Virgin Mobile - Cassie Interview: 07.28.06
VM: So the first question I wanted to ask is what ringtones do you have set up on your own cell phone right now?
Cassie: Oh wow… I have T.I. - Why You Wanna, and What You Know. I have a Chris Brown… what else do I have? Oh, Bossy, Sexy Back.
VM: So "Me & U," the first single. Were you surprised by the immediate success that it's had?
Cassie: I am crazy surprised! When I recorded the song it was literally a demo song-it wasn't expected to go anywhere. I went out and I performed it in Germany just so I could have a song to perform, and people really loved it, so once we started my MySpace page it just grew out of control…past what we ever thought it would. So the fact that it's made it this far…I still am pinching myself every day.
VM: Can you tell us a little bit about the song and why you chose it as the first single?
Cassie: Well, I would have to say—I've never actually said it in any interviews or anything, but probably the smartest decision I've ever made in this whole thing was to choose this song that Ryan Leslie had produced. It was basically sitting, and I would go through and listen to what he had. I think that was one of the only songs that we didn't do organically—I'll literally come in and we wrote from scratch—but that was one that I just listened to and I loved from the beginning. He said "Yeah, you can totally have that one as one of your demo songs" and I said great- I love what I'm saying. I love how the tone feels of the song. It's not too much. It's really simple and nobody has anything like this.
VM: Can you tell us a little about the album overall?
Cassie: Right. Well the second single, which I don't know if it's going to be a ringtone or not, is called "Long Way 2 Go," and actually it's like a Vanity 6 vibe, like rapping, kind of. It's a lot of fun. It's a little bit faster than "Me & U" and it's different. So the album itself has slow songs, guitar-driven slow songs, it's all about love, all of it. Love and hate, relationships. And then I have a rock song that I did with these two girls from a band called Pretty Boys-Galadriel Masterson and Hopey Rock- they've toured with Pink, they perform at CBGB's every weekend, they're like amazing. So we did a Gwen Stefani-vibe thing. There is pop, rock, R&B, rap- everything's on my album! (laughs). It's fun!
VM: Do you have any favorites?
Cassie: "Not With You" is my favorite song, which Ryan Leslie wrote with an artist named UneSS —He's from Canada…very, very talented guitarist/singer/writer. I told him that I wanted to write about loving a guy so much, but just not being able to trust him because I know that a ton of girls go through that…like when you're not with him, you don't trust him. So that's why it is called "Not With You" and that's one of my favorite ones. It's slow, its simple, and you get to really hear me as opposed to all the synthesizers and everything in the background.
VM: Looking forward to getting out and touring in support of the record?
Cassie: Yeah, I am! After the album comes out we're doing Japan, and then we come back for the VMA's, and then we do Europe. I cannot even believe that! I've only been to Germany, Amsterdam, and the islands, but nowhere near what I'm about to do.
VM: So you're getting a ton of attention these days. How's that treating you?
Cassie: I mean it's scary, because at the same time I've built such a crazy fan base on the Internet that I'm scared to let them down. I had my first live performance on television yesterday for TRL, and that was like the first moment when people could either remain fans or not, you know what I mean I went and I checked my MySpace page, and I saw how people felt—things like that. And, at the beginning of the show they had a technical problem! (laughing) Of course! So people thought I was a lip-synching, but I wasn't—I was singing my heart out! You know, there are just so many judgments and everything. People's eyes are always on you. It's just a whole different feeling when people feel like they can judge you, and they don't even know you. It's crazy.
VM: In a similar way, how did you feel shooting the first video?
Cassie: Oh, wow. Tommy Mottola and Puff came up with the idea for it because they really liked looking at the rehearsal videos of just me dancing in front of the mirror. They thought that that was a really cool idea 'cause nobody does that—has done that—for a while, since Janet, but I was thinking Oh my God, this is so weird not to have my girls in it. And we just went for it. We spent over 24 hours just doing the video straight. And now, it's like most requested everywhere!
VM: Speaking of Janet I heard part of a recent interview where she kind of singled you out as one of the hottest female artists out there. How does it feel when a real high profile artist like that is really impressed with what you're doing?
Cassie: Oh wow! That was one of those feelings where I will never forget exactly what I was doing. I was at a radio station In South Carolina…or Atlanta? I don't even know where I was! I finished all my interviews, and I got an e-mail with the link on my Blackberry and I was like "I need a computer!" (laughing) and I ran and I listened to it, and well, not only did that make my day, my week, my month, and my year—it made my life! Haha! I love Janet!
