I’m so excited to finally be able to announce that The Four On The Floor EP is coming soon, and to reveal the gorgeous album art that Sarah Lillenberg designed for me, with a photo by Anna Haas!

The album art is inspired by NYC street art, graffiti, and the wonderful work of my favorite visual artist, Keith Haring. The iconography on the cover art is made up of lots of the things I sing about in the songs on the EP, so you’ll find things that represent New York City, like rats, pigeons, bagels, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, pizza, taxi cabs and Yankees hats, things that represent love and attraction, like holding hands, mouths, hearts and love letters, and things that represent my life, like disco balls, high top sneakers, and running out of time, lol.

I am so jazzed about this album art and this release! I hope you love it as much as I do. More info coming soon!

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.

dsc08998After my performance at Union Hall. Photo credit: Hunter Peress

dsc09361Backstage at Cheap Date Comedy at Union Hall with the cast of the show. Photo credit: Hunter Peress

img_2638Singing “Christmas Is Bullshit” at Big Break Standup at The Nest in Brooklyn. Photo credit: Jordan Russo

I had a blast this past December performing Christmas Is Bullshit all over New York City. I did eleven performances, including one with comedians David Cross and Jim Gaffigan, and I got to perform at tons of venues I’d never performed at before, like Union Hall, Chelsea Music Hall, UCB East, Caveat and the Slipper Room. It was so fun to share the song with all kinds of audiences, and when I sang it for a burlesque audience, people were howling at every joke and singing along to the song. Lucky for me, comedy and burlesque audiences in New York are NOT into Christmas, so they loved this song!

Can’t wait to do it all again later this year, and this time I’ll be able to start planning my performances further in advance, so I hope to do it at least 30 times.

Putting this song out and being able to perform it really transformed my holiday season. Instead of it being all about stuff I don’t like, it was all about the stuff I like the most: singing, performing, hanging out with other artists, making new friends, having new experiences, and having people tell me they loved my performance. I didn’t make this song just so I would have something to look forward to during the holidays, but now I do anyway!

Best of all, my parents like the song, and I was really worried they wouldn’t. But a good song is a good song, no matter who made it. 😉

I’m so glad to have an active presence again on YouTube, Facebook and Spotify as well. Can’t wait to bring out more music, videos and other projects for people to enjoy!

 

Xmas is Bullshit Instagram post uncensored with gingerbread man

Graphic design by Anna Haas of Red Hare Creative

Holy crap. It’s been a looooong time since I released my own solo music, but finally, I just released a new holiday comedy song today called “Christmas Is Bullshit,” and I can’t wait to hear what people think of it! A music video and lyric video are also coming soon, and they are super funny as well.

The song is available everywhere for streaming and downloading (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube Music, etc) so go check it out and tell all your friends about it. And add it to your holiday party playlists! There’s a version with clean lyrics for those of you who can’t play the uncensored version.

I had the idea for this song last December after having a rough time during the holiday season. I haven’t really looked forward to the holidays for a long time, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s doing things because other people say I have to. So when people say, “Oh, come on, the holidays are so fun! Just get into the festive spirit!” I say, “NO.”

Holiday time is too busy, the weather is awful (at least in New York City), everyone is stressed out, trying desperately to wrap up work for the year before they go on vacation and everything closes down, everyone feels obligated to shop for gifts for lots of people in their lives, which causes them to run around desperately searching for something that each of those people might like, and spend a lot of money, and try to wrap presents well, and lug presents to parties and gatherings, and receive presents they don’t like and will have try to act convincingly excited about, and then try to return those presents to the stores they came from.

Holiday music SUCKS. The ONLY person who managed to make a Christmas song I don’t mind hearing is Mariah Carey (I’m talking about All I Want For Christmas, obviously), and I don’t even really want to hear THAT song if I don’t have to, because it’s about Christmas. Plus, every year, it’s the same playlist of 20 dumb Christmas songs you’ve heard a million times everywhere, even though every year, THOUSANDS more new, original Christmas songs come out. We could switch it up, but no one ever does. And then you’re stuck in an auditory torture chamber every time you have to buy something during December, which is, unfortunately, often. Every time I’m in a CVS during the holidays, I feel like I’m about to give up a closely guarded secret to the FBI.

But at least the food is good, right? NO. Besides hot chocolate, which you can have anytime, there are no redeeming foods associated with Christmas time. Ham? BLECH. Eggnog? YUCK. WHO DRINKS RAW EGGS?! As comedian Kevin Meaney’s mom used to say, “A crazy person! A SICK person!” Fruitcake? Dried fruit and cake were never meant to be mixed. They are great on their own, and terrible together, just like wolves and the prey they tear apart to eat. How about Christmas cookies? Let me ask you this: if you had a choice between eating a Christmas cookie or eating a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, what would you choose? If you chose the Christmas cookie, congratulations! You have no taste.

