When I asked singer/songwriter Casey Barnes what he had been up to since we last spoke about six months ago, he replied “I wouldn’t even know where to start!” Seems like Casey has been keeping very busy recently. “I’ve been recording this new EP and working with Rick Price over in Nashville,” he tells me. “He produced the record and we recorded in a really amazing studio over there and we had it mixed by a guy called Jason Lehning who has won a Grammy and he’s done an amazing job with the songs.” The first single, ‘Valentine‘ has just been released and Casey tells me that, so far, the response has been ‘really good’.
‘Valentine’ is a duet, recorded with his wife, Michelle. “My wife and I have been singing together for years,” he says. “And occasionally we’ll record a cover of a track and pop it up on You Tube. Our friends and family have said for years, ‘You guys need to write a song together and release something properly.’ We finally got around to it. My wife is a singer as well and that’s how we met. She stumbled upon me doing a gig once and stopped to have a listen. We had a chat and, as it turned out, we knew a lot of the same people. We’ve always wanted to properly record a track together and we finally have. Some of our really close friends think that, if I was a girl, I would probably sound like Michelle in another life and vice versa. Because we know each other well, we’ve got that connection. I think that helps a bit.”
“We’re doing something a little bit unique with this single,” he explains. “It’s a crowd funding campaign. I’m independent and a friend of mine suggested this crowd funding campaign. It’s called Gofundme.” Crowd funding is an avenue of fund raising that has grown in popularity in recent years and a number of independent artists are finding that this is a good way to raise some capital to help them get projects off the ground; projects that might otherwise not ever see the light of day. It also enables the artist’s fan base to feel more a part of the project, by contributing in some way. To find out more about Casey’s crowd funding campaign and how you can be a part of it too, click here.
And following on from the release of ‘Valentine’, the singer is kicking off his tour in his home state of Tasmania. “I was born and bred in Tasmania,” he informs me. “It’s a great place to grow up as a kid. I moved to the Gold Coast about ten years ago but I was born in Tasmania and I try to get back there at least once a year to do some shows and catch up with family and friends. I will be heading back to do some shows down there. But before that, I’ve got a show with Rick Price who is coming out from Nashville. We’ll be playing on the Gold Coast on 15th February. We’re trying to do as many shows as possible around the country so it will be good. I will be playing in my hometown. I’ve been back once before and visited my old high school and spoke to the students and it’s a bit of a spin out because that’s where it all sort of started for me.” Casey was lucky to have a very supportive music teacher in high school. “He was the one who pushed me into performing,” he explains. “He made me get up in front of the whole school once and perform a song. I didn’t want to do it. I was nervous and embarrassed and afraid in front of all the kids in school but then he convinced me to do it and it went well and I thought ‘Well, this is all right. I think I might want to keep doing this now.’ I’ve never looked back since then. You look back on your life, I guess, and you look at really pivotal moments and turning points and that was definitely one; to have a supportive music teacher.”
He is also very thankful that he has supportive parents. “I remember when I first moved to Queensland,” he recalls. “I was balancing doing gigs and working full time and I used to work at flight centre. I loved the job but I wasn’t as passionate with that as I was with my music and I remember sitting down with my mum and dad, having a coffee once and saying ‘I think I just want to do music full time. I want to take a risk and just see how I go.’ Some mums and dads would probably just say ‘No. No. You’ve got a full time job and a bit of security and you should stay there.’ But both my parents said ‘If that’s what you want to do, you’ve got to follow what your dreams are.’ and they supported me 100%. It was the best decision I ever made, I think. I’m not regretting it so far.”
Casey’s first meeting with Rick Price happened completely by accident. “I was actually ordering lunch one day at a cafe and he was standing behind me,” he recalls. “And he said ‘I recognise that accent.’ I turned around and realised who was behind me. I’ve always admired Rick’s work. We formed a friendship and started working together and writing. He was out here in Australia last year and he started writing all these new songs and then he decided that it would be great to go over to Nashville to actually record a few things over there and work in the right place and the right studios and it was really such a smooth process. The technology is amazing now. For example, with this track ‘Valentine‘, we recorded it in Nashville but my wife Michelle recorded the vocals back here in Australia so they sent the track back via email. She went to a recording studio in Australia and recorded her vocals and then shot it back to us and we went from there. It’s amazing that you can do these things now.”
Last year, Casey released the album ‘Jet Trails‘ which was a collaboration with several different writers. “There is a track on there called ‘Michelle’, that I wrote with Rick,” he explains. “We recorded that in Nashville and there’s a couple of other tracks that I recorded in Sydney and co-wrote with a girl called Hayley Warner who I was on Australian Idol with. She’s an amazing writer and we’ve sort of enjoyed working together. And then other tracks I’ve recorded with other writers on the Gold Coast. That album was a lot of fun and it’s a bit of a mixed bag. There’s even a track that I recorded in New York that’s a little bit of a dance/pop sort of a track. It’s very different but it was good fun recording that album. I guess this next EP is a bit of a shift in the direction that I really love which is that singer/songwriter vibe so that’s where I’m heading at the moment. All the songs are my own or co-written with Rick. We’ve found that relationship seems to work really well. He’s an incredible musician and a great writer and we’ve really enjoyed doing that together.”
In fact the two work so well together that Rick asked Casey to join him for his upcoming show at the Gold Coast Arts Centre on 15th February. “That will be great,” he says. “I’m sure we will be doing a few songs together on the night and I’ll be doing some of my own and some of his and my wife will be there and we will be performing the new single together as well so it will be a great night. I’m really looking forward to it.”
You can see Casey and Michelle performing ‘Valentine’ on Channel 7’s Weekend Sunrise, airing at 7am this Sunday, 9th February .
by Sharyn Hamey
CASEY BARNES TOUR DATES
Saturday Feb 15th with Rick Price at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, QLD
Saturday Feb 22nd – Spurs, Devonport Tasmania
Sunday Feb 23rd – Festival In The Park, Ulverstone Tasmania
Saturday April 5th – Launch It Concert with Jon Stevens and Daryl Braithwaite, Surfers Paradise Beach, QLD
To coincide with the release of Casey & Michelle Barnes’ new single ‘Valentine‘, there is also a beautiful video now online on You Tube. Check out the video here