CASSYETTE; THE ULTIMATE ROCK CHICK
WORDS AMY MACKENZIE - PHOTOGRAPHY EVA PENTEL - FASHION MAISIE DANIELS - FASHION ASSISTANT JOSEPH PARKER - HMUA EMILIE LOUIZIDES
Cassyette is a force of nature – there is just no other way to describe her. We spent the most thrilling and engaging afternoon with her listening to many completely mesmerising tales, covering her influences, the way she formed her band, and the real T about some of the nightmare gigs she has been involved in.
In some ways she is from a different era – she should, and would have been a star in the 80s, an era that has clearly influenced her in many ways. But we are so pleased that she can share her talent and personality with us at this time in history while being herself a part of it.
Amy MacKenzie: So can you talk me through what life was like growing up; where you grew up and what your family was like? Cassyette: I grew up in Essex, I’ve got two sisters, I’m the oldest. We have a dog called Ruby who is really cute, she’s my favourite thing in the world! And I went to an all-girls Convent school which was interesting! I didn’t like school at all, probably the same as most people that went to my school…it was a weird place. It was a Catholic all-girls school with this brown uniform that had a stripey deckchair blazer that was brown, gold and royal blue which was just hideous!
A.M: Oh wow. I can imagine this being a very interesting place to spend most of your teenage years, right? Was music already a part of your life back then? C: It was an interesting place! I left there and didn’t really get into music until I was a bit older. I then went to a college to do my A-Levels, which I probably shouldn’t have done because I failed all of them, except for one and that one was art, so I never did music really. But I joined a vocal group and I met a couple of guys there who wanted to just jam. We didn’t really make a band. At that same time, we used to go to this guy’s house where we jammed together and where I also learned to DJ. So that’s sort of one other vein to what I’m doing and that’s been keeping me alive in the process of becoming an artist. It’s been great being able to do that because I haven’t yet had to get a real job. I mean I have had a real job before…[laughs].
A.M: What was your real job? C: I worked at Budgens.
A.M: Oh that definitely counts as a real job! C: And I really enjoyed it, there were some weirdos that worked there, which I loved!
A.M: I feel like jobs like that you can come across some interesting people... C: Yeah! There was this guy who was a thief and he used to rob the shop all the time and I started to clock on because we used to have to cash up and I felt bad because I’d made friends with him but I felt like I had to tell the guy in charge, so I told on him. It was bad!
A.M: That’s so awkward. C: Yes, it was! And then I was like "I don’t want to work here because everyone’s freaking me out." They were probably as freaked out by me as well, to be honest! I’ve also worked in loads of bars and stuff over time. And that’s how all the DJ stuff took off. I used to fill in if the DJ wasn’t there and I would have to play off one deck and try and mix it in and this guy would never show up so I thought I should learn how to do it properly. I reckon that was when I was about 18 so that’s been a while.
A.M: How old are you now? C: I’m 26. I’m trying to think of other things to tell you, trying to summarise my whole life story! [Laughs] So after doing that stuff in bars I went to uni, I took a gap year before I went because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I’d got into music at that point and I’d started to produce music as well so I was like "ok what can I do that’s this enjoyable for me", and that was to study music. So I went off to Westminster Uni.
A.M: Were you in London before then? C: No, I was in Essex. I moved to Harrow. And to be honest, I didn’t go to many lectures or anything and then I would just sit in my room making music. I had been writing since the start of uni. Although, I’m telling a lie… I first ever started on music when I was about 15 and I had started writing a bit at that point because our neighbor was a producer. I started writing a bit with him because he said he needed a female voice for a song and that’s how I started the performing side and then the DJing took hold, so I left that and then when I started producing I bought a mic and singing happened. So yeah, it’s a bit complicated, I’ve explained it in a really shit way, I’m really sorry! [Laughs]
LEFT: Cassy wears glasses ANA KARIN KARLSSON; leather jacket BITE; dress TUGCAN DOKMEN; shoes NATASHA MARROW; belt URBAN OUTFITTERS
RIGHT: Cassy wears chokerROKIT; suit SELECTED FEMME
A.M: No, not at all. You're doing great. [Smiles] C: So, I had this set up in my room and I was just writing and writing and writing and at first, I thought I had to do something that was DJing and music in the same genre so everything matches so I was writing music that I just wasn’t really that into. I had kinda left the rock stuff behind a bit and I was producing and releasing stuff on Soundcloud, like mixes and I was making disco/80s tunes and doing weird vocals on them. It was fun but you can have enough of that!