VM: Did you have any big musical influences like that growing up and breaking in that have really influenced you so far?
Cassie: It's crazy and it's so funny that before even that, all I talked about was Janet every day, on every radio interview and everything I had. It'd be like "who was your influence?" and career wise and growth, and everything: Janet Jackson! 'Cause you literally saw her from when you were so young, and she just evolved so much. I mean, she's coming out with an album this year! How crazy is that...that her and I have an album coming out in the same year? That's crazy to me! And Aaliyah, definitely with her tone… that is my favorite type of music to listen to, that's why I love making such simple music as far as vocals and stuff like that.
VM: So how did you first get on the music scene at and how did you work your way up to the place you're at now?
Cassie: Well, I was actually modeling. I started modeling when I was 14, and I signed with Wilhelmina New York. I was traveling in and out, and throughout high school I literally would miss sometimes three days a week of school, but they said that as long as I finished my work, I was fine. I went to a college prep school, so everybody was going to college and I decided not to because I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I just knew that there was this something—I felt like there was something else out there for me, and people thought I was crazy, and that I was totally tripping and everything else. I moved to New York in October of 2004, and I met Ryan Leslie straight away, probably three weeks after I moved here. We were hanging out with the same friends-kind of just saw each other around for a while, and then finally talked. I didn't tell him a thing, and I told my mom that I had met a producer and she says "Cass, do you remember in the beginning, when you were in high school, when you were in the musical theater program, you were taking vocal lessons, you were singing and dancing in every show?" So, after that I was just like "Ryan, can I record a song?" and I recorded a song for her birthday. A song called "Kiss Me." It's actually on the album, so it's cool to see the difference in my vocals between the very first song I ever recorded to the newer songs on the album. That's the cool thing that people don't really know about the album, that it's actual growth throughout.
VM: So, what makes you different from other female R&B artists that are
out there at the moment?
Cassie: You know, the thing about that is that I don't know how those women personally feel about themselves. So it's really hard to tell. I just know that I stick with my mellow tone—that I'm not trying to be Aretha Franklin. I know what it's all about, and I just push, and I love to perform. That's my favorite thing to do, so I stick to my guns on everything and I finish everything I've started. As far as other artists…I'm friends with Rihanna, and we are different in a lot of ways and people just don't see that. You know what I mean? They see it for what it is when you look at us both…but we have two different personalities if you see us stand next to each other and talk. We're friends, but we're just much different. I'm trying to keep it fun, as opposed to feeling pressure.
VM: We have a lot of young people in our user base that are really into all
of this-- any advice that you would give any young women that is trying to
break into the recording industry and trying to live the dream?
Cassie: Wow, like seriously, it's crazy because you just have to really apply yourself, and you can't let—(pause) a lot of the problems in the industry or people telling you what you need to do when you know in your heart what you need to do. You don't need to look a certain way. You look how you look, 'cause that's who you're gonna be, and if you put yourself out there some other way you're gonna be uncomfortable. So be yourself—I mean, as corny as it sounds, just continue to press on. Just make demos, and go for it. Nothing to lose, ever!
VM: So you've had one of the top selling ring tones for us in the last month
or so. How does it feel for you to know that you have people out there downloading
your tone and every time they're getting calls it's ringing out in public
and all around them?
Cassie: It's weird-especially when I'm out and about. Like I was saying, I always get yelled at for going out by myself and walking around the city and stuff like that, but if I'm out and I hear the ringtone, I'm like Oh, that's me! It's strange, it's a weird feeling, but all my friends have bought my ring tones like five times in a row now!
VM: So what's the biggest kick for you? When you hear one of your songs on
the radio or in a club, or you catch your video on TV, or when you're out
in public and you hear your ringtone go off?
Cassie: For sure the first time I ever heard my song on the radio. It was Hot 97 in New York, which is a big station, and I don't know why, I just started screaming and I called my mom. I was in a car with my cousin driving to Connecticut and I was freaking out! I didn't even know what to do with myself (laughing) and I didn't know I would react like that. But you know, hearing it as a ringtone, I'm like Oh, that's me! (laughs)
VM: Great, well I really, really appreciate your time and taking the time
to talk to us; one last question and we'll let you get going. Do you have
anything that you want to say to all the Virgin Mobile fans?
Cassie: Yeah, like wow! Seriously, I just want to thank them so much because I'm a huge believer that the fans do it for real—they do it for you. I started everything on the Internet and now it's going to mobile…it's all connected at the end of the day. But, just thank you SO much for the support! Nothing would be this great without the fans. …And thanks for buying my ringtones!