Written by Kelly Holm
Born in Miami and a force in the music business since 2005, Casely’s been around the block as an R&B artist. Though he didn’t make his professional debut until age 19, he’s worked crowds since he was old enough to walk— whether in the form of hamming it up for his kindergarten class or penning lyrics of love for his high school sweetheart.
“At a younger age, I knew I loved to sing, but [I was about] ten [when I] realized music can actually be a career that people do,” he said.
Influenced by Prince and Kanye West and schooled at the Berklee College of Music, Casely dropped his first two albums in 2005 and 2008, respectively. He remained active throughout the 2010s, releasing tracks like the “high-energy” “Sweat (feat. Lil John & Machel Montano)” and keeping a steady presence on YouTube.
Now, in 2020, he’s back in the game and preparing for the November release of The Mutt, an 8-song album, as well as releasing a brand-new stash of singles— or, rather, doubles.
“In April of this year I started releasing ‘Doubles’— two songs instead of one, because I feel like a better story can be told that way,” Casely shared. “Sometimes… they’re very different and represent different musical sides of me while other times the two are more sonically similar.”
The newest pair of songs, “Rude Boy Summer” and “Never Be Alone,” are seemingly polar opposites, both stylistically and chronologically. “Rude Boy Summer,” a fast-paced hip-hop/rap track featuring Braveboy, was written this year, while the anthemic ballad “Never Be Alone” was first composed nearly a decade ago. Both were released on July 10.
“In the middle of quarantine I sent the instrumental [for ‘Rude Boy Summer’] to Braveboy… with the thoughts of it being something I produced for him. He was pumped up when he heard the music and thought it would actually be cool for us to do together,” Casely said. “I’d say about ten minutes after sending him the track, he came back with his verse and chorus. It was crazy… I wrote my verse and then we were kind of in a holding pattern because of quarantine.”
Due to lockdown restrictions, Braveboy didn’t have access to a recording studio in his native Trinidad for several weeks. Luckily, Casely records himself at home, so after Braveboy sent over his vocals, Casely produced and mixed them for the final track.
“I think [the most important] thing [about] collaboration is being open and listening, leading with your ears and not your mouth,” he said of that experience. “Just like people have natural connections when they meet, so should be the case with collaboration in art. Listening and seeing if you’re on the same wavelength is important.”
“Never Be Alone,” meanwhile, was first written and recorded eight years ago, but it’s undergone a major makeover since then.
“I initially wrote the top line to an EDM beat, but then felt like the music needed to be more uplifting and emotionally charged, so I produced the music around my a cappella vocal,” Casely says. “[‘Never Be Alone’] was different than my usual workflow in that I was creating music around a finished song… I remember being really excited throughout the production. One of those where everything feels like serendipity.”
Casely loves jamming to modern artists like Ty Dolla $ign and Blanco White, and adores the sci-fi film Vanilla Sky. But one interest of his that you might not guess? He’s a classically trained pianist. Though his training is a world away from the genres he dabbles in now, it’s still taught him a lot about performance and discipline.
“The training is there in my toolbox, but it’s never the tool I reach for,” he says. “Fitting into the box that people thought I should be in, instead of representing all my influences [used to be a challenge]. Now that I’m sitting in the production and executive seat, I can express myself more freely… I think the best music out there transports you to a different zone no matter the mood you’re in.”
And, like all of us, Casely’s been forced to re-evaluate his plans in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Pre-COVID, my [ultimate goal was] headlining Coachella or Glastonbury… [or] a performance in front of 100,000 people with Dua Lipa in attendance,” he says. “Now, I’m really looking forward to performing some of these drive-in concerts on the horizon, and really connecting with as many people through my music as possible. These uncertain times haven’t slowed my step but rather accelerated it. The medium may have changed, but my goal hasn’t.”