When listening to an artist for the first time, it’s a gamble. You can either click with it instantly or immediately hate it. I find myself doing the latter more times than not. That just means whenever I do find something that grabs my ear I dive into it heavy. That was the case Casters. Casters is the musical project of Andrew Strader. It’s a great-great blend of indie rock and these amazing soundscape sounds and they perfectly mesh together. I saw his name on the Show To-Go page for Nashville and it caught my eye so I clicked on the page and there was a video of him performing at Omni Chords and I just fell in love. The music just sounded so welcoming and positive. I saw him live at DRKMTTR and spoke to him and he was just the coolest dude. Fast forward, I asked him to do an interview and I was/still am very happy he said yes. We talked about a lot of stuff: his inspirations, the origins of his name, and his favorite things about being a musician. Enjoy.
Deshaun: I’ve always liked the name Casters. Its always reminded me of wizardry and elements. Then I noticed your song titles have references to the natural elements too. Was that on purpose or am I digging too deep?
Andrew Strader: That name is really just something I came up with the last second before releasing Puppy Luv. I was really pushing myself to put something out and wanted a clean slate from previous work I had tinkered with throughout college and I just liked the sound of that name. It’s clean and simple and looks good in writing. I kind of had this vague idea about broadcasts, casting signals, etc. All art/journalism/education/storytelling is broadcast is signal is connection. I don’t know, I want to be plugged in.
D: That’s wild I never even connected that. What’s the biggest difference between Casters and your previous projects?
AS: I guess this is my first project. I released some bandcamp tracks under my own name and under the name “Darth Strader” throughout my college years, but I never took anything seriously. I guess the name change came along with me realizing that it’s okay to call myself a musician/artist and to take that role seriously. I think I had this idea that calling myself that was corny or self importance, but actually it was just a function of my insecurity.
AS: For me, so much of being an artist is just having the confidence to call yourself one and to make your creative practice a priority. I think apathy and irony are so prevalent wit folks my age that a lot of people have all potential, but almost don’t want to get caught caring too much or something. It’s a shame. It’s okay to take your creative work seriously. It really is. I needed to hear that at 19 and 20. I wasted a lot of time because I didn’t want to seem like I cared about my own work.
D: So what do you think changed? Or was it just maturing with age?
AS: Some of it is maturing with age maybe. I also just think navigating capitalism made me desperate to kind of make my mind up about what it is that I’m up to. Music is just the thing that I’ve always done in some capacity so it felt right ti just own it at a certain point. In many ways I’m a deeply insecure and have this aversion to self congratulation or validation, but I guess I realized I have to own and harness the creative part of myself. It’s a work in progress.
D: Wow, seeing you perform I’d never think that. I remember when you pulled out the “auto-tune” and I was actually blown away. I could never do something like that.
AS: Well thanks haha. I’ve definitely learned to kind of reign in my awkwardness and anxiety in the live setting. I’m still no showman though. I’d rather just shut up and play.
D: Well it’s fire regardless. Oh that reminds me! The intro to House Fire is soooo good. I’ve been meaning to ask why you chose to do that?
AS: That was actually just a doodle I started working on when I was a feeling creative block and it ended up turning into a song. The record I’m working on now is going to be more oriented in that direction. More dancey, free-form, experimental.
D: Oh that is great news. I remember hearing that in my car for the first time and falling in love, like I need a 30 minute loop haha. So being from Nashville how do you differentiate yourself from everyone creating music?
AS: I don’t know that I would want to differentiate myself. I just consider myself in the process of trying to get to a point where I’m making music that I would actually want to listen to if someone else made it. I want to be a supportive part of the music scene here. It’s more important to me to show up and be kind and to support others than try to stand out. A surefire way to make a fool of yourself is to try to play the game alone. I need everyone. We all need each other. I think the DIY/Indie scene has a deep understanding of that here.
D: I noticed that when you’d post the flyer to your shows you always made it a point to tag the other bands playing and tell people to check them out as well. That’s a small detail that means a lot.
AS: Oh for sure. That’s just being courteous when you don’t have someone running your social media for you.
D: Who would you say influenced you the most musically?
AS: I’d say indie staples form like 2008-2012-ish are my formative influences as a teenager, bands like Beach House, Real Estate, Grizzly Bear, Dr. Dog. I got really into Luke Temple and his band Here We Go Magic in college. Also like Angel Olsen, Toro y Moi, Phosphorescent, Yellow Birds, Damien Jurado, Jessica Pratt. More recently I’ve been into local oriented stuff like Quichenight, Erin Rae, Lou Turner, Styrofoam Winos, Joe Kenekel, Eve Maret, Anything Ben Littlejohn is up to. My friend Mason Schmitt is coming out with this record as Grumpy which I’m very excited for. Sam Hoffman has a great record that I love very much. Dreamwave. I’m also obsessed with Sam Evian and Hannah Cohen. I love the new Julia Jacklin record that just came out. Huge fan of Molly Burch. Aldous Harding. Not even mentioning classics. I could go on forever. I’m also deeply in love with the Kacey Johansing record called The Hiding.
AS: I grew up okay, Shame Shame.
D: So do you find yourself implementing your influences more often than not?
AS: Oh yeah man I mean all eloquence is borrowed. I’m influenced by everything I listen to. Part of the writing process for me is just listening to a lot of music.
D: What’s your favorite part about being a musician?
AS: I think just materializing ideas into something that the people I love can enjoy. There’s no high quite like being able to tell the people listening to something you made are genuinely enjoying it. Also, it’s really refreshing to be producing anything in a time where the internet allows us to endlessly consume. There’s some synapses that feel really good to use when creating something.
D: How does it feel to see the crowd reacting positively to your art?
AS: I feel understood. Which i think is kind of the purpose of art generally.
D: That’s facts, when someone gives you a critique of your music how do you apply it to the future?
AS: I’m always looking for criticisms than shallow complements. I feel like I’m in a feedback and information gathering stage with my work. The EP felt like more of a probe to see what works and what doesn’t. I’m taking my time more with the next record and am really taking the feedback from the EP directly to heart while I’m in the process of making the next thing.
D: That’s great man, I cannot wait to hear it. That was my last question, anything else you want to say?
AS: Thanks so much! This has been a blast even though I’m probably going to cringe reading my answers later. I guess I wanna say this: Be nice. Pay attention. Caring is cool.
Casters is gearing up to release a new project in 2020
In the meantime though, listen to Puppy Luv it’s amazing