Milwaukee to L.A. Americana singer-songwriter Cassie Boettcher meets us at adorable Burbank coffeeshop The Ugly Mug to discuss her recent release More Than That, juggling experiences within the film/tv and music-spheres, and the importance of self-care as a creative being.
So you’re riding the highs of your recently released EP More Than That, wanted to say congratulations!
Cassie Boettcher: Ah! Thank you so much!
For those who have yet to discover its awesomeness, would you care to share a little bit about some of the lyrical themes and instrumental elements that we’ll get to hear in the EP?
Cassie: Yeah! So it’s very much a project that I’ve always wanted to do musically, and it really is who I am at the heart of myself as a person who does acoustic, folk-y, singer-songwriter driven music with intricate melodies, pianos, and guitars combined with sad songs of love and heartbreak, and wanting someone who doesn’t want you back.
Such is life.
Cassie: *laughs* Oh for sure, yes!
That is why are there so many songs written about that because it’s life and it happens all the time!
Cassie: Yes! So many! It’s life, we’re all in the same boat together!
Exactly! And which song would you say was your favorite to write and then record, if they’re two separate songs.
Cassie: I have a song on the album called “Song For Lucas.” I used to work a lot in reality tv, and prior to the cameras rolling and things happening, there was a lot of downtime in the offices. Everyone would be on their computers searching, drinking copious amounts of coffee, ordering Postmates and smelling up the whole office, just doing all of these office things and everyone driving each other crazy. Behind me in this giant workspace in this giant office, there was this dreamy guy named Lucas, and I was totally infatuated by everything about him. I just had this funny idea to write this song about the infatuation stage where you don’t know anything about the guy, but everything that they do is perfect. There’s a part in where I talk about his slicked back hair, and how it’s just perfect. *laughs* It was just really amusing to write that. I took it into the studio with my producer Gene Micofsky, he had heard me play the song live a few months before recording it, and he was just like, ‘This is hilarious! We’ve gotta do it!’ We went into the studio and recorded it, and we would just be laughing the whole time because of how ridiculous the lyrics are. He had ideas for some harmonies on it, like, there’s this part kind of towards the end where it’s a little speak-sing-y and really detailed but entertaining, and he just put the harmonies on there. But we were just laughing the entire time we were recording, and so that “Song For Lucas” is a very special song.
I mean, it’s always good to have a fun experience in the studio as opposed to being all business.
Cassie: Exactly! I’ve worked with so many great people on this EP, and it’s just been fun to be able to hang out with all of them. It’s been really cool.
And how would you say that the songwriting and recording process for your EP was similar or different than that if you’re past work?
Cassie: You know, I had actually been taking a break from releasing music, so this is my first release since 2011. I took a lot of time off for different reasons like, you know, growing up, finding out who you are as a person and what you like, ‘Am I doing this for the right reasons?’ just all those kind of things. Along those seven years, I really started to learn more about myself and the kind of music that I want to make and that I would be putting out there in the world for others. I loved my first EP and the projects that I did, and it was so fun, but I just needed to grow up a little bit in order to know what I liked and what I wanted to put out there and what I wanted people to relate to and hopefully enjoy.
Yeah! We have to live life in order to understand everything, even though we still don’t understand everything. *laughs*
Cassie: Exactly! It’s so true! I’m already working on a new project that’s completely different, and it’s like, if I wouldn’t have been doing this project then I wouldn’t have gotten to there, you know? It’s all just life just going up and down.
It’s the trickle effect.
Cassie: The trickle effect! Yeah!
Not to be confused with the butterfly effect, which is a completely different thing. *both laugh* So a fun question for you, if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose and what would you name their tour?
Cassie: Oooh, I’ve thought long and hard about this question, and this is such a good question because I’m constantly discovering new music and loving new music and all sorts of artists. But right now, if I had to pick up all of my things and go on a world tour, I would say Kacey Musgraves, because she’s just killing it in every sense. I would also want to with this new artist named Ingrid Andress. She’s new in the country scene and she’s a phenomenal songwriter, like, every single song that she’s released is incredible and she just seems like a super cool person to hang out with. And for number three, I would choose Phoebe Bridgers, who is like a rock-sh artist who’s also an incredible songwriter. So really I’d just love to tour with amazing artists, and maybe we can call our tour the ‘Cool Women World Tour!’ *laughs* Just something to do with empowering women.
Yes! We need it!
Cassie: Yes, we do! We need to empower women!
So in regards to being a female singer-songwriter, so you feel that women in the music industry, or just in entertainment in general since you also work in TV, do you feel that they need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to be successful?
Cassie: *sighs* Yes, I do. I think that it’s something that women are working through still and still trying to figure out because, for example, I’ll take a look at the work that I did in the past or my first EP, and while I loved how it turned out at that time, I remember certain instances where I was afraid to speak up on what I thought and how I really felt about it. And with everything that’s been going on the world over the past few years, I feel like women have definitely made a lot of progress and continue to make progress, which is so inspiring. Even just seeing the support of all the males in my life has also been amazing, and not just for me, but for every woman. Just seeing how people in general want to bring women up with them is just inspiring and it makes me really happy to see that.
You’ve gotten a chance to play around many different parts of the U.S. and I wanted to ask if you’ve noticed any differences in regards to how artists are supported, as well as how shows are run, in the different parts that you’ve performed in?
