Interview with Sam Casey
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
My parents have always told me that their love for all different types of music, combined with their mutual lack of musical ability, is the reason they enrolled all five children in piano lessons at a young age. In my opinion, it was an experiment to see if the musical genes had skipped a generation, as my grandfather was a beautiful piano player, and his siblings were all musically inclined. I guess the experiment proved fruitful, as the girls in the family each excelled at certain instruments or musical practices. Hannah, my oldest sibling/sister, became exceptional at the piano while Maggie, my younger sister, dove into musical theatre as her voice was far larger than her body, and her personality far older than her years. I was losing interest in piano quickly as theory had come into play and 9-year-old Sam had no interest in the circle of fifths. Our parents enrolled us at a small music school, Beyond the Beat, where I started guitar lessons. At this school each of our talents flourished; Hannah performed intricate piano pieces at recitals, Maggie performed Alicia Keys numbers and took part in Musical Theatre productions around Toronto, and I began songwriting and recording covers as part of an experimental project at the school. After a few formative years of musical experiences for each of us, my sisters moved away from music and into new interests. I focused on school, boys, friends, and music, and over time I realized that writing and performing were the places that I felt most …. me. For a while I thought that I needed to follow my sister and keep music as a hobby, I went to University, and had all those “life-changing experiences”, which were really just solving problems without the guidance of my parents, or their safety net. I knew the whole time that music was for me, I just wasn't brave enough to drop everything else and put my feelings on display until I had failed at things other than music. During my time at university, I realized that I wasn’t succeeding because there was no passion, I was mainly forcing myself to care. I was always enthralled when creating or performing music, so I decided that if I was gonna put my everything into something and still possibly fail, I wanted it to be something I really care about. If I did not make that leap I would most likely still be in university. I hope I would be studying religion, as I continue to educate myself on the different concepts and cultural practices surrounding religion.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I won’t lie, I like to party. I love the social buzz that you get at the bar or at a local party where you know everyone. I also have a completely mundane side that enjoys hanging out with significant others one on one and reading by myself while sitting with my dog. I pull a lot of inspo from personal experiences so going to concerts, travelling, and just letting plans run their course without trying to change them are big writing tools for me. I also love painting; similar to performing music, you can’t focus on anything else when you are painting, and that helps calm my anxiety.
How long have you been making music?
I started writing music at around 11 years old. Writing in my journal about my life and about stories that my parents told me. My music teacher (and first producer), David Mackenzie from Beyond the Beat, recorded some of my first originals along with covers of Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen songs. This experience kickstarted my music career and created a sense of personal confidence in my musical abilities from a young age. I owe most of my stage composure to those years at Beyond the Beat and a little to growing up the middle of five kids - i.e. relentlessly performing one-woman shows for my parents and their friends as a child to collect an extra ounce of serotonin
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based out of Toronto, Ontario in Canada. I believe, since I grew up in such a diverse city, exposed to so many different types and expressions of culture, that my concept of “genre” has been muddled over the years. I grew up liking all different kinds of music, and each of those genres from classical, to rap, to rock and roll, has influenced the music I make, specifically my instrumental and lyrical ideas.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
So far the most memorable show I have played would be the most recent show at The Garrison in the West end of Toronto. It was surreal to play my music and have people sing the lyrics back to me. The way people yelled the lyrics like they felt them as deeply as I do made my little heart explode.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favourite venue so far is The Drake Underground in Toronto’s West end. I would love to play the Velvet Underground or the Horseshoe in Toronto. I mean, to play the Hollywood Bowl would be a dream come true. I would also love to play the Budweiser stage in Toronto, and the Rogers Centre. Most of these are stadiums or amphitheatres so I would definitely need a MUCH bigger following…. Hopeful thinking I guess!
