"People will put up with all kinds of things because they don't want to be by themselves": Caswell on her new single 'Everyone Knows'
Caswell has honed herself a signature sound: downtempo electronic soul and pop mixed with a tangible jazz influence
Hailing from Tulse Hill, South London, fast-rising singer/songwriter Caswell grew up surrounded by music. Armed with her first microphone at just two years of age, she subsequently taught herself the piano and began to formally study music.
Drawing from her influencers such as Kate Bush, Jeff Buckley and Nina Simone, to Bjork and Erykah Badu, Caswell has honed herself a signature sound: downtempo electronic soul and pop mixed with a tangible jazz influence. Caswell kicked off 2017 with her debut EP 'The Shadow Aspect' a body of work that explored the many facets of her inspirations in jazz, soul and pop.
Now, with 500k+ streams under her belt, Caswell is all set to bring more new music into 2018 with a string of UK live festival dates on her roster.
Last week, she dropped her brand new single 'Everyone Knows,' a brooding melancholy ballad, transforms into a cacophony of side-chain synths, beats and percussion by the way of verses littered with a twisted vocal sample and old school Disney-style vibes.
I caught up with Caswell to discuss the new single, her extremely early exposure to music, influences, musical tastes, songwriting process and her take on the streaming era among other things. Read the full interview below:
Meaww: What’s the story behind the name of your latest single 'Everyone Knows'?
Caswell: 'Everyone Knows' is my look into what as a society we expect from relationships and what is expected of us within relationships. The idea of this collective expectation is a result of social pressures and an illusion of perfection portrayed by the media and Hollywood, which also means people hold their own experiences and other halves to an impossible standard which can't be met.
Meaww: Can we have a quick breakdown of what the song means to you?
Caswell: I wrote 'Everyone Knows' as I was kind of disillusioned with the idea of relationships. I've felt that myself in the past and others around me would rather be with someone even if it's not the right someone, and often to the detriment of their own happiness. People will put up with all kinds of things because they don't want to be by themselves, so in this song, the protagonist asks their partner to continue on and settle down within a dissatisfied relationship because to be alone is, of course, a much worse fate.
Meaww: When did you first start performing?
Caswell: My mum always tells me that as a two-year-old I watched Madonna's tour on VCR repeatedly with a pink plastic microphone in hand. For as long as I can remember as a child I was creating my own scripts, writing songs to perform in the playground, attending acting classes etc. It's always been an interest of mine in some shape or form.
Meaww: Who are your biggest influences?
Caswell: I'd have to say Kate Bush, Nina Simone, Devendra Banhart, Bjork, Erykah Badu, Tori Amos, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Tame Impala, Frank Ocean, Billie Holiday and Susanne Sundfor.
Meaww: What kind of music do you like listening to? Can we have a link to a playlist/mixtape that you particularly enjoy?
I listen to a bit of a random mix of stuff, at the moment I'm really into lo-fi dream pop so I downloaded this playlist on Spotify:
Meaww: If you had to pick just one artist/band that you would like to collaborate with in the near future, who would it be?
Caswell: Kevin Parker of Tame Impala for sure! I've played 'Currents' to death, it's one of those albums you wish you'd written.
Meaww: Who produced the single? What was it like in the studio during the production?
Caswell: Hugh Fothergill produced 'Everyone Knows'. We've been working very closely for a few years now and he worked on my previous releases including my debut EP I put out at the end of 2017 called 'The Shadow Aspect'. With my new single, it was actually a very straight forward recording process. The track didn't need too much and it came together really quickly. Most of the focus is on the piano and vocal as I wanted the lyrics to stand on their own, but all of Hugh's additional elements add a weirdness that takes it away from that standard 'female vocal piano ballad' vibe.
Meaww: If you had to pick one favorite among all your tracks to date, which one would it be and why?
Caswell: It would have to be 'Brother' just because it's so personal, I connect with it on another level. It's the only song that's ever made me cry whilst performing!
Meaww: Any new artists that you’ve been working with or plan to collaborate with?
Caswell: I've been working with writer/producer David Sugar and we've got a few really exciting tracks, one of which will be my next release in July. It's a cool summer tune so can't wait to play it live, with the band, at a festival. Yes!
Meaww: What were some of the challenges and the greatest challenge that you faced while recording your music?
Caswell: I was never the most confident person, and I struggled a lot with feeling inadequate when it came to music. So I found it really hard to write or ever finish a song because my critical brain was so harsh. Which in some sense was weird because when I was a kid I never had those kinds of inhibitions! It's funny how you become more self-aware as an adult, and I just found that with time and a lot of practice I was able to push through it.
Meaww: Vinyl or digital? What’s your preferred format and why?
Caswell: My Mum's a record dealer so we always have boxes of second-hand vinyl coming through the house that she has to audio test. I find so many 'new' old artists that way, it's amazing! Plus, I get first dibs so no complaints there. I much prefer the sound especially when listening to older artists who were recorded on analog, it gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.
Meaww: What do you think about music streaming? Do you think it’s helpful or harmful for up and coming artists?
Caswell: I think music streaming is amazing for new and unsigned artists, it makes the chances of discovery to a wider audience a lot more obtainable than before when everything was being put out by labels.
Meaww: Any plans of touring soon?
Caswell: No imminent touring plans but I would love love to support someone on tour again. Opening for Arlissa was so much fun and a great way of connecting with new fans. It's so nice to do it authentically and not have to rely so much on social media.
Meaww: What can we expect next?
Caswell: I'll be putting out a live video of 'Everyone Knows' with the band within the next week so keep a look out for that. And as I previously mentioned I have a new single due for release early July ahead of my performance at Latitude Festival which I can't wait for! A second EP is on the way, too, and I should be getting it pressed on vinyl which is a dream! Exciting times.