Radiating passion, strength and dedication, Cassy is one of the most remarkable figures in the house and techno scene.
Growing up around music that varied from Chaka Khan to Sade, The Cure to Sun Ra, all while learning guitar and performing in a traditional Austrian children’s choir, Cassy’s distinctive style developed through her unique upbringing and diverse musical exposure.
After experiencing the emerging techno scene of Vienna in the early ’90s, Cassy’s musical energy became focused on the all-encompassing sounds of artists like Kruder & Dorfmeister and labels such as Gilles Peterson’s influential Talkin’ Loud. It was enough to draw her back to Vienna after she had moved to London to study drama, knowing that this was the path she needed to take. After recording vocals for electronic music and beginning to collect and spin records, the obsession took complete hold, and Cassy followed the lead of mentors who included Electric Indigo, Acid Maria, and Miss Kitten.
These early influences from a variety of genres shaped a deep and connective DJ style that has characterized Cassy’s career and lead her to great success across the industry. Her many years of residencies in venues that include Panorama Bar in Berlin, Rex Club in Paris, and Cocoon in Ibiza solidified her talent for directing the crowd, showcasing her ability to take the dance floor on a journey night after night. She took that depth of experience to her own productions, bringing an experimental, creative, no-restrictions attitude to her tracks, which reflects her personality perfectly: adamantly authentic and wonderfully fresh.
To add to her list of industry accomplishments, her new label Kwench has been setting itself apart through a unique premise. Each Kwench release is a collaborative endeavor between two or more artists. Characterized by honest, upfront dance music, Kwench 004, for instance, is a collaboration between herself and Pete Moss called “You Gotta Know Pt 1,” featuring a remix by Ron Trent. While each artist on the label is one that has influenced or inspired her throughout her career, she encourages them to experiment and do what comes naturally to them, and above all – to trust in themselves and their instincts.
This advice is one that Cassy has followed herself throughout her career, always staying true to and trusting in her own choices, something that I greatly appreciated learning about from her. It is always a pleasure to talk to someone who is so in tune with their own thoughts and not afraid to share their feelings, knowing that the validity behind them is backed up by their own truth. With a future that has Cassy doing more and more endeavors solely for her own self, just being her “own me,” this attitude means that no matter what is to come, it will definitely be something special.
Cover photo by Seze Devres.
What are you excited about lately? What’s getting you fired up?
I’m excited about my label, now on to the fifth release that’s going to come out very soon, the fourth just came out so that’s super exciting. Now we’ve got the first six releases ready, and it just feels like I’ve got a label now, so that’s really cool.
Also, I’m listening to a lot of hip hop. I just turned into a huge, huge fan of J Cole, I had no idea how good he was. I’m extremely happy that there’s someone out there in the more commercial world, even though he might not want to be called a commercial artist but he’s commercially very successful… it’s really good to know that there are hip hop people out there who actually do sing and rap about something that’s important, and it’s not just “bitches and hoes” and shit.
It’s very touching what he says. I watch some of his performances online and see what he’s like and I’m so happy that there’s younger people out there who actually have a brain. There’s a lot of younger people out there who have a brain, but not the people who are making commercial music and are very successful. Most of them seem to be really dumb or really caught up in things that are really dangerous and might kill them in the end.
It’s definitely good to hear of these artists who are doing things with a real purpose and actually being successful.
Yes. Funnily enough, I find it strange that someone like him can be strong in hip hop and people like this cannot be strong in house and techno. That’s somehow weird. I mean obviously house and techno hardly has lyrics and you don’t express yourself that much and it can never become political. And I guess that’s the thing about house and techno that is nice, there’s no need of speaking, there’s no need of politics, there’s no need of sex and gender. Music just speaks for itself and it’s all about being on the dance floor, joining and being together. I guess that a huge difference with dance music, that you don’t have an audience in front of you and you’re not performing.
There’s definitely messages though that come through even without the lyrics…
Yes there’s the messages, exactly. Messages that come through by peoples’ personalities and how they promote themselves, and what they want other people to see of them, and maybe that also does come through in the music. But there’s not enough people that actually are advanced enough in their thinking, you know. And it’s a shame because if you’ve done it for a certain amount of time and things just become about money, or just about fame… I think it’s strange. Because you’re in house and techno, it’s not the huge finance world, it’s not pop music, so I never understood it.
I think that’s really interesting that you say people are translating what they want other people to feel about who they are when they are DJing. Do you feel like there’s a lack of authenticity with DJs?
A huge lack. Yes. And too much personas, and it’s too artificial. But I think the pressure is extremely high. As you could see with Avicii’s death, who obviously comes from the much more commercial world, but I think the pressure is on even if you don’t make as much money as Avicii and you’re touring around, you want to hold your career and keep on DJing and trying to stay relevant. I think it’s extremely difficult to stay mentally really healthy, and then obviously following, physically very healthy because the pressure is really high for everyone. I guess this is also why a lot of people resort to certain behaviors and personas and inauthenticity. I think most people act out of fear and panic.
You always seem like you have such positive energy as a DJ, what are your keys for getting into that mode and staying mentally and physically healthy?
Extreme physical fitness. I go through waves, and how I have time and priorities in certain periods. And right now moving to Ibiza is just about being extremely fit and detoxing, being on a very healthy diet for a longer time and trying to sustain it throughout. Drink some alcohol here and there and not have wine with every dinner, etc. It’s really so important to keep the alkalinity or the acidity of your body in check because flying and traveling is a lot of stress for the body, and obviously staying up nights and not sleeping regularly is another stress that your body has to suffer. If I don’t watch my health I start getting stress issues, so now that I’m older I’ve learned I’m a lot better if I eat certain things and not eat certain things, and working out a lot more now in Ibiza really helps me.
