Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Evan Casas made his first recording when he was 11 using a cassette recorder. Since those days, he’s written and recorded numerous songs and played in several bands.

Casas has also recorded extensively with his friend and classmate since third grade, Elijah Ocean, from the band Loverless.

GO caught up with the very busy Casas long enough to get a rundown of his musical history and current projects.

 

You play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums. Anything else? Which came first?

My main instruments are drums and voice. I “play” other instruments, like bass, keyboards and guitar, but I don’t consider myself a real player of those instruments. I use them to get the sound that I want, for whatever project I’m working on. I like to play around with the accordion too. Oh, and the kazoo, I can’t forget the kazoo.

Singing came first, because I grew up going to church, and we always sang hymns in church. Then came piano, because we had one in my house growing up, so I would just dub around on it. Then, when I was 15 or 16, I picked up the guitar; I bought one and got serious with it. When I was 17, I decided that drums were the right instrument for me to focus on.

 

Your bio says that a turning point in your musical development was when your father taught you the C minor pentatonic scale. What is that, and why did it have such an impact on you?

The minor pentatonic scale is basically the blues scale. My dad taught it to me on the piano and everything is usually easier, on the piano, in the key of C. So it was a kind of jumping-off point for me; someone could play the blues in C and I could solo a bit.

 

When did you start using a looping station? How did you get interested in that?

I started using a looping station a little over three years ago. I was doing a lot of recording, by myself, at my house. I would play all the instruments, one at a time, to create songs. I wanted to play live shows, so logistically, it was the only choice for me if I didn’t want to hire a band. I considered putting together a band, but it seemed like too much work to coordinate everything. In reality, it’s way more work for me to do it all myself, but it ends up being a different sound and experience for the audience.

 

You grew up listening to Welsh choir music and The Beatles. Did either of these help shape the way your own music developed?

Most definitely. The Beatles taught me a lot about song structure and a good sense of melody. Welsh choir music is very powerful, and I think it instilled in me a sense of things needing to be classically “correct.” I can be a stickler for pitch and tone. I try to rebel against my natural instincts, though, because they’re not always right. Dirty production is sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

 

In 2008, you recorded and produced “Nothing Under the Sun” by the band Loverless. What are the key skills needed to produce an album?

Producing an album takes a positive attitude, a good working relationship with the band and the right tools. Restraint is important; you want to direct the players without ruining the mood of the session by being too overbearing. The musicians need to trust your opinion, and you need to trust them when they stick to their guns.

 

What’s the latest Evan news? 

I’ve been engineering recordings at Tidal Soundstudios, a new space in Portland. I invested some money and a lot of time into it, and it has a way cool vibe and great gear, so I’m hopeful for the future of it.

I’m also working a lot on my solo show with the looping station. I had a great first show at Slainte in the beginning of March, and I’m looking forward to continuing that. I’ve been meaning to release another Evan Casas studio album, and I have a lot of songs that I’ve been chipping away at, so be on the lookout for that.

 

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at [email protected]

 

 

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