CASSANDRA VIOLET – ‘NOBODY BUT YOU’

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“And then we thought, hold on, let’s say our accomplishments without trying to make them small. Let’s take up space and shine.” Cassandra declares. “I know lots of people are taught not to brag, but I think women internalize it more.” 

Cassandra Violet is a storyteller. To know her music is to know the vivid world she both lives in and creates with haunting, western soundscapes, ominous notions and an intoxicating voice. Her latest release ‘Nobody But You’ finds the LA based songstress in an acoustic realm, with only an old electric guitar and a few harmonies to decorate. It almost feels as if you shouldn’t be listening in on this moment, suspended in the doorway to someone’s hideaway as they chant a lullaby.

“It’s meant to be imperfect and a little rough. The production is as bare-bones as possible- just me, the girls (Heather Ogilvy and Pam Kilroy), and my fuzzy guitar that I’m hacking at with my thumb.” Cassandra relays. “It reminds me of the sirens singing in the Odyssey- this beautiful harmony that entices sailors to their death.”

I had the honor of sitting down with this multi-talented songstress and talking about what it means to be a woman, a high school English teacher, and a reincarnate prairie lass.

“Not listening to yourself is the ultimate act of betrayal.” – Cassandra Violet

You mentioned this song is about trust and the ‘fucked up things’ people will do for love. What is one ‘fucked up thing’ you’ve done, or someone else has done, in the name of love?

I’ve stayed in relationships for too long, dealing with things that I knew I deserved better than, rather than be alone. Not listening to yourself is the ultimate act of betrayal.

These days many people describe genre using adjectives, instead of labels. For example, synth-wave, or dreamy pop. How would you describe your music, using only adjectives?

Let’s see…haunting. Harmonious. Dark. Funny. Unique. Folk-inspired. Original. Everyone keeps telling me I’m quirky, but what does that even mean?

You wrote in a post recently about women being proud of their accomplishments, and to ‘take up space.’ Would you elaborate on this topic? What does that conversation look like in your head?

I was just talking to two of my musician friends (who happen to be female) about this. We were telling each other about our accomplishments, and we were minimizing all of them. Like, “yeah, I got this placement, I’m working on an album, its cool, whatever.” And then we thought, hold on, let’s say our accomplishments without trying to make them small. Let’s take up space and shine. Why do we want to shit on what makes us proud? I grew up with this idea that it was unbecoming to talk about what you are most proud of. I know lots of people are taught not to brag, but I think women internalize it more. I know plenty of men who readily share their accomplishments and don’t try to minimize them. Why can’t we be proud of what we work hard for? I’m really trying to notice and break that pattern for myself.

In an age where gender, sexuality, and societal roles are finally coming to the forefront as being fluid, what does femininity mean or feel like to you?

I think femininity is power. I think it’s is wearing what you want and putting on makeup if you want, or not, growing your hair long if it makes you feel powerful, cutting it all off if it makes you feel powerful, and doing what makes you feel good. I was just telling someone that wearing fake eyelashes when I perform makes me feel powerful. I think women are ultimately still taught to look and behave a certain way. A lot of my music is about my own struggle with these internalized norms. But ultimately, I think that we hold our power within.

Many of your songs enlighten the realities of being a woman, and a lot of the time we do struggle and battle with the culturally accepted behaviors of men. What frustrates you and how can we change it?

I have been fortunate enough (despite what it seems like from some of my songs!) to know many very lovely men. But since you asked, here are some things that are currently frustrating me: the lack of awareness I see with the amount of space being taken up. The persistence of the trope that a powerful woman is called a bitch. The ease with which female voices are dismissed, still, to this day. The persistence of male voices still creating most of the film and television that we consume. The persistence of our own internalized voices in our heads telling us to minimize ourselves. I have so many frustrations! Now I feel more frustrated!

Do you ever host conversations like this in your classroom? If so, how does it go?

Yes absolutely. My students are amazing. I talk about real, important issues with them all the time. We were just talking about consent the other day. Being a teenager (and human) right now in the world is insane, and they are definitely aware of what’s going on. I think it helps them to have a space to process things.

Where on earth did you get that fabulous fringe corset?

At a thrift store in Joshua Tree, of course.

Have you ever lived any past lives? What are they? Who is she/he?

Definitely. I have lived on the prairie with a knife strapped to my thigh under my dress. I have also lived in a coven of women singing in harmony, somewhere hundreds of years ago. I have had terrible and wonderful things happen to me. I think they come out in my songs.

What’s something you’re looking forward to in your music / art next year?

I’m so glad you asked! I’m making an album, produced by my friend Joe Berry. Up to this point, I have only released EP’s, so it will be my first album. It will be released next year and I am so excited! It’s about the stories we tell ourselves and stories about Los Angeles. I will keep releasing singles from it throughout the year. I can’t wait!

CONNECT WITH CASSANDRA VIOLET:

INSTAGRAM // FACEBOOK // TWITTER

photos / Anna Azarov

story / Ariana Tibi

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