Producer Vicky Casis recently released her debut full-length solo album titled “Casis World.” Casis World is an audio look into the life of the Brooklyn beat-maker during the COVID-19 pandemic. The albums’ sound mirrors the producer’s evolving emotions during lockdown.
Casis World is produced and arranged entirely by Vicky Casis. The 12-track album features appearances by King Kah, Brooke D., Li Pierre, Lawd P, Justo Ontario, Ithinkitsbbp, Davie Napalm, Clowette, Chris Williams, and Marcus Machado.
The Real Hip-Hop spoke to Vicky Casis about how she dealt with frustration during the pandemic, producing outside of Mach-7 Muzik, and her new album, Casis World.
TRHH: Explain the title of the new album Casis World?
Vicky Casis: My stage name is Vicky Casis and I just wanted something bold since it’s my debut album, something that people can remember, and show something that represents me. It sonically represents my experiences during the pandemic, so the good and the bad. I wanted to sonically put that in the music and represent that.
TRHH: That’s interesting that you mentioned that because the track “Frustration” actually sounded like literal frustration. Is there a story behind that track?
Vicky Casis: [Laughs] Yeah, with that I wanted that to represent the frustration of the lack of creativity. There was a point when I was making the album where I had something and then I was like, “This is not it.” So, I got really frustrated and kind of had a block. I was just frustrated. I was like, “Yo, I can’t come up with anything that I like, anything I feel should be put out into the world.” Also, the frustration of just being locked up in the house, also seeing our own people slain in the streets on TV, which is nothing new. It’s something we see all the time but having COVID on top of that it’s just going to mess you up mentally. It’s just a whole bunch of frustrations with that and creativity with music. I was just so over it. As the album goes along it starts to get more uplifted and everything is going to be all right. But at that time, I was just losing it. I was like, “What is going on?”
TRHH: How were you able to get over the block?
Vicky Casis: Just trying to create. I think instead of just sitting there and being stuck in that funk, just pushing and keep creating stuff. Everything that I’m going through inspired me to keep going with it. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not a great time, but if I keep creating and keep staying active it will come through. This project kind of just built from that.
TRHH: On the song “Prototype” there was an interesting sound that sounded like a hi-hat or a spray bottle. What was that? That was a unique sound.
Vicky Casis: So, I use Native Instruments. On the Maschine+ the stock sounds on there alone are crazy. I’m a big nerd in looking for unique and obscure sounds and putting that into the music. It’s kind of like that spray hi-hat and I thought it would be cool to add that in. I really experiment with different weird sounds to see if I can tweak it to sound dope to me. It’s funny you asked that. I had fun making that track.
TRHH: You mentioned Maschine, what else is in your workstation?
Vicky Casis: I’m a minimalist. Definitely the Maschine+ because on the Plus everything you need is there. As far as editing goes, I use Logic from time to time to make edits. I use my Komplete S2 for the keys, and that’s really it. On the Plus alone, there are so many sounds and so much stuff you can do. I like to keep it really simple so I actually don’t use too much different gear when it comes to creating. I keep it real low-key.
TRHH: I saw the video of you using Dubler. Was it Dubler?
Vicky Casis: Yeah, Vochlea mic. I was using that in the past to experiment, but I haven’t used it lately. That was pretty cool. I got connected with Vochlea – they’re a London based company – they have the Dubler. You can basically sing a beat that you make. You can sing sounds – kicks, snares, synths, whatever. You can sing it or beatbox it on the mic and the sound comes out. It’s pretty crazy. If you don’t want to play keys and you want to use your voice you can. It’s really cool for performing, but as far as creating-wise I was using it for a little bit, but I was like, “Nah, I’ll just go back to the beat machine.” I’m so used to doing that rather than using my voice. but for live purposes it’s kind of cool to use.
TRHH: How did you initially get into production?
Vicky Casis: I’ve been around music my whole life. My mom put me and my siblings on to all types of records and played all types of genres of music. At five I started playing drums. I did that all the way to high school and then a friend of me and my brother, Peter Panic, he’s a producer and he had a studio on Empire. When my brother was like 16-17 he would go there and go in the studio, just to help assist, do session work and play guitar, because he’s a guitarist. So, I would come and follow along and see all this crazy gear. Peter was cleaning out his basement and was like, “Hey, you guys want some equipment?” He gave us an old Dell computer that had Reason 3 on it, and a couple of other things like an MPC. I didn’t really use the MPC, but I was using the Dell computer and I was using Reason. My brother went on tour and all the stuff was just left in my house. At first, he was like, “Why don’t you make some music?” I was like, “Nah.”
