HomeEF CountryInterview: Casi Joy talks about new album 'Miles and Maybes', anxiety and...

Interview: Casi Joy talks about new album ‘Miles and Maybes’, anxiety and the worst date she ever went on

Casi Joy, ex Radio Disney teen performer and The Voice alumni, releases her terrific new album, ‘Miles and Maybes’ on Friday March 31st. It’s full of sharp lyrics and infectious melodies. For anyone into strong female Country music, from the 90s right up to modern day Carly Pearce style vibes, ‘Miles and Maybes’ is a must-listen.

Casi began her music career touring the midwest in the country opry circuit at the age of 5. After years of performing country classics, she was spotted and signed by Radio Disney at the age of 14. Shortly after, she took her music to Nashville, where she recorded at legendary RCA Studios.

Alongside her music, Joy is an advocate for children and animals and has used her musical talent to do extensive charity work for the Craig Morgan Foundation for foster children, Autism Speaks, Pediatric Cancer Research, Children’s Mercy, Noah’s Bandage Project, Team Smile, Big Slick KC, Animal Justice League of America, Northland Animal Welfare, American Cancer Society, and Suicide Prevention. She also spent many years teaching students and special-needs children voice, piano and guitar.

We were thrilled to talk to Casi about her career to date and the future ahead with ‘Miles and Maybes’.

Thank you for your time today Casi, we’re really enjoying ‘Miles and Maybes’, such a strong album.

Thank you so much, I’m so excited about it.

You were Team Blake in 2017 on The Voice. What did you learn about yourself from going on that show?

I learned a ton about myself! (laughing) A lot of the learning came from the back end of being on the show and not necessarily the stage parts that everybody saw. They teach you so much about branding yourself as an artist and knowing who and what you are. When they asked me and I said, ‘Country’ they said, ‘That’s not an answer.’ (laughing)

Getting your style together, learning how to answer interview questions better and run your social media better too, these are all the things that they teach you away from the stage. That was the coolest part, seeing the ins and outs of the industry.

Was it a culture shock coming off the show and going back into real life?

It was a little bit. It was certainly odd going back to my hometown and being stopped at the Dollar General for autographs and pictures! (laughing)

You were signed to Radio Disney in your early teens. Performing and music must have always been in your blood. How did you know that this was your calling?

When I was 5 years old I begged my parents to let me do the local talent show. I wasn’t from a musical family but that first performance put me in love with entertaining and being up on stage. My parents saw that spark in me and started booking me shows – from smoky bars to malls to cruise ships, anywhere we could find a stage, I was on it! (laughing)

Did you ever consider doing anything else?

Yes and no. I ended up getting a track scholarship to Park University, where I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education! I had never even given college a second thought, right? School? Snooze-fest! I’m a singer and I’m going to Nashville right after graduation, right? I come from a family of educators so that must be in my blood too! Kids and animals are my be-all, end-all of causes.

You recently sang the national anthem at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl parade! That must have been cool. Were you nervous or don’t you get nervous anymore?

It was the anthem, it was my hometown and I have a great relationship with the Chiefs, so it was all stuff that I was a little bit more comfortable with. We were at a Jason’s Deli sandwich shop back home when I got the email from the Chiefs which said if we win the Super Bowl, will you come and sing the anthem at the celebrations.

I did cause a little bit of scene at the deli! (laughing) I’ve never been more of a football fan in my life than in those days leading up to the game! It was a crazy experience and we did get semi-good weather for it too!

Let’s talk about the title to your new album, ‘Miles and Maybes’. It’s got a lot of meaning to it, can you explain where it came from and what it means?

The title comes from a line in the song, ‘Under the Hood’, which is my current single, out right now. I wrote it with my good friends Justin Klump and Lauryn Tauber and when that phrase came out of my mouth I was, like, ‘Wow, that could be the title of my memoir!’ (laughing)

My whole life, and so many other people’s lives, is defined by hard work, travelling so many miles and putting in so much work for so many maybes, right? You get by on hope a lot of the time and the promise that something good or better might be coming down the line.

It’s a title that reflects the ups and downs of life and the give and the take that we all have to go through. The record takes you through a legit rollercoaster of emotions too. You’ll be dancing at first, then crying and then we’re going to lift you right back up again! (laughing)

Is the track list and sequencing of the songs deliberately designed to do that? Did you put a lot of thought into that?

I did! I went to town with the Post-It notes for sure! (laughing) I was colour coding them and sorting out all the different feels and tempos and moving the notes around, keeping certain songs away from other ones, working out which songs were out already and which weren’t and trying to keep the flow and the feel just right.

I do keep saying it’s a rollercoaster but I sure do hope people enjoy the ride I’ve created!

The ride starts with ‘Under the Hood’, which is a song about one thing that feels very much about a whole lot of other, much deeper things.

That song is mainly about resilience, really. Just like that first car that you had. Your tank could be low and the gas light might be on for three days but you know that you have enough to get to Target and back a couple of times, right? That’s how we all operate at times. You know when you are on empty but you know that you will be able to keep going.

Resilience and anxiety is a theme that appears often throughout the album. ‘Me, Myself and My’ is a wonderful song with the same themes. Is that something you feel strongly about?

