Cas Haley: The Holiday Interview | December 2011
photography by Allison Senecal
Who would have thought that the man behind southern soul embedded in reggae grooves and sweet talkin' songwriting would take on a Christmas EP and just nail it? Well, Cas Haley, whose image precedes him, especially his glasses, cap, and tattoos, may not seem like the holiday-loving man, but he assures us that he does, and more so when he can get home to celebrate.
Not many reggae crossover artists can stand on stage solo with an acoustic guitar, play two chord songs, and stun an audience, but Cas is unique. “That guy has a voice,” Trevor Hall said of his peer in the pop/reggae/soul field. Still, while Cas has a way of expressing himself and filling our ears with sincerity, his guitar playing, however simple, shouldn’t be underrated. Light flourishes, crisp, and at times playing both reggae counter rhythms and bass lines, turn his solo act into a full encounter with good music.
After the set he can be found at his merch table, resting in a chair, talking with fans. He’s out there. Present. Out among the sounds, among the music. From Paris, Texas to the touring world, Cas Haley has recently released a Christmas EP, including an original track, and having just toured with Trevor Hall and then again with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad and The Green, Cas checks in to discuss Christmas, Thanksgiving, and being on the road.
A Christmas album?
Yeah. I always loved Christmas music, but I wanted to put my own mark, have a tune of my own, and I could never come up with a song, until I wrote, “Gifts to Give”. Ok, cool! I can do it now! I had tons of fun making it. It was cool to not take it too seriously.
Writing a Christmas song isn’t easy. You can’t be cheesy but you have to be traditional.
What are you going to say that hasn’t been said? That’s the hard thing for me. What do I say? (Laughs)
I’ve been on this kick of performance-based tracking, like no editing. Let’s go in and play and leave it like it is. “The Christmas Song” was one microphone. That contributes to catching the moment in time. There’s something in those old recordings because there was that moment captured.
A record will affect you on a cellular level differently than a digital record. That’s crazy! The science of sound waves. That goes into moments. A lot of the shit we hear on the radio, there’s no emotion. It’s so perfect.