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!

So the other night, I was trying and trying to write the track behind a lyric and melody I’d written and it was just not happening. The song I’d written sounded a LOT like another song by someone else that I really like, so that song was in my head when I was trying to make my song sound different, and it seemed really impossible to make my song significantly different and still really good. So I decided to write a new, totally different song to be the 12th song on my upcoming album, Four on the Floor (listen to the songs on it so far here), and man was that a good idea, because I came up with a really catchy, really personal song that was very easy to come up with instrumental ideas for. Now I’m really excited to finish it, because once I have, all the instrumental tracks for the album will finally be done, and I can start putting down all the vocals, and once that’s done, I can put the music out for you to hear! It’s way past my self-imposed deadline of the end of September, but better to have an album of 12 tracks I’m really proud of than a couple of great songs and a few I was hesitant to put out. So in short, I’m very excited about getting these songs out.

In other news, I finally signed up for Jango.com, an internet radio station that claims to have 7 million monthly users, and which will play my music alongside major label artists who have fans that would probably like my music as well, so I really hope that will be another boost to my exposure and fanbase. Now I’ve really got to sign up for Sound Exchange, which distributes royalties to artists and songwriters for internet airplay. My listens on Last.fm are starting to pick up, and with Last.fm, TheSixtyOne.com, facebook, myspace, youtube, Jango, jccassis.bandcamp.com and all the other places I’ll be putting my music to be played online, I have a significant amount of plays to get paid for. Hopefully it will provide a nice little chunk of pocket change. 🙂

I’m also really excited because I have my first rehearsal in 3 MONTHS with my live band tomorrow. I love them all so much and playing with them is SO much fun, so it’s sure to be a laughter-and-music-filled two hours. We’re getting ready for our next show, on November 5th, 10pm at R Bar, 218 Bowery, NYC. See you there!

The show at Rebel last week was so much fun! I got to do it with tracks since my band wasn’t available, and they sounded so great booming over a great sound system in a beautiful club. Plus, I was dressed like an animatronic robot Raggedy Ann doll, so that was fun. I wore my red wig, painted on eyelashes, white tank with long black fingerless gloves, red patent leather corset, zebra print leggings and red boots. Loved it!

Also, through doing the show I re-proved to myself how essential doing shows is for making fans and connections. Not only did I impress a bunch of people who had no idea who I was, but the sound technician turned out to be a producer and engineer who’s interested in working with me, so I hope that turns into a great collaboration!

In other news, I’ve been invited to be a part of two friends’ shows, which I’m very excited about, so I hope invitations like that will keep coming so I can play to new audiences and have shows in addition to my own shows!

And now, some photos from the 7.9.09 gig at R Bar, taken by the lovely and talented Ali Spangler, whom I used to babysit!

Ready for my close-up

Pole dancin'!

Singin'

My band!

Pole dancin' again!

Me and Lane!

Laughing

Singing

Wow, I feel like I blog all the time and yet every time I go to post, I see it’s been two weeks since my last post. Ayayay.

So, the gig at R Bar last Thurs was so, so awesome. The venue looked and sounded great, and because the bar part isn’t separated completely from the music part, people in the bar who didn’t know us came in to watch the show, and they really loved it! It was so great. Having everyone in the bar come in to the back room doubled the size of our audience, and there was a lot of dancing and singing along, which was great. I noticed that that did not happen at all for the other acts, so I take that to mean that our sound was especially catchy and intriguing. Yay! There were stripper poles on the stage and I could go out and sing in the audience without getting feedback in the monitors, so it made for a much more movement- and audience interaction-friendly show, which was so awesome. At one point I even laid all the way down on the floor while singing a song. Can’t do that in other venues! Yay for R Bar’s setup!

We also did a cover of “Man in the Mirror” as a tribute to Michael Jackson. The amazing thing was, the time we played it on stage was the first time we’d ever played it together. We mentioned that maybe we should do it two days prior in rehearsal, and then the night before the show we were all emailing each other saying “I LEARNED MAN IN THE MIRROR!! DID YOU GUYS LEARN MAN IN THE MIRROR!?!??!” And everyone did. Yayyyyyyyyyyyy it was so rockin’!!!

Having my good pal Dan Freeman of Comandante Zero sub in on keys was soooooo great. He played the parts just like they are on my recordings, right down to playing the exact synth sounds that I use in Reason when I make the songs, and it sounded so great. The rest of the band sounded awesome as well, and most of the guys decided to dress alike, in skinny ties, vests and white shirts. My drummer joked that he was playing with the Jonas Brothers, but they looked awesome. For my part, I wore my big red feather headdress, crazy facepaint over my eyes, double fake fur cuffs, a studded shirt, zebra print leggings and knee high wrestling boots. So awesome. I will be posting some amazing pics and video of the show here very soon.

Musically we were really rockin’. It was the first time we did a full set of all dance-pop songs, none of the old stuff from the first album. I have been writing up a storm and it feels really good. What felt especially good was that this show was so great and the audience was so into it, that each time I finished a song, the audience really erupted into that kind of really sincere, excited cheering you get when people are really bowled over by what you just did. There’s nothing better than rocking out in the crowd, spitting the last line of a song hard into the mic clenched in your fist, then turning around and striding back onto the stage while people are screaming and clapping because you just rocked them. Aaaaaaaaaaah so awesome. Also, it was great to debut the three new songs I had not yet performed (Dance Dance Dance, Good Time and Anything You Want), because when I wrote Good Time, I was worried that musically it was too boring and repetitive (even though, while writing it, I listened to Lady Gaga’s “LoveGame” to see how repetitive and simple that track is, and it is really repetitive and simple, and people (including me) love it), but when we played it, people totally lost their shit over it. They LOVED it and they were singing along to the repeating parts, and it was awesome. It is so great and so helpful to be able to test my stuff out in front of audiences regularly, and it really builds my confidence when they love stuff that I wasn’t sure was good enough. Makes me trust my ear even more.

Just wanna mention, in case I ever get big, that I totally went up to the people I didn’t know in the bar and let them know that I was the ten o’clock act and I really hoped they would come in and watch. It was scary and a little awkward and totally unglamorous and un-diva like, but when you want success, you have to hustle for it, even if it’s uncomfortable. I’ve heard from people in the biz that Madonna was quite the hustler back in the day. So.

Because of the success of that show, I will be playing another show this Thursday July 16 at 10pm at Rebel, 251 West 30th Street, btw 7th and 8th avenues. Hope to see you there!