Cassie is a singer, songwriter and pianist who I was grateful to have as my friend at university. With over 25,000 youtube hits, her talent and skills are admired by people all around the world. Cassie and I both took music technology at uni and it was very male dominated! So today, we discuss how it feels to be a female in this industry and better still, her music and what music means to her.
Cassie! Tell us a bit about your musical style?
I write music as a form of expression, as I was growing up I played the piano when I was upset because it was one of the only places where I could sit and not think about anything, I would just improvise for hours until I realised I had taught myself piano by ear. All the music I write is written to convey my feelings at the time so is usually sad, slow, relaxing, almost film like. After learning music technology at university and college I now also combine production techniques into my piano/vocal songs to give a unique style to the music.
Do you feel it is beneficial being a woman in the music industry, or would you see it as a negative?
This is a tricky question! It can always be both depending on the person and how they convey themselves. As a female if you want to be taken seriously in any industry I would say think about how you dress/put yourself across, I've been around boys in class for the past 5 years and I have learnt a lot! If you want to be taken seriously for your talent/what you do in music don't try and impress with anything else but your musical talent otherwise you will be seen in a way you don't want.
In college I must have been about 18 and my college teacher actually said to me: "You know you can slut yourself off in this industry!" I couldn't believe those words were just said to me! And from that moment on I realised that a lot of men who had experience in the industry saw women in that way and it made me want to get somewhere without doing any of that!
I have felt that men have sometimes looked down on me just because of my gender and they assume you can't do certain things or they assumed that I studied music instead of music technology because im female.
The worst is when you get asked to 'sing on my track' as a chat up line, you wouldn't know it at first, you would think 'great let's do some music'! But boys sometimes have other things on their minds! It's a shame really...
I hear you! I've had a male teacher tell me something similar...'sleep with them if you have to!' were his words of so-called 'advice'! Anyway- What is your best moment of your music career so far?
The best moment... I don't have a specific moment but the best times are when you get really great feedback from people about your songs. There's a video on Youtube actually and when I uploaded it, it was the first piano cover of 'What You Know' by Two Door Cinema Club' and now it has over 10,000 views and i've had so many nice comments about it! It's just nice to know that your really getting through to people! I spent so much time before I made music thinking 'wow how has this song made me feel like this'?! And to know you have done it to other people..
To see video- click on the underlined title or click HERE
Who are your inspirations?
People who can perform well and make their own music are a massive plus for me! Singers like Eva Cassidy, I don't know how she had lungs like those but she was incredible! Amy winehouse was an amazing songwriter, Judy Garland, Adele, Aretha Franklin, Hayley Williams, Joni Mitchell. Recent producers who I take a lot of inspiration from are people like 'Baths'. He is a classically trained pianist who produces amazing music tieing in vocals with piano and production techniques to create his own lovely unique style - Go listen!
...And a massive shout out to my nan! She loves hearing me play piano at home and has kept me with it over the years!
What advice do u give other ladies who want to make it in the industry?
Hmm! Be careful! Have fun and keep going! Don't let other people put you down or stop you and your music! Be a professional!
View more of Cassie on her: YouTube Page
As you all know I am a huge fan of independent ladies doing well in the music industry, so it was only right that I interviewed Linda Harrison, a successful singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, self-marketer and merchandise maker!
Harrison self-manages her music career and is a true breath of fresh air in the money-driven, business-minded music industry that exists today. She has refused management and publishing deals to ensure she does everything the way SHE wants it. This is a young lady who is all about the music and the passion and you can hear this in her voice with every song she records or performs.
With a large online fan base and over one million YouTube hits, Harrison is set to release ‘Overexposure’ on September 10th 2012 as the first in a series of self-penned singles.
I expect all my musical readers of this blog are wondering ‘How does she do it?’ - I felt the same when I first read about her - but all will be revealed in my interview with Harrison. I had to ask her ‘Why?’ ‘How?’ and ‘What does the future hold?’ Here’s her response:
Sazrah: How would you describe yourself to somebody who does not know anything about you or your music?
Harrison: I get asked this question a lot. I usually say that I’m a pop artist but with a hell of a lot of aggression and attitude. I can’t avoid singing with passion, so it ends up being a really intense experience. So yeah, if anyone asked, I’m aggressive pop, I’m into fashion and technology and I’m really trying to bring that into my shows as well.
You have over a million YouTube hits. How has YouTube helped you?
YouTube gave me so much confidence. I was 15 or 16 when I first put my video up - a song cover. I got so many nice comments, but within an hour I had over 100 views. I thought, ‘ Wow, that’s really cool’ at first, but then I forgot about it because I kinda thought my covers were cringey, and I felt uncomfortable with people watching them. It wasn’t until later when I was in a class about marketing music that the teacher asked, ‘Has anyone released their music and marketed it?’ and I eventually put up my hand. I was quite shy in a classroom full of people. I said how I had uploaded my music onto iTunes and had marketed it through YouTube. But I had no idea that was actually what I had done until the second he said it - he made me realise that is where my sales are coming from, because people are watching it on YouTube, then they’re buying it. He made me show the class one of my videos and it had 25,000 hits and I hadn’t even thought about how big it was until I saw the classes’ reaction. I then began to picture all the different people sitting in their houses watching my video and that just feels amazing. YouTube has changed a lot since when I started, it is harder to get those kind of views. But it really gave me a big boost. It’s made a difference to my career.
