Sunday night was crazy. I went out to Jersey to see the debut of the film that used my song, “Anything You Want.” It was quite intense. VERY dark movie, but my song was used just the way I expected, as the background music for a scene portraying a photography shoot of a model. Everyone liked my song and another filmmaker who was there is interested in using my stuff in her films because of it, so that was great.

After that, I went to my friend’s birthday party, where I performed on the dancefloor, then I ran off to Posh bar to do the 11:30 show with Mimi Imfurst and Go-Go Harder Faster Stronger. (Sometimes I wonder if I should have a crazy stage name, but I don’t want to be called anything other than JC, and hey, Britney and Madonna use their real names!)

The show at Posh was so much fun, and another important reminder that being out there on the scene makes such a difference in my career. That night, I got a lot of sign ups to the mailing list, met a fabulous DJ (DJ Scotty Rox) who is super sweet, loves the same music I do, and wants to play my music in the clubs! I sold my CDs and made new friends, including the fabulous and hilarious drag queen, Blackie O (I cannot get over these amazing names!!!), and met the manager of Posh, who is interested in having a lot more shows/programming there, and it was great to find out that he’s a really sweet and approachable guy who loves what I do. Once you get out there, you find that the people who control access to the stages you want to perform on are really not scary or mean at all. In fact, they’ve been nothing but friendly and fun so far!

JC Cassis Photo Credit: Alex Green

Man, I have been a busy, busy bee! But SO many exciting things are happening right now! I’ll list as many as I can remember, completely out of order:

1. Had an AWESOME show on Saturday night at the Art for Progress Clash of the Artists. Everyone who was there said it was my best show ever, and I agree. I practiced more for this show than I have for any other show EVER since I finally actually have the time to practice, and I think it REALLY helped. Not only was I more vocally prepared, but my lyrics were cemented into my head to the point where they were on autopilot and I could do all my dancing around and getting on and off stage and interacting with the audience without missing a beat or a word. I’m also trying to practice as much as possible so that I don’t get so overwhelmingly out of breath during shows, like I have in the past. I think the practicing really helped with that too, since I didn’t get quite so out of breath this time, and I was still moving around a lot and singing at full volume. Also, practicing more has given me the time and opportunity to find better ways and places to breath during a song so I feel more comfortable. Here’s a tip for all you singers out there: sometimes it’s better to inhale less often. You don’t always need to re-fill on breath when you’re only half empty. I find it helpful to just sing to the end of a breath and then breathe again, unless there are too many words between breaths. But I used to think I should inhale whenever possible, and that’s definitely not true.

2. Also through practicing, I finally got the chance to start hammering out what moves I should do during my songs. After watching many pop performances, it became clear that it’s really helpful to have recognizable, highly imitable dance moves to do on the chorus of the song. Just makes things a bit more cohesive and gives you something concrete to do in terms of movement, which makes the performance look more polished and well thought out. Yay.

3. Got my music uploaded to both Pump Audio and Rumblefish, two licensing companies that will hopefully help get my music placed in various media including commercials, internet video, TV and film. I really want to get my new material out into the world, so hopefully that will help! Also got my music onto MusicSupervisor.com, another licensing company. Just need to get it into every other possible licensing company now, and hopefully those placements will start rolling in!

4. Also finally put my music on Podsafe Music Network, a site where you can upload your music so podcasters will know they can use it in their podcasts. Hopefully will bring in more exposure.If you’re a podcaster, you can grab my music from PMN here: http://www.musicalley.com/music/listeners/searchResults.php?SearchString=JC+Cassis&go2=Search+Keywords

5. Indeed, just a few days after putting my music on PMN, I was approached on facebook by someone who wants to add my music to his online radio station, LongIslandOnlineRadio.com. He says they get about 2,000 listeners a day and are trying to get up to 50,000 listeners/day. At this point, any exposure is critical and exciting, so I’m pumped!

6. Finally, after months of wanting to, I GOT MY OWN WIRELESS MIC!!! It is such a godsend. It has made my performance SO much better and SO much more fun. There have been so many times when I’ve had to perform with a regular, corded mic, where I’ve tripped on the cord, stepped on the cord, not been able to dance or go out in the audience because of the cord, etc etc. It’s like a leash, and I’m not the kind of performer who needs to be on a leash!  (I know my friend Michael is laughing at that!) But seriously, having the freedom to dance however I want and go wherever I want without having to worry about a cord is SO AMAZING. If you are a performer who moves around, GET A WIRELESS MIC RIGHT NOW. You’ll be so glad you did!

