To say Casey Buckley grew up fast would be an understatement. Graduating university at age 20, he faced what seemed to be an impossible pursuit: to fully develop as an artist amidst the harsh reality of student loans in an uncertain economy. Not one to be deterred by a challenge, Casey forged ahead on this dichotomous path. Trading in his briefcase for a guitar each evening, he has spent equal time honing his craft both in the boardroom and on stage. We had the pleasure of interviewing Casey about his songwriting process and here is that interview.
BTS: What was the reason you started writing songs?
Casey: I’ve been writing poetry my whole life. I’ve also played music my whole life – starting with piano and violin at an early age. The shift to writing songs was really a natural combination of these two pastimes. As far as what drove me to write poetry, music, or what keeps me writing to this day – it’s to memorialize and communicate some mood or feeling. It allows me to separate a situation or thought from myself and let it exist on its own. Not only does it add permanence but also eases sharing it with others.
BTS: What was the name and subject of your first song?
Casey: I honestly can’t remember – an early one was called ‘Cold Front’ and was about a friend who had a bit of a rough winter. The song was letting her know everything was about to get better and her mood would warm up with the passing season.
BTS: What is the subject of your most current song?
Casey: The last song I wrote focuses on the balancing act of helping someone you care about through a tough time. There’s a fine line between being available and being overbearing – sometimes it can be difficult to navigate that situation.
BTS: Where do you derive inspiration from? i.e., art, music, movies, life, etc.
Casey: I primarily derive inspiration from life. Occasionally a work of art (visual, music, movie, etc.) can remind me of reality – but I always write from personal experience.
BTS: Who were your musical influences in the beginning of your songwriting?
BTS: Who are your musical influences now? i.e., current artists, singer-songwriters.
Casey: The above artists continue to inspire me – I especially enjoy listening to their latest work in the context of what they’ve written in the past. I like to view a songwriter’s career in its entirety. Just as an individual album tells a story, so do a series of albums. I listen a lot of music, but some recent influences (past few years) include, in no particular order: Jason Isbell, Ryan Adams, Kacey Musgraves, Dawes, Diane Birch, Rayland Baxter, Ed Sheeran, John Fullbright, Ryan Bingham, Glen Hansard…I could keep going on…
BTS: Do you have a method of writing, place, vibe, setting, instrument you prefer to write on? And why?
Casey: I like writing alone and in dim lighting. My basement tends to be a pretty reliable spot. The less you overload the senses, the more you can focus on the task at hand – writing the song. I definitely need it to be absolutely quiet – songwriting is one of the few times where I can’t deal with extraneous noise. White noise is fine though (crickets, rain, etc.) As far as instrument, I’d say guitar – really just because I’ve written more songs on guitar than any other instrument.
BTS: What elements do you think contribute to making a great song?
Casey: The song must be true to itself. Some songs are deep, some aren’t. Some are sad, some are uplifting. I believe that an authentic song can come in many forms – as long as it’s not trying to be something it isn’t.
BTS: How do you push past writer’s block?
Casey: If it’s writer’s block for a particular song, I’ll just start working on another song. Sometimes I just need to switch instruments. If it’s really bad writer’s block, I’ll just walk away altogether and do something other than music. Writer’s block never lasts forever.
BTS: What would be your advice to any beginning songwriter trying to make their way and trying to express themselves musically?
Casey: Write as much as you can, but make each song count. Then play your songs for as many different people as possibly in as many different settings as possible. You’ll know when your songs are finally getting through to them.
Connect with him on his website: www.CaseyBuckley.com/
Also on Facebook: Casey Buckley Facebook Page
And on Twitter: @CaseyBuckley