Welcome to Spinnup Introducing, our monthly interview series with artists from Southeast Asia who release their music with Spinnup. We are all about discovering emerging artists which have led us to an abundance of amazing talent. What better way to introduce some of them than telling the world their story?
This month, we proudly present Malaysian singer-songwriter and producer Cassandra Mary, who recently released her phenomenal single “Ever” with Spinnup. Cassandra Mary isn’t your average artist; she’s a jack of all trades when it comes to music. Not only is she a singer-songwriter, she’s also a producer, guitarist and full-time film scorer.
Get to know Cassandra as she takes us through her journey in music, creative process and what’s next for her.
How did you get started in music?
I had the privilege of growing up in a musical family so I was always surrounded by music ever since. When I was about 10, my cousin taught me how to play the guitar. Then I picked up the drums, bass and piano from playing at church. As I grew up, I went on to form bands in high school, dabbled in music production software and made music with other people along the way.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I’m a huge fan of Finneas, Bon Iver, Jeremy Zucker to name a few. As a music production and songwriting nerd, I find that these guys often pair the two so seamlessly to tell a complete story.
Take us through the inspiration and process of making your latest single, “Ever”.
“Ever” is about whether love can be enough. We always hear things like “as long as you love each other, you’ll get through anything” or “if you’re meant to be, you’re meant to be”. I think the reality is that some of us carry a lot of emotional baggage that we may not even be aware of. Growing in a relationship with someone is probably more about making active decisions rather than letting fate happen.
“Ever” started out with a loop that I found and resonated with. Then I made a full arrangement out of it, essentially finishing the instrumental part of the song in a couple of hours. The words came to me really fast too since it was based on something that I was going through at the time. It was more like a song that I made to vent out my frustrations.
You have such a distinct, versatile and strong production style; tell us about your creative process and the evolution of your sound.
Thank you so much for that compliment! I think one factor that sets me apart is the tone of my voice. I had doubts about it in the beginning. A lot of people told me that I didn’t have the typical “female pop” voice, that I wouldn’t be able to tap into that genre if I were to sing my own stuff, so I tried to use that to my advantage to stand out.
A lot of my production is specifically made for my voice – the layers, the contrasts of sounds. I love incorporating sound design into my production to paint a better picture for my listeners. I like to use organic sounds in an unconventional way, like distorting drums, or recording an old guitar using my iPhone to purposely make it ugly.
It’s all experimental. That’s what I love most about music, anything goes.
You’ve also produced for many artists (including Spinnup artists like Isabelle Lim and NVNI) and performed at gigs. Your full-time job involves music too; you basically live and breathe music. Tell us a bit about that.
I’m really blessed to be able to say that I do live and breathe music. Music was something that I had to fight for when I was growing up. I was obsessed with it but wasn’t encouraged to pursue it so I don’t really have much formal education in it.
I only started professionally producing other artists recently and I know that there is still so much for me to learn and grow into. Some days, it is really difficult because I feel like I put all my eggs into this basket and I’m still so far from reaching my goals and dreams. But I’m surrounded by so much support from the people around me, and for that I am grateful.
What is the process of releasing your own songs like for you?
I love Spinnup! From day 1, they’ve been so supportive by not only assisting me with the releases, but also by sharing my releases on social media and other platforms. As an independent artist, I am confident that Spinnup has my back with every release.
What are some challenges that you faced with your music and how did you overcome them?
The hardest thing for me right now is marketing. As an independent artist, there is a ton of work to do even after finishing a song – I always want to make sure that I give my songs as much exposure as I can to reach a wider audience. You really never know who would end up replying to your emails, or even streaming your songs. It does get discouraging.
I think the biggest thing to help overcome it is to never give up and to keep perspective. Maybe a thousand emails later, the right person will reply. And your music might reach corners of the world that you didn’t even know existed. Anything is possible in this digital age.
What are three lessons that you have learned in your musical journey thus far?
Never stop growing – Sometimes I get overwhelmed knowing how much I don’t know. But the thing about music is, it’s always changing, it’s always moving. And we need to open up our hearts and our minds to go with it.
Listen – whether it’s advice, criticism, other artist’s music, other genres that you normally wouldn’t listen to, etc. Just be humble enough to listen and you’ll learn something about someone else, or even yourself.
Your No’s empower your Yes’. – I think at one point in my life, I felt like I needed to say yes to every single opportunity that I was got because there’s so much that I felt like I needed to learn. It ultimately hindered me from getting closer to my long term goals. I wasted a lot of time because I wasn’t as intentional as I should have been.
What’s next for you?
I’ve been writing a lot, and trying to tap into new sounds. Definitely going to have a few more releases for this year!
What are your hopes for your music career ahead?
I hope that my music will take me to places all over the world, to be able to play different stages, and allow me to meet people from different walks of life.
Cassandra is also the face of our Spinnup For You Playlist for the week of 3rd September. Hear it now on Spotify!