A.M: Yeah, and if it’s not what you really want to be doing, you’ll tire of it faster. C: Yes, exactly! I wasn’t that into it. Then I went full circle again and realised I can do whatever I want, and that was a nice feeling. So then I started writing this project and on the way, I made loads of contacts and was putting myself in the studio with as many people as I could. I made some more pop tracks at the start but then we refined the sound and I realised I wanted to just go hardcore because that’s what I love. It was kinda easy as well because I feel like quite a lot of my songs are quite pop focussed anyway, so to add some guitars in any way and some heavy drum beats and that’s it!
A.M: That’s cool. So what are some of your creative influences? C: Umm. I would say that I probably take most of my influence from that 80s, Glam Rock, American hair metal era. Just because I’m a massive peacock so I love anything that’s bright and shiny! [Laughs] Like it has to be neon! I love it! Things that have an element of fun are just the best to me. Like theatrical, over the top shit, so I take influence mainly from bands like Motley Crue – I talk about them all the time, it’s actually a bit embarrassing! [Laughs] If I ever meet any of them I will die. Love them, the drama, the epicness, everything! KISS, another big influence and for me, it’s that the music and fashion cross over and I like that side of things. And I make all of the merch myself, so I love making a Pinterest board [laughs] and it’s got comics and stuff. Do you know Heavy Metal Magazine?
A.M: No I don’t think I do... C: Oh my God, you have to check it out, you’d love it! That was like an 80s mag and they had all these epic illustrators who would go to these comic book conventions and if you had a cover on Heavy Metal Mag, you were like the shit! I look at all of their stuff on there and try and recreate it and turn it around and make it my own.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Towa wears jacket and skirt ELZINGA; shoes NATACHA MARROW; sunglasses ILLESTEVA. Cassy wears dress NATHALIE COSTE [@nathaliecoste_official] shoes NATACHA MARROW. Isabel wears yellow print coat ELZINGA; shoe NATACHA MARROW; sunglasses SPILT MILK. Hannah wears orange print coat ELZINGA; shoes NATACHA MARROW; sunglasses KALEOS.
A.M: That’s so sick! Are you someone who would say you were born in the wrong era or are you happy to just take influence from that time? C: That’s quite a tough question. Sometimes, when I have had enough of social media and stuff like that. I’m quite a sensitive person, so I like to be in my own bubble and enjoy myself. I feel like back in the 80s, probably, it was easier to just enjoy getting on with your own thing without feeling too judged about stuff, so in that sense, yes. But I also like to do something different as well and hopefully, people get enjoyment out of what we are doing and maybe that inspires them to be more like people were in the 80s. [Laughs]
A.M: Yeah, for sure! Where do you find inspiration to write your songs? C: Quite a lot of different things. I’d say this EP is quite emo [laughs] I am a bit of an emo! I think it’s more based around mental health and stuff like that. It comes up from a lot of things. I draw from insecurities I’ve had in the past, or things I’m currently going through, it just depends. It’s an array of different experiences and I like to try and make it sound glamorous and fun but I know a lot of the music is a little bit depressing if you read the lyrics. [Laughs]
A.M: I love depressing music though. My favourite kind of songs are ones you get really into and then you listen a second time and you’re like hang on a second, these lyrics… C: Yeah, they’re dark as fuck! And I think everyone relates to that.
