“Most of the time, when it comes down to it, I feel like I’m making music for the gay community,” admits singer Cassie, “And it’s a comfortable place for me to be.”
Certainly the pop/R&B star noticed the beginnings of a massive LGBT following six years ago, when debut hit “Me & U” ruled global radio airwaves. Not only did the track take the then-teen sensation to the Top 10 in countries around the world, including the U.S. Top 5 (peaking at #12 in Australia), she jokingly admits it inspired fans to begin dressing as her in drag!
Now more than a half-decade later, Cassie returns with a new single just as club-ready and geared toward her LGBT follow. The electro-tinged “King of Hearts” debuted on Valentine’s Day, and it’s just a taste of what is to come from her long-anticipated sophomore set.
Here the multi-ethnic beauty sits down with GuideToGay.com celebrity correspondent Pollo Del Mar. They discuss the musical director of the singer’s upcoming CD, making music specifically for gay fans and the challenge of reinventing herself as a pop star.
It feels like “King of Hearts” has been a long time coming. What have you been doing during that time?
That time in-between? (Laughs.) I just spent time working on myself. When I decided I wanted to record again, I didn’t make it a big deal. I just kind of got back in the studio. I said I wanted to work with some other people, so I did what I said I wanted to do. I took my time with it, which I think was the best thing I’ve ever done, well, the smartest thing I’ve ever done, to not rush it. I’ve just pretty much been in the studio for the last five or six years. (Laughs.)
“Me & U” had one type of sound. Your releases in-between were more hip hop and R&B influenced. Now “King of Hearts” is light electro/dance. How did you determine that is the direction you wanted to take?
It was just one of those things where, as soon as I heard it, I felt it fit perfectly with me right now, what’s going on with my life and the sound I want to have. I base a lot of the decisions I make musically off what happened with “Me & U” and what “Me & U” sounded like, how it was simple and not overdone. It was basically for the DJs, so they could remix it and do a lot of fun stuff with it. So when I heard “King of Hearts,” it just fit that mold, and gave me a more grown up version. I’d already created a couple of dance records, but I just didn’t have that record. “King of Hearts” was that record for me.
The story I’ve heard of how you were "discovered" is Sean Combs walked into a club and heard “Me & U” being played. So obviously you have a strong history of being played in clubs.
“King of Hearts” leans toward that as well. Is that an area you’re going to focus your attention?
Definitely, as far as sound-wise, especially as a young female artist, that’s something that’s important. You definitely want that. Yes, but there are other records that aren’t going to be played in clubs, but I love just as much.
Your success in clubs, I’d think, has probably attracted a strong gay following. Have you noticed that as well?
Yes, and I love it. I absolutely love it!
When did you start to notice a gay and lesbian following?
Hmm… Maybe when people started dressing up as me for Halloween – and doing a better version! (Laughs.) No, I started to make records for a different audience, if you will. I went and recorded a record, which got leaked, unfortunately, but I still want to put it out. It’s with my friend, who is a dancer named Jonte. It’s called “Sell It.” It’s for my gay crowd. Maybe you can look it up after the interview. I think you’d really like it. I want to have a presence with everybody, but there is a different commitment in that community and a different type of love. It’s like a “real love,” which I really want to embrace, because they embrace me.
As a gay individual, I’m aware how much the gay community embraces artists from all genres, but some particular genres’ performers don’t embrace us back.
Right, and I’m a huge supporter of the gay community. I don’t know, I feel like most of the time, when it comes down to it, I feel like I’m making music for the gay community, and it’s a comfortable place for me to be. I didn’t really feel that so much before, because of the music I had, but now I have music that’s better fitting to be in the club and have more fun with it. I do notice that with other artists as well, so I know what you’re saying.
I have to say, I’ve seen this phenomenon often in the hip hop community.
Yeah, I know what you mean. I think, not even as an artist, just as a human being, you have to embrace all people for people to embrace you. I have a special place in my heart for people who love my music. You have to check out that song though! (Laughs.) It’s the perfect, “We’re going to go to the club, we’re putting on our clothes, doing it up” song. You’ve got to hear it.
What is the plan to re-introduce you to fans? The downside of taking so long between releases is you have to come back and, in some ways, start all over.
Yeah, definitely. It’s kind of a process, but at the same time, it’s also kind of fun. As we were just talking about with the gay community, I don’t know how… “Me & U” was a kind of big song around everywhere, but I didn’t really have a big presence with certain audiences. So even some of the people listening to my music now is kind of “new,” so I’m gaining new fans. It’s kind of a challenge, but it’s also fun.
Is there anything specific you want people to know about you and this record?
I just want people to get excited to hear it. This record is definitely a reflection of me and what I’ve been going through over the last six years, so it’s going to be exciting for people to hear it. I’m excited for people to hear it. Keep up with me. My website is a great place!
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