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July 2021
Feature

Cassyette: "I am an activist; something really important to me is my contribution to society"

Essex newcomer Cassyette melds pop, rock and metal for a fearless new take on alt.
Published: 10:59 am, June 03, 2021
Cassyette: "I am an activist; something really important to me is my contribution to society"

Cassyette has been busy redefining herself. Dripping in 90s goth aesthetic - blonde mullet and all - she's rapidly gaining attention via where else but TikTok. After putting her impressively powerful, gale-force howls on the likes of Olivia Rodrigo's super-smash hit 'Drivers License' and Billie Eilish's 'Bad Guy', she's here to beat some life into that old dog, rock 'n' roll.

Her music, engrained within the realms of empowerment - or more precisely, using it to kick a few teeth in - is also centred around personal tragedy. After losing her dad at the beginning of last year, the pressure release value holding all that raw emotion in needed turning.

Naturally, Cassyette blew the whole thing clean off. And appearing through the dissipating steam was a cataclysmic merging of rock with her teen years of genre exploration of pop, techno and everything in between.

"I got a lot angrier," she reckons on her move into this raucously alternative-centred world. "Obviously, after something like that happening - and then living through lockdown and being so isolated…a lot of stuff happened in my personal life [too]. The music is a reflection of that. I stopped giving a fuck about everything!" she cackles.

"It didn't just come out of nowhere - I was a bit of a shithead as a kid. I've done a lot of stuff that my mum's had to get me through. Bless her, she's a saint!"

Raised on a diet of classic staples - yer Motley Crüe's, Guns N' Roses, Sex Pistols etc. - it's no wonder the roads finally merged to this point. On a deeper level, though, the adoration for her beloved genre is all born from finding rock to be "the most emotive style of music."

"It's the darkest, most aggressive, and emotional," she continues. "I mean, that's my personal opinion, but I think you really feel something with it; even if you hate it, it makes you feel something."

Remembering the feeling washing over her for the first time coming when hearing 'Playing God', from Paramore's third album, 'Brand New Eyes': "I remember seeing Hayley Williams and thinking she's such a bad bitch!" She says, still smiling with awe. "The way that she speaks, and her lyrics are incredible."

"I also loved Katy Perry 'I Kissed A Girl', that was probably the first time I was like, oh my god, I can be okay with my sexuality," Cassyette recalls. "I'd never heard anything other than like Tatu 'All The Things She Said', I'd never heard another woman in pop music speaking about another woman like that. It was a massive moment for me…" Another raucously loud laugh surfaces. "I went to an all-girls Catholic school, so you can imagine!"

Of course, with all that leather-wearing, boot-stomping, and snarl-bearing comes a rebellious attitude, stringently refusing to conform with authority. Which explains why rock and religion have always gone hand in hand. They're ferociously polar, leading to the symbolism being nicked and becoming steely-etched crosses adorning rocker necks the world over.

Similarly, Cassyette's experience at an all-girls Catholic school is something that not only lends itself to her extreme breaking out of the 'light' and into welcoming darkness but also engrains it in the DNA of her debut single proper, 'Dear Goth'.

Recalling a recent chat with a student radio station, where the interviewer happened to pick up on one of the layered meanings that, for Cassyette, is in extremely specific relation to her time under the almighty's watch. "I wrote the song about going through trauma when I was younger," Cassy says. "And growing up within a Catholic church. I purposely wrote that song with a few things in mind so that it would relate to many different people, but the fact that she picked out something so specific was so amazing."

"I remember seeing Hayley Williams and thinking she's such a bad bitch!"
Cassyette

Hearing about someone going through a similar situation and finding the same catharsis from Cassyette's music as herself is what this journey all boils down to. Even if no one else were to hear her music, "that's my one person who takes something from it," she nods.

The lack of pointedness in this matter also stems from Cassyette still having friends tainted with the omnipresent and powerful Catholic guilt. Traversing the line from strict religion to the murky, anything-goes alternative world was easy from the moment she decided enough was enough.

"It was fucked up, and I saw a lot of fucked up stuff happen. So, once I made this decision, it was easy to believe what I wanted to believe - which was none of that!" A hearty cackle confirming her words.

"But, then changing, I think that's been hard. I cut off a lot of stuff from my past and changed and grew up. I think that's the same with anyone. If you don't want to be a certain way or you don't want certain things - when you're young, you just move on from them, don't you? It's that freeing feeling."

Indeed, it is these moments of epiphany - either for herself or for those listening - that embody the rock ethos in Cassyette's eyes. "Most [of it] is activism in some way, so that's a very important thing for me," she enthuses.

"I have a lot of opinions on things, and I am an activist. Something really important to me is my contribution to society. If any of my songs can make someone feel better, or change someone's mind who might not understand something, then I'll be doing something."

Harking back to when all of these notions clicked into place, Cassyette says: "I remember feeling like there are people around me, especially in the school I went to, where they tell you what you can and can't do - it was a bit rich coming from them."

If ever there were a reason to grab your chain wallet, spike your hair, and kick a door in, then Cassyette has found it. The carefree nurturing of herself has been just as important to learn as it was discovering that raw, untethered howl of hers.

Still, with her debut album to come, after she's sifted through "about two years worth of music," the promise to keep on rattling cages and dismantling centuries-old systems remains front and centre. Keeping an ever keen eye on everything as she plots out her moves - everything from merch designs to video shoots, including for her current single 'Prison Purse' - it's all in the name of exorcising those demons, and making them work for her.

"For me, even if it's a really fucking sad song, I'll still enjoy writing it because you're still getting something off your chest," Cassyette explains.

Similarly, that emotional payoff is what others are looking for in rock music. And no other sound captures it quite like the moment that a vocalist reaches deep into themselves, hunkers down and erupts with a guttural scream - that's where it all comes together. On, 'Prison Purse' Caseyette explains: "It was necessary to have a scream because it's like, how are you going to liberate the person listening to that song?

"That's what it's there to do; the song's about taking back ownership of yourself after a situation where someone has forced themselves upon you, and it's like the massive 'fuck you'."

And that's what Cassyette is all about. Sticking a couple of middle fingers firmly in the air, ready for all to see and take note - she's unleashed, and there's no stopping her.

Taken from the June issue of Upset, out now.

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