A.M: Everyone’s a bit miserable. C: Exactly, everyone is a bit miserable. And there’s a lot of music out there that’s like ‘ooh I’m in an Uber, I went to a party…’
Cassy wears dress NATHALIE COSTE [@nathaliecoste_official] shoes NATACHA MARROW
A.M: Yeah, so how do you first sit down and write a song? C: I work with a couple of different people frequently who are guitarists mainly. Every time we go into a session, we just have a chat first and talk about shit and sometimes I’ll write down ideas as I go so I’ll come with a concept and it will develop from there. But if I haven’t had any inspiration, it’ll come from someone else in the room, and they’ll be like ‘oh well this happened’ and then I’ll start talking about something I’ve gone through and then we formulate something from that. It’s usually a mixture at the start when I work with guitarists they’ll come up with a riff or something cool and then you’ll come up with a time signature and it’s just adding that concept, then verses after. I wouldn’t say I write lyrics before I come in, I write tiny bits down.
A.M: So how did you meet the rest of the girls in the rest of your band? C: Hannah, our drummer, is one of my best friend’s sisters and Towa is one of my good mates, best friends and then I don’t even know how I met Izzy. Oh yeah, she was recommended and we saw she was in this band and were like ‘this girl is so epic’ we’ve gotta have her. The girls are just so sick, incredible musicians, so it’s very lucky to be able to know people who could put it all together. It’s weird because it feels like we’ve known each other for so much longer than we have.
A.M: Well that’s a good sign! We talked a little bit about social media before but what would you say are the positives and negatives and have you always had good or bad experiences and has it changed over time? C: I think it has changed. I feel like I have had positives and negatives. Unfortunately for me, a couple of months ago I weighed it up and was like… ‘it’s shit’. I think it’s so much more negative than it is positive. I realised I need to be putting up things that people enjoy so I went on a purge and archived so much on my Instagram. I think it’s so good to just reset everything. I unfollowed a load of the accounts that make me feel bad about myself. I saw this on something recently and it said if you’re going to use social media, only follow things that make you feel good. You don’t have to sit there and follow all of these influencers that are bullshit anyway. Unless they are influencing something positive, what’s the point, they’re just showing off otherwise [laughs] so I’m sick of that.
A.M: I just can’t believe it’s actually a job... C: It’s insane, it’s total insanity. I do know people that do it and no disrespect to them but I just feel like you should stand for something and you should be making people feel good because what’s the point otherwise. You have to follow things you like, I followed one today that was a fawn rescue centre, I was almost crying on the train, they are so sweet and I just love stuff like that. It makes you feel so good and it’s only positive! I feel like with what we are doing at the moment, you have to jump through some hoops to get to that point where people are following you and stuff but I’ve realised it’s really important for me to create content for Instagram that is exciting and fun.
A.M: And it also has to be you. Because otherwise people will come and see you live and just be like ‘she’s not like she is online’. C: Yes, exactly! It has to be. Otherwise, it just doesn’t make sense. That’s why I love doing shoots like this when we can get all dressed up and just have fun! We are planning to do a load of Instagram TV stuff and more of us just fucking about.
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Isabel wears tee CARNE BOLLENTE; shorts LEVI'S; shoes NATACHA MARROW. Hannah wears tee CARNE BOLLENTE shoes NATACHA MARROW; dress NOISY MAY. Cassy wears neckscarf ROKINS; tee POSTER GIRL OFFICIAL; shoes ARTIST’S OWN. Towa wears dress URBAN OUTFITTERS; shoe NATACHA MARROW
A.M: I guess it’s also because you’ve said you write from such a personal place, so if people don’t know you as a person they may not connect with the music as much so you need to show people personality because that’s what they will get on board with? C: Totally! That’s the thing, you’re so right and it’s so important to do. I’ve always been a bit nervous to talk to the camera and stuff, so it’s just getting over that.
A.M: Was it important to you to have an all-female band, or was that not really a conscious decision you made? C: It all just fell into place that way. I didn’t think about it until people started bringing it up to me. It’s been great. At first, I did actually have a male guitarist and it was great but things just didn’t work out so then we ended up pulling it together. My friend Bella also used to be in the band, she’s written some of the tracks with me and then Bella was there with Towa and Hannah and then she left, and we were like ‘we need a sick girl!’ And then we saw Izzy and we were like ‘YES! THIS IS IT!’ and that was the only point we made a conscious choice that it has to be a girl. And it’s nice, we have such a good time when we go on tour and stuff. If we are tired and want to stay in, everyone is so down to just do a face mask and just chill out, guys would do that too but it’s just nice having that female company.
A.M: What are your plans for the rest of the year? C: We have a show next week which I’m excited about, that’s with You Me At Six, we are opening for them in Bristol. It’s going to be the first bigger stage that we are doing. We played Heaven really early on and that was so fucking scary but it was really good to feel that, and I can’t wait to be on a stage that’s the same size again. We are doing a BBC Introducing, which I think will be fun. After that, we’ve not got any dates solidified yet, but we are planning to do a headline tour at some point after September.
A.M: A nice Autumn tour, it’s my favourite time of year. C: Yeah, me too! It’s too hot now!
A.M: I can’t do summer clothes... C: I need to get a better Winter wardrobe. I wear this same puffer jacket which is this big long thing.
A.M: Oh the long ones are cool, not the little ones... C: Oh no, no. I couldn’t do that. I like the big type of tent situation.
A.M: A duvet? C: A duvet, exactly [laughs]
A.M: Just walk around with a duvet on you and make it fashion! C: Put some sunglasses on and make it fashion [laughs]
Cassy wears leather jacket BITE; belt URBAN OUTFITTERS.
A.M: [laughs] Those little sunnies! I’m protecting my eyes from the sun with them on the end of my nose [laughs] C: [laughs] I admittedly do have a few pairs of those!
A.M: What’s a highlight of the shows you’ve played so far? C: We played The Deaf Institute in Manchester which was just fucking lit! It was so cool, we were on tour with Yonaka, we opened for them and no one knew who we were because actually, no music was out at that point. We were just going for the sake of going and getting some experiences. It was so cool, there were all these kids there, the floor was like bouncing!
A.M: Manchester shows are so insane! C: They do have better gigs, don’t they?! There was this bunch of girls at the front and we were just leaning down and they were grabbing us, it was insane. For the first time, I felt like a rock star, but actually, no one knows us! [laughs] It was great, it was so good! That was a highlight show.
A.M: What are some of the best and worst parts of touring and playing live? C: So playing live, we were actually talking about this the other day because it was so funny. This was just this terrible gig, right at the start, you have to, it’s like a right of passage to have to do these shit shows. We basically played this venue which was in Camden, we played to about three people, one of my drunk mates who had a bottle of vino and was heckling, an old man at the bar and a rat ran across the floor. It was just terrible.
A.M: It sounds like a film. C: It literally was. I don’t know what was going on. We got to this song and we hadn’t played it live before and we hadn’t practiced it either. Towa said ‘why don’t we just play it, no one’s here’, using at as a rehearsal. So we started it and I had just pitched my voice wrong so I was singing the whole thing like probably about an octave higher, it was so obvious, I don’t know what came over me, I’d had a few vinos as well [laughs] and I sang this song and I just couldn’t reach the note in the chorus and I was literally like squeezing my vagina trying to squeeze this note out and my eyes were rolling back and then we just couldn’t stop laughing!
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Hannah wears polka dot dress URBAN OUTFITTERS; hair clip LINDEX. Isabel wears white dress URBAN OUTFITTERS; necklace ROKIT. Cassy wears leather jacket BITE; belt URBAN OUTFITTERS. Towa wears top and skirt URBAN OUTFITTERS
This rat had run across the floor, the old man’s watching us, my friend’s heckling, we are all pissing ourselves, I can’t sing [laughs] it was just so bad, but it’s gotta be done! There’s definitely pros and cons to the whole thing, it’s way more pro’s than cons though, I think the only con for me is that I had to learn about my voice and protecting that because I’ve got quite a rough voice and it’s so easily affected if I have a rough night out so when I’m on tour, save that for the last night.
