Erika de Casier Sharpens Signature Sound on Sophomore LP Sensational

Photo Credit: Dennis Morton

Erika de Casier spent part of the last year like most of the rest of us – bottling kombucha, making sourdough bread, watching a shit ton of movies and spending a lot of time on her phone. But the other part was spent doing something most people struggle to do – putting feelings of heartbreak, transience and solitude into words and music and bringing a new meaning to the phrase “party of one.” The Copenhagen-based producer and songwriter’s sophomore record, Sensational, glimmers with honesty and danceability and finds de Casier asserting her needs with poise and a tight beat.

de Casier spent the earlier part of the pandemic in a relatable state of existential and literal dread. Between constantly watching Covid-19 numbers rise and experimenting with lacto fermentation, she says that she struggled to find meaning in making music. “Writing songs felt really meaningless,” she remembers. “And then, at some point I realized that it’s the only thing that gives me meaning now… you can escape a little with music. You can still make a song about going to a party with it having a meaning because it means something different for us now to be able to be together.” de Casier’s music, which fuses gentle vocals with R&B chords and UK garage beats, feels like the perfect soundtrack to dancing alone in your kitchen, longing for the days when leaning up against a sweaty body wouldn’t give you a panic attack. 

She encapsulates this loneliness in her video for “Drama,” which follows her on the rollercoaster ride that accompanies complete solitude. It starts with the quintessential “dress up to go nowhere” routine, followed by a luxurious bubble bath and thirst trap selfies, then ends at risky texts and regret. de Casier perfectly describes the aftermath of this specific kind of emotional bender in the chorus when she sings, “I wrote you twice last night/Wish I could press rewind/Take back whatever I said/But I can’t do that/Thought it was going so well/Now I don’t even know.” She balances remorse with levity when she admits her tendency to lean towards the theatrical side of things. “I don’t mean to cause any drama, it’s just somehow, it always gets me.” In fact, de Casier blends self-awareness and irony so well, it’s hard to tell which one is which. Or maybe it’s both, and that’s what makes it so good? 

That duality characterizes Sensational, where de Casier glides from wanting a no-strings-attached romance in “Someone to Chill With” and thinking about a lost flame on “Secretly.” But just like in “Drama,” no one feeling is truer than the other. You can miss someone and still want to explore other people and feelings. You can be an R&B singer with a soft voice and proclivity for trip-hop. It’s what makes de Casier’s music so loveable and so her. She explains that it took some time to reach this signature sound. 

She describes her early recordings as “artsy” and “soundscape-y” with little to no vocals. “I convinced myself that was a choice but, really, I couldn’t make a beat if I wanted to,” she says, followed by a laugh. Feeling limited by what YouTube University had to offer, de Casier enrolled in an electronic music program where she was able to grow her skillset as a producer. She was simultaneously acting as the main vocalist and songwriter for the project Saint Cava, which she started with her friend Andreas Vasegaard. Performing with Saint Cava allowed de Casier to start producing solo tracks on her own, free from pressure. “That’s when I wrote ‘Puppy Love’ and it just made me so happy,” she remembers. “I felt it was completely me.”

But even feelings of euphoria can be interrupted by the dark cloud of imposter syndrome, which is what happened to de Casier. She felt self-conscious about producing because she was surrounded by producers – Vasegaard and her long time friend Natal Zaks – who she saw as way ahead of her skill-wise. “I compared myself a lot with them, like, ‘Why even bother when there are other people who are so talented?’” But her search for the sound that felt right for her inevitably broke down that mental barrier and led her to produce her debut album, Essentials. “I think I reached a point where I actually had this style that I didn’t get from any producers I was working with,” she says. 

If Essentials was de Casier’s first major foray into producing, it’s clear she has a well of talent to dip into, and Sensational proves that. She stays true to the base that she created in her first record while adding layers of more live-sounding instruments and experimenting with genre. “I think what changed is maybe… with Essentials, I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was just having fun with it,” she says. “Now, I feel like, okay, that went well, so I’ll keep doing that I guess.”

Follow Erika de Casier on Instagram and Facebook for ongoing updates.

VIDEO OF THE WEEK 1/13: Trentemøller “Gravity”


Danish indie-slanted electronic musician Trentemøller has debuted the video for “Gravity,” the second track off his 2013 album Lost. This video is the story of a day in the life of Mr. Carpool, played by Oscar Isaac (recently of Coen Brothers’ film Inside Llewyn Davis), as he walks the shoulder of a Los Angeles highway, advertising his services as an extra passenger for single drivers who want to fast-track into the carpool lane. Isaac’s title role in Inside Llewyn Davis depicts a down and out folk singer who hitchhikes to New York with no money; in “Gravity,” Mr. Carpool takes on the role of companion, road trip buddy, and confidant.

The relationship between driver and passenger begins ambiguously, with Isaac in disheveled businessman apparel, carrying a briefcase, as the sun rises over the LA highway system. Trentemøller’s staid, pulsing beats suggest a reflective loneliness, with a backdrop of a ticking clock and high vocals that trace placid arches over the music.

Mr. Carpool’s first customer, a harassed looking middle aged man, shoves a life-size doll out of the passenger seat as Carpool shoves into the car. From there on, Isaac’s character is privy to all the eccentricities of people alone in their cars: drivers scream on cell phones, blast their radios, make jokes, eat snacks, cry, and offer him hits off a joint. We don’t hear anything of this, of course; “Gravity” swells and harmonizes as it progresses, blurring together into a representation of the digressions and experiments of the day. By the video’s end, it seems as if “Gravity” has become the soundtrack to a life as viewed from the passenger seats of strangers’ cars. Though Mr. Carpool charges a ten dollar fee for his services, it quickly becomes apparent that he’s just as valuable as a companion as he is an extra body to qualify the car for a space in the car pool lane. We see his drivers soliciting his advice, shaking his hand, or asking him to check their make up.

Like “Gravity” itself, this music video speaks to themes of isolation and togetherness, and easily how a business arrangement gives way to personal interaction. The highway, an apt metaphor for being alone together, opens up to Mr. Carpool in this five and a half minute representation of a work day.

When day of hitchhiking is done, Carpool waits by the side of the road until a dark blue Volkswagen swings by–it’s a woman, one of his customers from earlier that day. He gets in the car and the pair, smiling and familiar with each other–although we saw them meet each other for the first time earlier in the day–drive off, in the right-hand lane of the highway. As the various lines of “Gravity” resolve into harmony, its visual component ends with an uplifting sense of peace–a literal drive into the sunset.

Watch the video for “Gravity,” out via Rolling Stone, below: