Interview with Irish Electro-Pop Queen Caz9!
Interview by Leanne Brady
We are super excited to share our Interview with the wonderful Caz and her exclusive H&G mix! Caz will be playing at our Tall Tales-In The Company of Wolves Halloween event, that will be happening on the 29th of October and we can’t wait to see her! Each week we will be releasing exclusive interviews with artists leading up to the event. Keep an eye out and enjoy the mix!
Where did it all start, when did you begin making music?
I was born in London, growing up my mum had a huge record collection, loads of Michael Jackson, Grace Jones and Tina Turner, all the best stuff! Totally random – I was signed to Sylvia Youngs Stage school when I was about 4, so I guess I was used to performing. I remember begging my mum for a little piano (it was a real piano just tiny, I wish I still had it!). I made up my own little tunes and eventually got classical lessons, and started writing properly at about 11, really cringy and melodramatic ballads, too many to count!
When I was about 13 I discovered Joni Mitchell Blue on vinyl and on a trip to visit my Dad in Kentucky he bought me an acoustic Takamine guitar that still sits in my room wherever I go. I’ve written hundreds of songs with it, and it’s the one thing I would save in a fire…..well, I might save my laptop now too now that I think about it!
After that I just fell deeper in love with music, and was a folky singer-songwriter for almost ten years, playing small gigs and writing loads. Writing songs is a really cathartic thing for me, and I def would have struggled without it. I always write lyrics by hand and keep all shapes and sizes of copy-books and scraps of paper full of lyrics, doodles, and words.
When and why did you make the decision to start producing?
I guess I gotta go back a little to tell that story. When I was 21 I went to Ballyfermot Rock School, formed a stoner-rock band, dropped out, and played music with them for about 5 years. It was a crazy wonderful time. We sometimes played five gigs in one weekend, back in the beginning of the Sweeneys days. I loved the music I was able to create with the guys in the band, but I think I always knew it wasn’t really me. I’m a massive pop tart at heart, and I love feel-good vibes. The band was pretty serious and dark musically, I didn’t have much control and pushed myself to sing the way I thought I should. It eventually forced me to stop singing for 2 years.
We were on the edge of a record deal, but when the recession hit Universal pulled out of signing us, and we all just went on to do other things. I even went to work in a bank and then did sales, which now feels like an alternate universe! Two years ago I quit my job and decided to leap into music again. I think producing was like musical therapy for me. Growing up, it never even occurred to me to start exploring production or sound, anything technical somehow felt like it was only reserved for dudes. I’d never met a female dj, producer or engineer until my mid to late 20’s. I kinda felt like I took a break from music, came back and suddenly there were all these amazing female producers creating music, and some of them were using Ableton. I was so determined to have complete control of my music that I started teaching myself the software, then I got a few lessons and before I knew it I was launching my debut EP.
We love the visuals from your EP and the title ‘Phase II’! what are the inspirations behind these?
Aw, thanks a million! I’m really chuffed you like them! In many ways, Phase II is a diary of a certain part of my life. I came out of a long-term relationship, hit Dublin like a freight train, then fell in love and starting making music again. Each one of the tracks is me going through different parts of all that processing. It’s called Phase II because in my mind phase I of becoming happy again was making all the decisions to try, and Phase II was actually doing it – making music. There are elements of dream-like states dotted through the tracks (especially Want To Wake) and I wanted the visuals to reflect that……and with that, I guess it’s time to confess I’m a big space-nerd! I’ve always been fascinated with science and the universe, and I like to think that in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter what we do with our lives, so we might as well enjoy them and do something we love! Releasing my first EP independently was such a journey, and I wanted the imagery of the project to glow with warm starry galaxies. We’re all made of star stuff after all!
Can you tell us about your creative process, where do you draw inspiration from/ motivate yourself?
It’s funny, I think when I started writing music again I thought my process would be the same as it was when I wrote with the guitar. When I write with an instrument first, usually I sit down with words that have just come to me and mess around with chords until I can hear a vocal melody. The song usually just unfolds, and words and changes come to me as I play. Writing with software has become a different experience. Most of the time I sit down to write with a mood, some way that I’m feeling, and start by building a drum track. Then I listen to it and start to hear different instruments, chords, melodies, and I build loops and play them back in different combinations. By then I know what the song is about and I record some ad lib vocal, listen back and find bits I like, then build on them. It sort of feels like my process has been flipped upside down! But I find it much more liberating. I’m not a slave to pre-written lyrics, I can let the music talk to me instead.
Lyrically, I’m always writing about something that’s true to me, whether it’s a memory that I’m drawing from or something more immediate that is bugging me, like Boss Lady. That song just poured out of me one night early on when I was first learning Ableton, and was a real fuck you to my ex, saying the things I never thought I’d be able to. Having said that, I later re-wrote the verses because when I’d calmed down a bit it was a little too angry! Inspiration can come from anywhere, but I almost always attach that to myself in someway, for example, Running came about because a friend of mine had an issue with her other half that reminded me of my last relationship and ‘you got me running’ just popped into my head, and I took it from there.
What has been your favorite gig so far and why?
There’s been so many!!! I’ll have to pick two because they were both so awesome in different ways. The first one was the first time Hiatus Kaiyote came to Dublin, they played at the Sugar Club and it was packed. The energy was absolutely electric! Nai Palm has a presence and talent that is mesmerizing, and so inspiring for me at the time. I remember looking up at them playing all these silky and complex grooves and just thinking, someday soon you’ll be playing with a band again, and playing guitar again. At the time, I was just starting to get my confidence back, and I came out of that gig feeling like anything is possible just from the pure joy they exuded during their performance.
Last year at EP I saw LCD Soundsystem for the first time. It was unreal. I usually can’t stand the main stage after dark as I’m short and get jostled all over the gaff, but thought it was totally full of people, everyone was so into the music, being really lovely and considerate of each other and just singing at the top of their lungs. The band setup was really unusual, they all play in the center of the massive stage so they’re right beside each other, and I realized how weird it must be to be separated from each other on those big festival stages. It’s so important to be able to buzz with each other when you’re playing in a band, and the energy you could feel from them enjoying the show was just euphoric. I’ll never forget it! The whole crowd singing ‘where are my friends tonight?!’
Can you tell us about any upcoming gigs we can catch you at?
Sure thing! I’m just back from The Electric Picnic where I performed at The Village Hall which was great fun. Next, I’m playing with the awesome No More Questions at The Generator in Smithfield on the 14th of September, and then I’m supporting a good friend of mine, an amazing musician, Robert Delaney for his album launch on the 29th of September in the Bello Bar. I’m also playing Canalaphonic with my band ‘The Cazettes’, so I’m really pumped to be playing the EP with live drums, guitar, and bass. I’ll be trying out some new material so should be interesting!
Have you been to an H&G event before/ tell us about it!
Would you believe I’ve tried to come to a few events but each time I got booked for some sort of gig! I really wanted to come to All Fur No Knickers, my mum has some awesome vintage dress-up clothes but I was foiled at the last minute! Black Glitter looked amazing, and a few friends of mine ended up going, they had an absolute ball. I’m so looking forward to this event, to perform as well as check out the other amazing acts is going to be such a treat. Plus, it’s on my birthday, so I’ll be ready to celebrate 😉 <3