A.M: Do you have any other funny stories from when you’ve been on tour? C: Actually this tour we just did in March was our first ever tour and I didn’t think about it too much like I hired the van the day before, I’m really bad at that sort of thing. I had to drive the van, none of the girls could drive it because they’re not over the age limit and Izzy doesn’t have a drivers license so we couldn’t even share this fucking van. It was like this 9-seater crew van, I’ve never driven one before, we had to pick it up from King’s Cross so the busiest part of London. I was shitting myself. I was driving this van around and in total, we did over 1000 miles but I have really bad panic attacks and if I’m like tired and run down it just happens. There was this one day when I think we were driving from Manchester to Nottingham, it wasn’t too far but it was a bit of a way, it was probably about two hours and I was in a state. I was having a full-on breakdown, trying to control this van, having really weird like invasive thoughts, I was like ‘girls, you need to distract me’. This is not even that funny this story like it’s fucked up! [Laughs]
A.M: Funny to reflect on? C: Yeah, funny to reflect on, we laugh now! So, we were in…oh no, this bit is funny actually…so we were in this traffic jam and basically, this woman was on her phone in front and I beeped her and she stopped her car and came out. I needed a wee that’s why I was so impatient, like we needed to turn off and I was so anxious, like having a breakdown and this woman was shouting at me and I was like ‘I don’t know what to do’ and Towa just leaned over me and did my window up really slowly and then we were all just in fits of laughter! And we turned off to get to this service station. By the way, that is all you see on tour, just a service station after service station, that’s it.
A.M: You should make a side Instagram just of tour meals from service stations. C: That’s actually a great idea! [laughs] So yeah, we got to this service station and I was in a bad way and the girls were so sweet, they blacked out all of the windows in the van, got me an Earl Grey, love an Earl Grey, and they turned meditation music on and made a meditation room for me in the back. They were like ‘come to your meditation station’. It was amazing! That’s just one of the many stories!
A.M: A positive ending, I love that, took us a while to get there. C: A rollercoaster! [laughs]
A.M: We are going to talk a little bit about fashion now. Where do you take most of your style inspiration from? C: I would say probably the same as the music stuff – Motley Crue, Runaways, Joan Jet, Dolly Parton. Just 80s in general, I would say, motorbike style, so many different people and influence with that. I just make Pinterest boards and find things I like! And I also buy a lot of stuff on Etsy and I love buying vintage clothes.
A.M: Would you say your wardrobe is more vintage than new? C: Definitely. I think it’s nice to have nostalgia for your clothes. I wanna know the stories behind it, who was wearing this before me, what’s the chain of people like.
A.M: Yeah, how far back this actually goes. C: I think it’s what sort of style you buy. Usually, if I buy something that’s a vintage band tee, you know because you can find out the exact album or tour and you can see. I think there’s something with the quality of vintage if you are going to buy statement pieces. I bought this 70s wedding dress just because I loved it and I’m not getting married but I just loved it! It was like £40 for this dress and it’s absolutely stunning and I’m just going to keep it for my wedding, it’s so cool. The quality is just so much better for what you’d get nowadays anyway.
A.M: What is your favourite article of clothing you own? C: My staple is my Doc Martens. I’ve got some that are like longer boots and they’re super chunky platform soles, they look so sick! I love boots! DMs are the best thing in my wardrobe! [laughs]
A.M: And lastly, what is your favourite F Word? C: Fuuuuuuck! It’s the only one that comes to mind! [Laughs]
Words: Amy MacKenzie
Photography: Eva Pentel
Fashion: Maisie Daniels
Fashion assistant: Joseph Parker
HMUA: Emilie Louizides