Cassie :: No ’One-Hit Wonder’
Remember that Billboard R&B/Pop hit "Me & U" back in 2006? Remember who sang it? That’s right, Cassie! Well, I bet you thought she was long gone into the world of One Hit Wonders never to be seen or heard from anymore.
Wrong! She is back: a beautiful woman at 25.
At 18-years old, Cassie (Casandra Elizabeth Ventura) was the talented model, singer and dancer that signed to Ryan Leslie’s label NextSelection, managed by Tommy Motola. She was introduced to the world by P. Diddy with her first album "Cassie" on Bad Boy Records, which hit Billboards Top 200 Top Ten. Her first single "Me & U" took Europe and the U.S. by storm, but when three singles: "Official Girl," "Must Be Love," and Let’s Get Crazy" (that featured big hit makers like Lil Wayne, P. Diddy, with whom she is romantically linked; and Akon respectively) didn’t chart in the U.S., her second album (planned for 2009) was scratched.
Today Cassie is back. She signed with a new label, Interscope Records and is ready to earn the respect she so seeks from her industry peers. With the release of her steamy rhythmic new single "King of Hearts" in February, and an album of the same name planned for release in September of 2012, the "new" Cassie is more mature with a product that shows her commitment to the craft of record making.
I visited with Cassie and talked about why she has taken so long to hit the airwaves, what she was doing during the past six years, what makes her different now than in 2006, and will the "new" Cassie gain the recording industry’s respect?
Started over again
BeBe: I want to first congratulate you on the video "King of Hearts". It’s going viral on YouTube.
Cassie: Thank you. That’s what we went for. We worked real hard and I am proud of it.
BeBe: It’s great to see you doing your thing, because it has been awhile since we have had the pleasure of seeing this kind of push and promotion behind your work. I mean it has been six years since your debut of "Me & U" which just slammed Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart peaking at #3. And, then you just kind of disappeared. So what was going on? Where you been girl?
Cassie: Well after the first release, I traveled a bit. I went overseas., and performed for awhile. And then, I was ready to make new music. I was ready to get back in the studio and be creative again. So, I literally started over again in the beginning of 2007, and from there it was a long journey and wasn’t rushed which was good for me.
During that time I was able to shoot a film ("Step Up 2: The Streets") and get in the studio and learn from a lot of different writers and producers. It was like a really important growth period for me. But I enjoyed it! I started when I was 18 and I’m 25 years old now, so you can imagine as a young woman the changes that you have as a woman in general, and doing it in a creative way, is really empowering. I was just kind of working on myself.
Her creative vibe
BeBe: I love the rhythm you got going on with the single "King of Hearts". I guess it’s a little tribal and a mix of other types of heavy beat driven music. I know your ethnicity (Filipino, African American, Mexican) is all over the place (Cassie is audible with laughter), and I like how you drew from some of that in this song.
Cassie: Yes. Thank you.
BeBe: Now, 2009 was the intended year your second or sophomore album release which was to be called "Electro Love," a dance album. That didn’t happen. So, will this new collection of music on "King of Hearts" (album), due out later this year, have that same kind of vibe or has the creative thought behind it changed totally?
Cassie: You are right, we were originally going to call the second album "Electro Love," but we changed it because I really didn’t want to lock myself into one sound or type of music. So, gradually, as I was making more music, the album title and everything defined itself and the music changed. The (songs on the) album "King of Hearts" are along the lines of rhythmic pop/dance. I do have other songs that are strictly dance on the album, but I still have my R&B songs and my sky songs on this album. It’s just not defined by one thing anymore.
BeBe: What about some of the softer songs, the ballads, or love songs?
Cassie: I do have a couple that are more soft. I have a song called "Balcony" that is a slower, sexier type of record. And, I have others about breakups and songs for the girls. You know, the songs they will want to play up in their room.
BeBe: Is it true that you had about 50 tracks recorded to choose from for the new album?
Cassie: If not more! It’s been quite a long time. I’ve been recording non-stop. I’ve recorded maybe over 100 songs.
’My baby this time’
BeBe: Good Lord, girl! Well, tell me some of the producers you have worked with in putting this album together?
Cassie: "King of Hearts" (single) was produced by Jay 2. I worked with Danja who I did "Official Girl" with (back in 2008). There’s also Jean Baptiste (Black Eye Peas, Fergie, Macy Gray) and I did "Balcony" with Rico Love (Nelly, Usher, Beyonce) and of course a lot more in making this album.
BeBe: Working with so many different writers and producers will definitely give this collection a different feel from the first album which was primarily produced by one person (producer Ryan Leslie). So with that, is this a re-introduction of Cassie to the public?
Cassie: Yeah! I consider myself, and now that I am with Interscope Records, a new artist. The label considers me a new artist. This is not to discredit anything I did before, but I’ve been away long enough that this album can be like a debut. And creatively I’ve been real involved in this project, so it is kind of my baby this time.
Taking her time
BeBe: I was about to ask how much you were involved in choosing the songs for "King of Hearts," and how much of a voice you had in selecting the sound that was going to represent what kind of artist you are? It sounds like you had a big hand in putting the stamp, if you will, on this project.
Cassie: Yeah. That was really important to me. I think that taking my time, taking the whole six-year period, or whatever it’s been, has helped me establish that (artist identity).
BeBe: I read somewhere where you made a statement that you really wanted to take your time this go around because you wanted to be respected. So, that leads me to ask were you feeling some kind of disrespect from the industry?
Cassie: I wouldn’t use the word disrespected. I just think that respect as an artist comes with time and people hearing your records and seeing how committed you are to your craft. So I really had to work on it (project) and show people that I deserved to be able to do this.
BeBe: I like the way you put that, "time and commitment to your craft". Even though your first outing went "BAM!" and was an instant hit, you didn’t say, hey let’s keep it movin’ and put out another one next week, and so on. You wanted to put some time into it.
Cassie: You know everybody is different. Sometimes it works for people to move quicker. I just needed to take my time and grow, and learn a little bit more about myself before I put myself back out there. Because you really throw yourselves to the wolves! (We both laugh) You have to be sure you’re committed to what you’re saying and doing.
BeBe: You had said that during your absence from the music scene, you had done a movie. So will the new Cassie have anymore acting stuff out there?
Cassie: I definitely would love to act again in the future. Before it worked for me because it was a dance driven film and it worked with my fan base at the time. If I did it again, I think I would want to work on the craft by taking classes. As I said about my music, I wanted to take the time to learn and grow, I’d want to do the same with my acting.
BeBe: The release of "King of Hearts" is set for September when artist are generally finished summer touring. Will you be touring during the summer to promote the upcoming album?
Cassie: Yes. I’m actually in rehearsals right now. We are working the show out.
Look for upcoming promotional tour dates at www.myspace.com/cassie, and follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/officialcas.
Watch Cassie’s video to "King of Hearts":
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.