Catch up with Boston-based pop singer-songwriter Casey McQuillen and listen to her latest single, "Come Back To Me", off her upcoming Beautiful EP, out later this year.
What first got you interested in music?
Casey McQuillen: The story behind the song fascinated me as a child. Listening to my CD Walkman in the back of my mom’s minivan, I would memorize lyrics and imagine the people and places my favorite artists sang about. This connection between artist and fan drives me to be honest and relatable in my music now.
Do you remember the first song you wrote?
The first original song I ever performed was in front of my seventh grade English class. Our teacher had assigned a “Goal Project”: we had a month to master a new skill. I chose to learn how to play the guitar, write a song on the guitar, and eventually perform it for my classmates. During that month, my grandfather became ill, eventually passing away. The song was entitled “I Don’t Know” and is about the confusion I felt losing a loved one for the first time. It was a very cathartic and impactful process for me.
Which musicians have you been influenced by?
Growing up, my primary exposure to music were the artists I heard on the local, popular radio stations. I loved artists like Vanessa Carlton, James Blunt, Taylor Swift, and Colbie Caillat. I would go and buy the CDs at the mall and play them over and over in my room. I found I was drawn to the more artistic, emotional album tracks; this idea of story-telling songwriting really appealed to me.
What words would you use to describe your sound?
I like to think of this new EP as orchestral pop! It’s got the pop melodies and relatable storylines, but my producer, Charles Humenry, was able to utilize big, full arrangements to bring these emotions to life in a really beautiful way.
What were your inspirations behind your latest single, "Come Back To Me"?
As a songwriting major at Berklee College of Music, in one of my classes, I was asked to write about something that made me mad. At the time, I was 20 years old, single, and living in Boston for the first time. So I wrote about my frustrations with the dating scene in the city, and how it seemed like everyone cared a lot more about who you knew and the price tag of your clothes than who you were as a person. I sat down and wrote “Come Back to Me” comparing the harshness of love in Boston with the ease of falling in love at seventeen in your hometown.
Is that single indicative of what we can expect to hear on your Beautiful EP?
Yes! All of the songs on the EP come straight from my heart and my experiences, and I think that honesty and rawness is really reflective throughout the lyrics and the vocal performances.
Could you tell us more about your "You Matter" tour?
The “You Matter” Tour is an interactive concert I perform in schools around New England that uses the original music I wrote when I was in middle and high school as an avenue to engage students in a conversation about bullying and self-confidence. I’ve been to over 100 schools and performed for over 30,000 students. I absolutely love performing this show because I’ve been able to establish really personal, honest relationships with my fans. And now that it’s September and the kids are back in school, I’m really looking forward to meeting new faces and bringing this message to even more kids.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Many experiences in life are universal and we have a lot more in common with the people around us than it might seem. Love, heartbreak, hope, shame are emotions we all share. Try to take the time to understand the other person’s perspective. My grandfather had a saying; it was simple but powerful. “Always think of the other guy”. I’m at my best when I live by those words.
Is there anything you want to add?
I love everyone who worked to make this EP possible including my band members, my producer, Charles Humnery, and my engineer, Ben Barnet. And also a big thanks to the teams at Cyber PR and Effective Immediately PR -- the amazing teams helping the world hear it, including The Music Rag for interviewing me about it! [Laughs]