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Night and day with Cassy

Getting to know a DJ who embodies strength and independence in the clubbing world.

Much can be said about Cassy. Her DJ career has stood out as an example to other women DJs demonstrating how strong and independent one can be in the clubbing world. We sat down with her to find out from where it all stems.

Never one to walk the line of normality, Cassy creates DJ sets that emit a certain soul and passion These come from both unique skills in the DJ booth and a glowing personality.

I can remember distinctly the first time that I saw her play. Last year at RESISTANCE at Privilege, as a fresh-faced intern, I caught Cassy going b2b with Eats Everything for the opening extravaganza. I was mesmerised by her energy behind the decks, how ecstatic she appeared with each track, happily at one with the music.

Fast forward to this year, I leapt at the opportunity to get to know her. On the eve of her return to Cocoon after six years away from the legendary clubbing brand, I went to spend time with Cassy to chat about life, music and everything in between.

Morning gym session

We went to meet Cassy at the Bfit gym, the uber-modern temple of fitness, greeted by her personal trainer and friend, Javier. Walking past bodybuilders and runners, we find Cassy finishing off her morning exercise session.

Despite her intense DJ career, Cassy takes good care of herself. A brief chat with Javier revealed that he and Cassy met through Zoie Kingsbery Coe, wife of DJ Sasha. For the past year, he has been training with Cassy along with other DJs like Anane Vega.

Over this time he has created an exercise pattern that Cassy can follow whilst keeping to a touring schedule and busy home life.

“What I proposed to Cassy is to do 20 minutes of exercise per day. When she is in the hotel room, she can do a few exercises lasting up to 20 minutes with high intensity. She should do this in between the travel and work days, when ‘resting' if you will.”

Once Cassy finished her fitness routine, she explained that exercise is key to her working life.

“If I don't exercise, my body just gives up! But it's more for my mind: regular exercise helps me concentrate behind the decks, relieves stress - these kinds of things. Recently I've been doing more running than exercising for longer than 20 minutes - Javier isn't very happy with me! So now I'm going to be doing more stretching and yoga. But I think for DJs its great to go for a mini-run, especially if you have a nap and then a run: that's really good.”

Discussing the best music to run or work out, we reached the consensus that tech house is not so good, funk and disco are perfect. In Cassy's words; “I prefer when its more soulful stuff; it gives me more motivation, you know”. Can't argue with that at all.

Casa de Cassy

When making assumptions of a DJs house, I had in mind wall-to-wall record collections, synthesisers and speakers filling up a living space. Entering Cassy's house, however, I found it to be comfortably homely, a perfect family dwelling situated near the sea.

We relaxed outside on the sunny terrace as Cassy sent her three-year-old son off to the nursery with the nanny. As she joined us outside, I asked how she balanced her home life and DJ life.

"Well, home is where I go after every gig; it's where I reconnect and feel my best, it's where I love being. It's just what I do. I go home and spend time with my son and relax as much as possible."

We went downstairs into her DJ sanctuary is - a chill-out space where Cassy prepares for her evening work. She flicked through her record bags, selecting a nice downbeat background track.

Being in her place of musical solace brought forth many questions. Before starting the interview, however, she stopped the record playing and said, “I have to stop the music because otherwise, I'm just listening to the music.” She laughed, “It is funny as they say women are good at multitasking - I am definitely not!”

Cassy was born in the UK but lived in Austria for most of her childhood. As we talk she explains the roots of her musical background.

“From an early age, I was always going on holidays to see my relatives who were living in England. I remember every time I was there, I went in into a record store and bought music. It wasn't actually a natural interest at first, though.

Back in Vienna, my mother's best friend had a son and we would always go skiing together and see each other a lot. He was kind of cool because he had all these tapes of Flock Of Seagulls and different sorts of punk music or indie music. I accidentally started listening to these because I stole or ‘borrowed' the tapes.”

Continuing our chat about her musical past, I asked her when she became interested in electronic or dance music, thinking there would have been a specific turning point from bands to DJs. After some thought, she responded,

"I feel there was no turning point. If you listen to Human League or Depeche Mode it's ‘electronic music.' Even if they use guitar instruments, I think that it's the attitude with which people make the music. For example, techno has quite a punky attitude. There's a very DIY element to it all.

I understand the sounds made by most of the machines that I listen to in music. When you listen to Prince, you understand that they were using these machines even back then. You can now listen to these sounds in other music like house and techno or even disco.

Even if you listen to James Brown, you can clearly distinguish instruments, but the way these are being played is more like dance music. They were played for minutes on end without any interruption. I think this is exactly why I like techno so much: because it was exactly what I was listening to back then, except that now it is a different musical progression."

Cassy continued to select records preparing her set for Cocoon later that evening. Her musical mixture shows her diverse taste. I asked if all this preparation indicated a vinyl-only set on the cards for the evening. She shook her head,

"I don't play vinyl so much anymore and I play it only when I know I can really play it. If I play a set for two hours, I'm not gonna make the turntables work for half an hour of the two hours. Actually, tonight is when I want to bring some records because it should be possible since I have six hours to play."

