If You Love It, There's Only Winning: Q&A with Casey Abrams

If You Love It, There's Only Winning: Q&A with Casey Abrams

He’s not just a talented singer, but a killer bassist and multi-instrumentalist. He’s not just a professional who bravely crosses genres with ease, but he does so with infectious playfulness and soul. And despite facing some epic health battles over the years, Casey Abrams continues to be one of the most prolific, collaborative and engaging musicians out there.

Casey first caught the attention of the masses with his appearance on the tenth season of American Idol in 2011. Occasionally clad with his upright bass and always bringing a dynamic vocal performance and presence, Casey made a lasting impression on the judges and the audience. Even while facing acute complications from ulcerative colitis during the filming of Idol, Casey worked his way up the competition before leaving in sixth place. 

In the years since Idol, Casey has composed and released three full length jazz albums, a couple of EPs, a live album and numerous singles and collaborative releases. He’s toured worldwide as  frontman, and has spent time touring internationally as part of the renowned collective, Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox. He has an engaging presence on Social Media - often posting heartwarming and well-executed collaborations with an array of talented friends. 

After being introduced to him by fellow Kala Artist Eva Mikhailovna, Casey has since added our Journeyman U•BASS® and Solid Cedar Top Parlor Guitar to his arsenal of instruments. We’re honored to have him as part of the Kala Artist family, and to share with you a bit more about his background and take on music!

What drew you most to playing bass?


I was having piano lessons in my hometown of Idyllwild, California. My piano teacher also plays the upright bass, I remember it was laying on its side, and I plucked the E string. It made such a cool noise that from that moment on, I wanted to learn how to make such a cool, low note frequency with music. I then realized that all music has at least a bass instrument that really is “the ball of the jelly”, as my jazz bass teacher Marshall Hawkins put it. 

What was your first impression of, and what is your favorite thing about the U•BASS?

I was hanging out with my friend Eva Mikhhailovna and she had a U•BASS. I played it and was so amazed at how much noise it produced in such a small instrument. It was perfect for sound. I could travel with it anywhere I wanted, and it didn't take up any space.  

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians or people thinking of starting?

If you love it, there's only winning. Practice playing along with your favorite songs. Reading is good, but feeling the music is better. Quality is very important, but in this day and age, you also need quantity. Put out things that you love, even if they aren't perfect. Perfectionism is the destroyer of creativity. Create and put it out and don't be afraid to do so.  

What are your top 3 musical influences?

Jack Black from Tenacious D is pretty incredible; he can sing and rock out at the same time.

Louis Armstrong is amazing with his voice and his trumpet skills. The way that he eases back into a melody so chilled out. And his vibrato on his trumpet is incredible. 

Queen. They have pretty incredible songs that are both classically influenced and jazz rock. Freddie Mercury is amazing at playing the piano, and very operatic with his voice. 

Also, for my upright bass playing… Marshall Hawkins, my Jazz teacher from Idyllwild Arts, really influenced the way that I walk a bassline, and the way that I sync my solo up when I hit the strings as well.  

What is your favorite element of your music career - writing, recording, performing, etc - and why?

I love performing. I write and record so I can perform it in front of a live audience. It's great to get that instant feedback from people. I love writing and recording and I think it's necessary to portray a message and get it across to people, but performing and getting applause is so fun. 

You're known as a killer bassist and vocalist. Do you have any other instruments you're really into playing, or an instrument you're exploring?

Before I played the bass, I played piano, and I even have a piano album. I love studying Stevie Wonder on the piano. I played recorder in grade school and that transferred to clarinet. I can still play that today. I also learned "Smells like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana on guitar, and I like playing guitar a lot. I also have an accordion and a sitar that I play every once in a while. I can play the drums, and I also have a bouzouki.  

You're a jazz guy, and you pull jazz into this accessible realm for listeners. What insight do you have for listeners just getting into jazz music, or for those who've been hesitant to check it out?

Thank you! What really got me into jazz was the song "Autumn Leaves" by Cannonball Adderly and Miles Davis. It's a 10 minute long song with great solos that is on the album "somethin' else"  also, check out Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald singing things. They have killer bands, and it's fun to listen to. 

What is on the horizon for Casey Abrams and your musical journey?

I will be recording Jazz versions of my favorite video game when I was a child, "Zelda; Ocarina of Time". I also plan to put a new original music and covers and perform them everywhere. I have a new rock 'n' roll band called BBQ Jones. I also want to play with my band FunkHaus, a nine piece jazz orchestra. I want to record with my band Orchestra Of People, where we all sit around the fire and sing one of my songs. I would also love to act in movies someday.  




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