Talent, tenacity and tech savvy are moving this indie artist forward

Casey Desmond is the kind of kid who makes parents proud. At 24 she’s already received more awards and acclaim than many artists accumulate over a career. In addition to recently winning the Vision 4 Music songwriting competition and the Los Angeles Music awards, she’s been a repeat nominee for the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, a finalist in the Boston Music Awards’ Best Local Female Vocalist category and a consistent contender for honors in numerous other national competitions. She’s also included on several high-profile artist compilations and has released two albums on her own—2005’s self-titled debut and No Disguise in 2007—along with two EPs, 2008’s Chilly Allston and the new Heart Shaped Faces.

However, it’s her social networking and vigorous online outreach campaign that have garnered the most attention. “You really have to be a presence on the internet, because that’s where a lot of people are,” she says. “Everyone is on Facebook and Twitter, and they’re interested in lifestyle and what other people are doing. So it’s important to invite them to share the creative process. If I’m working on a music video for a new song, along the way I’m blogging about the progress. It’s a good way to keep in touch with your fans and reach other people who might not normally find you.”

Desmond’s been writing songs since she was 11 and performing since high school. Adept at guitar, keyboards and accordion, she offers a dance-friendly pop approach that often recalls the synthesized sounds that dominated the charts in the ’80s and early ’90s. Her choice of collaborators has influenced that style—from singer, songwriter and producer Robert Ellis Orrall and veteran producer Anthony J. Resta (Collective Soul, Shawn Colvin, Duran Duran) to noted musicians Will Ackerman, Tony Levin and Chris Fogel. Desmond has also developed her visual appeal, outfitting herself in masks and costumes she creates herself.

Desmond cites her parents, Bill and Katherine Desmond, as her main champions. Artists themselves, they became musical fixtures in the family’s Boston environs and have shared their creative input and business savvy with her. She has taken the increasingly popular avenue of licensing her music to movies and television shows for exposure. “It’s always a challenge for an independent artist when it comes to finances,” she says. “Plus there’s so much going on out there, it’s really hard to get yourself noticed. But if you can find something that people can bond to—a certain look, a certain sound—you can find your way around that. There’s also the element of time. There always seems to be so much to do, so you really have to manage your time wisely. If not, you can really exhaust yourself.”

Record labels have come calling, but Desmond says she’s in no hurry to leap at the first opportunity. “There are two ways to go about this,” she figures. “I can continue to be independent and look for that door that might open as an independent artist, or I can take the label approach. It’s hard releasing albums on your own. It would be good to have someone working my music at radio and getting press because it’s really difficult doing that on your own. People tell me I don’t have to get signed by a label. It’s just about how you market yourself. It would be great to find a label that wouldn’t inhibit me but would support my musical endeavors. I like doing stuff my way.”

–Lee Zimmerman

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