMATION: VISIT CASEY’S OFFICIAL WEBSITE