Julian Casablancas' Singing Style

by Ginger Yapp
The Strokes frontman is known for his cooler-than-thou style as well as his varied vocals.

The Strokes frontman is known for his cooler-than-thou style as well as his varied vocals.

Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Julian Casablancas -- a New York-based musician known for his work as a solo artist and, most prominently with the hip group The Strokes -- has a voice that can hit a wide spectrum of pitches and vocal styles. Throughout his career, Casablancas has experimented with a variety of sounds, mirroring the evolution of his band's albums.

The Sound

Over the course of the band's evolving discography, Casablancas has demonstrated a range of vocal styles, from his signature scream-singing -- think "Reptilia" or "Take it or Leave it" -- to speak-singing -- think "12:51" or "You Talk Way Too Much" -- to retro crooning -- "Last Nite" and "Under Control." Critics have described that voice as everything from a "gravelly maniac howl" -- Kemp Baldwin of "The New York Press" to "unbecoming screaminess" -- Pitchfork's Rob Mitchum.

Casablancas' Influences

Critics, such as David Fricke of "Rolling Stone," have often pointed out the similarities between Casablancas' vocal style and that of Velvet Underground 1960s icon Lou Reed; Casablancas himself has acknowledged the debt he owes to Reed. The singer also has said that legendary soul artist Sam Cooke has provided him with inspiration for his vocals and the overall sound of the band. Another forbear of Casablancas' singing style is the Fall's Robert Pollard.

Vocal Experimentation

As the band's career has developed, Casablancas has added new vocal techniques and styles to his repertoire. One interesting thing Casablancas and the album's sound mixers have incorporated is vocal distortion, using modern technology such as auto-tune on his solo effort, "Phrazes for the Young;" this new addition to the singer's style had mixed reactions from critics and fans. Other effects utilized by Casablancas and his collaborators include synthesizers.

More About Casablancas

The singer was born on Aug. 23, 1978 in Brooklyn, N.Y. to a model, Jeanette Christensen, and a talent manager, Fernando Casablancas; he is of Catalan and Danish descent. His parents -- especially his stepfather, Sam Adoquei -- had an influence on his musical taste. Casablancas came together with his Strokes bandmates, Nick Valensi and Fabrizio Moretti, when they attended an upscale, private high school together in 1999; they released their debut, critically adored record "Is This It?" in 2001. Solo efforts from Casablancas include 2010's "Phrazes for the Young."

Photo Credits

  • Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images