Whilst West Palm Beach in Florida is where Cassadee Pope began her musical journey, she is an artist that has been making her way across the pond long before her victorious appearance on NBC’s The Voice back in 2012. Whether as a pop-punk princess, chart topping country artist or just simply enjoying the Cornish countryside she really has made a considerable effort to make the British Isles a second home which has paid dividends. She released her third solo studio album “Thrive” in October 2021 and last played to UK audiences in 2019 but returned recently for the third instalment of The Long Road Festival where after multiple chats through the magic of Zoom, Jamie hung out with Cassadee ahead of her energy filled set.
It’s so nice to finally meet you in person. “You too!”
Like we were just saying, we spoke on Zoom and now it’s real human interaction again. “I know! We’re all wearing pants again which is lovely and it’s good to see you in person”
Firstly, welcome back! “Thank you. I have missed playing shows here so bad, the last time I was here was in 2019 which was so fun, but it was kind of like a power acoustic, it wasn’t like my full band show and today I get to do the full shebang. I’ve actually got some British musicians to represent, so it will be really fun.”
You said that it was 2019 when you last played here but you have more of a connection to the UK than the majority of US artists so have you been over at all since then? “Yes, I came for Christmas last year. I don’t think I came for holiday at all, I mean like summer, but I was here for Christmas which was pretty magical. That was when everything was still in effect with the vaccine, testing before you get there and testing before you leave so this time was way easier.” One of the first things I wanted to say before we kick on is to say Thank You on behalf of a lot of people for what we saw on socials yesterday. It shouldn’t need to have to be done because in 2022 people really should know better than to say things that hurt others but the fact that people like you and Maren (Morris) use your ability to stand up to it is wonderful and it really is so big for a lot of people. “Thank you, that’s the reason because it is not about me.”
Before we kind of jump in to chat about new music and more about being back over here, I just have to go down this road because it is how I first discovered you but since we last spoke on Zoom, I saw that you had done a little reunion show amongst your emo nights of an old Cassadee Pope phase. There’s a lot of love out there for what you were doing with Hey Monday and I know that you put a version of “Hangover” on “Rise and Shine” but had there ever been any thought to rework other tracks or maybe revisit the “Hold on Tight” record in a Nashville style “I’ve never really thought about it but I remember when we released “Candles” people kept saying that it sounded like it could be a country song and I remember when I first came into country music and I was on radio tour, where there were some programme directors that were at rock radio who were saying you should redo “Candles” as country where I’m like NO, I wrote that when I was seventeen and at the time I was in my twenties. I think that because I am moving further from the country genre in general that I don’t know if re-recording it countrified now makes sense for me but maybe down the line after I have stepped away from it for a while and I come around to it again, it could be a possibility?”
Do you think it is really cool with the way that people discover music now through all the streaming platforms and social media that people are coming across this music and that you were making music way before The Voice because you were coming over here way before anyone was coming over so regularly? “Yeah, it’s weird to think about how many things have happened before people even knew who I was. Even before Hey Monday and coming over here, I started singing when I was four and I would play all these random festivals and fairs, did these competitions and all of these things so it does feel like I have live about nine lives. I am really am so grateful that I did come over here before all of that happened because I do feel that I have roots here and solidified connections with fans here that are before any of The Voice stuff. I just feel like when I come back it’s really special where there are people from both phases and they come together, where it’s really cool to see them all in one room where they just mesh.”
You talked about festivals over here, where you’ve played C2C in the past and although you weren’t on the bill there you have seen Black Deer too, then we’re here this weekend but do you get a different vibe about them over here compared to back at home? Quite a few people have said that it feels nice to be able to get out to see more of the event and be able to see your friends play and stuff. “I know, it’s like a big reunion and we’ve all had a tough couple of years where we’ve not been able to do what we love and festivals are something that I have always loved to be a part of, it’s like summer camp going back to even Warped Tour in 2010 when we were on that. I’ve always just had a love for it, I loved going to them and this is like our chance to get together, see each other play on an even playing field, on the same stage which that just makes it feel even more relaxed and easy going so I’m excited and this has been two years in the making which is great that it’s finally happening.” It must be quite fresh as well that since you put out “Thrive” you haven’t been over to play that for people so for your fans it will be their first time to hear it live yet there will be people here today that will be coming across you for the first time. In terms of putting the set together for a festival show like this, is it all about finding that balance of getting the new record shared for your big fans that are here to see you but equally still getting the bigger and better-known tracks from your catalogue into a shorter set? “Yeah, I mean it’s hard because it’s a forty-five-minute set so I trimmed it down quite bit to what I usually do but I made sure to keep in some of the ones that they might know and definitely a few “Thrive” songs because that’s the project that I want people to go and listen to right now. I try to make everybody happy and there will be a few songs left out because of timing but I tried to hit all of the favourites.”
Then post “Thrive” where are we looking with the next project? You’ve been on tour in the States and that record has been out for round about a year now so, we all sort of know that due to production, mixing and the process of getting a record out that it is even older than that since you had put that together and I’m guessing that you have been working on other things that are in the tank? “I’ve been writing for a new project which is definitely in the pop-rock realm and something that I’m going to handle very delicately. I think it’s definitely a new direction and I think people could hear me heading in that direction with “Thrive” so it’s not a complete jolt, but I don’t just want to throw out the music that I’ve been working really hard on for the past year. I want to feel realised, get the team together and I’m working on some really cool collaborations, it’s probably not until next year but once it comes out it’s going to be fully realised.”
Does it feel really nice to be looking forward to releasing new music where you are not fixed in the “country singer” or “pop-punk singer” bracket where you can just be you as an artist that is just releasing the music that feels right and is just good music that people aren’t trying to fit under a specific umbrella? “It feels really good. I tried to do that with “Thrive” where I thought that I was not going to think about boundaries or genres, and I think I did that, but I also still was holding onto the hope I guess that country music was ready for a pop-punk country record. The fans felt that they loved it but you know, country radio is not ready for it and just the politics aren’t ready for it so, knowing that going forward I’m like OK, I’ve come to terms with that and accepted that so, I’m going to go here now. I’m going to do the pop-rock thing that I’ve already done that feels comfortable and just go full force in that direction. It feels really good and honestly feels like the easiest decision that I’ve ever made.”
Before we finish up, we talked before about how you have been over here a lot and spend a fair bit of time in the UK so, you’ve got to see and experience a lot. Most guys talk about the architecture, the audiences and of course Indian food as big favourites when they come here but what are your highlights that you get really excited about? “If it come to a show, I’m really excited about the fans because of the attention to the lyrics. There are songs that are really personal that I know were never singles or big hits that people request, and it really means a lot to me that they care enough to listen to those songs and pay attention. Beyond that I love a Cornish pasty! Big Fan! Then afternoon tea, I am obsessed with afternoon tea and so much so that tomorrow is my birthday where I’ll be hanging in Cornwall with Sam and he’s booked us an afternoon tea for my birthday which I was like YES!!! You know what I like.”
Just lastly as we were talking about the whole of your back catalogue earlier and I know that you mentioned that you have had to trim the set a little bit, but I’d seen from the shows back home that you were slipping one or two Hey Monday tracks into your shows, so is there any chance that we may get to hear something this afternoon? “There is a chance, absolutely ha-ha. I have to, you know!”
Cassadee Pope was indeed good to her word as she ended her set at The Long Road Festival with “Homecoming” but her latest record “Thrive” is out now and available HERE.