Casey Desmond is probably a name you have heard more than once this year, especially if you watched “The Voice”. The Boston native was a part of Adam Levine’s team, which also consisted of “The Voice” winner, Javier Colon. Unfortunately, the singer, songwriter and musician was sent home by Levine after she battled teammate, Jeff Jenkins, on Elton John’s “Don’t Let Sun Go Down On Me”. You only temporarily had to say goodbye to Desmond that night in May because in 2012, she will be releasing a new studio album.
Yes, Desmond will frequently be associated with “The Voice”, but her 2012 album will also showcase her game-shifting sound abilities as an artist. Throughout the 2000s, she dabbled in the idie rock and indie pop genres with her 2005 debut and self-titled album, her 2007 album, “No Disguise”and her 2008 EP, “Chilly Allston”. Moving from rock to pop was an authentic transition for Desmond and appeared to be a new way for her to communicate her originality to listeners.
Her switch to the world of electro also illustrates her adaptable music talent because once again, her adjustment is genuine and in her nature. Desmond’s latest single, “Talking to God”, is a positively quirky track with its whimsical beat and bouncy vocals. To a listener, the song could be an out-of-the-box track, but Desmond is able to stuff its sound elements in her own box, broadening her skills as an artist. Complementing her funky music, Desmond drapes herself in brightly colored attire and dons David Bowie facial accessories. A former music chameleon, Desmond has finally found her a home within the neon-electro walls.
Check out the interview below with Desmond, as she discusses her evolving instrumental sounds, lyrics and fashion style as well as her experience on “The Voice” and her plans in 2012.
How did having parents as musicians affect your own career?
A lot, actually because my parents not only brought me up in music, but my father runs a rehearsal complex in Boston at the Sound Museum. So, I grew up around a bunch of musicians, which was very inspiring. I got to hear lots of eclectic stuff. It was also inspiring to see my mom and dad doing both of their performances. They were very theatrical too and dressed in costumes. Everything was always a big production. I was blown away by them when I was a kid.
What are some artists that have influenced you growing up?
When I was young, I listened to most of the stuff they [parents] listened too and the local bands that I heard, too. So, I have a lot of local influence and then David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Annie Lenox, Cyndi Lauper….
The sound on your debut in 2005 is much different than that of your new single, “Talking to God”. Have you intentionally changed your sound?
Yes, well kind of a little bit of both. I always really loved electro music, but I didn’t really have the means to it when I was younger. I worked with all different kinds of people and that kind of helped manipulate my sound. As I got older, I started producing stuff by myself and with my guitarist, Taylor, things started to go my way completely, instead of influence here and influence there. When I was younger, it was just me and the guitar. Now, I have a room full of crazy toys and synthesizers.
And your lyrics? Have they changed as well?
I feel like my lyrics used to be a little bit more poetic. When I was really young, I used to love to write poetry and sometimes that got converted into lyrics. It just worked better with acoustic music. Sometimes now, I will write a track inspired by a crazy sounding synthesizer and the words mold themselves around the rhythm. It’s weird; I can’t really explain it….
And your fashion style? How has that evolved since your debut?
When I did acoustic music, I kind of dressed a little bit more hippie and organic, but from the beginning, I always liked creepy and freaky clothes. When I was really young, even before that, I was punky and shaved the side of my head. I would do green and purple hair. When I was in 6th grade, I started dying my hair red…
What color is your hair naturally?
It is like dirty blonde. Now, I am a cherry red!
Moving on to your upcoming album, any news about it?
It’s a 12 track, new album, coming up in the beginning of the year, end of January or early February, I am aiming for. Every time I get to the very end, I am like, “Oh wait! Just one more little detail.” So, I am in that process now and also, lining up everything. I am trying to put together shows and stuff to promote it. It’s really crazy. It is mostly electronic dance, but with really strange sounds and experimental noises in the background.
How does the process work with making these beats?
If I don’t come up with an idea vocally first then I’ll play around on a drum machine or a synth and I’ll be like, “Oh that’s a cool melody”. I’ll track it then I will want to track something on top of it. I’ll just play around with that for hours and then organize it to make an actual structured song out of it. I’ll listen to it a bunch until words come to me. That’s kind of the process.
Does the album have an overall lyrical theme?
It’s an album that is very sexual. It has a lot to do with human necessities, like sex, lust, love, heartbreak and stuff like that. But then there are also a couple of songs that go out of that realm and are a little bit creepier. I have a song about a murder. It’s a song about people who are manipulated by society and who’s to blame, the person or their influences. I am the narrator singing to the person.
Do you think your experience on “The Voice” influenced your upcoming album?
Not really because I wrote most of this album before “The Voice” and then I was doing a music video and I was almost done with it, but I hadn’t edited it. Then I think I wrote two or three more songs on top of that after “The Voice”. Honestly, being on “The Voice” Inspired me to promote and really work my butt off.
It jump-started your career?
Yah, it kind of gave me like another push, but it was kind of there before too.
With the New Year coming up, what would be your favorite moment of 2011?
The most random, crazy and awesome experience was being on “The Voice”, especially my battle round with Jeff [Jenkins].
When you sang Elton John’s “Don’t Let Sun Go Down On Me”?
Yes, he was such a cool dude and we got along so well. Even though we were battling each other, we were really good friends. We went out there and we were like “Dude, let’s just knock them dead.” It was amazing. I wasn’t nervous for that one, but I was really nervous for the first one.
Do you still keep in touch with the other “Voice” contestants?
Yes, we still text each other. I play “words with friends” with Javier [Colon]. I’ll send little voice messages to Beverly [McClellan] and Nakia. I am hoping I can go and visit some of them in L.A. and in Austin.
Awesome! Do you know your resolution for 2012?
I actually hadn’t thought about it until now, but I have been wanting to work on relaxing more and not spend every waking hour on my career.
What do you do to relax? Listen to music? [Laughter]
I’ll sit down play with a synthesizer or I’ll make an outfit. I just need to find something that even if it is the same kind of thing musically or artistically that I do, it is just for personal pleasure and it’s just to take the edge off and relax me. That’s my goal for the upcoming year because I am going to work my butt off this year. I just want to make sure I don’t go crazy.
What’s your plan after the album drops?
I am going to tour and I really want to make another wild music video because I got to make one in 2011 for “Talking to God”. I want to get another video, do a really solid photo shoot for the album and promote it.
Are you going to watch the second season of “The Voice”?
I am sure you get this question a lot, but how was it working with Adam Levine?
Adam is a really nice guy and I wish I could spend more hang out time with him. He was handsome! So, that was that. He seemed really cool; he wasn’t a fake person. He is who he is and he wore it on himself.
To wrap up, do you see your sound changing in the future? Or is the electronica genre where you want to be?
I am very happy where I am, but it doesn’t mean that I don’t want to work with other producers and other people in the future!
by Lonnie Nemiroff