As for her favourite record stores, she responded "Hard Wax, Gramaphone, Rush hour and many many more!"

At this point, lunchtime was approaching so we continued the interview over lunch.

Brunch at Passion Pantry

Sitting down at one of Cassy's favourite eateries - the Passion Pantry & Juicery - we ordered various healthful dishes. When it comes to eating habits before gigs, Cassy said; "I don't have very much before, as I can't stand to feel full during sets. It's best to eat a lot in the afternoon and stock up then!"

Whilst we waited for our orders, I asked Cassy about her first contact with Ibiza and what she thought of the current state of the island after the changes of the past few years.

“My first Ibiza experience was a true Ibiza experience. I came here with a friend with whom I went to drama school and he grew up here. He had an American dad, German mum and they had this farmhouse in the north - a very hippy style upbringing. It was super chilled out, hanging about with really nice people, being up in that farmhouse, being in nature, cooking at home - very much a finca life, certainly no clubbing back then!

Things are very different now, of course. I think, in general, it's changed a lot. There's no Space, some clubs are struggling this summer and people who used to come here aren't coming anymore because they feel that it's too expensive. And that's too bad because obviously, they are the heart of the parties and you don't have that feeling as much anymore.”

Despite her thoughts on the Ibiza club scene in the present day, she added “I live here now and it's still an amazing place to me.”

When our food arrived - who would have thought that mushrooms on toast would make a perfect brunch time meal - as Cassy sipped on her tea, we got chatting about her newest venture, a label project Kwench Records

"On Kwench, it can be house, tech house or techno, both club tracks and not. The main thing is that the tracks do not sound disposable. The idea is that it's for people who are serious about music on a not-so-serious platform.

I want it to be easier for people to listen to music without thinking it is cool or not cool, but simply to like the tunes. We want to give tunes that DJs can play out in every set, some a bit more banging, some more mellow, some more trippy."

Some people may know that Cassy has previously released records under her own name, a self-imprint of Cassy if you will. We were interested to know if she would continue now that she is moving into a more established label.

"It was never really very serious. At first, when I was making tracks, they were so strange that no one wanted to release them. The people around me said that this or the other wasn't right.

Then one day I just thought, fuck it, I'm going to release it myself even it is really weird and strange. At least it was out there and I'd gone through the experience with all the mistakes that come with releasing music. You can learn a lot from that."

When I asked Cassy if this meant that she was going to move from DJing to a label head role, she looked shocked, laughed and said, “Oh my God, do I have to stop DJing?” She went on to explain,

"I mean that's a normal question. Obviously, if the gigs get exhausting, maybe I will play less, but I think I could never stop DJing. You know I'd rather be a DJ than a label head any day. With Kwench, however, I just want to sell good music and do not want the project to be idle at any point. I want it to move forward as a natural progression."

For someone who loves the music as much as Cassy does, this answer makes perfect sense. We say ciao to Cassy for the afternoon, leaving her to prepare for her return to Cocoon and evening in Ibiza's famous cherry branded club.

A night in Pacha

This 2018 has been a monumental year for the Ibiza club scene. One of the biggest moves was the switch of venues that Sven Väth and the Cocoon team made from Amnesia to Pacha, a metamorphosis for the brand.

Arriving at 2:00 am, I headed straight for Room 2 of Pacha. Cassy was behind the decks, warming up the smokey red-lit room to a group of enthusiastic ravers, keeping the room moving with groovy house beats.

Harry Romero's Revolution Deep In Jersey Mix sent bodies jacking around the dance floor, including mine.

Earlier in the day, Cassy had shared some of her thoughts about the big move for Cocoon and her opinions on Pacha.

"You know it's difficult because obviously, I'm aware that many people who went to Amnesia were not happy about the move to Pacha, which is a bit of a shame. I do also understand why. But with Cocoon, Sven is a very popular DJ who likes to work the crowd. He likes to make the party. He's a real DJ like that."

Meanwhile, in the main room, DJ Koze was finishing off his earlier set with the tune of the summer. No surprises that Pick Up was a real winner with the crowd.

Sven then stepped on taking the raving attendees on a techno journey as expected at a Cocoon night. If you fancy listening to the sounds of Cocoon, check out our Spotify playlist here

Returning to Room 2, Cassy continued to make the clubbers shake with delight with tracks like Brighter Days Mousse T Fierce Vocal Mix.

Her house set with an infusion of funk was the perfect juxtaposition to the Main Room, the perfect place for a more laid-back vibe when you want a break from banging techno.

Cassy finished her set with Seein You by Eli Escobar, a glorious NYC vocal-disco groover, definitely my favourite track of the evening.

Behind the decks, she danced and sang along, emitting that joy that she is known well for. At 6:00 am the room was still buzzing - credit to Cassy. She definitely knows how to entertain her crowd.

As the music stopped, various fans come up to the booth, thanking her for the musical bliss. After she packed up, we took a moment to chat about her thoughts after playing Cocoon for the first time in six years.

