Golden Brown’s Casey Burge Talks Craft

Vortex Music Magazine

The Minden frontman talks about his solo work and what keeps him going in our vibrant local music scene.

Casey Burge, a talented multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, could sing the sweetness into just about anybody. His musical style and lack of genre surpasses description yet innovates at nearly every turn. Just when you start to get a feel for his work, the next song introduces you to another facet of his talent that’s quite unlike the one before it. Every song is its own unique snowflake that happens only once and never again.

And it’s no wonder. Burge has been playing since he was 11 years old, when his parents gifted him a guitar. “It’s all I’ve ever sincerely wanted to do and it’s unlikely I’ll ever stop,” he asserts. Listening to Burge’s songs, you really do get the sense that his relationship with music goes beyond the traditional singer-songwriter exchange. The melodies come from a place of experimentation and personal refinement, and the lyrics always seem to resonate long after they’ve been sung.

His recent involvement with Golden Brown Records, “an independent label and artist development group [that represents] artists who bend genres, minds and hearts,” is the result of one of Sama Dams’ infamous 20 songs game that that landed his track “Comin’ Fulfilled” on Perfectly Toasted, Vol. 1. “A group of songwriters come together and agree to attempt writing 20 songs in 12 hours or so, each on their own,” recounts Burge. The artists shared pizza and drinks while creating “all things chill and groovy,” which then culminated in Golden Brown asking to add “‘Comin’ Fulfilled” to their first tape release. Burge encourages anyone reading to check it out: “It’s an excellent compilation. I’m honored they asked.” (For those interested, the compilation can be found on Bandcamp.)

Burge with MindenBurge with MindenBut Burge’s passion for music doesn’t stop there. He’s committed to a number of bands outside of his self-titled solo project. “Minden is my most beloved,” he explains, “Ninety percent of my effort, time and money goes into Minden and it may be the only investment I feel zero guilt about.” He went on to express how Minden is his most refined project and that secondary project No Lala, in contrast, boasts a more improvisational tone. When Burge isn’t occupied with Minden and No Lala, he backs one of his favorite singer-songwriters, Boone Howard, in his stage band. “It’s like a dream, truly. All of these groups perform around the city and I hope everyone comes out to see what it’s all about,” he gushes.

Like a lot of talented creatives these days, Burge doesn’t limit himself to the Portland music scene. His song “Comin’ Fulfilled” was chosen by NugTools as the background track for their promotional video showcasing the Nuggy, a multi-tool tailored for the cannabis enthusiast’s every need. When NugTools asked him if he’d like to be part of the project Burge said yes instantly. “The song they chose was a perfect match with their products and vibe.” Burge spoke of cannabis as a resource he’s used in the past to combat creative blocks. “It’s particularly useful for letting go and embracing whatever comes through, especially when it’s outside of the styles I usually get hung up on,” he confesses. Though he admits cannabis hasn’t played much of a role in his music production these days, it was fundamental at the start of his career and he doesn’t doubt it will come around again when it’s needed.

With such a long list of projects on his belt, I was curious about Burge’s creative process. His response was indicative of someone who clearly carries an innate ability for what he does: “My process typically starts at the piano. The chords come first, then the melody, and occasionally a lyric shows up fully formed. From those beginnings things move to my (very) basic home recording setup where I begin to capture it and write as I go. It’s relaxed and usually happens quickly, over a day or three.” Burge refers to this as the modern song form, and it’s what interests him most; the beauty and art of writing songs that don't bend to the will of convention but to whatever may come in the moment.

You can find Burge and the rest of Minden performing at Mississippi Studios on May 18, where he hopes to see you!

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