I was just discussing this with a DJ friend. it’s extremely important to play in front of different audiences. to play in a club like Pacha is different than playing in a club like DC10, and I’ve always been a DJ that really loved a challenge. I really enjoy the breadth or width of what this craft actually entails.
So what’s coming up for you then for the rest of the Summer?
I have some really nice gigs lined up this year. Last year started to be a new life for me in Ibiza because I stopped playing for DC10. I wanted to try out new things and new clubs and play in front of new people. I was just discussing this with a DJ friend, that it’s extremely important to play in front of different audiences, to play in a club like Pacha is different than playing in a club like DC10, and I’ve always been a DJ that really loved a challenge, or loved playing in front of different people. I really enjoy the breadth or width of what my job or this craft actually entails. I’m old enough now and I’ve done it for a long enough time that I can really take my style to quite a few different audiences, I can play more house and I can play more techno, and I really love this about what I’m doing. Even though I’m just DJing all the time it’s always different, and it’s always in front of different people and it keeps me at my toes.
Last year was the first year I played in front of different people and sometimes also the parties weren’t good, as it was a new club and new setup. Ibiza is changing so much so everything has to start running again, and I’m happy that I’m not doing the things that I’ve done before that were actually really, really good but I wasn’t so happy with, and now it’s more on my own terms.
I was reading how you said you were happier than ever with your musical direction, so is that a lot of it, just trying new things and keeping that freshness and challenge?
I guess a lot of it is having said no to certain things and to turn my back to certain things, and I jumped into it having no idea what’s going to happen… having dealt with a really bad manager and having to change over, also with the change in how the whole business is working, and a lot of new DJs starting. I find that all extremely challenging, but challenging in a sense that I’m not the best business person in this end. I don’t buy into a lot of things, and I think that whatever is fundamental is that you’re really good at what you’re doing and that you have the right attitude. Also that you have a lot of patience. I never wanted to be successful quickly, and I never wanted to do something that I don’t feel comfortable with. And now it’s more because I’ve kind of paid my dues in a certain way and I just said okay, I just want to not belong to a group and not be a part of anything. I just want to develop my own thing and just be my own me. I want to be “Cassy as a DJ” not “Cassy playing for them.” Obviously now I can play for different people, and I love that people want to invite me, and I’m always really happy if someone welcomes me into their family that has me play for their party. But it’s also important for me as a DJ to see as many fields as I can because I really want to become better and more experienced. I think this you can only do by challenging yourself, and doing whatever feels comfortable is often not challenging enough and I think you get stuck. This is one thing I really wouldn’t want to be, to get stuck as a DJ and not happy with what I love most doing.
What are you most proud of accomplishing as a DJ in your career so far?
I was pregnant and I had my son the way I had him, together with my partner Danny. That we went around the world with our son that I was breastfeeding, and I had to use the breast pump in clubs and just went on doing whatever I was doing. It’s obviously a huge difference because I’m a completely different person because I’m a mother now, and I think that’s what I’m really proud of: that I made this huge step, and it’s just been the best thing for me ever. Even mentally and professionally, it’s just made me more courageous. In the end obviously extremely exhausting but it also just makes me more powerful and taught me a lot more. I think that’s an achievement so far that I’m proudest of: to be a DJ mom.
I’d love also to talk about your label, Kwench. How did you first have the idea of starting it, and was it always something where you knew you wanted to do collaborations?
The collaboration was something I decided to do at the beginning more or less because I wanted to approach people to make music with them. People kept approaching me for vocals, and I said yeah, but I just don’t want to do vocals anymore, I’d rather do some tracks together. The label I had already, that I hadn’t really worked on, was more experimental and out there, and I just wanted to do something that was more general music. Because the other label was like Cassy, and just my experimental and more techno stuff, and I wanted to make something that more people could play and enjoy. And I thought, house music is obviously something that I’ve always loved and together with my voice, or together with people whose house productions I really admired, I thought we could build something special. And so far it’s been going really well.
The collaboration is just an idea to get away from the typical formula, to have more of a concept, to be slightly more creative or slightly different in choices. Not meaning that people that release music can’t be highly creative, but I just thought for myself that I needed a good way of starting it, of seeing that it is going to go somewhere a little bit different, it’s going to challenge me to find and make special music. Just a bit more that I can’t do by myself, or that one person can’t do by themselves.
I think it’s great to have that something unique that gives you a direction as well. And for people to follow along because they want to know what’s coming up next. “You Gotta Know Pt 1” includes a remix from Ron Trent, was working with him something that was important to you?
Yeah, he was on my list of who to ask for a remix. Obviously because I’ve admired his work from the first days I started actively being involved, buying house and techno, so he was always someone that I extremely admired. And I think, yeah, it was just the perfect combination of everything. It’s a release I’m extremely proud of and to have him remix it is a total honor for me, and I think he’s also very happy with the result.
Do you have any other goals for Kwench or anything you’d like to share about it?
To get people really into the label and to have them buy the music and love the music as much as we do. And to release more and more music on it.
“You Gotta Know Pt 1” by Cassy x Pete Moss (with Ron Trent Remix) has been followed up with Kwench 006 – DJ Sneak & Tripmastaz present RareTwo Inc’s “Extraterrestrial Intelligence EP” was released on July 13 on vinyl & digital. Cassy’s Summer schedule is taking her to Barcelona, Berlin, London, Helsinki,and beyond, as well as two all-night sets on August 1st and September 5th at her former residency Cocoon Ibiza.