Student Spotlight: Casey McQuillen ’11

Songwriter Casey McQuillen ’11 is putting her talent to good use on an international scale, winning a fast-growing fan base on campus and online. Whether she is recording acoustic covers, singing originals for her YouTube account (, or performing with her band, her gentle voice and catchy melodies have kept her fan base wanting more. This dedicated musician sat down with The Phillipian to talk about her art, the songwriting process and stage fright. Q: How long have you been making music? A: I’ve been singing as long as I can remember, but I started playing the guitar in eighth grade. [Music has] just always been something I’ve loved to do, ever since I was a little girl. Q: What is your songwriting process? A: Usually I’m reflecting on something that happened to me or happened to someone that means a lot to me. Then, I start playing my guitar… I just run with whatever comes out. I don’t really plan [songwriting] that much because I believe that over-planned songs don’t flow well and don’t sound the way they should. Q: How did you first start working with your band? A: I really wanted to get into Grasshopper Night this year and I figured my act would be better if I added more people. We [violinist Elaine Kuoch ’11, pianist Will Adams ’11, drummer Zack Fine ’11 and I] really clicked as a band so we stayed together. We usually take a song that I’ve written previously and the rest of the members add their own instrumental parts to it. Q: Who are your music influences? A: Alanis Morissette, Taylor Swift, Regina Spektor, Missy Higgins. Q: Have you sent your music out to any record companies? A: Not yet. I’m in the process of going to a recording studio in Medford [called Jewels Enterprises] to record some of my best songs so I’ll be able to send them out to record companies. Q: How did you begin recording at Jewels Enterprises? A: Peter Ly ’09 interned at the studio in Medford this summer. I knew him from making the MMPC CD last year. He showed [Jimmy Jules], the owner of the studio, a couple of my tracks off the CD, and [he] really liked them, so he invited me to come in and record. Q: How many subscribers do you have? A: I think I have about 600, and I actually hit 100,000 views yesterday. I was pretty excited about that. Q: Do you get a lot of feedback from viewers? A: I get a ton of feedback. I probably get around 25 comments a day from people who are requesting songs for me to cover or saying that they like whatever I’ve done. Q: What’s the weirdest comment you’ve ever gotten? A: I’ve had a couple people ask me to marry them which I think is funny. And I’ve had people get in fights on my walls about whether the original artist or I am better at the songs. Q: Do you prefer performing live or recording videos? A: Performing live. One of my favorite parts of performing is when people are talking before you perform and they just get quiet because they’re listening to your music. Q: Do you ever get stage fright? A: Yes, every time I perform I get really nervous. It can be really personal when you’re singing any type of music. Q: Do you have any methods of dealing with this phobia? A: I usually pick one person in the audience that I know is going to tell me I did a good job whether I did or not, and I just focus on them and their reaction to it. (Laughs) It makes me feel better about it. Q: Are there any crowd favorites? Personal favorites? A: People really like my songs “Walk Away,” “The World” and “Good Night and Goodbye.” Usually, my newest song is my favorite at the time because I’m more connected to it. Q: Where do you plan on going with your music? A: As far as I can. I’d love to be a professional musician but if that doesn’t work out I definitely want to include music in my life and in my profession.