by Fraser McCallum
It goes without saying that music is a beautiful, universal language. However, many dedicated musicians will tell you that it’s a slog to make a living at it and survive the industry’s countless pitfalls. When asked the simple question, “why,” Devin Casario responds quickly, “I love music. I love creation. I’m not a solo artist—I’m a collaborator. I love what others bring to a project, and on this one we have a great team. I moved home to make this album.”
Casario is the front man of Devin Casario and the Illusion, a new musical entity in Charlottetown set to release their debut record, Rooftops and Alleyways. The two-disc album combines elements of pop, folk, reggae, jazz, waltz and hip hop into a signature sound unlike anything else you’ve heard. Except for maybe, Mars Hill, the successful band Casario led for five years, but this is certainly new musical terrain for the established artist. This project has more focus on pure songwriting and melody and features Casario singing and less rap or spoken word.
Mars Hill conquered the local scene picking up Music PEI awards, an ECMA nomination, and a few hundred shows from PEI to Ontario. Parting ways in 2008 after a year together in Montreal, Casario flirted with a move to Hong Kong before an injury and a yearning to make another studio creation brought him back to Charlottetown. “I moved home in May of 08. The only place I could do my album is on PEI. I wasn’t gonna hunt around Craigslist for a Montreal backing band. So this album really was percolating for two years.”
This new record is full of concept and theme. “Rooftops and Alleyways is a resistance statement. You’re either taking care of things on the upper business levels or you’re being chased in the alleyways.” Casario enlisted local engineer/producer Adam Gallant (Well Oiled, Racoon Bandit, Haunted Hearts) and long time musician Jon King as fellow producers and a two-year creative process began. Tackling two albums (twenty-two songs in total) with very different approaches, Casario divided his songs into Disc 1: Rooftops and Disc 2: Alleyways. “It’s a Montreal theme as it’s a very militant city. Even when that city wins they riot. We’re all on the front lines in this era of economic collapse yet I tried to tame that political stuff with an all-encompassing theme—enslavement versus resistance. We all face that with relationships, with family…with my old band.”
Casario is quick to differentiate the sound of the two companion pieces. “Rooftops is in stereo and it’s a pure studio album…12 tracks that are slick as shit with a bit of rawness.
“Alleyways is a sloppy, beautiful mess. It’s made of almost entirely live recordings and is mixed in mono.”
Long-time collaborator Darren Gallup provided additional mixing through analog equipment and mastered the album. Musicians featured on the project include Sean Butler, Roger Carter, Chloe Cork, Chris Corrigan, Chris Coupland, Dean Dunsford, Laurie Forsyth, Gallant, King, and Davey Weale.
Rooftops and Alleyways will have its official launch October 1 at the Y Lofts at 252 Prince St. “We’re gonna show the kids how to put on a night. You’ve got to practice what you preach.” Casario says, smiling. “We’ll have all the bells and whistles but it will really be about the sound and performance. I like a good rock show—our show is gonna be a circus.”
Doors open at 8:30 pm and the night will open with performances from poet Sean Kelly as well as local musician Cory Doucette. B.Y.O.B. For more illusions and allusions: myspace.com/devincasariotheillusion