“Rock music is still here and it’s thriving”, declares Cassyette. The 26-year-old frontwoman speaks with such vigour about her love for the rock genre as she sits curled up with her dog Winnie in her Essex home. Her husky voice and Yolandi Visser-like mullet effortlessly embody her 80s rock star spirit as we unpack the glorious past month she’s had filled with single releases and live performances.
“I just felt so happy because everyone was just so gassed to finally be out and about”, she recalls her weekend of 18 – 20 June at Download’s Pilot Festival. After countless lockdowns and the complete banning of live performances for close to 16 months, the UK is finally permitting small-scale events and Cassyette made her first festival debut as a singer. “I usually get nervous before I play and I really wasn’t nervous, I don’t know whether that’s to do with my process this year but I was just so excited to be up there”, she says. While also joining fellow rock band Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes on stage, creating mosh pits of hungover fans at 12:30pm on a Sunday, the musician describes her weekend as the best of her life. She says, “I love seeing people enjoying the music because at the end of the day that’s why I make music and I want to have a positive effect on people and make people just feel good because we don’t feel good enough.”
I love seeing people enjoying the music because at the end of the day that’s why I make music and I want to have a positive effect on people and make people just feel good because we don’t feel good enough.”
Her abounding exuberance on stage is equally conveyed through her lyricism. Her latest release, ‘Prison Purse’, is a brash and confident anthem fuelled by rage and frustration towards sexual offenders and promotes taking back your power. “Writing ‘Prison Purse’ was part of the healing process and it’s also about owning a situation where you’ve been violated,” she asserts. Through unhinged vocals, flaring guitars and fiery lyrics such as “Karma is coming for you / like a kamikaze”, the rock artist shows she isn’t holding back in sharing her personal experiences, hoping to be a source of inspiration for her listeners. “What is the point in being an artist if you don’t stand for anything and you don’t make a positive change in other people’s lives?” she questions.
While the songstress’ words are unequivocally honest and her tunes always brazen, there’s still a lot of the young rock star’s life yet to uncover and share. “I would like to get to the point in my life where I can be totally honest about things but obviously everyone’s on their own journey”, she confesses. Candidly, the musician reveals how the loss of her father just before last year’s lockdown caused her immense grief: “It’s the heaviest feeling you could possibly have and because of that, I feel like it uncovers quite a lot of things about you and the past two years for me have been a really self-reflective time”.
What is the point in being an artist if you don’t stand for anything and you don’t make a positive change in other people’s lives?
Comprehending these complex emotions Cassyette has nurtured her self-reflective nature not only for the benefit of her personal growth, but has also inspired the confidence and emotional maturity necessary to craft equally powerful songs ‘Jean’ (2019) and ‘Dear Goth’ (2021). But she’s never been one to shy away from emotive or sentimental topics – already, her lyrical repertoire delves into toxic relationships, trauma, and the difficulties of non-conforming to her strict Catholic upbringing. Her heartfelt lyrics are expressed through guttural screams and shuddering metal melodies which fully immerse and enthral the listener in Cassyette’s inner turmoil, and invite them to indulge in their own rage.
While the budding artist already has an unreleased catalogue of two full albums waiting in the wings, she wants to enjoy her steep rise to the top and keep releasing singles for now. In fact, the current UK and US ‘Top 40’ lists are now commonly found to be dominated by short TikTok-worthy tunes, and Cassyette admits that whole albums have a tough time surviving and are usually neglected by streaming platforms’ algorithms. “People only listen to [Spotify’s] New Music Friday and the Release Radar instead of delving into the other specialist playlists, people just go for whatever’s there at the top,” she notes.
In truth, a 2020 study conducted by streaming platform Deezer concluded that 40% of listeners prefer popular playlists to full albums due to more selective listening and quicker access to diverse artists. However, some hope remains for the album sector as 38% of rock music devotees still consider themselves to be full album listeners. “Rock music’s always been there, but there’s definitely a revival happening now because people are finally angry and rock music is the only genre that is music in its rawest form and it’s not afraid to say how you’re feeling. It’s not watered down, it’s very literal and I think that people are craving that more than ever now,” she contends.
People are finally angry and rock music is the only genre that is music in its rawest form and it’s not afraid to say how you’re feeling.
Despite her devilish riot grrrl look, Cassyette’s own taste is eclectic and has encouraged the blend of electric pop, drum n’ bass and rock which inspired her to regularly post metal covers of popular songs on TikTok hoping to familiarise new audiences with uncharted sounds. “If you have a pop fan and they’re strictly a pop fan and then you do a cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Driver’s License’ they’re going to connect with the metal music more because you’ve given them a doorway,” she explains. Her idea seems to be working – Cassyette’s metal covers of WILLOW’s ‘t r a n s p a r e n t s o u l’ and Billie Eilish’ ‘Copycat’ were fervently received by many pop stans now rebranding as metalheads.
While assessing the current state of contemporary rock, Cassyette mentions Miley Cyrus’ recent foray into rock and praises her inclusion of classic punk rock elements, including Cyrus’ 2020 Plastic Hearts and its resemblance to The Plasmatics: “I think that’s really fucking cool because kids don’t know who The Plasmatics were, so she’s giving it a revival and I think that at the end of the day ideas come from other ideas, it’s just how far someone takes it. You’ve got to have an element of the past but make sure that you’re always doing your own twist on it”.
With the industry always changing and evolving, the ‘Prison Purse’-singer too wants to expand her musical repertoire and even try her hand at opera, as “screamer vocals are very similar to opera vocals in terms of how you use your voice in a very specific way,” she adds. Her refreshingly creative, curious and courageous approach to song-writing establishes her as a multi-faceted artist who also believes that “there should be no rulebook with art”. With enthusiasm, she notes how “sampling things is so cool, we could literally sample some sort of classical piece and fuck it up and make it into a punk song – it is literally limitless.”
There should be no rulebook with art.
Aside from her work in music, Cassyette has built a community with and for her listeners by creating ‘Devil Land’, a Discord server that offers a safe and supportive place for members to freely express themselves, have intimate conversations, share artwork and join video calls with the singer. As the platform grows, Cassyette wants to stand for more than just music – she wants to create a movement: “You look at bands like Pussy Riot and they’re Pussy Riot for a reason and they’re out there in Russia fighting for something and I just want to make music that makes people feel good and they can feel angry, they can feel anything”.
For now, her titillating sound will continue to turn pop stans into rock aficionados, with the singer planning to spend the summer honing her writing skills at The Libertines’ Albion Rooms hotel because, truthfully, her “whole life revolves around music”.
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