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Namaste Y’all – Interview with Country Singer/Songwriter Casi Joy – Essentially Pop

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“She has this electric energy when she’s on stage and has these unique things that she can do vocally. She’s an edgier version of a country artist. She’s old school but has a youthful energy about her. There’s no stopping Casi Joy” – Blake Shelton

For some, the name Casi Joy is synonymous with the 2017 season of The Voice where she had one of the best blind auditions in the history of the show according to Rolling Stone Magazine. A powerhouse of a singer on Team Blake. For her family and friends in Kansas City, as well as her fans, Casi Joy is that hardworking homegrown talent doing what she was meant to do. Casi started singing and performing at the age of 5, and at 10 years old started touring the country Opry circuit. Casi was then picked up by Radio Disney at the age of 14. Shortly after that, she went to Nashville and recorded in the legendary RCA studios, a dream come true for any music fan let alone one that has been singing the music produced in that studio since the age of 5. With the release of her latest single and music video, I got the chance to talk to Casi about her journey so far, her latest single, and what being back on the road means to her.

Listen to “Namaste” here.

Watch the “Namaste” music video below:

You are currently on the road playing shows, describe that feeling to me. How good does it feel to be back on the road after the past year and a bit that we’ve had? Is it exciting? Nerve-racking?

It’s been all of those things. My first show back was in Nashville, and I was pretty terrified the whole day because it had been so long since I had actually stood up and played guitar. You know you get so used to just playing to your camera and a screen, it was definitely nerve-racking getting back to the regular so to speak. Now I feel like we’re back in the full swing of things, muscle memory kicks back in and it just feels awesome to be back.

I’m glad it’s going well. You said you were heading to Oklahoma?

Yes, I play in Hooker Oklahoma this Saturday, next weekend we are in White City Kansas, and then we go to Crockett Texas. We’ve also got some Wisconsin and Minnesota on the books, so we’re just going all over the place this summer. We had just purchased a tour bus right before the pandemic hit, so we couldn’t use it during lockdown. This summer is when we’re finally getting to be on the bus, putting it to good use, and just going wherever the music takes us.

Keep up to date with all of Casi’s live shows here.

That sounds like an awesome way to spend the summer. From what I’ve read it sounds like live music has been a constant in your life since you were 5 touring with the Opry circuit?

Yeah, when I was 5, I did my first performance. My parents let me talk them into letting me do the talent show where I sang. I come from a completely unmusical family so they were all like “Why? What?” (laugh), and we just kind of went from there. When I was 10, I started touring professionally in the Midwest country Opry circuit. Then I got signed to Radio Disney when I was 14 and did that for a couple of years, singing pop music with the headset and the whole thing. Then I got into rock music for a few years and ended up back in country in 2012.

It sounds like you’ve had a pretty wide range of musical inspiration in your career so far.

For sure, there are definitely rock tendencies inspired by Pat Benatar, and then Patsy Cline is one of my biggest inspirations. I feel like my sound is pretty eclectic.

Let’s talk about your latest release “Namaste”. The video is hilarious, and the song has a classic country vibe, mixed with a very current Blake Shelton meets Chris Janson’s “Buy Me A Boat” feel. How did this song come about?

Thank you! Okay, so I have to put this on the record. My husband Brian had the idea of writing a song using the word Namaste as a pun, “Namaste right here”. I, then, brought that idea to my co-writers Zach and Michelle Hord and we just started talking about breakups. Instead of there being a custody battle and the divorce, splitting the house, we wanted to go a little lighter. Who gets the bar? Who gets the dog, and what are you going to do when someone breaks that agreement of going to the bar when it’s your night to be there? We just decided to make it a super funny song and I hadn’t really written any funny songs like that before. So, it was really exciting to change pace. It’s definitely the most country song I’ve ever written.

What kind of response have you been seeing with “Namaste” being a more country song than what you’ve released before?

It’s been going really well. A lot of my audience is very into classic country because I’ve done a lot of classic country covers, so that’s where some of my fans have come from. They’ve been loving this song, especially the video, and I’m just so glad that my director Lucas Cohen let me totally be my weirdo self and do things like challenge the biggest guy at the side of the bar to an arm-wrestling contest. Why? Because it’s me, and it was my favorite part of the video.

It sounds like a very collaborative process with your director.

