Forgot to put this in my update below. The other thing that’s been keeping me busy recently is collaborations, collaborations and more collaborations! Like these:
1. Last night I laid down vocals for two Hepnova songs, and they’re pretty awesome. Hepnova is my two friends Lee-Sean and Nick, and you can check out their stuff at hepnova.bandcamp.com. They’ll be replacing the lead vocals on their songs “Again Tonight” and “You’re For Me” with my vocals very soon. It’s always a ton of fun recording vocals with Lee-Sean in his lower Manhattan studio, which is where the Can’t Stop (Remix) video was filmed:
He also posted a bunch of silly self-portraits I took during the session on facebook, so if you’re not already my friend on facebook, friend me at facebook.com/jccassis so you can see them.
2. At a music networking event last week, I ran into producer Alex Morelli, for whom I sang on a demo last year, and whom I hadn’t seen in a year! He and I will be working on some songs of his very soon.
3. I got a request through a new YouTube friend to record some vocals and help write on an awesome dance song they’re working on, so I gotta lay those down and send them off asap.
4. Got a ton of remixes coming down the pike as soon as the people who are working on them finish…
5. I have found a DJ to add to my live shows, which I think will up the energy so much and allow me to keep the music going while I talk between songs. She is awesome and her name is DJ Ahomii. The way we met is the randomest story ever and I love it. I was performing at the Bandshell in Central Park in November. She walked by during my set with a very cute French bulldog. I petted the bulldog. She took a picture. Then she randomly found me on facebook two months later and showed me the picture. I talked to her and she said she was a DJ. I asked if she wanted to be my DJ, she said yes, and we’ll be rehearsing together soon to start doing shows together as early as April 25th! I think this is going to be such a huge help. With a DJ, my show will be way better which will make me more proactive about booking more shows, as well as make me more marketable to people booking shows, especially in clubs and at dance parties. It will also make it easier and more fun to tour since I can play small dance-centric bars and clubs anywhere if I come in with a DJ. She also loves the same music and songs I do and has a flair for crazy fashion on stage and is super nice. I think this collaboration is going to be a lot of fun for the two of us.
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.
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!
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…
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.
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!