7. I was approached to have my song used in a film project! Unfortunately it’s super low-budget so there’s no pay, but I’m so glad about it anyway. What happened was that my friend in the NYC music scene whom I knew randomly through another friend in the acting world, acted in a film project, and when the creator of the film needed music similar to mine, my friend suggested she check out my music. She did, and then she wrote to me on facebook asking to use my music in her film, I said yes, she picked “Anything You Want” for the film, and now she’s going to put it in her film and invite me to the premier! This is the first time I’ll have an experience like this and I’m so excited. Here’s the trailer for the film (it doesn’t have my song in it, but the full movie will!):

So that’s what’s been going on! And on top of that I STILL need to make the music video for Everybody’s Crazy in New York and edit it together, book some shows, etc etc etc. The work never ends. But it’s all good and I know it will be fruitful!

Me at Public Assembly after my show. Photo credit: Niko Lamas

So a few weeks ago my friend Joe Gatti of the band JoGaBot invited me to play a show with him at Public Assembly on 12.26.09. I was excited to be invited, but I don’t think I thought the show would be as important to me as it ended up being. This show was a really important moment for me.

1. I put a bunch of time before the show into cleaning and flat ironing my wig, which meant that instead of it looking like the cheap, everyday costume store plastic hair that it is, it looked stylized and slick, and really completed my outfit nicely (that rug really tied the room together, man!). I really felt great about how I looked at this show, and it paid off because it got a lot of people taking pictures and video of my show, which I don’t think they’d do if I didn’t look unusual and interesting and capture their attention. Attracting attention of a nice photographer at the venue, by the way, is what got me the gorgeous photo you see above. And I love that photo!!!!!!

2. It was a full on solo show in a venue with beautiful sound, and I got a great quality video of the whole show, courtesy of my wonderful friend Elijah. This allowed me to really see that my show really sounds excellent with tracks on a great sound system and live vocals, and there’s nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to performing with tracks. What I bring to the table as an artist is the ability to write and record songs in my home studio and sing them live, not play them live, and my show needs to consist of me doing what I do best to best showcase the music and my performing abilities. I think performing with tracks does that, and now I have fantastic video evidence of that to show to any promoter/booker who thinks a show performed with tracks wouldn’t work or be enjoyable or sound awesome, because it is awesome and enjoyable. Finally, I have good video of what I can do live as a solo act! I am SO relieved and excited about that and I think it will be a great help as I go about trying to book a lot of shows this year.

3. I had a great time with this show and was very happy with how it turned out, and there were a lot of random people in the room who heard and watched the show and signed up for my email list afterwards. As I went around the room collecting email addresses, a lot of people kept saying to me “I really hope you do well with this, because you really deserve to. You had such great energy up there and your voice is amazing!” and things like that, which was awesome. People seemed surprised that I was able to put on a high-energy show in a low-attendance room, but my feeling was, a) you have to do your best at every single show because you never know who’s watching, even if it’s only one person (and I proved this with this show, since if I hadn’t given a great show, I wouldn’t have won over any of those new fans) and b) I knew I needed a great video of me doing a great performance, and dammit, I was going to get it come hell or no audience! (And I did!)

crazy dude

The Classic American Nuclear Family

This past week was a busy one with two big shows. The first, at R Bar, was my first show with my live band in four months, so it was great to get everyone back together and rock the house. Problem was, the house was pretty small. I was glad to have a few new faces there, and everyone enjoyed the show, but the problem is, when your show is late on a weeknight with a $10 cover charge and your friends are either broke and available or have some money because they’re working past 10pm on a weeknight, that doesn’t make for a big audience. That will be my last weeknight, high-cover-charge gig for the forseeable future. I wish these small venues and bookers would be more flexible about door charges because they really hurt draws for small bands/artists just starting out. Thank god there are some venues that will do shows with no cover where you can pass a tip jar so the musicians still get paid. That makes more sense to me since the venue makes more money off the bar than anything else, and more people in the venue means more money for the bar! Oh well, at least some venue owners understand that. The other option we have is to do gigs at house parties and other spaces where we can control the audience’s experience. So, to that end, our next show will be Saturday, December 19th at a friend’s loft in SoHo, which means no door charge, prime timeslot, free drinks, food, relaxed atmosphere, and good times. Plus we’ll be playing with the amazing Comandante Zero, an excellent electro-funk band out of Brooklyn who are friends of mine, so there’ll be not one but two awesome shows in one spot! I’m really looking forward to that show. If it’s still hard to get a good crowd at a free show on a weekend night with six weeks advance notice, then, to be honest, I’m not really sure what I need to do, haha.

