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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Casey Foubert

Seattle, Washington

Major: Music

Casey is a nontraditional student studying music after establishing his career working with various folk, indie, and pop bands.

Casey stands for a headshot in the Ford Center for Fine Arts.

When did you begin making music? Why?

Actually, my earliest memories are of my dad playing guitar and singing for me in his living room. We were sitting on the rug while the sun was streaming in through the blinds. He was a folk singer. I must have been three or four years old; it seemed like magic. That was when I knew I wanted to make music on some level. I started playing violin in fourth grade and I took piano lessons before that, but high school is when I really started to formulate who I am today as a musician. Soon after that, I went to college and started studying jazz violin. I started playing in indie rock bands right after that. When I was in high school, I wanted to be in a band just like Fugazzi, this post-punk band from Washington, D.C. They just toured around the country and made records. I wanted to be like them: not famous, so I can walk around and nobody will know who I am, but still playing shows all the time.

Is there any specific genre you feel you gravitate towards? Why?

As a listener, I mostly only listen to jazz. I'm really quite preoccupied with drums. That's part of the reason why I came back to school: because I wanted to study drums more seriously, but I've always been a guitar player. I guess I gravitate towards jazz and playing drums, but if I'm making or writing music, I really write singer-songwriter or folk music. That's the thing that I think comes most naturally to me and makes the most sense to me.

You released your first solo EP on November 12, and you also held a songwriting workshop here at Knox during fall term. Can you tell me a little bit about your solo music career?

My solo music career doesn't really actually exist. I'm starting it now, which is good and bad, because I'm getting a late start. I should have done this when I was in my 20s, but I was interested in doing other things then. When I was younger, I didn't necessarily want to be a band leader. I'm really starting my own career as an artist, as a singer songwriter, now. My wife and I used to live in Madison, Wisconsin, and I did a residency there playing my own songs. I played every Tuesday night at a bar, which was really fun. That's where I really started to feel like "oh, I can actually do this." 

How have you worked with other artists? 

Almost immediately after I dropped out of college, I was hired to play in a band. I've really been touring and making records ever since then. I played with Pedro the Lion for a long time then I was a part of a few different bands. I got hired to play with Sufjan Stevens in 2009, and working with him has been the bulk of my career. At that time, I was working with other people too, like Gabriel Kahane, Richard Swift, David Bazan, Damien Jurado, and others, because I'm also an engineer and a producer. I played guitar for The Shins for their tour. I did a little recording with them as well. That was really fun. After we moved here, I decided to go back to school.

What motivated you to go back to school? Why Knox? 

I always wanted to finish my bachelor's degree. My wife, Jennifer McCarthy Foubert, is an associate professor and chair of educational studies and director of teacher education at Knox. I watched her go back to school and get her master's and then a Ph.D. The opportunity to go back to school just presented itself because Galesburg is relatively affordable. The Shins’ tour had just ended and I was getting to know some of the music faculty at Knox. It got me really excited about being a part of the program. 

As a middle-aged person, it’s so much fun to have the opportunity to take an art history class with Greg Gilbert, professor of art and director of the art history program & art museum studies. I just love to learn new things. It was a really obvious choice for me. It's hard for me to say no to freelance work to concentrate on my own music, so being in school is a way of building a kind of metaphorical fence around my yard. I can say I can't work on this right now; I'm in school and I'm busy. I've been able to say no to things that I would never have said no to before, which is scary, but it's good because I need to work on my own music and my own career as an artist.

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Printed on Friday, July 19, 2024