Meet Cassidy King, Ohio-based singer-songwriter who brings her heartfelt lyrics to the world of indie pop. Songs like ‘Professional Smiler’ bring us real experiences and emotions about mental health and how detrimental it is to us all. Cassidy King’s music is perfect for fans of Bea Miller, girl in red, and Jade Bird. With her newest single ‘Polaroid’ out now, check out what Cassidy has to say about her musical influences, life as an artist in the Midwest, and what’s coming next!
BTS: How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard you before?
Cassidy King: I would say Indie-Pop with some R&B elements tied in. I try not to close myself off to one genre though. Whatever I feel like making, I make.
BTS: Who would you say is your biggest musical influence?
Cassidy King: Paramore is definitely my biggest musical influence for so many different reasons. They empower me so much. I’m such a huge fan of them and everything they’ve built themselves into over the years. It’s incredibly inspiring to watch a band stay so prominent for that long of a time. Being able to do that while sticking to what is true to them at the same time? On top of that, since 2005 they have created such a unique and close relationship with their fans. You feel like you really know them. I’ve never gotten a disingenuous energy from any piece of them. From the outside looking in, I feel as if they always stay true to themselves in whatever they are creating. There’s a sense of closeness and family to their friends which made it seem so simple to create a shift in genre and style in 2017. After changing their sound, the fans are still there and growing with them from over a decade. It’s amazing to watch fans grow with an artist. A close second is Ani DeFranco. She inspires me to make it more than just music. To stand for something. Being able to have a voice bigger than music is so important. What’s a voice if you don’t use it you know? She’s been a huge advocate for feminism and the LGBTQ community. Not to mention she’s released over 20 albums while doing all of that.
BTS: What does your typical songwriting process look like?
Cassidy King: It changes each time I make a song. Each process behind the song and how it comes about is unique within itself which makes it so great. What all the songs have in common is a story. There’s a story behind each song I’ve made. I can sit down and talk about each one of them. I make most of my music with my best friends. Whether that’s writing or producing. Most of the time the song stems from a conversation I’ve had with them, it’s normally me venting about something that happened the other day and they’ll be like “Okay time to make a song about that!!”. I also make a ton of voice memos of ideas/melodies that randomly pop in my head too. You never know when those could inspire something too. I think it’s really important to make songs as genuine as possible so that’s why I keep it so close knit. The people I mostly work with know me so well so I never feel like I have to fabricate myself.
BTS: Favorite song you’ve ever written?
Cassidy King: Definitely this one I finished last week. It’s my favorite one. It’s called “Abigail”. I wrote it about an ex-girlfriend. Gotta love that you’re still writing about your ex 6 months later!!!!! We were so toxic for each other it was gross. One day I woke up and decided that enough was enough. She didn’t treat me the best so I sent her a text saying that we needed to stop all communication with each other. I kept letting her hurt me over and over again, which is my fault so I’ll own up to that okay. It just wasn’t helping me or her by holding on so I just said that I’m done for good this time (we all know how that goes) and blocked her number. One night about 6 months later at 3am I started missing her. I was like okay fuck it, I’m going to try and call her. So I unblocked her and dialed the number. Turns out that I was blocked right back. So I decided to write a song about all the things I wanted to tell her in that moment so she would call me back. It’s a good thing I was blocked because I would have most likely fallen right back where I was but I took all that vulnerability that I had in that moment and used it to write a song. It captures a good balance between being incredibly frustrated but loving at the same time.
BTS: How has being a musician from Ohio/the Midwest influenced your career/music?