Dance Dance Dance
"I don't care what you think, gonna flip my hair and sip my drink!"
Everybody's Crazy in New York
Everybody's Crazy in New York
JC Cassis
Me post-show

The show on Saturday in Central Park had a much better draw because it was Central Park on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, with a mammoth sound system. I had so much fun! I’ve always wanted to perform at the Bandshell and indeed it was a great time. I had a guest spot between house music DJ’s as part of Art for Progress’ Sunset Jam in Central Park, and sang “Anything You Want,” “Dance Dance Dance,” and “Everybody’s Crazy in New York.” Now, if you frequent the Bandshell area of the park, you know the regular crazy people who are always there, and they were there in full force! There’s the guy with the green ‘fro wearing brightly colored women’s clothes with a poodle and a parrot that he dyes crazy colors who skips around as people frantically take his photograph, and then there’s the old guy who either leaps and spins in circles continuously for about ten minutes at a time and never gets tired, or he stands in one spot and shakes his chest up and down as if he were an old, male, crazy Shakira in sweatpants. It’s a sight to see. I go to that area of Central Park all the time and I’ve seen those guys a lot, so it was pretty surreal to have them dancing to my music as I performed it. And it went absolutely perfectly with “Everybody’s Crazy in New York,” LOLOLOLOL. I wrote that song because it’s true, and they’re the perfect evidence of it!

me with crazy guy
Posin' with a parrot on my head
Dancing with crazy guy
Breakin' it down NYC style. That parrot has a great sense of balance.

The show was also great because a lot of little kids were there who really liked my music, and it always makes me happy when kids like my music. One little girl came right up to the stage and watched my set and would wave back to me and smile when I waved to her. Then later, she was like “I really liked your songs,” and SANG “Everybody’s Crazy in New York” BACK TO ME! SO CUTE AND AMAZING! Then this tween boy asked me for a hug and to have a dance-off, and this group of tween girls really liked my stuff as well. And another tween girl came up to me and was like “Did you go to Spence?” I swear, I cannot go anywhere or do anything outside without a Spence girl coming up to me! They’re everywhere! And I’d never know it if I weren’t always doing weird things outside! One lady asked if I’d come sing at her Christmas party. Not Christmas songs, my music. Everybody’s crazy in New York…

Me and little girl
Me and my new favorite little fan! (in the pink jacket)
from little girl's perspective
...and from her perspective!

One thing that drives me crazy is that no matter how much people like your music and want to take your info to look you up online after a show, people are SO hesitant to sign up for the mailing list, which everyone in the indie music world says is the one thing you HAVE to get people to do. I totally get it because even when I’ve gotten on people’s email lists, I often don’t have time or desire to read the emails, I’ve never bought their music, and I’ve never been to their shows, and I often don’t get on the email list in the first place because of all that. But it’s just hard to have people say they love your music or your show and then decline to ever hear about your shows in the future. You just have to hope they’ll remember to look you up later, which is where getting a song stuck in their heads comes in. But that’s why it’s ALL about getting publicity. If I were getting publicity and people were seeing my name over and over again, they’d start looking me up and having a context in which to think of me. When I hear of something once, I forget about it, but if I keep hearing about it, eventually I check it out. So I’m excited to start pushing for publicity once the album’s done so I can see if it helps the way I hope/think it will.

Dancing
In New York City we dance to house music.
more dancing
In New York City we dance to house music with babies and crazy people.

See you at that show on December 19th!

Follow me on Twitter at twitter.com/jccassis

All photos by Berette Macaulay except the fourth, ninth and tenth, which are by Kenny Bae. Thank you Berette and Kenny and Art for Progress!