Cassadee Pope will be releasing her debut solo EP tomorrow, but PropertyOfZack had a chance to catch up with her while she was in the middle of the recording process. In the interview, Cassadee and I discussed her first touring experience as a solo artist, the transition into relying on herself instead of bandmates, the material for her solo EP, the recording process, the future, and much more. Check it all out below!
So you’re in the studio now. Before this you did your first solo tour to kick off your career. How was the experience as a whole?
It was amazing. Definitely some that were better than the others. But the really good ones were… It’s one of those things where I always had a really great connection with the fans. It’s always been a different kind of connection. Especially right now because I kind of wasn’t expecting a lot of support in my decision with going solo. There’s a lot of support out there. I wasn’t expecting some of the shows to do as well as they did. So it was just a whole different level and I got to, since they were smaller shows, pretty much meat every single person that came out. It was really fun. Even the ones that didn’t do so well, like San Diego and Arizona, the kids that came out were diehard fans and that was still fun. So the overall experience was amazing. I had a lot of fun.
Was it nice to connect with fans on a level that you haven’t been able to do with Hey Monday in a while? As you guys got pretty big?
Yeah. We never really did a super small tour where we had to pay our dues as a band. We kind of just got stuck on these amazing tours. We were always the opener and we got to gain all these fans from these huge tours. It was really my first time doing a smaller tour like that and it was great. I would do it again in a heartbeat, for sure. And the other bands were really cool as well. Darling Parade, Stephen Jerzak and Justin Young were all awesome to tour with too.
You played a bunch of new songs on that tour that I assume you are recording. Were fans pretty open to the new stuff as well as the Hey Monday Stuff?
Yeah they were. Sometimes at the beginning, before I’d play, I’d do a meet and greet. Sometimes kids were like, “Oh we’re really bummed out about Hey Monday. Are you guys going to do anything any time soon?” I’d be honest and have to say “Probably not. I just went solo so don’t expect anything any time soon.” Then I would play. After the set I would see the same people and they’d say, “You know what? This is exactly what you should be doing. This is great, we love it. We love the new songs.” That was another thing that I gained from that tour. I felt like I got everyone’s approval for my decision. The people that heard the new songs loved them. Two of the songs that I played on the tour, I’m putting on the EP. Then there’s two other ones… Actually, I did play three of them but one of them I only played in New York. So not a lot of people got to hear it. But there’s one that no one has heard before. So I’m excited to get them something that they haven’t heard yet.
So you’ve been in the studio a couple of days now. Can you talk about the process so far?
Yeah. So I wrote one of the songs that no one has heard before with these producers James, Gavi, and Andrew Dixon and I co-wrote with them I’d say a month ago. It went really well. The demo that they produced sounded crazy. It sounded better than some finished products that I’ve heard. They had the best gear and they were really quick with making demos. When I decided to do an EP, at first I wanted someone who could do it super fast because I feel like if I don’t get it out soon, everyone is going to kind of lose interest. I already said I feel like I have waited too long to release music. I wanted to get in there fast. Also people that would be cool with me bringing songs that I had already written, that they didn’t have anything to do with, and just record them. A lot of producers want to take writing credit for something that they didn’t have anything to do with. I kind of developed a friendship with these guys. So we met up and talked about it. They’re totally doing me a favor and they started building the tracks around the songs two or three days ago. Just started out with and saw the basic stuff. I can’t record vocals yet because I’m sick, but probably by Monday and Tuesday I will be able to do it. Then the last thing we are going to do is drums on Wednesday. My boyfriend, Ryan, is actually doing them. So that will be fun. We’re going to mix by the second week of May and hopefully release that in the third week of May. So it’s a pretty quick process.
Is it exciting that because you are not on a major label that you don’t have to wait like six months to release something?
Yeah, it’s really great. I think it adds to the excitement. I know that keeping people excited and keeping people interested in an album release is really fun, but I kind of love the fact that people have no idea when it’s going to come out. It could come out any day now. I’ve just been doing a lot of promoting myself. I’m finding out who my real friends are, basically, because I’ve been trying to call in favors to a ton of people. So many people have pulled a lot of strings for me. People have been so cool. It’s been really fun to be able to call all the shots myself. I walked in to do preproduction with the guys and I had a bunch of songs. We weeded through the ones that we liked the most, and that was a decision. It wasn’t like I had to send in like over thirty songs to the label and they have to approve, and it weeds down to like ten songs. Another thing I’m excited about is that it’s not like I have to put this out and then wait a year or so and tour the hell out of this EP and then record another one in a year. I can keep releasing EPs for as long as I want and however many I want. It’s cool to not have to answer to anyone or take anybody’s orders. It’s really fun.
