Ok, I don’t even know where the first half of June went. Let me try to sum it up:

June 1: I had my show for Rudin Management outside on Park Avenue. It was a beautiful, hot day, and I did a one-hour set. It was both a lot of fun and an exercise in extreme stamina. By the end of it, my shirt was soaked through with sweat under my corset. Charming. That’s keepin’ it real!

June 2-present: I have been helping to organize the Pop Music Stage at Figment (www.figmentproject.org) as well as a benefit concert and dinner to help out Team Buhara, a Ugandan education and healthcare outreach NGO. God, do I hate organizing shows!!! No more after this.

June 11-13: FIGMENT! God help us all.

June 8: I went up to Spence to have dinner with my former flute teacher, and while we were sitting outside eating at Jackson Hole, a group of Spence girls approached me and said “Sorry to interrupt! We know you’re having dinner, but would you mind taking a picture with us?” And then they took my picture with them! So cute! It’s so funny to me how anytime I go near Spence, the girls recognize me and talk to me like I was just there yesterday. I love being recognized and having people get excited about seeing me when I’m just out and about, so that is always awesome. It’s also the only time that ever happens so far, LOL.

June 10: Awesomely, Comandante Zero has asked me to be the “knob girl” for their upcoming performance this Saturday at 5pm on the Colonel’s Stage at Figment on Governors Island. This means I get to press buttons that play samples and loops during their live set. I also get a sample solo and I get to play the keyboard part on my one of my FAVORITE songs of theirs, “Wake Up in New York” LIVE ON STAGE WITH THEM. I love it! So awesome! I rehearsed for 3 hours today in an indie Brooklyn band. I’m so not hipster enough for that, and yet it’s something I’m doing and loving. Really looking forward to that show!

Once this totally ridiculous weekend is over, I gotta get back to booking mad gigs for the next few months, since I don’t really have anything nailed down yet after June. Yikes!

I recently performed for the third time at my alma mater, the Spence School, where I went to Kindergarten-12th grade, and as usual, it was so awesome and was my best audience of the year. Each performance there has been better than the last, because the girls keep up with me online in between performances and know my music before I come perform it, so they’re really excited to hear it and I’m really excited to perform it for them.

I was a bit nervous about this performance because it was the first one consisting of my new dance-pop music and none of my old stuff, and I wasn’t sure how much they would like it, but a few weeks before the performances I spoke to some of the girls on facebook and they said they were keeping up with my new music and loved it, so that made me feel more confident.

The performance was not only tons of fun but also really boosted my confidence in the quality of my new music. It is really fuckin’ good. I worked hard on it and made it the best I could and it really paid off because people really enjoy it. Also, performing with tracks is a totally legit way to perform because people still really enjoy what they hear and they get to hear everything as I wrote it, with the same sounds and all the back up vocals, and I think that is really important. Every time I played a song the girls were dancing along and having a great time listening, and they really cheered loudly at the end of each one. I still get totally exhausted singing and doing minimal dancing when I perform a song, and I don’t quite know what to do about that. Run and sing on the treadmill like Fergie?

The only drawback of the show was that somehow the camera didn’t end up taping the show at all. Not one second. Which REALLY sucks because I was hoping to get SIX AWESOME youtube videos out of this performance that really could have helped my exposure and been an EXCELLENT resource to use for bookings. It is the PERFECT gig because it’s great sound, great lighting, and a REALLY large and enthusiastic audience who knows and really enjoys me and my stuff. It is SO LAME that the taping didn’t work OH MY GOD. Not to mention that it was a really special 35 minutes of my life that I REALLY would have liked to have on tape. GODDAMMIT! Oh well, next time. Barf. Will try to get some great video from the Dec 19th show, where of course the lighting will suck and therefore probably so will the video. Goddammit goddammit goddammmiiiiiiiiitttttt!

Whew. Anyway. Focus on the fuckin’ positive, right? I AM SO ANGRY. Ok. Here are the wonderful moments from the performance:

1. I didn’t chicken out about wearing weird stuff. I did the show in my bright pink wig, my new silver sequin jacket, my black sequin tank, my pink tights, and silver boots, and dramatic makeup. I was considering toning down my look for the audience and then realized–wait a minute, this is what I do, this is who I am, and my fans expect me to do it. So I did it up! And everyone was saying how much they liked my wig and outfit and asking where I got my clothes and shoes. Right decision made!

2. Had the fascinating realization that when 12 year old girls in middle school don’t know you and you’re an adult wearing weird things, the experience of them asking you about it is totally different than when you’re their 12 year old classmate wearing weird things. When I was 12 I would get really upset when people at school questioned what I was doing or wearing and didn’t get it. Today, I just told them I was dressed like that because I think it looks pretty and it makes me happy, and that was that. Realized I probably should have done that in middle school, too. Probably wouldn’t have worked though. That’s middle school for ya.

