Evan Casey is an exciting talent who is a long-time member of the of the extended Desert Hearts family who has close links to the US festival based near San Diego. Living in Los Angeles, he and Marbs recently cofounded the Desert Hearts Black record label, which is set to be a more up-tempo sister label to their already established Desert Hearts imprint.
We caught up with Evan Casey to chat about his own music along with his plans for Desert Hearts Black and the current club scene in Los Angeles…
> For the people reading this who haven’t heard your music before, how would you describe your style and the key elements that define it?
First and foremost I would describe my music as being journey-driven. Whether it’s heavier techno, darker melodic sounds, or twisted tribal tracks, which are all elements in my sets, I always want people to join me on a journey. I feel focusing on the connection, emotion and intention of my tracks as opposed to a specific genre, allows me to use different sounds to communicate my vision and the music I love. With that being said, I have always held a special place in my heart for weighted, powerfully minimal, melody-driven techno. When there can be a proper balance of emotional melodic intensity, as well as interesting and expanding drum arrangements, I feel you’ve found the sweet spot. Drums keep us engaged and anchored to a central energy, then melody allows us to travel and get lost in it, everything has its place in a complete experience.
>When did your relationship with Marbs begin, and how did you become so closely associated with the Desert Hearts brand in the first place?
Back in the early days, before the birth of Desert Hearts, the guys threw events called Jungle. These were small parties at local bars, but they were proper ragers without a doubt. I went to these, met Mikey a few times, but for the most part remained separate and just enjoyed the energy while I was working on my own journey and sound. Fast forward some time, I was playing regularly on my own and we began to overlap a bit with gigs and friends, and I started to seek out the guys and foster a relationship because I was so into the community they were building outside of the club scene. Then one night at a warehouse, a mutual friend grabbed Marbs and I, and said they thought we should meet because of our similar musical styles. The funny thing is we both said “I’ve been wanting to meet you” which was cool for me because I assumed I was off the radar to the crew, but from that moment on the family bond was forming. A couple months later I was asked to play the DH 1yr anniversary festival, and following that weekend was made a resident, and the rest is in the making.
>Being a bit of an outlier in terms of musical preferences in the states in that you prefer more melody-driven sounds, have you ever felt a struggle to fit in or find your niche locally? Have you ever felt the itch to move abroad?
I have a lot of love for this question, because it’s something that truly has been a part of my development and growth as an artist and as an individual within a booming community. Musically, I feel so strongly about the things I play and make, that I’ve never felt any pressure to adapt or become more in line with anything else going on around me. Authenticity and originality are huge characteristics I believe in, and I’ve always loved that all the core members and residents of the DH family really have their own sound. And coming up with a collective that is somewhat house driven, I’ve really enjoyed my own opportunities to share darker, heavier music in the late night sets. I’ve often been told I have a very strong “cult following” within the DH community, and that’s something special to me. The late night music heads, the people who like to get lost in the darkness and come out beaming on the other side, the people who love the introspective musical experiences; those are the ones who seem to resonate with me and my sound the most.
As for moving abroad, I love experiencing new cities and communities, especially in a space to share music and art. I think it would be incredible to live in Europe for an extended period and expand into new scenes. But for now there is important foundation being set here in the states, both individually and as a growing community. So we’ll see where the next couple years take us.
>How did the idea to create Desert Hearts Black come about?
I like to think this has been in motion for a couple years now, even if we didn’t know it or didn’t necessarily have a name. Marbs and I both have felt a certain pride, at first individually and now collectively, to bring the darker sounds to DH dance floors. Sharing this music that has shaped us both on so many levels is the current mission and ultimately the drive behind Desert Hearts Black. Our community knows us for it, and that support is always an amazing feeling.
Quick side story in regards to the birth of this actually shifting into existence: A couple years ago Marbs and I were about to see Moderat, who undoubtedly is the most influential act in electronic music for us collectively. Everything from their genre bending tracks, to Apparat’s live vocals, to their massive visual presence that is always so powerful and tasteful. Just can’t say enough about how impactful and complete their experience is live. That night something clicked and we knew that our individual paths, which were already very connected, needed to move into the creative space and begin building something together.
So now here we are, dedicated to creating a platform to share the sounds we love, and it’s been amazing to see it all come to life.