"The sound system and the ambience of the room were key to me enjoying my all-night-long set in Room 2. You really need a good system, to be able to play long sets and truly take the journey. It was extremely different from the previous times I have played Cocoon. Times have changed, the venue is different as is the size and atmosphere of the club. It's a totally new beginning for Cocoon and very exciting to watch."

Weekend fun with BBC Radio 1

Hustle and bustle consumed the sunset strip, as excited ravers gathered for what was one of the busiest weekends of the Ibiza season: the BBC Radio 1 Weekend party.

On that extremely hot Friday evening, the Café Mambo beachfront was stacked with dance music enthusiasts, as the DJs played back to back, dropping popular club sounds.

Annie Mac, CamelPhat, Danny Howard, Denis Sulta, Eats Everything, Jax Jones, Mella Dee, Patrick Topping, Pete Tong and MK all dazzled the crowd with their DJ skills.

Arms waved in the air and Co2 cannons fired as sparks flew from the stage. The atmosphere was electric. Then a match made in techno-heaven stepped onto the stage: Cassy b2b B.Traits b2b La Fleur. This trio of female DJ power was the best way to close the beachside rave.

Cassy kept the pace going with tracks like FISHFARMDISCO by S.A.T., as the crowd stomped away.

Just a few days before, Cassy had spoken about how "techno is sexy."

"I think sexy is something that can exercise restraint while also being very persistent, raw and deep. I think technically all of that is especially so in techno. Techno has a lot more freedom of sound than house music does.

With house music, obviously you have a variation and sometimes house sounds like techno. But real techno is a very open field and it can be 90 BPM but it can also be 200 BPM."

If you listen to Aphex Twin I would say that he comes from techno also. Techno is something that has a certain attitude. It's an attitude that makes people sexy, more attractive. I think that that is especially so if you're aware of something catchy and elementally different, again the thing that makes things sexier. You have to be very free and confident to do it and not be afraid of what other people think of you. I think that's something that has a very sexy quality."

All three brought banging tunes to the rave table that night. But what was even more noticeable was the amount of fun all of them were having on stage. None of the stern-faced, serious techno stance that some DJs are known for, just three DJs having fun and enjoying their jobs.

For Cassy, of course, this is completely normal. She smiled as she dropped the last techno thumper of the evening.

Watch the full 40 minute Cassy b2b B.Traits b2b La Fleur set below.

Dance Finale at Heart

As luck would have it, our 12 clubs in 12 hours marathon led the Ibiza Spotlight clubbing team to HEART for Heart Factory presents The Ritual | The Force Is Female party. When we arrived, Cassy was playing to a packed out room.

Back on a house note this evening, her tune selections were divine. I found that we share a mutual love of the French touch sound as she mixed in Intro by Alan Braxe & Fred Falke - straight up Parisian grooves had the crowd twisting to the funky beat.

Previously Cassy had spoken about her DJing gigs abroad and her experiences whilst visiting America:

"What's happening for me right now is that I've started playing more in the United States. I'm becoming more attached to the house people whom I've always admired. Nervous records invited me to play in Miami. I started being friends with people who come from real deep house in the US.

That's fantastic for me because that was probably the main reason why I liked dancing and clubbing. I come from a German school of techno, but I'm not just a techno DJ and also I'm not just a house DJ. To be hanging out and learning from these people is extremely cool for me as that's something I've been missing since I had no access to it simply due to where I was living."

On her travels in the US, she reminisced about her time over there and an encounter that defined her as a DJ right now.

“When I was visiting the US, my friend Benny Soto used to go to Paradise Garage when he was 18 Now they've torn down the building but he showed me where it was.

We met in the street by accident as he was driving past. He stopped his car and jumped out to say hi. I happened to be wearing a paradise garage sweatshirt at the time and he said: ‘Oh my God, we are around the corner from Paradise Garage.'

Whilst we were there, he said to me; ‘You know what? I actually think you haven't reached your peak as a DJ yet. That's all coming now.'"

Back at HEART, Nicole Moudaber was setting up as Cassy finished her set with tunes like Freaky Dancers by Kevin McKay & Romanthony and Limehouse Afternoon by Mr Tophat & Art Alfie. These pumping sounds lit the dance floor on fire.

With the room thumping, she came up and said hello after her set. Her final words on her life as a DJ and what it means to be involved in the clubbing scene really resonated with me.

"You know it's so interesting as a DJ if you're in it for the music. It's the best thing because there's always something you'll discover that changes your way of playing or the way you experience music. I'm more aware that I'm on a deep journey into music or myself as a DJ. I keep discovering things, and I think that the best part is that I haven't discovered the best yet."

You can catch Cassy doing her DJ thing with an all-night-long set at Cocoon on Wednesday 5 September. She'll be also teaming up with the Do Not Sleep crew on Thursday 13 September.

For tickets and full information on Cassy's remaining dates head here.

WORDS | Michael Tomlinson