31. August 2017

Frankfurt-based musician Casey Keth has an unbelievable musical frame of reference and likes to perform on an equal footing with his audience. He can be seen live on September 6 at SCHIRN SUMMER HANGOUTS.

By Teresa Koester

There are musicians who gather an entire band around them, who are – in a positive sense – musical herd animals. Then there are others who need nothing more than themselves and a microphone, perhaps an instrument too. Their performance attempts to achieve close proximity with the public, to approach people directly with text, tone and presence. 

Frankfurt-based singer-songwriter Casey Keth is undoubtedly in this second category. He uses his voice, a guitar, and that’s it. Yet his listeners can expect much more; after all, Casey Keth came originally from the realms of Hip Hop, Soul and Electronic music, but at a certain point switched over to the piano and acoustic guitar. The result is a catchy, eclectic sound, which the musician discusses – amongst other things – in our interview:

Casey, you’re a Frankfurt local and a musician who fills a stage with just a voice and a guitar, who cites “Aretha, Jeff Buckley, J’Dilla, Chris Whitley, E.S.T., radio, MTV” as his influences and thus draws inspiration from a broad base. How would you personally describe the music that results from this? 

Aretha’s power, Buckley’s introverted, experimental expressivity, Dilla’s rousing “Boom! Clack!”, Whitley’s stomping, almost mystical desert blues, E.S.T.’s cinematically dark, almost non-jazzy intermediate worlds, the lightheartedness of car radio Pop – all these are phases of my personal musical discovery if you like; emotional worlds that have now become part of my musical bones. 

“And love’s a point of view…,” it reads on your website. Everything feels like music or indeed is music. Everything has its own soundtrack that runs constantly in the background and is heard by us. It is in this that you attempt to find the perspective that allows things to become magical again; one that is also fed by interpersonal encounters. Tell us more about that, about what music means to you, but also the role you see it playing in our world. 

For me, it’s like a private, safe space in which you can explore the entire breadth of your feelings! Otherwise there’s nowhere you would willingly do this, and that’s precisely where its role lies, I believe. It makes me complete, because I can be everything within it. But talking too much about music is to complicate it – it’s like analyzing to death the feeling of love: When you’re done with it, you find your loved one got up from the table a long time ago and all the flowers have wilted. Music has to be lived.

Casey Keth, photo Holger Menzel

On the subject of music and the way in which people relate to it: What sort of setting do you prefer to play in? What feeling, what experience do you aim to evoke in your listeners when they listen to your music (live)? 

Every setting has something to be said for it. They used to be somewhat smaller settings, and to a certain extent they still are. I like the proximity; everything is on an equal footing, no elevated stage, no adverts, and that special feeling arises almost automatically. Larger settings are powerful experiences, when it clicks, when I reach the audiences and you get this feeling of “We’re all one good people in a fuckin’ crazy world”. And perhaps that’s also what I want to experience with my listeners. 

On September 6 you will be playing a concert for the people of Frankfurt at the SCHIRN SUMMER HANGOUTS. In the gallery you can see the group exhibition PEACE – a title which, particularly now, poses fundamental questions once again: What does peace mean to you? 

CK: Peace … perhaps when you know deep down in your heart that everything that belongs to you is well and that you therefore have sufficient space and respect for yourself. It follows on from this that you can sense the same for those around you and thus become less anxious yourself. That’s no bad foundation to stand on. Peace overall therefore begins at the level of the individual.