‘Overexposure’ is your single due for release in September. You usually only release singles, don’t you. Why?
The music industry has changed. I know the money is coming in from my singles at the moment. So I am sticking to singles to build up fans and use the money from my singles to make a good album. OK, I could do an album in the home studio but it’s not going to be what I want it to be. I need the money to work with the right people to help create the sound that I want to create. I want to do it properly.
I’ve heard when you release an album you want it to be a movie. What is that all about?
Not just the music industry has changed but everybody’s life has changed. Even myself as a lover of music - I don’t have the time to sit down and listen to an album. But yet I still find the time to go and see a film. You know, I love Rihanna, so don’t get me wrong on this, but every song on her album is like a single. And an album, to me, needs to be a story and an artistic journey. Like now, I am releasing singles to get some excitement going and perform them. But those singles shouldn’t necessarily be on an album. If I put them all on an album it would proabably be a compilation.
You’ve refused management and publishing deals. Why is this?
They weren’t right for me.
So it wasn’t a case of blocking them out as a whole, it was just the deals itself that you didn’t want?
Yeah, well, I was blocking them out because I didn’t feel that they were the right people. I didn’t feel like they fully understood where I wanted to take things. It felt like they were trying to pull me in different directions. I’m willing to compromise to an extent because you should collaborate and that is how you are going to get the greatest impact, but they just weren’t offering me what I needed. Also, I do so much myself that they were offering me stuff that I already do! So it’s like, you know what? I want to do it myself, and once I have done most of it myself, maybe I can do it the whole way on my own. I’m hoping that maybe I can do it the whole way on my own and I can get a business doing something like that amongst myself still, but as a major artist. You know, billboards, magazines, whatever. I still want the whole advertising side of it but on my own terms.
…..which leads nicely to my next question. You have your own fashion label, you’re into music and movies. Do you have a big plan to bring them all together?
I do. I think when I combine them fully, I think of a live show, though. What I really get a kick out of is community, when you get hundreds of thousands of people in one space. Every time I see a gig, it doesn’t matter who is playing - it’s like, I’m almost in tears just with the sheer buzz from it all. So my dream would be to do a 3D show, use all the latest technology and try and get to every person in that audience.
My very best friend is disabled and I often sit with him in the disabled area. You just don’t feel it anywhere near how you do when you are standing in that crowd. And one of the things I want to do is make it better for those disabled people and to get them. Or to get to those people that couldn’t afford tickets closer to the stage. So maybe I could fly up there, you know, I don’t know yet! It would be something good coming together and it would all be very visual. I think you need to grab people with everything and immerse them into something really exciting.
What is the biggest regret of your music career so far?
With my music career, I don’t think I have any regrets. I mean, when I turned down a specific deal and then the next year I wasn’t much further, someone said, ‘Oh I bet you wish you took that deal now' - and I thought, actually, no. ’Cos my music has developed and I have developed. If I signed it back then, I would have been a copy of Pink or a copy of Katy Perry. I know who I am. I maybe regret bumping into a couple of people who had perhaps slowed me down or held me back in my career for a little bit, but, hey, what can you do.
And your best decision?
By sheer luck I have made quite a lot of the right decisions. Like uploading YouTube videos - I think that gave me such a boost. Maybe going to LA for a bit. That helped my life, maybe less for my music.
...But you learnt a lot about you, which is what you put into your music...
Exactly! It has just been magic, the way everything has happened. Every time I think something goes wrong, I get a realisation as to why it happened later. Like there was this one thing I really really, really wanted and I lost it and I was gutted at the time and cried for days. And then a year later I saw something and I realised that the person who won the opportunity I’d lost wasn’t living the life I wanted to be living – and that is what I would have ended up with.
As a producer, I’m really into females in the industry because it is so male-dominated. So my last question is, if you could work with any female in the industry, who would it be?
ha ha wow I always think of men when I think of this question! D’ya know what? Just for childhood reasons I would love to work with Pink , work with her voice. I’ve seen her live a couple of times and that gravel in her voice. I’m just like WOAH! I think I would really enjoy working with her. It would be interesting to work with Lady Gaga too, just to see what working with somebody like that would be like - but I think I would be scared at how similar we are, maybe.
Thank you, Harrison
After interviewing Harrsion in Shoreditch, I watched her perform and was blown away. She managed to take me out of my thoughts and be a part of her and her thoughts and feelings with every word she was singing. It felt like time stood still and I could feel the passion in her voice. Not only does she sing, she mixes in with the audience, she gets involved with the instruments on stage, she brings out the beat with her movements and characteristics and brings out the emotion with her beautiful, warm, husky voice.
To keep up-to-date with all things Harrison CLICK BELOW:
Her Website: LindaHarrisonMusic.com
Her facebook: LindaHarrisonMusic
Her Twitter: @lindamusic
Sazrah is a UK music producer who has composed music for BBC 1xtra, Film, Catwalk and famous artists. Her blogs are about upcoming artists, music industry tips and general chit chat!