You never know who you’re speaking to. Try not to take anyone for granted. You truly never know who can have a major impact on your life.
Miami-born and the son of Trinidadian and Panamanian parents, Casely has been featured by CNN, Rolling Stone India, MTV, BET Urban Magazine and Seventeen Magazine. Previously signed by Epic Records and Ultra Records, he’s recognized for his suave vocals and collaborations with Pitbull, Flo Rida and Rick Ross. As a multi-instrumentalist, his charming and effortless production and style of singing and songwriting are influenced by varied artists ranging from Prince and Michael Jackson, to Death Cab for Cutie and John Mayer.
Casely also attended Boston’s world-famous Berklee College of Music on a full-ride scholarship as a classically trained pianist. His national and international live performances include Miami’s Calle Ocho concerts, The Barbados Music Festival and a European concert tour.
Casely’s recently released album, The Mutt — A Palindromic Album, was designed to be listened to both forwards and backwards (1,2,3…8,7,6…) creating a different experience and emotional response for the listener, hence its title, “A Palindromic Album.” Stream it here.
Thank you so much for doing this with us, Casely! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thank you for having me!
I was born in Miami, FL in between two households (mom and dad). My father is Panamanian so that’s where I would be exposed to my Hispanic culture and my mom is Trinidadian so that is where my Caribbean heritage comes from. So in one house, I would hear a lot of salsa type music, and then at my mom’s, I remember weekly Saturday cleanings where Calypso was blasting through the house.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
For me, it’s always been clear that music is what I wanted to do. I would say I discovered my love for singing around age 5 or 6. I remember singing the National Anthem constantly. Then, when I realized what artists were at age 10, I knew I wanted to be a singer. I would always participate in the music programs at school whether it was chorus class or a community musical theatre program. Naturally, that led to recording which happened when I met Jason “J-Vibe” Farmer who is now a Grammy-winning producer. At the time he had just recently graduated. A few mutual friends connected us and I started my recording career in his home studio closet where we began to develop my recording skills as a young artist.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career as a musician?
That’s so difficult! There have been many interesting, odd, thrilling and at times depressing moments in my career. One of the memories I have is about recording Pitbull’s song “Midnight” with him. This was at a time before he became Mr. Worldwide but was already the legend Mr. 305. It was super exciting for me to be asked by him to do this song. Our mutual producers at the time, The Diaz Bros., connected us and we had a great working synergy. To this day, I have no idea where in Miami we were, but it was at his engineer’s house and I also recorded that chorus in his makeshift vocal booth closet!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn from that?
I went to Parkway Middle School, a magnet school for performing arts, so we would have various types of performances. I’ll never forget the duet I was singing with a friend of mine on stage — it was “All My Life” by K-Ci & Jojo, and I was singing the second verse. Lo and behold, I go up for the high note at the end of the verse and my voice gives out and cracks and was a pretty horrendous moment lol. Puberty is not always kind to us singers.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now/have worked on?
Certainly, the most interesting projects I’ve worked on have been with my band Casely and the Jank. I had been a solo artist for my entire career until forming the band so it was all new to me — the dynamics, the musicianship team, and what developed into a brotherhood. It was a transformative experience where I was exposed to many different genres and styles of guitar playing as we worked to establish our original genre of Jank music. This blended approach to music has stuck with me over the years and can be heard in my works today in The Mutt and ongoing.
Tell us about The Mutt — A Palindromic Album! Is this your first full-length album?
It is! Well, technically I released a full-length album when I was a teen called I’ll Be. This feels like the first for me though as a complete artist owning all of who I am, where I come from, and all of my influences. The Mutt represents not just my multi-cultural background and influences but also everyone out there who has a varied taste and loves to go against the grain. That may be fashion, or it may be music. I’m a Mutt for sure. The songwriting of this album also spans over a couple of years, although most were done in 2020. In July, I set up shop in a hotel for one night and sketched out the production and writing for three of the songs: “Airflow”, “You Know”, and “Kerosene”. It was an awesome process seeing what I could come up with giving myself the limitation of one night. I hope that through this album my fans are able to more deeply understand who I am, not just as an artist but as a human. I’m most vulnerable when it comes to the creation of my art so essentially what you see is what it is.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in music, film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think it’s important because the images we see as children have a lifelong effect on how we see the world. The more diversity the better, because I believe it will allow the racial lines to be blurred more and move us further away from where we’ve been recently as a society.
For example, when I would visit Trinidad growing up I would notice that the billboards looked different. They featured primarily darker-skinned and mixed-race individuals. This was very different from what I would experience in the U.S. I think the more we head into the direction of a diverse culture in the arts, the more it will benefit everyone.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. Focus on your craft. Nothing beats a master at their craft. Don’t be a jack of all trades and master at none.
2. Go out less. I’m a social butterfly but I know I would have been better off sacrificing a few more party nights to work on my goals.
3. Keep your long-term end goal in focus.
4. Be as aware as possible of what you feel anytime you are going through a difficult time. This specifically will lend itself to your writing and creating.
5. You never know who you’re speaking to. Try not to take anyone for granted. You truly never know who can have a major impact on your life.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in the music industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
It’s been recommended to me in the past so I want to share the same point. Switch up your environment. Remember, as a creative you need something to inspire that creation whether it’s an experience or location.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Own who you are! It’s liberating and you should celebrate who you are. Own your Mutt-ness!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I absolutely agree. There are people around me who would much rather stay behind the camera as opposed to be in the spotlight. They know that I’m grateful and I wouldn’t be the artist and person I am today without the generous amount of knowledge and perspective they’ve given me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Without the bitter — life isn’t as sweet.” — Vanilla Sky
This quote resonates with me because, as a pretty emotional and heart-on-my-sleeve type of person, I really have come to appreciate all of my relationships and where they’ve brought me as a person and a creative.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Yes, yes, yes. Snoh Alegraa. I adore her and love what she is doing with R&B music today. She reminds me of a new age Aaliyah and I’m excited to watch her journey and of course record with her! Make it happen Authority! 😀
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much, Casely! We wish you continued success!