Then he left and then I just started messing with Reason 3, but I would pencil in each note and pencil in everything. I made like a mixtape full of beats and then when he got back I gave it to him and I was like, “Hey take a listen to this,” and he’s like, “You made all this?” and I was like, “Yeah.” This is when I was like 16 and then from there I just kept making music, kept making beats, and then eventually got the Maschine Mikro and was using that for like many years. It’s not until recent that I got the Plus and been doing that. So, if it wasn’t for Peter leaving all the equipment behind for us I don’t know, I might have not been making beats. So, it was him. Peter, he’s a notable producer. He produced on Reasonable Doubt for Jay-Z. He produced “Regrets” and he’s just always taught us stuff and just made us experiment with stuff and he didn’t have to do that. So, yeah that’s pretty much how I got into production.
TRHH: How is it different making beats alone versus making beats as part of Mach-7 Muzik?
Vicky Casis: I think with my brother we both experiment but I think I have more freedom really like going out there and really taking my time and doing stuff. Collaborating with my brother is really fun because he brings his own style and I bring my own style so that’s what makes Mach-7. Like I said, he’s a musician — he’s a guitarist so if I’m like, “Maybe we should add some guitar parts to this and add stuff,” we could do extra stuff like that. We like to use live instrumentation more and stuff like that. I think with my production I don’t use too much live instrumentation, but sometimes if I need some live bass or some guitars and I call him like, “Hey, can you add this in?” Just like with on the album “Pay the Price” he actually did the guitars and the bass on that. And I was like, “I need some bass, I need some guitars on this,” and he did the solo and did his thing. So, it goes hand to hand. I love collaborating. I will always love collaborating with my brother, but alone it’s pretty dope to just creating stuff and kind of experimenting and going into different directions that I wanna go into.
TRHH: So, you’re primarily a sample-based producer?
Vicky Casis: I would say I’m a mixture. So, I sample, but I also do original. I create from scratch and come up with stuff, especially on this album. I have a couple of tracks that might have little samples in there, but the majority of the album is pretty much from scratch. Prototype was original, Pay the Price is original, It’s Real is original. So, I like to do both. Sampling is fun, I mean, you can just do so much with sampling. But I also like coming up with stuff off the top of my head and building from there.
TRHH: How would you classify the Vicky Casis sound?
Vicky Casis: That’s funny, I never have a good answer for this because I’m so inspired by everything. So, it’s really hard to label my sound, and plus it switches a whole lot. But I guess I would say just “New Age Hip-Hop” if that is something I could put it into, but I hate labels. Because I would like to go into any direction and especially working with different artists I like to go into their world but bring myself into it. So, I could go into a pop direction, I could go into dance, I can go into R&B, I can go into a little rock, so it depends. I guess I would say New Age Hip-Hop if I had to describe my own sound.
TRHH: If you could produce an album for one emcee who would it be?
Vicky Casis: One emcee?
TRHH: Okay, give me a couple.
Vicky Casis: Definitely Hov. Kendrick, J. Cole those are like my top three for sure. Yeah Kendrick, Hov, and J. Cole would be my top three.
TRHH: What’s your favorite song on Casis World?
Vicky Casis: I would say “Remember.” That’s featuring Ithinkitsbbp and Davie Napalm. it’s crazy how that collaboration came about because we’ve never met each other. We all started following one another. I start following Davie on Instagram and his stuff is crazy. And then he checked my stuff and we became like fans and friends of each other. And then once the album came about and I started creating I’m like, “Yo, can you get on this track?” and he’s like, “Yeah!” And then he said he has a friend, bbp, who’s like a crazy singer and lyricist, but I think he’s like from Atlanta. He was like, “He would be perfect for this,” so I checked out his stuff. He sent me links of his work and his stuff is crazy! I’m like, “Get him on this track immediately!” And then from there they sent their verses in and then I put it together and that was the track.
But I love that track. I just love the production on that one and how that one came about, I was actually working on my friend Marissa Wilson’s fashion show. I’m a music coordinator for her fashion show for New York Fashion Week. I was putting music together and the second part of Remember, that part came about for that project. But then I’m like, “Man, this should be for the album.” So, I added that in and added something else in the beginning, so it’s kind of like a two-part type song. I enjoyed creating that track, and then just the whole collaboration how that came about, and everybody’s just excelled and did their thing. They executed it and I just loved how it came out.
TRHH: Who is the Casis World album made for?
Vicky Casis: Everybody. I think everybody’s been through trials and tribulations and the point of this project was for people just to embrace what they’ve gone through and to hold on to it, because there’s a light at the tunnel. And you’re going to go through ups and downs — that’s just life — that’s going to come with your life. When you have those good days just always look back on what you came from and what you had to go through in order to get to where you are. So, it’s for everybody because everybody goes through all types of ups and downs. Whether it’s health, finance, family, it doesn’t matter what it is. Nobody’s life is perfect, so it’s for everyone.
Purchase: Vicky Casis – Casis World