Caswell, as she’s known on stage, has been living in Suffolk for seven years, after moving here from London. She began releasing music in 2017 through online platforms and playing Open Mic nights at The Angel in Woodbridge. Since then, she has slowly built quite the name for herself; having already released a handful of singles, two EPs, played festival slots at Reading, Leeds and Latitude, and has supported Ed Sheeran during his Divide tour.
Caswell’s love of music started at childhood in a much more intimate scene than the Latitude stage, performing at home for her mother rather than the large crowds she’s used to today.
Caswell shared: “I remember my mum telling me that I had a plastic microphone that I would take everywhere and I would dance in front of the TV saying I was Madonna Spice apparently – I made up my own Spice Girl! However, I started actually writing music when I was 10, then when I was 14 I went to The Brit School in London to learn more about song writing and playing in ensembles and such, so I’ve been doing music for most of my life.”
One of the reasons Caswell wanted to become a musician was the festivals she went to when she was really little, explaining that each summer usually involved a little hippie festival where she could see the musicians up on stage and, even though they would only be small stages, she fell in love with the idea of being on a stage outside with the amazing vibes that you get at a festival
She added: “Everyone’s so relaxed and supportive and I think I just wanted to be part of that scene. I think it comes from that little festival child within me!” She confesses it might sound corny, but continues “I just love the environment you can create through live music, and I think that’s just what I love most about being a musician; being able to partake and create that environment for people.”
This love of festivals led her to one of her biggest gigs to date: supporting Ed Sheeran during his closing Divide tour shows at Chantry Park. They got the slot through a national competition with Hoax Clothing. The final took place in Norwich, and she recalls competing against bands from Manchester, Bristol, and London so it felt like they were representing Ipswich and really wanted to do well, but not thinking it would actually be them.
“Winning that was incredible in itself, and that only happened like a couple of weeks before the concert date so there wasn’t really much time to get your head around the fact of supporting potentially the biggest act in the entire world on the last night of his tour!” Caswell explained, “It was the best musical experience of my life, and I’m so appreciative of being able to do it.”
Now Caswell is looking to continue creating music for us all throughout lockdown with the new normal format of digital gigs and releasing music in a pandemic, which Caswell admits hasn’t been easy. “I work with a lot of different producers and being in the room with somebody else is much easier. If we didn’t have the Internet, I’d really be stuck.” she explains. With studios closed, it has also meant she has had to buy herself a recording set-up at home, but she admits that’s been a positive, admitting “I have become more self-reliant”.
The gig scene is of a similar principle; they did a set for Sound City Ipswich back in October, which was a slight shock to the system as the band hadn’t rehearsed in about six months due to lockdown.
Caswell admitted “It was amazing to do a show, but kind of bizarre that you’re trying to perform but not having an audience to bounce off of. I guess you’re growing your skillset by having to do things so differently, but I’m looking forward to getting back to doing it in a flesh,” she continued: “It’s such a good way to engage with your audience, to share your music, and also to maybe reach new audiences because social media is such a plethora of creatives and people. I think it’s a really important tool.”
However there’s hope for a surge of live entertainment when crowds are allowed to belt out their favourite songs with the artists once more safely. “Once we are able to go out and enjoy live events, I think people are going to have been missing it and craving it so much that actually the live scene will hopefully be buzzing I think we’ll hopefully have a creative boom after we come out of this, and things will be really busy. But like you said, those virtual events definitely still have their place and use.” she adds.
While we await that boom, there’s still plenty of ways to stay connected to and supportive of the music industry. Caswell explained how astounded she was when she spotted an Instagram post with some facts and figures on the music industry detailing that apparently only 1% of musicians make mainstream exposure. She said: “Obviously supporting people on Spotify – liking their pages and following their playlist, that all helps with the algorithms, but if we’re talking monetary value, which might be something like buying a piece of merchandise or CDs and records. Unless you’re like in the top percent of musicians, it’s pretty much impossible to make any money on streaming services, so now that artists have lost a lot of their revenue through CD sales and things like that, it is it’s pretty hard if you’re not doing live gigs, to actually see revenue from music.”
However, that won’t stop Caswell’s passion for music and performing, she still loves the ‘buzz’ and ‘feeling’ she gets from performing, believing it’s a way for her to better express herself outside of her own fears. Expanding further, she explains: “It’s almost like having a complete release through an alter ego on stage. Ever since I was younger, I always thought I wasn’t good enough and I was really scared of performing. I always thought other people were better than me, and it really held me back a lot.
“There are many times I thought about not pursuing music because I didn’t think I would ever make a career for myself, but it’s just one of those things that the more you do and the more you put yourself out there, the more natural it becomes. Things can still be scary but it does get a lot easier, so I would tell the past me to keep going, keep trying new things, and keep performing live and you’ll definitely get there.”
Last but not least, before we left we asked Caswell for her three Desert Island Discs albums, and she responded “It would be Erykah Badu. She was one of my favourite female neo soul singers growing up, so it would be her album ‘Mama’s Gun’. It would probably the Radiohead’s ‘In Rainbows’ and oooh it’s hard but thirdly I think I’ll say Tame Impala’s ‘Currents'”