Absolutely. I kind of gave him the rundown of what I was thinking, and he changed some stuff for the better. He was just so great about letting me put in my ideas like, I went and begged to be part of the backbend scene, and then I asked “can I stand on the chair and do some really crazy pose with the beer?” He was just so awesome for letting me put my weird self in there.

I noticed that aside from the rich history in music, you also have a very dedicated history working with many charities and causes like Northland Animal Welfare, Autism Speaks, and American Cancer Society to mention a few. Can you talk a little bit about some of the organizations, and what the pull was for you to combine your talents with these causes?

I’m a huge dog lover and big rescue advocate so that is one of my main things that I am always fighting for. I feel like I was given this microphone, so to speak, and I feel like it’s part of my duty to use that platform and microphone to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. So, children, cancer patients, especially pediatric cancer patients, and animals.

I’ve done a lot with Noah’s Bandage Project. Noah was a 6 or 7-year-old boy who was in his treatments and was so upset that all these kids were getting these plain-looking Band-Aids. So, he started a charity to collect all of these really cool-looking Band-Aids. Now, they are still collecting Band-Aids and raising funds for Children’s Mercy Hospital and Pediatric Cancer Research.

So, when you are on the road and playing these shows, do you have any pre-show rituals?

I do have a crazy warm-up. I sing through coffee straws and then we have a pump-up playlist which features a lot of Drake, Tupac, and electronic music. So, my pump-up playlist is probably not what you would expect lol.

Gotta get the heart racing. I feel that.

Yeah, gotta get that bass going.

And singing through coffee straws?

Yes, that was something I actually learned on The Voice. They give you actual vocal coaches behind the scenes and I had some pretty bad vocal habits/issues. I couldn’t sing very high in my head voice, and my coach on the show, Tamara Beatty, totally fixed me right up. She showed me this trick of singing through coffee straws to focus and elongate your vocal track. It has been a game-changer. I have bags and bags of coffee straws every place on Earth I could ever put them. My mom’s purse has straws in case I’m around her, all of our cars have them. They are my end all be all, gotta have those straws lol (laugh).

Finally, is there anything your fans can look forward to in the next little bit?

Well, there’s the behind-the-scenes video for “Namaste” coming out soon, and I’ve always got new music around the corner. We’re also adding tour dates like nobody’s business, thankfully, and I’m actually making new merch as we speak, so I’m super excited about that too.

To get updates on all the latest touring and release news from Casi Joy, make sure you check out her website, social media pages, and keep an eye out for that behind-the-scenes video for her latest single “Namaste”. Once again, thank you for the lovely convo Casi and to all of y’all reading this, thanks so much for keeping the spirit of music alive. Much love.

Find out more about Casi Joy and her music online on FacebookInstagram, YouTube, and her official website





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J Balvin ‘Perra’ Music Video Taken Down After Racism Criticism

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J Balvin issued an apology after the controversial music video for his song “Perra” — a collaboration with Dominican musician Tokischa — was taken off YouTube amidst claims that it was racist and sexist.

The song appeared on Balvin’s album José. It features lyrics where Tokischa refers to herself as a “female dog in heat” looking for “a dog to hit it,” according to Billboard.

In the music video, the Colombian singer walks two Black women on leashes, and a group of Black people are dressed like dogs. Tokischa herself delivers some of her lines from a doghouse and later licks Balvin’s cheek while on her hands and knees.

Criticism for the visual rolled in. Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez published an open letter alongside Gheidy Gallo Santos, Presidential Council for the Equality of Women. The pair condemned the song and video for featuring “direct and openly sexist, racist, machista, and misogynistic expressions that violate the rights of women, comparing them to an animal that must be dominated and mistreated,” according to Rolling Stone.

The publication noted that even Balvin’s mother did not seem to be a fan of the release.

The video was removed from Balvin’s YouTube account earlier this month, and the singer took to his Instagram story to explain why and apologize over the weekend.

“I want to say sorry to whomever felt offended, especially to the Black community,” the hit-maker said. “That’s not who I am. I’m about tolerance, love and inclusivity. I also like to support new artists, in this case Tokischa, a woman who supports her people, her community and also empowers women.”

He added that he removed the video “as a form of respect.” Previously it was unclear if the removal was Balvin’s choice or if YouTube pulled it, according to Billboard.

Balvin also publicly apologized to his mother. “Mom, I’m sorry too,” he said. “Life gets better each day. Thank you for listening to me.”

While the “Perra” music video was removed from YouTube, an audio version is still available on the platform.

