Making progress through an apocalypse, or, how I spent my 2020

JC Cassis (photo credit: Anna Haas)

When life gave her lemons, Beyoncé made Lemonade, so when 2020 became the most mind-bogglingly apocalyptic year of my (and everyone’s) life, I wasn’t interested in making it worse for myself by giving up on getting The Four on the Floor EP out. This EP is the culmination of a long, hard, winding, decade-long road for me, and I’m not going to let anything, not even 2020, stop me from completing my mission.

In 2009, I taught myself to produce dance-pop music so I could make music I could really be proud of and that I felt represented who I am and what I love to listen to. In 2010, I released The Four on the Floor EP, and finally felt that I’d found my sound and identity as an artist. I had a weird look, I was performing in dance clubs with drag queens and weirdos, and everything was going great. Those performances got me the opportunity to join a girl pop group, which was super exciting, but it also meant I had to take down the EP, because the group wanted the focus to be completely on our new music, not my previously released stuff. Taking my EP down really broke my heart, but I loved those songs and I knew it wouldn’t be the end of the road for them. I spent five years working my ass off in that band, learning a ton, and having experiences I may never have had working on my own. But at the end of five years, I was worn out, and I knew I had to do my own thing again.

In 2015, I walked away from the band and back to myself. I went on a long journey of healing and rebuilding myself and my life until I was ready for the vulnerability of putting out music again for the world to judge. I tested the waters with my 2018 release, Christmas Is Bullshit, and it felt great. People loved the song, and it was great to feel seen, heard and appreciated as a creative person again. I finally felt ready to begin the long slog of getting The Four On The Floor EP ready for a triumphant return.

But there was A LOT of work to do. The mixing and mastering of the songs needed to be completely redone. I needed all new album art and press photos. I needed to redo my website and social media profiles. I wanted video interviews and lipsync/lyric videos. And of course, eventually, full-on music videos. Meanwhile, the entire music industry landscape had also changed since 2010, so I had to learn all about how to navigate that as well. For the last two years, I’ve been working on all of that, and I’m finally, finally getting close to being able to release everything, and then, one day, work on music I’ve written within the last 5 years!

But, of course, in March, COVID-19 started destroying life as we know it in the USA, and especially in my hometown and home base of New York City. Almost immediately, my life went into a tailspin, as RISK!, the true storytelling podcast and independent business I run, lost multiple huge income streams all at once, and we were threatened with the possibility of losing everything we’d built over the previous decade within two months and having to shut down. All of a sudden, we had to figure out how to get government loans to survive, move our live shows online, and completely rethink everything we were doing in order to stay afloat. And in the midst of all that, I was asked to produce the live online reunion show that the legendary sketch comedy group The State was putting on to raise money for charity. With 5 days’ notice. So, it was a lot. I basically did nothing but work on trying to preserve the existence of the various aspects of my entire life for the first five months of the pandemic. To the outside world, it seemed like things were going well, since my work with RISK! and The State got me pictured and interviewed in The New York Times (a lifelong dream for a native New Yorker!) and credited in Rolling Stone (a career-long dream for a music artist!), but privately, I was exhausted, panicked and more stressed out than I’ve been in years. Even my therapist said I was dealing with more stressors than any of her other clients, so I WIN! 😉

In August, finally, things with RISK! and my personal life were stabilizing somewhat, and there was finally a little time to breathe and enjoy what aspects of life during a pandemic were still enjoyable. There was also finally time to start getting my interview and lyric videos filmed and edited, and start conceptualizing music videos.

Now, almost all the things I have been working on for the last two years are almost ready to be released, and I can’t wait to get them out there. During the course of working on the re-launch of this EP, I’ve listened to the songs hundreds of times and watched the videos over and over, and I never get tired of any of it. I am coming back so much stronger than I was in 2010. It’s been a long, hard journey, and the most stressful year of my life, but I’m back and better than ever. And quite glad I don’t have to worry about live performances on top of everything else I need to do! So, thanks for that, pandemic! Find the silver linings wherever you can. 🙂

I hope you all love The Four On The Floor EP and everything that’s coming along with it as much as I do. And once it’s all done, I hope to get future releases out a lot more easily. I’m still a one-woman, self-funded operation, but without a global pandemic, economic depression, apocalyptic election and entire rebuilding of everything all happening at the same time, hopefully future releases will go a little more smoothly. And I’m proud that I’ll be able to look back on 2020 and say, despite everything that happened, I kept working and I got my EP out. When the world falls apart, bring your music out anyway.

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