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Surrounded by legends Kasey Lansdale stays true to her voice

East Texas singer/songwriter worked with Michael Clute and John Carter Cash on debut album
Kasey Lansdale
Kasey Lansdale's album, Restless, is out now on Blue Siren Records.

For country singer Kasey Lansdale singing was something she was born to do.

“When I was born my mom said that my life was musical and that I always wanted to be involved and I always wanted to be a singer,” Lansdale says. “It sort of was a natural thing for me and I never thought I that wouldn’t become one. I always thought it would be a part of my life.”

The Nacogdoches, Texas native recently released her debut album, Restless, on Blue Siren Records.

“The first part of the album was produced by Michael Clute,” says Lansdale. “We had more of an r&b vision. By the time I got to John Carter Cash I still had six other songs (which) showcase that older country sound that I grew up listening too.”

Cash, son of Johnny Cash, has worked with a lengthy list of notable artists including Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Brooks & Dunn, Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris. Lansdale says that despite all the high profile artists that Cash is associated with, he is humble and easy to work with.

“He was great. He is a very cool customer. He would come in and Chuck, the engineer, would have a hot tea ready for me and a vase with a flower in it and I felt very comfortable,” Lansdale says. “Just being in the Cash Cabin itself was surreal for me as an artist, especially for someone who grew up listening to music by his father and mother. I remember stepping up to the mic and them saying we still have the levels setup from when Loretta Lynn was here.”

Lansdale began singing at a very young age, often performing at house parties. Growing up the East Texas native admired the sounds of artists such as Reba McEntire, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline and Aretha Franklin.

“I think that generation of vocalists, specifically female vocalists, were true vocalists. It was about their talent and the way they could do a lick and end a note. The voice was inside of them and I think that as a musician and a singer specifically is extremely impressive,” she says. “There are not a lot of people who can bring that depth and emotion in the way that they can in my opinion.”

Lansdale went on to form her own band called Kasey Lansdale & The Daletones, and began performing at various venues throughout Texas. She is also no stranger to performing overseas, having preformed in Europe multiple times.

“I go over there about three times a year now and I lean towards more blues because it is much bigger over there,” Lansdale says. “It’s more about listening to the music than giving it a label.”

She explains that while country music is not popular in many parts of Europe, there are places where the genre is widely received.

“When I played in Germany and Norway, Texas country was huge,” Lansdale says. “When I did a couple covers everybody knew the words. I didn’t have that experience in some of the places I played. When I played in the U.K., there were some people that were sort of mixed. I would say that Italy is the one place where country music doesn’t really exist.”

Lansdale’s father, author Joe R. Lansdale, was recently inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame.

“When I was eight years old we wrote a story together and it got published by Random House. At the time, I didn’t even realize that was cool because that’s just what my family did. Daddy wrote,” Lansdale says. “It didn’t even occur to me that it was something special.”

The Nacogdoches High School graduate has become an author herself. She is currently working on her first novel and an anthology titled Impossible Monsters.

“It’s all stuff I love because when the music is done, being worked on by the producers or engineers, it gives me a way to focus and have a little bit of down-time while still being active and working,” Lansdale says.

She says that her writing as a songwriter rarely crosses over with her writing as an author.

“So far to this point I’ve been doing mainly horror. There is not really a way to implement that unless you want to do a darker song. There is a song called ‘Edge of Dark Water’ which I wrote and they released it with the novel Edge of Dark Water which was by my father. If you bought the book you also got the download. I titled it after that. The novel itself is a crime novel and I told the story from the perspective of the dead girl — you didn’t have to know anything about the novel in order to understand the song. So in that sense there is a crossover. But if you just hear the country song it’s just a song about a girl who’s trying to make it and has big dreams.”

Lansdale has also tried her hand at acting, playing Ella in a 2011 indie horror film Christmas with the Dead.

“It’s interesting because singing I’ve done my whole life and I am very comfortable with. Being on stage in that capacity is something I am comfortable with, so going to the acting side was extremely unnerving,” Lansdale says. “It’s a very different kind of pressure. I would say as an actress I’m a very good singer. I want to do more and keep learning. I think the experience has given be a better insight but it’s definitely a different kind of pressure that I did not expect.”

Lansdale is the founder and host of the East Texas Songwriter’s Workshop, which brings artists from across the region together and often includes a notable guest. She formed the workshop after she became frustrated by the lack of opportunities for musicians in the area.

“Where I live, it is not like Austin or Nashville, where you can just go out and the music scene is right there,” Lansdale says. “Not everyone has the sort of schedule that I have and not everyone has the sort of resources that I’ve been able to acquire and I think that is not a fair reason for people to get some sort of opportunity just because they can’t make it somewhere at a certain time. That doesn’t make them any less talented than anyone who is able.”

For more information on Kasey Lansdale or follow her on Twitter: @KaseyLansdale.