Songwriter-Performer Caleb De Casper Wants Your Attention
Good Boy or "Bad Boy"? You decide.
By Beth Sullivan,
3:30PM, Wed. Dec. 5, 2018
There was a time in Caleb De Casper’s career where he’d bleed from his eyes and eat hearts on stage. “I'd do all kinds of stuff,” recalls the local singer/songwriter/performer, “because I was trying to express these crazy things inside of me.”
For the classically trained pianist and vocalist, his desire to express “these crazy things” was born of growing up in rural North Carolina, where De Casper considered himself an outsider. In addition to being gay, he says he also felt ostracized for wanting to break out of the get-a-job, have-a-family, and open-a-retirement-account construct his peers expected him to follow. “The fact that I wanted to do music and be a part of the entertainment industry, I mean, that itself was sinful to people.”
Defying expectations, De Casper attended music school in North Carolina for several years before going “balls out” and moving to Brooklyn, where he honed his trademark horror glam rock over the course of six months, bleeding eyes, eating hearts, and all. De Casper remembers his jaunt in the Big Apple as a career-affirming and eye-opening experience. He explains, “I just always had a feeling about what I wanted to do, and then I moved somewhere, a major metropolitan area, and people empower[ed] me and validate[ed] me.” He then returned to North Carolina to finish school and continued performing, but it was a period marked with little progress, he says. A music professor, at one point, even told De Casper that “the world would never be ready” for an openly queer performer like him.
Fortuitously, however, De Casper was booked on a bill with local blitzkrieg punk rockers Xetas in Charlotte in a double-wide trailer that had been converted into a club. The crowd, recalls De Casper, was less than enthused with his gory stage antics. “People didn't get it.” He repeats, “People did not get it.” Xetas, on the other hand, was “mesmerized.” They told him, “‘These people don't get you. But we know where people will get you. You need to come with us.’” And so De Casper followed the firebrands out west in search of the queers and steers who would embrace his love of the macabre.
His experience as a gay musician in Austin the last three years has been great, he says, a far cry from the discrimination he faced in North Carolina. De Casper confesses he still likes to shock people at his shows, but “it's less being on the defensive and more on the offensive.” In the beginning, “I was doing this just to put my middle finger up,” he says. Back when he was performing in front of people who didn’t take him seriously, his appearance was his first line of defense. “I'm singing about things that are very individual and personal to me, and I want you to pay attention.” He explains, “So you need to look at me and quit passing me off as a fairy, you know, just some fairy, or just some,” he pauses, looking for the word, “frivolous, that's a good word … No, I'm not, you need to sit down and you need to drink that beer and you need to look at me.”
2018 has been a whirlwind year for Austin’s goth glamour boy. In May, he released the music video for his single “Good Boy," in addition to doing interviews and performing on KVRX and Texas State University’s Studio C Session on KTSW this November. He recorded his first live album over the summer at the Electric Church. And to the professor who doubted De Casper’s success, all he has to say is this: “Look at me now.”
Caleb De Casper returns to the stage along with Downtown Brown, Elevaded, and Big Jaw this Sat., Dec. 8, at the Electric Church, 5018 E. Cesar Chavez. 9pm. Find more info here.