At the very start of the pandemic, while most of us were still trying to figure out which Netflix show to binge, Casey MQ got hard at work co-organizing Club Quarantine, a queer Zoom rave series that featured DJ sets from the likes of Charli XCX, who infamously had a pull so strong that it flooded their Zoom meeting all the way to capacity, causing a literal lockdown and screeching the floodgates of attendees to a hault.
As COVID restrictions kept becoming incessantly extended, Casey MQ put the finishing touches on his debut album, babycasey, from his home in Toronto, releasing it later in August of that year. The LP fused his musical training as a classical pianist with his electronic bubblegum pop sensibilities as hyperpop was just starting to break into larger cultural conversations, creating for a timeless project that couldn’t have been made in any other time period.
Now, Casey MQ is coming out of quarantine with “Telephone Light,” a bouncy and lighthearted banger that dances on top of fluttering synths, calling back to the angelic sounds he established on babycasey, but mixing them with hard and metallic pop drums. It all comes with a 2022 update that places some of the biggest faces to come out of the quarantine hyperpop scene — umru and Petal Supply — at the forefront of the collaboration process.
umru is assisting on production, with Petal Supply from 909 Worldwide lending her cutesy vocals to sing about the gratification and struggles of long distance relationships. Petal Supply and Casey MQ are trying to keep the love flowing through texts and the internet, as the night starts to wind down and the allure of letting their eyelids shut keeps getting stronger and stronger — something that feels just as relevant in a post-pandemic world as it felt in peak lockdown.
In light of the new release, PAPER talked to Casey MQ about his collaboration process, accomplishments this past year and plans for the coming year, below.
How did you and Petal Supply get to collaborating?
At some point when I was living in Toronto, I found out Petal was moving there from her hometown. I remember the week that I knew she was moving: I was spending the week with Cecile Believe in Toronto on music. During one of our sessions we messaged Petal to have dinner, and for all of us to meet and hang out. We ended up working altogether on some music that evening and since then stayed in touch.
What was the actual collaboration process like for "Telephone Light"?
Petal and I got into the studio one day and I had the production already started for what would become "Telephone Light." We immediately connected on the topic of long distance relationships and collectively thought it would be great to put that into a song. We both have varying experiences on the way a relationship like that can feel and it was great to freely integrate that to create the song. We were honestly having a blast in the studio and it brought out such a cute result.
“Telephone Light” features a distorted pop 808 pattern, placing you and Petal Supply into a familiar yet completely new sonic wheelhouse. How did that production choice come into the picture?
I made the production for "Telephone Light" as my babycasey album was being mixed and completed at the top of 2020. It stayed in a folder for a while as I continued on with other things and explorations. I tried various versions of the song over the beat because I was so interested in that keyboard loop. It really wasn’t until I worked with Petal on the song that I was able to find new meaning for it and suddenly it felt like an appropriate song to release — especially for the summer on the beach or something [laughs].
What was also great was to collab with umru for this. He added some great details and textures on various instruments that helped give the song even more dimension. I like that it has a nod to music I love, while also seeing how that language fits into some things I’ve been experimenting with.
What was it like getting to work on "Highest Building" off the new Flume album earlier this year?
Really fun. I worked with Mary Lou on the lyrics for that song. We worked together to hone in some of the lyrical ideas she had started to come up with. It was a great experience.
"Telephone Light" marks your first release of 2022. Is there anything bigger planned for Casey MQ in the coming year?
I’m currently working on finishing a new album. It’s a departure from my previous album and singles, and I’m super excited to introduce that when the time comes. I have been living in Los Angeles for the last bit working with a bunch of amazing artists while also continuing to sculpt what will be that next album. I can’t wait.
Photo courtesy of Casey MQ
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