Ohbijou has played an important role in my ongoing interest in Canadian indie folk music, as my discovery of the band a few years ago opened my eyes to a music scene I was very much oblivious to. Although I had listened to their songs before, it was only last year at a Reel Asian Film Festival event that I fell in love with their works. Hearing the delicate voice ringing through the electro-pop sounds echoing in the auditorium, I can vouch that the energy and emotions of music can only truly be delivered in a live performance. I eventually found myself playing Casey’s first solo album on repeat, and when compiling a list of possible artists to feature for this series, it was a no-brainer that I had to get in touch with her. While all the good vibes from her recent concert still lingers, I am delighted to feature Casey as the first creator for the series. Read about her creative journey and her “favourite” writer below! – Mirae
Can you give us a brief background about how your interest in music all began?
I was enrolled in music classes as a child. Piano and vocal lessons introduced me to musical notation, but it was after my lessons, when I was left alone to freely play with the notes on the keyboard that my interest in music bloomed. I learned that I could express myself in many ways through music and performance; that creative expression could be notated but also unconsciously manifested.
Listening to your solo album, I realized how it shares similar characteristics with Ohbijou’s songs, yet it has a more personal storytelling. How would you define the personality of Ohbijou versus your solo music?
The music of Ohbijou was a collaborative effort. Our style was an accumulation of personalities and musical interests that I believe contributed uniquely to how each instrument was arranged and performed. My solo work is an expression of my imagination and embodied experience. The sounds and arrangements are manifestations of my desires and more acutely represent who I am.
You recently came together with the band to arrange music for films at Reel Asian’s Rites of Passage event (which I really loved!). How was it like, or rather how did you feel performing with the Ohbijou members after few years since the announcement of the hiatus?
Performing with Ohbijou at Rites of Passage was really nice. We were given the opportunity to come together outside of the pressures of our old song catalog and create new music for this event. Our time together rehearing and performing was a warm reminder of how much I deeply admire and respect the creativity and musicality of each member.
You also made a film at the event, which is the official video for “Sounds That Mark Our Words” – have you engaged in filmmaking prior to this? What is it about the medium of film, or the filmmaking process that attracts you?
In 2013, I made a short film called, “My Father, Francis.” The film is a comment on Filipino/a kinship, diasporic labour, queerness, devotion and the factory as a site of creativity. The medium of film allows for a complex engagement with narrative. There are many ways to tell a story through film. Whether it be through the soundtrack, through silence or through the choice of images and dialog, the flexibility of this format is something I really appreciate.
What are some questions or themes you are currently exploring through your creative work?
Currently, I’m thinking about methods of abstraction as a tool for expressing diasporic experience. I want to think about what it would mean to step away from knowable and easily consumable representations. How do methods of abstraction (in music and visual art) forge intimacies with queer, diasporic experience? I’ve been reading a lot of Fred Moten and Christine Bacareza Balance’s academic work to help me think through this question.
What can we look forward to, in your creative career, in the next few months?
I’m in my second year of my PhD at the University of Toronto in the department of Women and Gender Studies. I’m trying to find ways to be creative within my research and with my teaching practice. I also hope to write material for a new record this summer.
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