Anyway, in the midst of my Christmas loathing last year, the idea for the chorus of “Christmas Is Bullshit” came into my head. All of a sudden, I could hear the lead vocal and the layered, choral-style backing vocals over swelling strings and horns playing in 6/8 time. I thought, “That would definitely be a funny Christmas song. Maybe I should  write it!” So I wrote out the verses, choruses and bridge part in a few hours, tweaking the lines to flow better, rhyme better and be funnier, and in a few hours, it was done! I sang it a cappella for a friend of mine, and he thought it was a surefire hit, so I quickly threw together a bare bones track of the beat, a scratch vocal and the piano part on GarageBand, and called all my music video director friends to see if anyone could help me film the video while New York was still in full Christmastime swing. But, of course, everyone was just about to head home for the holidays, so I decided I’d switch the concept of the music video to be something that looked like a home video shot on an iPhone of someone’s native New Yorker friend (me) taking them all around New York to see all the Christmas attractions, and eventually showing more and more rage and disdain for all the schlock in hilarious ways. That way, it would make sense for the video to actually be shot on an iPhone by someone who wasn’t a professional film director. I filmed as much b-roll of Christmas stuff and winter storms as I could, and then, a few days before Christmas last year, I headed out for a LONG day of shooting with my old friend, Aaron Duesing, who has helped me with almost every music video I’ve ever been a part of. Aaron is smart and hilarious and knows how to help me get what I want on film, even though he’s not a filmmaker. He’s a joy to work with, and with a high-pressure shoot like this, I needed someone just like him to help me out.

We ran all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, shocking and horrifying tourists who thought we were making a sweet holiday video with a heartfelt message (lol), and trying to get footage of everything on my very long shot list. It was a joy to make and direct a music video again, but God is it a lot of work. We were totally exhausted by day’s end. Then I sat on that footage for 10 months until the audio track of the song was ready and the video could be edited.

Recording the song was a joy as well. I taught myself to use Logic, a music production program, and composed and arranged all elements of the song myself. Then I consulted with audio engineer and all-around fabulous person Chris Camilleri about things like whether I needed real horns (yes) or real piano versus synth piano (no) for the track to sound good. I got my old friends Dan Freeman and Ken White to record the bass and drums, and some fabulous horn players I had just met, Ben Seacrist, Jovan Johnson and Alex Blade Silver, to record the trumpet, trombone and saxophone, with help from Ian Elkind, a recording engineer at King Killer Studios in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Then I recorded all the vocals with Chris Camilleri, and Chris did the audio mixing of the song before I sent the final mixes off to Mark Santangelo at The Mastering Palace. Making a silly little song takes a village, and I’m so grateful for everyone who contributed their time and talents to making it awesome!

Finally, it was time to edit the music video and lyric video, and for that, I worked with the awesome Travis Stewart (and his wonderful dog, Fiona), who has put together some visuals that are going to delight everyone as soon as the videos come out. I can’t wait to show it to you!

Till then, listen to “Christmas Is Bullshit” and send it to all your friends!

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Whew, it’s been a crazy year, but I’m finally done with all the touring and bookstore events Kevin Allison and I did to promote the release of the new book my true story is in (and that I helped compile and edit), RISK! True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare To ShareIMG_0341

Here I am with one of the first finished copies of the book as soon as it was ready. It was so awesome to see my name and story in print!IMG_0355

It was also really cool to see my name listed in the same book as some of my favorite actors and comedians. The book includes stories from people like Dan Savage, Michael Ian Black, Marc Maron, Aisha Tyler, Lili Taylor and many more. It’s an honor to share the page with them. 🙂IMG_0358

Our live bookstore and RISK! events, where I read my story to audiences in New York, Boston, San Francisco, LA, Chicago and Washington, DC, were so much fun. I got to see and share the book with so many friends who live all around the USA, and I was so touched to have their support for this exciting project.

I learned SO much by being involved with making this book happen from beginning to end, and I’m so excited by how much everyone who’s gotten the book loves it so far. We’ve got 270 5-star reviews on Amazon so far, and people are giving it to their friends who love true stories but aren’t big podcast listeners. I know this book is going to keep delighting readers for many years to come, because it’s timeless, and the truth never goes out of style. 🙂

If you haven’t gotten the book yet, you can grab it wherever books are sold in paperback, audiobook or e-book, so go get yourself and your friends a copy or ten now!