The first time Cassyette ever played a festival, she headlined Download. Last summer, she joined Frank Carter during his closing set at the pilot event to perform their collab, ‘Off With His Head’. She was introduced by Carter as a “real fucking rockstar”, and lived up to the promise by commanding the stage and marking out her place as a scene leader for a new generation of rock fans.
“It definitely got all the heebie jeebies out,” the London vocalist says today over Zoom from her flat in Wembley. “So when it came to my own set the next day, I knew I had it.” Since then, that confidence has continued to grow, with the alt-rock musician supporting Willow at her one-off London show at Electric Ballroom in December, touring with Carter across the UK and Ireland, and playing her own headline gigs, including a sold-out night at Camden’s Underworld in February.
Later this month, she’ll appear at Brighton’s The Great Escape and support childhood heroes My Chemical Romance at their Milton Keynes stadium comeback show. She cried for two hours when the latter was confirmed; the New Jersey rockers were one of the first bands she adored. “The bigger the crowd, the bigger the rush,” she says of the upcoming gig, which will see her play to over 30,000 people. “The nerves just turn to excitement. My live shows are always really rowdy, there’s always a lot of pits going on. The set I’ve got planned is pretty heavy – I think people will let loose.”
Cassyette’s blend of hard rock with electronic, dance and emo sounds has long been offering fans a chance to let loose. 2021’s ‘Dear Goth’, the first proper Cassyette single, was written in a makeshift studio under a pub in Brixton. The alt-rock banger fuses ‘90s pop with a snarling nu-metal aggression, and pushes back against the expectations of others; it was inspired by her time at Catholic school, which left her feeling “misunderstood”. Elsewhere, the soaring rave-rock of ‘Petrichor’ tackles grief, while the ‘90s thrash of ‘Mayhem’ deals with a messy breakup. “I was so angry, and so sad, I couldn’t work out which emotion I was feeling so I wrote about it,” she explains of the latter.
She wants her take on rock music to be progressive and forward-thinking, “but you need people to be able to relate. It’s so important to me that every song is about something real, that people can connect with.” Cassyette is offering that with their string of eclectic, hard-hitting singles, her TikTok covers of pop and rock classics (over 20 million likes and counting) and her Discord community.
With a new project close to being wrapped up (“bigger than an EP, smaller than an album”), and a string of huge shows locked in for this summer, NME spoke to Cassyette about finding their sound, wanting to empower others through her music, and how TikTok encouraged her to be unapologetically herself.
When did you first start making music?
“When I was 13, me and some friends had a soft rock band but we were so shit. However, that got me writing songs because none of the others wanted to. My family is a sporty family; they’re not into music at all, but luckily, my neighbour had the most insane guitar collection you’ve ever seen so we’d write together for other people.
“I then started making dance music to get my head around the basics of production, which led to me DJing on the London circuit. After a while, though, I wanted to get back to my roots, return to rock and write music for myself again. And here we are.”
Do you feel like you’ve found your voice as an artist now?
“It took me a long time to get to this point, but yes, I know what Cassyette is now. I want to push rock music into the future. I had to write a lot of songs to find the exact spot where it feels right for me, though; I’m such an old school rock fan, but I love futuristic, modern music as well. I do think it’s important that, in order to discover yourself, you need to try lots of different things. I’m always extreme with it as well; if I want to do something, I’ll fully do it. I never do anything half-arsed.”
“I like people that stick solidly to their identity. Artists that don’t look around at what other people are doing. I’m inspired by 100 Gecs, they’re fucking sick and doing really innovative stuff, and so are Sad Night Dynamite. Slipknot are a big deal to me, plus Evanescence and The Prodigy – artists that have created their own space. I’m always trying to do that. It’s never about recreating [music], though. I believe you truly have to be yourself to make the best music you possibly can.”
There’s so much raw emotion in your songs. Are you surprised by the reaction to your music?
“Massively. My music is such a personal expression that anytime someone says they connect to it, it blows my mind. That’s why I put songs out though, so people feel connected to something. If you’re going through grief or depression, it’s so easy to feel like you’re on your own. I know that feeling all too well and it fucking sucks. I hope my music helps people feel like they’re not alone, because that’s what I get from other people’s music and it’s amazing when it happens. The reaction just makes me want to share more of myself.”
You’re part of a new wave of guitar heroes like Wargasm, Yungblud and Nova Twins who make music that’s vulnerable but has a real anger to it. Is that a reaction to the world we’re living in right now?
“Definitely. I’m a passionate person and a massive empath. It feels like the world is on fucking fire at the moment. It’s not the easiest time for people to be alive. So many people are going through hardship right now, it’s unavoidable. You look at what’s happening in Ukraine and it’s fucking heartbreaking. It definitely does inspire angrier, harder music.”
You found a fanbase through TikTok with rock covers of pop songs and emo throwbacks. How has that platform shaped your sound?
“I just find TikTok so much fun. It’s really easy to find like-minded people on there, and there’s this new alt scene forming on the platform. We all encourage each other as well, which I’ve found really inspiring. The music I write covers such a spectrum, from pop-rock to hardcore, metal, and deathcore, and I used to be really worried about releasing those more extreme songs. TikTok has taught me you can be more than one thing.
“I want to be able to do all the things, and do it unapologetically. It’s why my next drop is three songs: an acoustic version of ‘Mayhem’, the pop-rock ‘Sad Girl Summer’ and ‘Dead Roses’, which is a heavy boy. It’s important to be able to do it all.”
“I want to be a voice for people like me or others who aren’t used to seeing themselves in these spaces”
Have you dealt with much pushback on the app?
“Oh, I’ve had some really bad comments from people who just don’t like others having fun. It’s like they think you can’t smile and make rock music. It’s so pathetic. You’ll get gatekeepers in the comments, comparing what I’m doing now to what some bloke did thirty years ago, but I literally don’t care. I’m just having fun, hun! Comments like that just make me want to do [music] more though, just to piss them off.”
Do you want to show that heavy music can be made by anyone, regardless of gender?
“I am a massive feminist and I’m also queer, so I want to be a voice for people like me or others who aren’t used to seeing themselves in these spaces. I don’t think we’ve passed the need for more representation because people are still dickheads online who will go out of their way to be horrible. Unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever go away, but I believe it’s important to be empowering and show people that these things are accessible for everybody.
What are your ambitions for the future?
“I’m still an independent artist and when things are moving as fast as they have been, you feel like you could drop the ball at any moment. It could go anywhere though. I just don’t want to stop and I want to keep having fun with music. What’s the point of doing something if you’re not enjoying it?”
Cassyette will support My Chemical Romance at their second Milton Keynes stadium show this month (May 21). Remaining tickets can be found here.