3. Before the performance I sat down on the floor with the girls in the front, joking like I was a student waiting for the assembly to start, and ended up chatting with a lot of them before the show. It was a nice way to break some ice and was also cool because I went on to blow them away with my show and they were all so excited to tell me how much they liked it afterwards.

4. I did a lot of new songs in the show, including “Friday Night Forever” and “Hold For Your Lovin'” which the girls really loved. Was great to hear that people are really liking my new stuff because I think it’s pretty great, too. The girls also insisted on singing Texas Boys a capella with me, which was really fun. Can’t believe I remembered all the words off the top of my head when I haven’t sang or listened to that song in at least 8 months. Was of course great to hear the girls singing along and knowing all the words.

5. When I performed “Dance Dance Dance” the girls sang along, and it was quite a funny thing to see these tiny 11 year olds singing “I don’t care what you think, gonna flip my hair and sip my drink!” I inserted the words “of juice!” after that phrase the first time I sang it. Very funny. One of the girls said that was her favorite song, which I love.

6. The girls chatted during my songs and at first I thought it was because they weren’t listening but when I asked what they were talking about, they said they were talking about how awesome I was. I told them to keep talking. Heeeeeeey!

7. Got the girls to do a big “Heeeeeeeeeeeey!” with me, which was funny. The girls also made a big banner with my name on it to hold up which was sweet.

8. At the end of the show the girls asked where Socrates was, to which I replied, “Well you know that’s funny, I mean, it’s funny that you ask, because the thing about Socrates is, well, he’s…he’s dead, haha,” quoting the line from Annie Hall when she says that about her grandma when Alvy asks about her. I then explained that that was a joke from Annie Hall which no one in that room has ever heard of BECAUSE THEY WERE ALL BORN IN THE MID TO LATE 90’s.

9. After the show the girls all took my business card and then ran over to me to have me autograph each one. I gotta say, I LOVE signing autographs! It is SO FUN! Hope to do a lot more of it in the future. Plus the nice thing is, hopefully since I signed all those cards they hung on to them and used them to look me up on the web! (A lot of them did–I’ve got a LOT of pending facebook friend requests from the girls and the song plays on my page are way up today. Yay!)

10. A couple of the girls asked if I would come and watch their choir rehearsal, which I did, and they sang the song they were working on for me there. I could tell it meant a lot to them and I was really happy to watch.

11. A lot of the girls were really excited to see me and were telling me that they were my biggest fans and they wanted hugs and to keep in touch and everything. Love that! It’s so cool to be on the other end of the fan love, cuz I know how I feel about the people I’m a big fan of, so it’s really cool to think I have people who feel that way about me. Hooray!

All in all it was a great success and a great experience and next time I will do everything in my power to capture it on film NO MATTER WHAT and share it here! The teacher who books the assemblies said she’d definitely like to have me back, so I’m already looking forward to next year’s performance! Gotta get in on the upper school assembly too, and should look into other school performance opportunities out there in case they exist! 🙂

Today, after about a YEAR of having my music in three music libraries/licensing companies, I finally received the letter I’ve always been waiting for: one that said a song of mine had been licensed in someone’s project and I got paid for it!!! I’ve finally popped my licensing cherry and hopefully this will be one of many licensing successes to come. Since I’ve been so busy finding my sound, writing a ton and putting together my CD, I haven’t had a chance to get into really pushing my songs for licensing opportunities (which bring in exposure and money!) just yet, but I’m so glad that something was finally used and paid for, and it is always great to receive unexpected checks in the mail.

The statement wasn’t that detailed and just said that the instrumental for “Chocolate Cake” was used in someone’s “video,” but I really want to track down the person who used it to see the song in action–that would be so cool! I also want to send them a thank you note, haha! I can’t wait to get my new music in the licensing world and see how it does, since it’s so different from the first stuff I put out.

In other news, I’ve got to put the pedal to the metal and get a new song done and ready to release because Reverb Nation is doing another sponsored song promotional campaign and if I get selected, I’ll be in the running to win 500 bucks through getting people to vote for me online, and luckily my friends, family and fans have always been wonderful about voting for me in online competitions, so I really hope I can get enough support to win. $500 would cover a significant portion of the costs to record more material, or it could go towards a PR campaign, which I so desperately need to help kickstart things to the next level.

The longer I do this, the more I realize there really is at least a small part time living to be made at it, through finding paid performances, doing sponsored song programs, singing on other people’s demos, and licensing music, in addition to selling music and merch, and if you’re willing to put a lot of time and effort into it, it can be a significant income. You do have to spend the time hustling, but that time spent will bring in money one way or another. That is a really nice thing to know.

So now I just need to finish recording vocals for my album, make the album art, compile the demo, get hard copies of the demo and the album, rehearse for the show in December, prep for my third show at Spence, and start hitting the blogs hard for publicity etc. The exciting part is about to begin!!

Follow me on Twitter for all the up-to-the-minute-updates: twitter.com/jccassis.

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!