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I would literally die to play with Gayle. She is so cool. I think Gayle and 070 Shake. I would also pee and cry if I could at some point open for or even play in the presence of Miley Cyrus and/or Kid Cudi.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I would tell myself that It will take time, and to get comfortable saying the things that you feel but you’re not sure if you should say. I would also tell myself to freaking RELAX. The world is just gonna keep turning and things are going to happen or they’re not, we can only control our own actions and how we react to the way of the universe. There is only so much work you can put in and then you have to indulge in life and take care of yourself, your friends and your loved ones.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I believe “I’m F*cking Sam” is my favourite song to perform live and when it is released in the Fall it will be my favourite song on my discography. Writing that song was the first time I really felt in control of my image and my message, and it outlines a common experience among artists - I call it the “Lazy Line”.
Many people who do not understand or appreciate art find their importance and self-worth through the amount of time given to their jobs and outside affirmation from positions of authority. As an artist, those lines become fuzzy. If you are doing your job right as an artist there shouldn’t be anyone who has done exactly what you have done before, anyone who can offer your praise or advice. I think it is an artist's job to say, sing, or create the things that most people feel they can’t say or do - this takes a lot of time, effort, and emotional vulnerability, and in my opinion it can be more draining than a desk job. Furthermore, the only person who can truly praise an artist is themselves.
All of this is to say that “I’m F*cking Sam” is a song about embracing myself as my moral and creative guide through this musical journey. It is also a song that says “F*CK YOU” to the people who believe they are a gift to the universe by becoming another cog in the machine, let me make this simple for you, I ain’t shit, you ain’t shit, we’re all just doing our best.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I absolutely love opening a show with “I’m F*cking Sam” as it gets the crowd in the right kind of f*ck the system mindset that I love to perform in. Performing “Wiser Man”, which will be coming out in an EP that should be arriving before Spring 2023, is always a dream come true as I originally wrote that song when I was about 16 years old. I love that song and to imagine little Sammy watching me perform it makes me feel like I am making her proud and sticking to my true self.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
My process often leads to emotional breakdowns while writing. I tend to take lines from my journal entries and try to bring myself back into the headspace I was in when I wrote the entry. At times that can get dangerous as I tend to write the good, the bad, and the ugly in my journals. There are topics that I don’t want to write about, that I don’t want to even think about, yet I know it is my job as the artist to write for those who may be feeling the same way and don’t have anyone to relate to.
I remember going through one of the worst times in my life as a young adult, I felt so alone and alienated, like there was not a single soul that would understand just how angry and how weak I felt at the same time. During that time the universe gifted a Martha Wainwright song to me on my Spotify “Made for you” playlist. I swear to god that song saved my life. Not only did the song itself help me relate to Martha and feel like even if it was just her and I, at least someone understood, but it also helped me understand that my friends were my friends for a reason, they were like me, they totally related to the song and understood why I would as well. That song helped me take what was happening in stride, and showed me the healing powers of music. This is what inspired me to make music my career. I wanted other people to have at least ONE person who gets it and isn’t afraid to talk about it. I strive to be someone that people can rely on, to tell the truth, to say the hard or weird things, and embarrass myself if need be for people to feel like they have someone who truly understands.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I try to tell the truth in my music. As a young teenager, I enjoyed writing these emotional songs with secret meanings that the audience had to decipher for themselves, and while that type of music is still so intriguing to me, as an adult I realized I was done beating around the bush. I wanted to be able to say exactly what I was feeling, whether that is me recognizing I can be a “stupid b*tch” sometimes, or that I can overreact in fights and am way to proud to apologize first, whether it is the fact that every person in power I have met so far in this industry is a guy, or that although I love my body and support any way a person wants to express themselves I don’t feel the need to look pretty or sexy all the time, because I’m not pretty and sexy all the time, whatever it is, I want it to be honest. I also want to mention that I love writing about the good times as well, people need to find company in the bad but they should also try to feed off the good. Music can alter emotions and when I sing about the good times I want people to feel a good energy and let it change their moods.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I am so excited for the next few months of my music journey. We have a few releases coming out in the fall that I’ve been performing live and are clear favourites of the crowd so I am so excited to party with Bacardi when those are released. I am performing at The Garrison on October 13th with John Orpheus and AlexExists… It should be an amazing show!! More details on that show will be available through my Instagram or website throughout the next few weeks!
How can your fans best keep up to date with you any socials you want people to check out?
I am active on Instagram “@itsmesamcasey” and my website features news about shows and new releases!