There are interviews that get handed to you and then there are the ones you chase after. Cassy Britton is the latter. When sitting down with Cassy at Bestival in Toronto, the goal is to make it memorable—for her that is. The best way to do that is ask Cassy what she wants to talk about.
"Hmmm… Wow… What would I like to talk about?" Cassy's caught off guard, but into it. "I played a track called 'Generations of Love.' Obviously it has a message, but you put it on and you are not really aware you're putting on a record with a meaning. You are just playing a really cool number. Yet, you have people standing in front of you, the sun is shining, it's an open air festival, and some of them might hear it for the first time and actually listen to what's being performed. They're like, 'Wow, that's really amazing that song.' Then you realize that you knew how powerful it was before."
This raises a good point: what makes a dancing audience actually pay attention? In a DJ set full of selections that mix into each other—often without vocals—how does a single track stand out?
Cassy doesn't hesitate on this. "It's weird because it's about the energy of the room and at that moment. Sometimes when you start playing in the afternoon, people will come and go. But then after an hour, you have a crowd standing there. It's a mix of things."
That was certainly the case earlier in the day during her Bestival set, where there was a somewhat empty main stage mere footsteps away but a growing throng of people collecting for her performance in the Bollywood structure. "I think I play catchy music," she explains, "but not in a commercial sense. For me, that whole thing doesn't exist. I mean, there's a lot of music that was commercially successful that was not 'commercial', then there's a lot of really 'commercial' music that is not successful."
It varies, as does her style of DJing. You could see Cassy play differently on different platforms around the world and never see the same Cassy twice. How she rips a dark SCI+TEC jam at Sonár in Barcelona is totally different than her approach to bouncy Circo Loco sets or very techno Cocoon ones in Ibiza.
Cassy insists it's just "her version" of playing to the crowd. "I can only do what I have in my record box. And it's my version of doing it," she emphasizes. "Sure, I do the best I can to maintain the unwritten rules or laws of dance music or whatever. But it has to be my way because then otherwise what's the point? Then anyone could do it. That's it. It needs to be me."
In 'doing' her, Cassy has forged a reputation as one of the top DJs and producers in her field. Although as one with no binding label or group associations, her status teeters on a free agent in the industry. "No, I can't really play any party I want, but, to be honest, I wouldn't want to play any party," she claims. "I like playing for Circo Loco at DC-10 and I really like playing different clubs with different sound systems. It's like every club is new and completely different and has its own strong point. For me, I think Space is the strongest one sound-wise by far. DC-10 is close, but it caters to a different feel. You could not have the sound like you have at Space at DC-10 because it wouldn't work for that."
In general, Cassy finds different reasons to be happy about bookings. Admittedly, the cheque helps. "There are the bookings where you're like 'Ah yes, I want to do that, yes please!'' Right?" And then there are the places an artist hears a lot about and everyone says they have to go. "Obviously you want to play there," she admits. "Then sometimes you do and it's like, 'Seriously, why?' Then you'll go to a venue you have no idea about and you're like, 'Fuckin' eh, what just happened?!?'"
Getting back on the subject of Ibiza, Cassy is an island staple who credits Cocoon for building her up for the 'new Ibiza'. She laughs and defines the 'new Ibiza' as a lot of pressure, a lot of venues, a lot of sets, a lot of people coming, and "a lot of power owned by few people."
For all this talk about her playing on the other side of the world, Bestival would have been the first time for many to see Cassy play in Toronto. Although she is a frequent act at the legendary Stereo in Montreal, T.O. just hasn't been on Cassy's radar over the years. Although, it's not how she wants it to be. "I have a lot of respect for Canadians," she says.
"My boyfriend is half Canadian, so I have some family now in Edmonton and Calgary. Toronto was a crowd who came to listen. But I think they have a different education, or let's say, a different appreciation for it. Maybe because they're younger? I don't think you would get this in the afternoon at an American festival. I'm sure Bestival came to Canada for a reason. It's easier to get that vibe here."
She is likely correct. After all, Cassy Britton is an artist in complete control of herself and her career. And as she is more than willing to make clear, she's doing it her way.
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