I do! Even more so recently. We’ve all been going through things this past 2-3 years. ‘Me, Myself and My’ is definitely the song I am most nervous about people hearing because my birth name is ‘Casi JOY’, right? (laughing) I want people to know that that is not me all the time and that life is not always sunshine and rainbows. I do have a ton of anxiety stress and self-doubt, constantly. The mirror and I are not always friends. So many people feel that way and it’s important to share and talk about it.

Everything you see is not a highlight reel. Those perfect people you see on Instagram have problems and stresses too, right? I’m so sick of the pretending sometimes and so it feels good, and a little scary, to be putting out a song that is so raw and honest.

‘Everything’s Fine’ is in that similar vein too. That one has a 90s Country sound to it – is that a decade of music that you are a particular fan of?

Oh, absolutely! I’m a 90s baby. With ‘Everything’s Fine’ it is in the same vein, lyrically, as ‘Me, Myself and My’ but for me it’s sometimes easier to get through life’s struggles with laughter, which is what that song is about. I never want to make people uncomfortable if I’m upset or anxious so sometimes I just make it into a joke, which is where the phrase, ‘Everything’s Fine’ comes in! (laughing) You might be crying but trying to laugh it off and say that everything’s fine.

Talking about laughing, ‘Namaste’ made me chuckle the first time I heard the chorus. Where did that pun come from?

Yeah! (laughing) It’s been a thing for a while now hasn’t it? A meme. A trope on all the yoga gear, right? My husband and I were talking about it in the car one day when we said, ‘Namaste right here and drink this beer!’ and I was like, I’ve got a melody for this already! I took it to my guitarist and his wife, Zach and Michelle Hord, and we had a couple of bottles of wine so it turned into the most hilarious co-write I’ve ever done!

It’s a super fun to play live, too, especially in the summer time.

‘Maybelline’ is a super-fun song with a cool message too. It feels like a conversation between a group of friends and it also gives me early The Chicks vibes. Were you fans of theirs when you were growing up?

Oh my gosh, yes, they were! I remember laying on my bedroom floor crying to some of their albums back in the day when I was heartbroken in fifth grade! (laughing) I’m inspired by so many different types of music and genres and decades and it peeks through every once in a while.

Guys don’t understand how sad it is if you’ve put ‘the face’ on and washed your hair and you go on a date and it’s a total disaster! Like, I did lashes for this? (laughing) What a waste of all this make up! And then you find someone who is awesome and they don’t care how much make up you’ve got on because they love you for who you are – that’s the goal for everybody!

With that in mind, give me a snapshot of the worst date you’ve ever been on.

(laughing) Oh man! Buckle up. I had just gotten out of a long relationship and this guy had asked me out on a date and I felt like i wasn’t ready yet. My mom was, like, ‘you cannot come to my birthday dinner at my favourite restaurant if you don’t go on a date with this guy! (laughing) You need to pick yourself back up, girl.’

So, I went on the date and I did download a tracking device so that my Dad could see my location, which I told the guy! Just so you know, my Dad knows where I am, right? What a red flag on my part! (laughing) He only went and took me to a bed and breakfast place………a place with a bed……….on our first date! I’m a big fan of murder documentaries and this had so much murder written all over it. I ended up refusing to stay and we went to some dive bar Italian place instead, a fast-food place, and it was just the most awkward thing. We were probably only there for 15 minutes and then I left but at least I got to go and have hibachi with my mom! (laughing)

Which of the songs on the album came together the quickest and which did you have to put the most effort into?

Gosh, I haven’t thought about that yet. Probably ‘Me, Myself and My’ might fit into both categories in a way. I wrote most of that song by myself and that part came easily to me but then I got super-stuck with it and didn’t know how dark or honest I wanted to go with it. I took it to my friend, Justin Klump. Bringing it to him and the resulting therapy session meant that the rest of the song just fell out really quickly.

Are you a songwriter that is driven by lyrics, melodies or does it just depend on the song?

I’m definitely very melody driven and so there are a lot of voice memos on my phone of me making weird noises and melodies but then I have soooo many notes of one-liners, puns, titles and lyrics in my phone too. I get inspiration from everywhere really so I guess it does just depend on the song.

You’ve opened up for the likes of Keith Urban, Carly Pearce and Maren Morris and you’ve seen a lot of artists in the industry. Which artist has taught you the most about stagecraft and about how to treat your crew and your fans backstage too?

I’m gonna go with Taylor Swift. I remember, back in the My Space days, she was so big on that platform and a couple of others and she would stay up all night responding to fans and being so in with them and updating them with blogs and stuff. I remember thinking, at 16 or 17, that she had ‘made it’ but she was still putting so much effort into engaging her fans and to connect with them. Which is why, so many years later, Swifties around the world are so loyal to her.

If you’ve ever been to a live Taylor Swift show, she’s just incredible to watch too, I’m gonna cry just thinking about it! (laughing) I’ve got a ticket to the Eras tour in June and I just can’t wait.

What’s the plan for the rest of the year in terms of live shows once ‘Miles and Maybes’ is out?

We’re working on a tour right now and hopefully we’ll be announcing that really soon. I’m super-excited to be able to go out and perform all these songs live. I keep telling my band, the ‘Joy Boys’, that I can’t wait for them to hear this record and can’t wait to see them have so much fun playing these songs too.

Casi Joy’s terrific ‘Miles and Maybes’ album is out on Friday March 31st. Check it out right here.

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