Portland Musician’s Corner – An Interview with When We Met

Portland’s When We Met is the team effort of songwriters Melissa and Bryan Casey. When We Met has infectious chemistry onstage bringing a highly energetic, often danceable mix of late 80’s New Wave and mid 90’s Indie Rock. The duo shares vocal duties with Bryan as the king of guitar riffs and Melissa on bass, with a beautifully accessible and relatable voice.

Normally I would ask how you came up with your band name, but maybe it’s obvious. Are you two married? I am going to take a wild guess and assume that when you met, you decided to start this band. Am I correct? Why don’t you fill us in how this band started?

Melissa: Actually, we aren’t married and upon meeting we didn’t decide to start a band. Although we bonded as musicians, and did want to jam together, our lives were very busy. It took a few years for us to come together as songwriters and have our own band. The name came from pure frustration as we labored over what we should be called. I said, “just think about something from that night when we met” and Bryan responded “I like that, When We Met!”

Bryan: The band started because… we were both songwriters and best friends so why not start making music together? Keeping the core of the band as a two piece meant that we would not have to worry about another “flaky musician,” or extra drama, and have an easier time touring.

It looks like I was completely wrong! Thanks for setting that straight. What made you decide to become musicians? Who influenced you? What was the appeal about being a musician?

B: Ever since I was a young boy, like five years old, I knew I wanted to be a musician. As a matter of fact, when I was a little kid, my dad owned a music venue in downtown Portland. Being around all that energy at such a young age left an impression on me. The appealing sides of being a musician are being able to get lost in the music, the healing it gives, and the emotional release that comes from creating and performing.

M: My first loves were choreography, singing, and songwriting. In my teen years, a crippling anxiety set in and it all became a daydream. The appeal of music is how healing it is, in so many ways. My dad encouraged me to learn an instrument. Basically he told me he had respect for women that not only sang but also played guitar. That stuck with me.

Your band has been busy. And you have performed in several venues, in and out of the state. Any cool stories to share?

B: The first thing that comes to mind is opening for Green Jelly in Reno, Nevada, and being a part of their punk rock puppet show. They heckled the crowd to put on these enormous, crazy, masks and prance around in what would become a mosh pit. At first no one volunteered, but I jumped at the chance. I bowed to the cow god and the naked band members.

M: That would have to be one of the weirdest shows. I ended up in the mosh pit with one of their sweaty masks on my head too. Those things had been around since the 90s, worn by who knows how many people. It was pretty gross. I hated it and loved it all at the same time!

After all these performances, do you still get butterflies before a show? And what is the most important thing for you to do to put on a good show?

M: I can speak for both of us. We are always excited before a show! The most important thing for me is to let go of the critic in my head, and have fun.

B: Getting a hot toddy, along with a stage drink, and good stage volume. If you sound good on stage it will most likely sound good in the crowd. Always expect something to go wrong, and when it does don’t let it get to you. Any more than three technical issues, then we might have problems (laughs). No matter what though, we always have a good time.

Besides music and going to see shows, how do you like to spend your free time?

B: What free time? (laughs) The list of stuff we want, and need, to do with our music goes on and on. But we do enjoy our down time, going to dinner, or on a Netflix binge.

M: I can be a bit of a workaholic, making use of free time for more projects, but I would like to just sit quietly with a view, zoning out.

Final question. Any big goals that you want to achieve as a band? What can we expect to see in the future?

M: That we will create more music, and get it to people who will love it! We have a few projects in the works and really hope to reach more people.

B: We want to expand our reach on tour and play at venues in Portland where I’m not running the sound. We will be moving away from DIY venues, even though we love some of these. It’s a lot work and we want to concentrate more on our performance. You can expect a video for a new single this summer, in collaboration with Magnificent Kaaboom.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Bryan and Melissa, and thank you readers for reading it. I hope you enjoyed getting to know When We Met. You can follow the band by visiting their Facebook page or by visiting their website.

Freeform Portland is a nonprofit, independent, community-driven radio station broadcasting live at KFFP-LP 90.3 FM & KFFD-LP 98.3 in North Portland, and at our online audio stream. Our mission is to foster a welcoming and equitable space for music lovers that celebrates the unexpected, gives a voice to the underrepresented, and empowers our volunteer community. Freeform Portland is a 501(3)(c) entity, classified by the IRS as a charitable organization, and gratefully accepting tax-deductible donations.