Meet Kasey Lansdale
Daughter of a famous writer who has forged her own path into the creative spotlight
IN THE "SPECIAL PAGE" ARCHIVES:
Singer Kasey Tells us About Growing up Lansdale-Style
Much of my life has been a musical.
I grew up in East Texas as “a Lansdale,” and from an early age was surrounded by art, music, writing, you name it. I've been asked since I can remember what it was like growing up Lansdale, having a famous daddy and all that entails. To most people's disappointment, I had a normal childhood. Normal being that I had two parents who loved me, a brother, and any pet that I could take home within a twenty-mile radius.
I guess certain aspects wouldn't be considered typical. The art we had hanging on the walls was not that of Rockwell, but of skeletons and cemeteries. The house guests we hosted were directors, actors, and all sorts of folks, rather than cousin Tilly.
Although I do read a lot, I was always a fan of music. My earliest memories are of me singing and dancing around the fireplace to REBA'S GREATEST HITS 2 with the family German Shepherd in tow behind me, and listening to the Contours singing DO YOU LOVE ME with my dad in the hallway. I was always the kid in the neighborhood who was writing, directing, starring in plays, and dabbling in songwriting as a child.
When asked what I was gonna be when I grew up, the first answer I ever gave was “dazzling.” I felt a passion and a fire inside me since I was born. I knew singing was my first and truest love, and somehow, I was gonna do something with that, and I hoped, something big.
My first gig came about by accident. I had graduated high school and come to the realization that the labels weren’t going to be beating down my door, so I thought I had better do something to get this ball rolling. I put up flyers and spread the word for my need of a guitarist. I got a call from a guy who had seen my add in the local music store, and we met, and he played for me for a few gigs, but he was a lead man, and I needed a rhythm player. A friend of mine worked with a woman who had once dated a guy who played… (Let that process.) I got his number and called him up, told him what I was up to and his response was that he wanted no part of it, that he had done the band thing and he was out. I told him meet with me, to give me 15 minutes, and I was sure he would change his mind. Reluctantly, he said he would later in the week.
Few days later, I was with my current guitarist, the lead man, and he and I were practicing a few songs at my house and we took a break and walked down to the mailbox. Down at the pool some of my neighbors were having a party of sorts, maybe more a gathering, and a man approached me and told me he was Danny, and I had called him. I had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out, the guitarist I had spoken to, and asked to just meet me, just hear me sing, he was my next door neighbor. True story.
By the end of that week, we were all down at the pool hanging out, his guitar in hand, me singing a song here and there, and one of the other neighbors offered us a gig. Turns out he was new in town, and had just bought Banita Creek Hall. That’s how it started “officially.” I had sat in other people’s gigs, and played with tracks at a few places, or at the high school show, but this was money promised, and hopefully an audience.
Maybe I was too optimistic. We spent the first couple months playing at Banita, applauding for each other, and generally garnering no more attention than a fly you swat at bothering you on your otherwise lovely picnic. Eventually though, people started really listening. I also had a call from my father who was teaching a short course at the college for screenwriting during this time about a student in his class who played keyboard. Nothing more impressive to someone than your daddy talking you up and saying how good you are. Needless to say, Chris, the keyboard player, did not have high hopes.
We met out of courtesy and turns out we were both wrong. We held an audition that night, he called his friend Bill the bassist, who in turned called his friend Jeff the drummer, and a band was born. Kasey Lansdale and the Daletones. These days it is just Kasey Lansdale.
I got real lucky with all this. When people started paying attention, they started talking, then other people called and more word of mouth spread, and I started booking regularly. As time passed, I started going to Nashville and now the band rotates, but I always call these guys first. I learned a lot, and had a real legit band first crack out the box. Never had to go through the trials most people do when starting a band. It all came about pretty easy and I got more than I deserved from it early on. I just kept learning and talking to people, and soon realized that most people will do whatever they can to help someone who is helping themselves.
I am proud to say that I have lived my life this way ever since, and have had so many amazing experiences, that I couldn’t even begin to list them all. Singing has taken me all over the world, and introduced me to some amazing people. I’ve gotten to do all sorts of things that I feel lucky for every day. I’ve played festivals, arenas, bars, weddings, theaters, had my music on TV, radio, film....and I wake up each day hoping that it continues and that someone isn’t gonna give me a good shake and tell me to wake up and quit daydreaming.
This new album I am working on, I am really excited about! I feel it really reflects me as an artist, and I know my team is going to do great things with it.
Those are the good things, but some things aren’t as nice as others. Being a singer is so much more than just getting up on a stage and belting out some tunes. When you’re little, you don’t think much about it. You think you will just perform your songs, people will love them or not, and your hard work will pay off.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work like that, especially these days when the music business, (and so many other creative businesses) are in such financial hardship. Every day I hear of layoffs and mergers of labels. It’s a scary thing on one hand, but a lot of people look at this as an opportunity to go the independent route. That I think is up to the individual artist. Being an artist is about presenting yourself as a product, or a brand if you will. I never thought of myself as a brand, (nor did I hear the words “let it happen organically”) as much as I did when I moved to Nashville.
I’ve had it happen where I show up to a gig that has “all the sound equipment,” and no monitors. It’s all fine and dandy to have the speakers set up for the audience, but what about the person baring there soul up there on stage? They like to hear themselves too. I’ve also had times where I’ve done sound-check, everything is in order, and then the fella (or lady) introducing you will go over and take it upon himself to adjust the levels, cause for those two sentences he’s saying, he needs to know he sounds good, and then the main entertainment is just out of luck. It’s never malicious, but sometimes makes you wanna grind your teeth to sand.
To get up there, and give it your all, to really let loose, and to have someone tell you that your song, a song you wrote, that came from your heart meant something to them....that’s a feeling akin to what I think you feel when your child is born. It’s your baby, and you want to show it off and hope people love it as much as you do, and when they do, it just ignites the fire all over again.
It’s terrifying too. You constantly think, “Am I gonna forget the words? Is my voice gonna crack? Will they throw garbage at me this evening?”
The more established you become, the better the venues and gigs will be. The best gigs are nowadays, when I can show up, everything has been set up, the band is prepared, (sometimes my own, or sometimes a group I sent the music to ahead of time,) and I do a quick sound-check. I talk to the mic and get my levels in my monitor correct and make sure everyone sounds the way I need them to. Then I go back to the dressing room, lounge area, or wherever is set up for the entertainment, have a quick bite, and do a mental checklist of everything.
My fans are amazing and so supportive, and they just remind me how worth it all of this is. I am in a lot of hotels, gone a lot away from my friends and family, and that’s a tough thing, but when I get in the studio or on the stage, I’m not thinking about anything but the music. I learn something every time I play. I like to go different places vocally on a song just to mix it up, and sometimes, I even surprise myself with some of the things I do.
It’s just that I feel like I’ve got so much inside me that I want to put out there in the world, that it manifests wherever there is an opportunity: singing, acting, or writing.
Buy Kasey's CD titled "No More Rain" HERE
PHOTOS OF KASEY LANSDALE
With Reba McEntire
Scott Strickland, Kasey, and Bill Scott
Radio interview in Italy