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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 5, 2012

Dinkin dropped everything for music and is happy to follow her passion

NEW YORK CITY –– One night, lying in bed, a realization hit Casey Dinkin like a ton of bricks. She had a successful career as a lobbyist for a not-for-profit organization, but she wasn’t living her dream.

This bothered Dinkin very much. She wanted a career in music and she wanted it now. Dinkin, 30, made the decision in July to pack up her things and leave Washington, D.C. for New York City.

Dinkin had her guitar, her songs, and her aspirations of finding a true career in music.

“Something wasn’t authentic about my life,” said Dinkin, a 1999 graduate of Guilderland High School. “All these songs that I had, needed to be something. It was like this moment of fear. I needed to do something with these songs.”

How many songs?

Dinkin says she came to New York with 65 (she actually made a list), but now has written 80 songs. She’s brought 20 to 25 songs to the table for her recordings sessions with producer/composer/songwriter Dan Siegler, who runs a studio out of his home.

Dinkin said she learned to be her true self while teaching yoga classes in D.C. “I let go of all the fear and all the ego,” she said. “Writing songs has been a consistent thing for me for so long. I can’t help but do it; it’s so much a part of me.”

Working for Hunger Solutions New York in D.C., Dinkin found out about a lapse in grant funding in March. Not knowing the future of her career, she thought that was the best time to give it all up for the music.

“It was time for me to go and give it a shot,” Dinkin said. “My life had been a laundry list of things to that point –– short-term planning. I had projects and accomplishments, but nothing long-term. I had to be honest with myself.”

Dinkin, who also plays piano and cello, has performed 10 shows since moving to Manhattan, including her first show on Oct. 1, her 30th birthday. Listeners may hear strains of Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Ani Difranco, Janis Joplin, Alanis Morrisette, Norah Jones, and even the Beatles in her music, but Dinkin says she doesn’t have specific influences.

“I really like folk and jazz, but I also like blues and rock,” she said. “You can hear my influences but it sounds like me.”

“Dream come true”

Dinkin’s first show on her 30th birthday was predetermined in her mind when she was turning 29. “I thought about it and saw it happening,” she said. “I fast forward and it actually happened. It was a dream come true.”

Dismantling a career and starting over is a challenge, but Dinkin’s decision was validated by the support she received from friends and family. She had a stable job for many years, which allowed her to find a place to live in New York. Once there, Dinkin busked around, often playing on the street for money, trying hard to get her name and music out to the masses.

Dinkin initially thought people would think she was “nuts” for her choice –– there are plenty of struggling musicians –– but her close friends weren’t surprised. “You only live once,” she said.

She’d entered Siegler’s studio two weeks ago with the goal of finishing an album that features full instrumentation. She wanted good production quality, which led her to Siegler, but she didn’t have a budget for it. So, Dinkin made an account with Kickstarter, a website that provides platforms for creative projects.

Dinkin was able to find Kickstarter after coming across an e-mail from a friend who was using the service himself. “It’s pretty amazing,” Dinkin said. “What a great idea.”

The Kickstarter campaign launched on Dec. 24 and Dinkin has until Jan. 23 to get $10,000 in backing. If Dinkin doesn’t reach the $10,000 mark, the campaign ends and she’s left with nothing. As of late Wednesday afternoon, Dinkin had 59 backers and $2,901.

Backers on Kickstarter get rewarded if they contribute to Dinkin’s project. If someone pledges $100 to Dinkin, he or she gets two signed copies of her record, a sticker, and a T-shirt along with a listing as a major contributor to the album.  

But, what happens if she doesn’t meet her mark?

Free-spirited and confident, Dinkin doesn’t need a Plan B right now.

“My philosophy is that, any time spent thinking about a Plan B while Plan A is going on is a waste of energy and just not helpful,” she said. “There’s a lot of pressure and stress to get the money raised, but it’s a grassroots approach. People I’ve never met are helping me and some are just as excited as I am about it. It’s amazing.”

With all this money on the table, Dinkin understands that her product must be good enough for her to build a career. She hopes to tour with a full band after her recording gets off the ground.

“I think about recording as like a movie,” Dinkin said. “You have all this stuff, the script. My guitar and me are like the script and the actors, but you have to add other stuff in like lighting and costume design. I want people to enjoy the music fully, emotionally. I want people to love it.”

“Distracted by music”

Dinkin’s favorite songs in her personal collection are “Stupid Noah,” “Brass Heart,” and “Right Now For Now.”

“Stupid Noah” pertains to a guy, Noah, that Dinkin once dated. Noah is portrayed as a flaky guy, not that great of a partner. She wrote the song as a joke. “It was an unsuccessful relationship,” said Dinkin. “He knows I made the song and he actually likes it. I think it was an ego boost for him.”

“Right Now For Now” is uplifting, affirming, and a song that gets Dinkin into the right frame of mind. Siegler wants it on the album, she said.

Dinkin is comfortable with Siegler as the producer of her album because he’s someone who realizes the importance of lyrics as much as she does. “He knows,” she said. “We have a tentative game plan.”

Music has been Dinkin’s passion since she was 5 years old when she was part of a musical performed at Guilderland’s Tawasentha Park. It’s her main love.

Usually, she’ll write songs in her head. This can be very distracting to her everyday life, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“There’s always songs popping into my head, whether they’re mine or not,” Dinkin said. “Like, I’m in line for some food or whatever, and I get to the counter, but I’ll have no idea what to order.”

Music has an impact. It can be powerful.

“I really think of the impact of music,” said Dinkin. “Music is just something I’ll never get tired of. Singing, playing, and writing brings me lots of joy. I’m always distracted by music.”

These days, Dinkin is feeling massive amounts of gratitude. Letting go of the feeling of failure has been the best thing to happen to her.

“I’m doing what I really want and I encourage everyone to just do whatever it is they truly want to do,” Dinkin said. “You’ll know when it’s time. The voice in your head tells you to do it.”

By Jordan J. Michael

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