TAKING us into the weekend...
is the fantastic Caswell. She has been telling me about her new E.P., Blindside. I ask if there is a favourite track from the collection and when music came into her life; how she views a very busy 2018 and what plans are coming up.
I wanted to know if there are going to be tour dates coming and which albums are most important to her; if there are particular artists we need to be aware of and who she’d support on the road given the chance – Caswell picks a great song to finish the interview on.
Hi, Caswell. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! Yes. All good, thanks. I had my hometown E.P. launch on Thursday and the E.P. release on Friday. Then, afterwards, typically got struck down with some form of spring lurgy. Now, I’m on a potent diet of ginger and lemon tea.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
So. I’m an independent London-born, Suffolk-based singer-songwriter with a killer live band and I guess I make what you’d call Alternative-Electro-Neo-Soul-Pop? Or something?
Stay the Night is your latest single. Is there a story behind it?
I wrote this when I was seventeen and, as I wasn't a hugely strong keys player, I found I'd spend hours trying to find inspiration on the piano but fall into the same limited chord progressions and get frustrated. I then went through a phase of writing over YouTube instrumentals and found one by The Weeknd that just fitted this dark/sexy/lonely vibe for Stay the Night. That was my first proper heartbreak song - so it’s always, always gonna be one that sticks.
The song is from your new E.P., Blindside. What inspired the songs and how does it differ from your debut E.P.?
So. I wanted to amp the energy up from my previous E.P. and make it more synth-heavy. I did a lot of my biggest shows last year and I just felt I needed some more high-energy tunes for the live set as I love getting the crowd hyped at a festival. During the writing of Blindside, I had also been playing with the band a little while and the production definitely translated this.
Is there a track from the E.P. that you favour/prefer above the rest?
I love Control just because it feels so raw and I get to go a bit mad with the vocal - and that’s super-fun to do live. There’s an anger in the song too and that’s something I’ve not really explored before.
2018 was a pretty busy one. What are your impressions of the year?
Yes, it was mad! The tour with Arlissa and playing Latitude were the best; I even got listed as a live highlight on the official Latitude website so that was another kind of crazy. I was also awarded the Women Make Music grant from the PRS which helped enable me to release this Blindside E.P. so massive love to them!
Do you remember when music came to you? Did you always grow up around different sounds?
So. I will forever hear the stories about how, at two, I would call myself ‘Madonna Spice’ (a merger of my two favourite acts, clearly); apparently I also took a shining to k.d. lang and Suzanne Vega as a toddler. I was always into music but weirdly a musical episode of Buffy I watched when around the age of ten inspired me to start writing! (Strange child). My mum is also a vinyl dealer so that doesn’t hurt.
Are there any ambitions for the rest of 2019 in terms of music and plans?
Absolutely. Next week I’m headed to Berlin for a week of sessions writing with BMG artists, so that’s very exciting! We’ve also got a jam-packed summer of live shows and festivals which are always the most fun.
Do you have a standout memory from your time in music so far?
Crying whilst singing my song, Brother, at an open mic at my local. It was an intense emotional experience.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Mama’s Gun by Erykah Badu
Memories of teenage years.
In Rainbows by Radiohead
Nostalgic, emotional perfection.
Grace by Jeff Buckley
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I think Tame Impala, just because I’ve seen the live set and I know how epic it would be! I was obscenely obsessed a few years back. For the rider, all I know is socks are a must (according to the band, a spare change is absolutely essential…)
What are your plans regarding gigs/touring?
So. I haven’t announced some stuff as of yet but it’s going to be my busiest summer yet by far, with returns to old favourites and ventures to new live territory. Keep them peeled.
Is the stage somewhere you love to be? How important is it being up there?
Absolutely. Although it wasn’t always that way. I had terrible nerves and a little but loud voice in my head telling me everyone was bored and I should finish the songs early. It took a lot of practice but that voice only makes very occasional appearances now - and I spend the majority of the shows having the time of my life with the support of my amazing band.
IN THIS PHOTO: KYLPSO/PHOTO CREDIT: Jordan Woods
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Finding life/work balance is such a constant struggle. I work a normal day job then music is a whole other life/job on top. I’m usually doing emails until 11 P.M. and there's not a day I switch off - but on the weekends I do definitely like to be social and enjoy a few cheeky bevs.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
After You’ve Gone - Nina Simone