Cassidy King: It’s a huge part of me in every way even when it took me a little while to realize. I used to blame a lot of troubles that I had within myself on the place I grew up as a defense mechanism in the beginning. I had to go through that to appreciate it though. I’m from a small town called Chardon, OH where every single person knows everyone. It’s really in the middle of nowhere. I’m pretty sure the biggest things Chardon is known for is making maple syrup and getting a ton of snow lol. I grew up running around in fields and being outside everyday because there wasn’t much else to do. When my friends and I were bored we’d go to nature parks. We’d find places to fish, kayak, and swim etc. I know pretty much every single park in NorthEast Ohio because I’ve been to each of them at least 6 times. There are so many hidden gems there. I had an IPod growing up in school and didn’t get a real working phone until my freshman year of college. I was completely isolated from a lot. Most people from there were. It made the people grow a lot closer. It’s a place that’s completely stripped down and natural so I try to carry that with me wherever I go in music. I’ve learned to appreciate my relationships from there more and more over the years and as I move more into the music industry. It just keeps reminding me to stay genuine and as natural to myself as possible. Sometimes I have conversations with people in Cali and they’re a completely different dynamic than ones that I have at home in the Midwest. Which is not always a bad thing but it just reminds me to appreciate the genuineness of people. I guess I know how to sense it more. Ohio is really stripped down, which is how most of my music starts. With just a guitar loop my friend makes and my voice, then everything gets added from that base. Also, a lot of people don’t move out of a place like where I’m from. It’s almost unheard of to do music there. Hopefully I can show people it’s possible to do whatever you want.
BTS: Similarly, how has being a member of the LGTBQ community influenced your career/music?
Cassidy King: Music made me comfortable with myself. It put me in a place where I got to see so many people out there that think/feel like me. The reason I got into social media was because of music. That was my main platform at first. It was the only way I knew how to get people to see me. After going through highschool without a real phone and without a clear understanding of social media and how it worked scared me at first. It was like entering a new world. Then I realized it was a way for me to see other people. At one point I swear it felt like I was the only gay person in the world. LIKE WHAT. Saying that now is so weird. No one from where I was from was open about liking the same sex because I’m sure they felt the same way as me. It felt impossible because there was no one else. I guess from that point I realized there are so many more people that must feel how I used to. I feel like my purpose is to speak for people that feel like they can’t. Music is my way to fulfill that purpose.
BTS: What was writing Professional Smiler like? Was writing a song that personal about mental health feel more difficult or liberating?
Cassidy King: Difficult at first, but then liberating after seeing how it resonated with people. It started with a conversation I had with my best friend Taj about me and this kid Stephen I went to school with. We wrote it from there. I’ve always battled with myself over letting people know that I’m not okay. I became used to pretending. For me, pretending was easier than telling people how I was actually feeling. I didn’t want to appear weak to people. I actually feared it. Until I felt it completely break me. I had everything packed inside me until it boiled over. I had no choice but to speak on it. I knew I couldn’t live my life hiding from everyone. The people around me felt like they knew who I was but in reality they had no idea. Slowly but surely I let it all out and I’m still working on that. I was scared shitless to release that music video especially. That was me giving the purest and most genuine side of me that I had never shown anyone before. I was drowning in my doubts to be honest. Things like what if people don’t like the real me? That’ll break me all over again. Then what do you know, it ended up speaking to so many people that felt that same way? It proved me completely wrong. I guess I’ve realized giving people you and you to the purest form is going to work out for you and the people around you.
BTS: What’s next for you in 2020? (any new music, tours, etc?)
Cassidy King: I’m working on a project to drop hopefully in the middle of 2020. It’s been my diary for the last year about coming to terms with myself, falling in love for the first time ever, then healing myself from that at the same time. I would love to go on tour. That’s always something I’ve wanted to do. I can’t wait to see the people that talk to me through social media. It’ll be a really cool feeling. This year my goals are more internal than external. They’re more about keeping up with my happiness and watching everything stem from there. Reminding myself to stay true to who I am. I don’t want to turn into an asshole because I know a lot of people do that when they make it. To assure myself of that never happening I just make sure I surround myself with the people that got me this far in the first place. We’re all humans. We just do different things. That’s an important thing to always tell myself.
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