Casual Vice is Brandon Hoogenboom and Kyle Krone. 2020 was a year of firsts for the duo as a band, Casual Vice started the group in January 2020 and the year became this intense and bizarrely magical era for everyone. For Kyle personally, though, 2020 was the most significant year of his life creatively and he is sure Brandon would say the same.
“I’ve never written  songs (let alone recorded them) in a year,” Kyle tells Eat This Music at the top of our chat about Casual Vice’s EP, ‘Joie De Vivre‘. “We’ve probably spent 300 days out of the past year in the studio, honestly maybe more.”
So musically speaking, the EP was sort of this triumph of the human spirit for Brendan and Kyle, during a time of unprecedented challenges everyone somehow found ourselves having the best creative year of their lives: “I think our music and this band kind of protected us from a lot of the darker vibes that were around in the world and gave us a lot of joy and purpose,” Kyle continues. “We released eight singles, one EP, some music videos and recorded something like 40 songs.”
Brandon and Kyle seem to have a naturally balanced sort of yin and yang dynamic both musically and personally. They are equal parts men on a mission, very serious about their music and just two friends having a good time and laughing a lot and messing around.
“We make music all the time and we care a lot about music and art so it’s just something we always seem to be busy doing because it makes us feel good.” — Kyle on his partnership with Brandon in Casual Vice.
“My response to the overwhelming amount of insanity in this world has been to love everyone the best that I can and pour my whole heart into our music,” Kyle states. “The music keeps me solid, keeps me joyful, optimistic, curious, engaged etc.”
In a few words:
Casual Vice’s EP is about truth and being a human.
In a lot of words:
The songs that comprise Joie De Vivre (exuberant enjoyment of life) are equal parts autobiographical, aspirational and a form of necessary personal exploration and cathartic creative therapy. The songs are about the struggle itself, of being an artist, of being a human (especially in 2020) and the forward looking hopes and aspirations as well as nostalgic and romantic reflections of the past in all their hindsight wisdom.
“Unknown Destinations” speaks to the acceptance of life’s inherent mysteries and the associated fears, curiosity and excitement for what lies ahead just around the bend and does so by examining the risks and the adventure of moving forward without knowing where you’ll end up and what you’ll find when you arrive. It deals with the danger of pushing yourself right up to “the edge” and the freedom that is sometimes found in doing so and letting go.
“Antihero” celebrates holding on tightly to a dream while lamenting the many lives un-lived while in pursuit of said dream. The song speaks to the internal struggle of self awareness and letting go in an effort to become who you truly are.
“Town & Country” celebrates the spontaneity of leaving it all behind and bittersweetly grasps for an idyllic future free from pain while romanticizing the past in what could be described as simpler more care free times.
“Lighting Matches In The Rain” essentially touches on the many struggles as people celebrate the small triumphs and use the positive energy and momentum they provide to help propel forward. Sometimes “making it” in music feels like “Lighting Matches In The Rain” and that is exactly what this song is all about.
“Hourglass” is a deeply personal autobiographical song of Kyle’s life and childhood that takes a beautifully honest and transparent look at the always diminishing asset of time, and impermanence of life itself and the beautiful but painful realizations that are associated with this awareness.
“Instead” explores the invincible self confidence of youth paired with the nuanced realities of failure and the wisdom attained therein. “I thought I was climbing up a mountain, I thought I was untouchable, but all the strongest parts of me were creeks running into a stream,” Kyle says.
“It was casual man [laughs],” Kyle expresses to Eat This Music on the creative process. “No but seriously it was very natural but also very in depth and thorough.”
“The trick is to capture that lightning in a bottle when it strikes. I wrote these songs over the span of several months, recorded them at home and then Brandon comes in multiple days a week and we work on them together… a lot of time listening, adding and subtracting, refining, arranging, tracking new parts etc day a]er day week a]er week until we’re happy.” — Kyle on the creative process of Casual Vice’s EP.
“The criteria for us is simply that we have to love it and feel excited about it, if we both don’t absolutely love it we’re not going to do it,” Kyle continues. “Once Brandon makes the changes he wants to hear and we record his vocals and whatever other instruments he wants to play the songs tend to feel complete.” With that said, Kyle assures you he enjoyed themselves throughout the process as well, took a lot of breaks, jumped in the ocean too. In fact, they were doing quite a bit of swimming and snorkeling in the summer months, we will have a couple drinks as the sun goes down.
Kyle is always writing and recording songs, lyrics, ideas: “I remember singing the chorus for “Unknown Destination” into my phone on the way into the coffee shop one morning, I remember wri%ng the verse for “Town & Country” on the back patio on the spot when we decided it needed a new verse one day because I had the chorus for that one before I had the verses,” Kyle explains. “I can recall just improvising a lot of the vocals and lyrics on “Anti-hero” and that first take it the final track we used.”
In fact, one day Brandon said he wanted to write a song called “Instead” and Kyle couldn’t resist writing that one the next day. “Lighting Matches In The Rain” was originally a lot more electronic based and as the band developed the sound together it kept becoming more analog and acoustic based. “Hourglass” was just one of those tunes that wrote itself: “I just sat down with the acoustic guitar one day and that whole thing kind of just poured out of me, originally I wanted to sing that one because its arguably the most personal song I’ve written to date but once Brandon sang it there was no going back, he could not be outdone,” Kyle reminices.
Now that the EP is out, Casual Vice are moving into a house on the beach for awhile, just Brandon and Kyle, to finish work on their debut album, which they hope to have out Spring 2021 or early Summer. After that Casual Vice are going to make a record for Brandon’s project that he has written a lot of great songs for and he was even kind enough to let Kyle do a few and then they are on to album number two for Casual Vice.