Casey Holford Q&A
Casey Holford is a singer/songwriter currently based in NYC. Casey is loosely affiliated to NYs eclectic AntiFolk scene & has just released his 2cnd LP, Good Spell Bad Spell. Jean Encoule, never one to pass up the chance of a free cyber vacation to the Big Apple, recently returned via Virgin Atlantic with a one of our annoyingly simple Q&A style thangs completed under laboratory conditions by the man himself. Brothers & Sisters, may we introduce you to...Casey Holford:
trakMARX - You taught yourself to play on yr. mum's classical guitar with a string missing! Which string was missing? Did you discover any new chords
because of it? How long did it take you to learn how to change a string?
Casey - It was the high E that was missing. It was a great thing to start out with five strings, because it freed me up right away from the notion that you have to play guitar the right way in order for it to be good. I dropped the low E to D and started making weird chords mostly with my thumb and index finger. I didnt put on the E string till a month or two later. Then I found out what the chords I was playing were called.
trakMARX - You began stalking the boards in Boston with yr. homemade songs, aged 14. That must have taken some big balls for a young guy. How did those
early shows go down?
Casey - The early shows were an intense experience for me and whoever was listening, I think mostly because I was still getting a handle on performing and writing songs. I was a lot less mellow then, because I had a lot more angst that had been waiting all that time to come out. So I had to get it out, and people were subject to the results for a while. Now, fortunately, I respect my audience a little more and try to give them some ups with the downs. But whats the same is Ive always loved, loved playing on stage. I started performing songs the same time I started writing songs, so to me theyre one thing.
trakMARX - What brought you to NYC & when did you arrive?
Casey - I came to NYC to play music, basically. But I had other reasons. My brother, Matt, who has a great band, lives in Brooklyn, so I had the pull of family. And I also studied film in school and wanted to pursue that. Unfortunately I moved here on September 9 of 2001 and thereafter the best job I could find for a while was temping in the tax department of an investment bank. Now Im
doing a little better jobwise, as I work in a music studio in Chelsea. But Id still be here regardless, because musically theres no better place for me, and I have some amazing, brilliant friends who keep me going.
trakMARX - At what stage did you become aware of the "antifolk" scene?
Hmm. I guess I went to my first Antihootenanny at the Sidewalk Café last November. Thats when I got my first look at the scene. I saw Diane Cluck,
Paleface, Cockroach, Major Matt, and a host of others. That Saturday I went to see Diane play a show. Since then Ive been going to as many shows as I can within the scene, sometimes 4 or 5 nights a week.
trakMARX - What is it about the aesthetic behind "antifolk" that attracts such disparate performers?
Casey - I think Antifolk, sort of like the larger Punk ethos, has a kind of musical dissent to it that is really attractive to anyone whos ever wondered why
theres so much garbage on the radio and so much candy on TV. Thats just my theory. I think punk, as so many people have said, is about asking why at all important junctions in ones creative, social, political life. Antifolk ideally is a division of that, to me. It asks why songs, words, and emotions have to be slick and neat and have pedal steel or synth strings to be listenable. But we have disparate sounds because its not any one sound people agree on, its the idea that there are a lot of sounds out there people are missing because their dials are set to listen to well-packaged mediocre music, at the expense of brilliant music thats rough at the edges.
trakMARX - Olive Juice have a very poignant slogan: "Fewer compromises, fewer regrets". Is that a sentiment you can get behind?
Casey - Definitely. Olive Juice is awesome. Its such a great and true slogan, man. Id be nowhere as a musician if I didnt believe that.
trakMARX - Who are your personal contemporary favourites amongst yr. fellow scenesters?
Casey - Wow. In the Scene? Tough one. There are so many people. Jenn Lindsay is a constant inspiration for me. Ive been playing guitar with Yoko Kikuchi, and shes totally awesome. So many peoples music has affected me greatly, Dave Deporis, Diane, Knot Pinebox, Danny Kelly, Chris Maher, Regina Spektor. So many others, maybe too many. Well, maybe not.
trakMARX - "Bad Spell, Good Spell" is your second long player. Tell us about the first & what improvements you feel you've addressed between the two.
Casey - I think this new one is more of an album. The first one was You and Me and Ex and I really like some of the songs on there, but it was more of just a collection than an album. I also recorded that by myself, and it suffered some for that, I guess. But its an important document to me, just me and guitar. BSGS is the result of a years worth of writing and thinking and working, banging this stuff out with Scott Mann at Bus Driver Studio,
soliciting the great help of my brother Matts keyboard expertise, and Jenns awesome vocals (see next question), as well as my own additions of
bass and drums and slide. Because of the layers of work and the sort of story the album tells, its a more important CD to me.
trakMARX - "Bad Spell, Good Spell" features the voice of Jenn Lindsay. She's very reminiscent of a young Joni Mitchell, don't you think (at this point it should be worth mentioning that we have been waiting some time now for Little Big Mouth's review of Jenn's own LP - if your reading this, LBM, yr.
way past late - ever heard of a deadline??)?
Casey - Jenn does have whispers of Joni in her voice, for sure, as has been said (since OJ called her The Joni M. of Anti). I think she transcends the comparison though; she has a very unique timbre and resonance of her own, which certainly helps out the two songs of mine she sings on.
trakMARX - Your material has a maturity that belies yr. tender years. Where does yr. inspiration come from?
Casey - Wow. Thanks. But, another tough question. I think my inspiration comes from the normal human places where I work, who I meet, what I read, what happens in my head when I sleep. Maybe what makes it different than the average 24 year olds observations is that I love to play with words and
find out different and more personal ways to talk about what I see. My brain just cuts things up in my head all day long and then sometimes at the end of the day what comes out my mouth and hands is surprising and rewarding. My guitar playing is kind of the same thing I cut up what Ive heard and
stick it back together in a way that makes more sense to me.
trakMARX - Personally, I can here nods to Richard Buckner & splashes of Jeff Buckley around the shores - do either of these artists find space on yr. CD shelf?
Casey - Well, I certainly went through a big Jeff Buckley phase. I used to get compared to him quite a bit, because of falsetto and guitar playing mostly. I still love Jeff Buckley, I mean, thank god he came along and got his two bits in. Richard Buckner is relatively new to me, but I love his voice, and he is a great meld to me of edgy indie tendencies and more folky stuff like Richard Shindell and John Gorka. Were similar in that respect.
trakMARX - "Antifolk" & the more introspective corners of the alt.co scene appear to have much in common. Are they both just reflections of a common
Casey - Admittedly, I have a solid familiarity with only the outer edges of that scene, like Uncle Tupelo, so Im not up to date necessarily. But since that sound had a big impact on me in my teen years, Id have to say that Antifolk is a parallel event not an antecedent or a result. I dont know what the common cause would be, except maybe what I said about Buckner, to push forward in rock and folk and still link to the past. Like the title of that compilation, New Sounds of the Old West. I guess were more New words for the old singalongs, or something to that effect.
trakMARX - In a perfect world, what route would Casey Holford's career path follow?
Casey - Well, like most people here, I just want to be able to quit my job and play a lot of music instead. Im pursuing that end, with this new CD. Its not an
uncommon thing, I guess, but that doesnt make it easy. I want to stay Indie, because thats what I love. Ive been reading so many books about the
history of Indie Rock and seeing so much real time re-enactment of those stories in my life and the lives of my friends, that I know that Im on the
path. Its just a long goddamn path.
trakMARX - What new LPs did you enjoy in 2002?
Casey - Hmm:
Darediablo Bedtime Stories.
Totally heavy brilliant brain-crunching
Jenn Lindsay Gotta Lotta.
Awesome document about the New York experience
and a wonderfully produced (MMM) and written bunch of songs.
Diane Cluck Macys Day Bird. Another very different sort of document but to a similar end. This album is its own world.
Fugazi The Argument.
Wow! Such a fresh and innovative album from such a
Ida Ten Small Paces.
This is old but new to me. Awesome soothing
collection of songs from a true-blue indie.
trakMARX - Any you'd like to recommend to our readers?
Casey - Id recommend the above, highly. Plus older stuff: Van Morrison, Astral Weeks; Elliott Smith, Roman Candle; REM, Reckoning.
trakMARX - What was your new year's resolution & do you have any hope of maintaining it?
My resolution was as always to be more honest, and I think I have a hope of achieving thatun. Also new to this year, is to try and take better care of
myself than the city does. You tend to do a spiral down in terms of health here, too many smokey bars and late nights and worries (the looks or the lifestyle, is how old mates PWEI used to put it - History Ed.). I am trying to turn that around a little because I dont want it to take its toll.
trakMARX - What does 2003 hold in store for Casey Holford?
A lot more shows! Probably including a bunch of colleges and the West Coast, and maybe (who knows) even across the pond. A lot more songs! Im planning to write another album and get it out. A lot more food! Mmmmm.
God Spell, Bad Spell is available now help Casey buy food!
Jean Encoule www.trakMARX.com - Jan 2003