>What will be your responsibilities in the label? What have you learned so far about asserting your own musical independence through this medium?
The beautiful thing about creating this with my best friend is we both know what we’re good at, what we can pass off to one another and what we do best together. Marbs has been such a massive force behind the scenes of DH from day one, the amount he takes on is just wild. But his dedication to the vision and community is what really has propelled DH Black into reality so quickly. This is a true partnership, we both take on responsibilities and aspects of this project daily, but it’s important for me to share just how much of a selfless workhorse Marbs is, and I couldn’t ask for a better counterpart on this journey.
Personally my favorite aspect in the short time we’ve been running is the demo channel. There are so many talented individuals sharing their art, and they often speak on the impact DH has had on them and now feel this new imprint is more in line with their productions. We have a handful of signed EPs that I’m really excited to share over the next year and beyond.
>Which labels outside your own are hitting your sweet spot as of late, or inspiring you? Artists?
Anyone close to me knows my love for Afterlife. It’s a lot of the music that has pushed things into new depths over the years. And well before that, Life and Death played a massive role for me, and really opened me up to the sounds I love most.
Last year I had a release on Parquet, and their past year has been huge, I’m constantly playing out their releases. On the newer side I’ve been loving TAU, amazing music coming out of that project.
As for artists, my constant inspiration comes from Mind Against, they are just always pushing the sounds. Also been loving Oliver Winters lately, productions are on fire. And my close friend and production collaborator Rinzen is definitely someone to watch, he is brilliant in the studio.
>As a fairly new musician on the wider touring circuit, what have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in reaching success?
The two things I’ve learned and practiced over the years with traveling: first is to take care of myself, eat well, sneak in a little sleep, and just do my best to keep up the positive daily habits I have when I’m home, not always an easy task. The other is to build relationships, really engage and share time with people in each city, at the party and beyond. The personal connections are what mean the most to me, and get me back to certain places the most. Then it just feels like you’re constantly visiting friends as opposed to the isolated lonely touring life that can definitely weigh on you. So if I take care of myself, and connect with new and old friends, I know I’m on the path. I am without a doubt in my current position because of the amazing people I’ve met, shared beautiful time with, and focused more on strong foundation rather than a speedy climb. It’s all about the love shared.
>What do you love most about the Desert Hearts brand/community?
The love. The selflessness. The freedom to express yourself. The music. And the feeling you get when you walk into any DH event and immediately feel a collective lift. This community is something special, and it has truly altered the course of my life in the most beautiful ways. I’ve now brought my parents, brothers, grandparents, cousins and more to our events and the love in their eyes experiencing this world is something I’ll never forget. It really is a growing family built on love, inclusivity and just a tiny bit of fun.
>Tell us about the process of Torus – how you ended up working with Rinzen, the writing process and inspirations behind each song, etc.
A couple weeks before DH two years ago, I got an email from Rinzen who Id never met, with some tracks he wanted to share. He said he loved what I do musically and thought I might like his tracks and have them for my DH set. At that time I didn’t know he’d been coming to the festival and actually shared a lot of mutual friends. The tracks were great, I thanked him and said we should link up soon. The festival came and went without an opportunity to meet, but our very close mutual friend connected us and said we should write together. So having never met, I went to his studio, we hung for a bit and then started to write a track. Two sessions together and we wrote Fractal, which got signed to Parquet! So needless to say we both felt we had found something special in this dynamic.
After sharing all this with Marbs, we thought let’s all try and write something together, as we have similar tastes all with a slightly different focus. The outcome of this well exceeded our expectations and we wrote the 3 track Torus EP, set to come out on Desert Hearts Black. Our chemistry in the studio is wild, and something we are very excited to continue pushing to new levels.
>What else is in store in Evan Casey’s world?
So many good things, it’s a very special time right now for many reasons. All the planning, organizing, and envisioning is coming to a major point as we are about to throw our Desert Hearts Black Launch party in LA on Aug 9! Marbs and myself, joined by our good friend Rinzen, and our very special friend and guest Thugfucker. Following this I head to Chicago on the 17, and then to Vegas on the 27. All leading towards my wedding in which Marbs is the best man, so life is good! Excited for the next couple months and beyond!
> You can buy the new Desert Hearts Black release from …HERE…