What’s it been like for you to experience recording solo now? In contrast to doing it with Hey Monday?
It’s different in a lot of ways. Well one thing, I’m able to be around for the whole process. A lot of the times we would record and then leave for tour. All of the mixing and all of the stuff would happen while we were gone. I would just get in mixes and send in my notes. But I can actually be involved every single step of the way. I can be in the studio for every little thing. It’s cool to see all of the different things that happen. It’s also pretty boring when you sit in the studio. You don’t really do anything… I play guitar, but I’m not going to play on the EP because I’m not good enough and I want it to sound good. So the producer, Andrew, is playing guitar and he’s a monster. He plays guitar and bass and everything. He’s programming the drums right now, just to have the layout. It’s crazy because he’s basically one person doing all of the instruments. And Gavi, the other guy, is doing all of the strings and all of the keys and piano and stuff. So these two people doing everything as opposed to Hey Monday with five people. We’d bring in some people to help out, but it’s like just three people sitting in a room making these songs and making them sound crazy and full. It’s actually quicker, which is really weird, but somehow it works out that way.
You are doing this without a label and without management. You seem to be happy to get your hands dirty. Has it been stressful?
Yeah. It’s been super stressful. Up till’ this point, I’ve been trying to do exactly that. It’s to get people interested and lock down a manager who seems to get where I am trying to go; create a team around myself. It’s been really hard. I’ve learned that a lot of artists and bands these days are getting signed and getting recognized by the work that they’ve done on their own. Although I do feel like I’ve done a lot on my own and with Hey Monday it doesn’t seem like we worked hard because it seems that we were thrown in to such an amazing situation. But that was really hard work and we were touring like non-stop. So I feel like I have paid my dues, but not as a solo artist. So I need to do exactly that. I’m totally down for it. I’m really excited. The change in environment, moving to L.A., helped a lot. Because when I was still living in West Palm, I started losing motivation. Then I started thinking, “Well, what if this isn’t for me? What if I shouldn’t do music?” I was in a bad funk. Then I got here and everything changed. I am surrounded by people who are maybe not singers, but they are in the entertainment industry and they are trying to make it as well. So it’s very inspirational. Yeah it is stressful, but fortunately, I have met a lot of awesome people in the Hey Monday stuff and throughout my career so far. Everyone is really jumping in and helping out. It’s been cool to develop myself on my own. Not have to bring anyone else in until after the product is done. I think that was my main issue. I was trying to bring on people before I had really developed my sound and come out with something. So I think that this is the right way to go, so that I don’t have people in my ear telling me, “Oh, you should do more pop,” or “You should be more ‘this’,” or whatever. So I can do my thing and be done with it. People can jump in when they want and I can have people come to me and want to work with me, instead of me trying to seek out people. You know?
So you’re going to be finished this week, and you’re mixing. So should we hear a first song by June and a release shortly after?
You mean when the EP comes out?
Cassadee: Yeah, I’m trying to get it out as soon as possible. So I’m hoping by mid-May. And then probably another one a few months after. I’m trying to bust out music fast and quick. Because I know four songs can only keep people’s attention for so long. So yeah, if not mid-May, than the end of May or beginning of June.
So what’s your plan? Have you started to think about touring after yet?
I’ve actually gotten some interest from people to do some touring. I haven’t started working on that or confirmed that yet. I’ve been kind of busy with the EP. I don’t have a manager or anything to take on planning a tour right now. So I’m doing everything myself. I’d love to tour a little on this EP and get out there. The only thing is that I have to worry about putting a band together. I can do what I did last time and bring out the same guys, but they all have crazy schedules, so it would have to be a very in-advance kind of thing. I would love to play vocal shows here a lot and get the word out around here. Because this is always a rough market for us; the west coast, L.A. and everything. So if I can get the word out about my stuff here first then I will probably do some local stuff.
So the plan is obviously to release this, start building up, and then hopefully you’ll be able to tour more throughout the year and then work on a bigger release?
Yeah. I think just financially, as far as my resources will take me, that’s just doing EPs. Because a full length is a whole different ballgame. And without a label and stuff, I know that’s not possible. And I don’t want to be stupid and run myself the ground and end up having to move back to West Palm. I think EPs, for now, are going to be my best bet. Hopefully people will become interested and I can get more people onboard and I will release a full length eventually.
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