Tokischa opened up about the song and music video in an interview with Rolling Stone. She explained the song’s sexual inception (the idea came to her while she was having sex), and that the visual was a way to build out the lyrical allusions.

“It was very conceptual. If you, as a creative, have a song that’s talking about dogs, you’re going to create that world,” she said.

While she apologized for the way that the visuals were perceived, she appeared to stand by the artistic decisions. “I understand the interpretation people had and I’m truly sorry that people felt offended,” Tokischa added. “But at the same time, art is expression. It’s creating a world.”

Tokischa told Rolling Stone that she was not involved in the decision to pull the “Perra” video. She also said that she’d been in touch with Balvin and implied that she felt some responsibility for the controversy.

“He came here to record with me and to share his platform with me,” she said. “Now I’m like ‘what did I get Jose in?'”

Raymi Paulus, the video’s director, also told Rolling Stone that the video “never aimed to promote racism or misogyny.” He also stated that he believed the video was “taken out of context.”

Controversial Pop Songs That Faced Backlash





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Pretty Embers – ‘It’s Not The Same’ – Essentially Pop

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When your band is deemed the “Death Cab For Cutie Of The South”, you immediately give listeners new and old an idea of what to expect. But the Birmingham Alabama natives, comprising lifelong friends Kameron Mitchell, Mason Thomas, and Ethan Standard,  and their new single, ‘It’ Not The Same’, from their album, ‘Under’, show that they bring a whole lot more to the table.

Now based in Nashville, the indie/alternative rock trio have spent most of 2020 – before and during the quarantine – writing and recording ‘Under’, their debut album. The three have a vast range of musical influences, including Bon Iver, Paul McCartney, Tyler the Creator, Death Cab For Cutie, Andy Shauf, From Indian Lakes, D’Angelo, and Radiohead, and all of this combines to give the group a unique sound.

“It was incredible just figuring things out.” Ethan explains. “This was a brand new experience in the way that we went about building out and recording these 10 songs. It was a very organic, explorative, experimental time for us and I think that brought out a sense of vulnerability and honesty that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.” “I think we all matured,” adds Mason. “We really learned how sacred the process is and the value of taking the creation and artistry to a place of focus and sanctity.”

‘It’s Not The Same’ scrapes against the heartstrings with its jangly, fuzzy guitars, and the vocals are grungey and melancholy, giving the tune a sadness, which is yet not overwhelming; listened through headphones the music is multi-layered and evocative, enticing the listener to explore each layer separately. The drums tie the piece together with their thunderous rhythms, while at the same time being allowed to have their own stand-out time. The guitars are mellow and harmonious, exemplifying the talent of the musicians. There’s a surprise element at the very end of the song, but I won’t give it away, you’ll have to listen to it yourself.

‘It’s Not The Same’ tells the story we’ve all felt, and especially during this Pandemic, of a certain numbness, and not quite knowing how we should feel. In the end we all settle back into the realisation that somethings have changed irrevocably; with all change it’s hard to accept, but eventually we settle down and learn to live with it.

Speaking of the song, Kameron says,

“Not being able to let it go even when you thought you could,” says Kameron, “feels like sinking back to the place you thought you finally escaped from.”

‘It’s Not The Same’ is out October 29.

Find out more about Pretty Embers and their music online on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.





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Queera Nightly – ‘Pillow Talk’ – Essentially Pop

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Late last year Bay Area musician Queera Nightly released her album, ‘The Girl Who Fell‘. Now she returns with the follow up, ‘The Girl Who Fell Pt. 2’. The new album features the sultry single, ‘Pillow Talk’, which is out now.

Queera Nightly’s sound is sexy and sultry; her gravelly and drawly voice has the sound of someone who is slightly tired of life yet at the same time, they’re holding on for that one last adventure. The late 50s/early 60s style guitar conjures up visions of those old movies set in the days of endless summers. Think Elvis, Cliff Richard, even Gidget. Queera Nightly is a world-weary Sandra Dee, holding out for a white picket fence with Troy Donohue, but knowing deep down that he’s just all talk and is never going to stay the distance.

Speaking of her new album, Queera Nightly says,

“These songs are personal for me, reflections of a moment on my life when I was lost. It was me who was chasing her, her freedom and softness and expression. And when we finally met eyes, it was as though we had never been apart. Heaven and Hell. Love and Violence.”

‘The Girl Who Fell Pt. 2’ is out now. Stream and download on Bandcamp. Find out more about Queera Nightly and her music online on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and her official website.





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