Cassie: It’s definitely cool to be here and also in Nashville. Whenever I play shows here and whenever I play shows in Nashville, which is which is rare because I don’t go there too much, I just love the fact that audiences are attentive and they pay attention to what you’re saying and what you’re putting out the world. I feel like in the creative cities, people are very much more appreciative to acts. When I first started out, I was gigging and doing a lot of cover songs and things like that in the past, and a lot of those experiences were very much so just a patio situation where there’s an artist playing in the background kind of like how we are now when sitting at a coffeeshop.
*laughs* Yeah, I’ve had to run those events before.
Cassie: So you know what it’s all about then.
Cassie: It’s definitely hard and discouraging as an artist to keep doing those kinds of events, but ever since I moved out here, I’ve been L.A. for five years and came from Wisconsin, it’s just been inspiring to see the support, the growth, and how much people love and appreciate art. Art is more respected, and it’s just growing every day. I look at my hometown now compared to where it was five years ago, and absolutely it’s grown.
I definitely feel the same way when I go back to Salinas. Every time I go back I’m always like, ‘This wasn’t here before! What the hell!’
Cassie: So funny!
So with the way that modern music listening has been more focused on like the streaming aspect and singles based or EP style releases, why do you feel that music listeners nowadays tend to lean more towards those shorter options as opposed to full-length albums?
Cassie: It’s interesting. I feel like in general we have just have shorter attention spans now, which kind of sucks because personally, I am a person that loves to listen to a full record of like twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen songs. Five or six song EPs are great, I just did that myself, and I get why artists do that too, because the music funding is not there for independent artist. We have to put it all on ourselves, and you know, record labels aren’t what they used to be anymore.
They’re, like, barely there now.
Cassie: Exactly! They’re barely there, and if they are there, they barely have money for the artists that they have or they have a ton of money for the artists that they have.
Or they just get bought out.
Cassie: Exactly! So yeah, I feel like in general it’s the short term attention span that we all have nowadays because of our phones and the way we use technology, but it’s also money as well, which is a bummer because I want to be putting out more than just a single, you know? At least a couple songs is better than nothing.
Yeah! And there’s still great benefits to an EP, like, sometimes a storyline really only lasts like three songs.
Cassie: Oh, a hundred percent!
Even listening back on some albums that I loved back in the day, sometimes I’m like, ‘Hmm, this song doesn’t really fit,’ and I feel like the longer the work the more chances that could happen.
Cassie: Totally. It’s pretty much just putting songs in there just to put something in there.
Exactly! Like, I’d rather have something concise than just a bunch of random crap. *both laugh*
Cassie: Yeah. I can think of a few albums like that, and it’s always the songs at the end of the album.
Or maybe it should have been structured differently.
Cassie: Yeah, that too. *laughs*
So with social media pretty much being the main form of marketing whether we like to accept it or not, do you feel that it helps independent artists make a name for themselves, or do you think it’s made it harder?
Cassie: I think both. Social media is just awesome because I get to click through the stories of my favorite artists, and sometimes I feel like wouldn’t have found a particular artist to listen to without having seen someone post about them. It’s a curse and a blessing I think, because sometimes you can post something and no one will see it. It’s a bummer as artists, because we have all these statistics that we can see and some days it’s high and some days it’s low. But I mean, that’s just how it is, and as creative people, we need to sometimes realize that our art and what we do is not going to be for everybody, or they’re not going to physically ‘like’ it on Instagram, and that’s ok.
But someone will! There’s always going to be one person
Cassie: Yes! Exactly! Someone always does!
And staying on the topic of social media, do you think it kind of also adds on a pressure for artists to constantly have things going on? Or even just revealing some aspects of yourself that normally you probably wouldn’t do in a personal setting?
Cassie: It’s interesting that you say that, because there are times where I do feel like, ‘Oh my gosh! I have to post on Instagram! I haven’t posted in a few days!’
‘They’re gonna think I’m dead!’
Cassie: *laughs* Exactly! But when I think about it, I’m like, ‘What’s the point if I post?’ One of my really good friends who’s also a musician has been like, ‘I just want to go away off social media for a bit, and then just come back a few months later. Just reappear out of nowhere.’ And I was like, ‘That’s kind of genius!’ She was saying how a lot of her favorite artists do that too, and I’m like, ‘Huh? I never really thought about it like that.’ It’s like, you do think that you just have to constantly be posting things, but then it’s also like, you don’t want to overdo it and drive people crazy, which I think I do sometimes. *laughs*
I think it’s more about the way they have feeds structured now. Take Facebook for example, my boyfriend and I have the same friends, and he sees certain friends that I don’t see normally on my feed and vice versa. Like, sometimes I feel like I see the same five people, and a bunch of dog and food videos. *laughs*
Cassie: I feel like it’s all in the algorithms, and it’s something I see about people complaining about all the time. I have a friend who’s like a social media influencer so to say, and she’s always like, ‘I hate the algorithms! Nobody sees things! Blah blah blah!’ But what can you do, you know?
Right? I feel like even on Instagram, once I follow someone new all of a sudden I’m seeing all their posts on my feed! And they’ll be posts from like three days ago! It’s like, I know the celebrities that I follow have posted. *laughs*
Cassie: I know! And then I feel weird for liking this post three days later! *laughs*
Unless it’s someone that you actually know where they won’t think you’re a stalker. *laughs*
Cassie: *laughs* Exactly! I’m glad I’m not the only one this happens to.
You know, I thought was just going nuts. *laughs* Eh, I probably am still. *laughs*
Cassie: Oh totally! I feel like that 24/7! *laughs*
I mean, we live in L.A. Everyone’s a little here! *both laugh*.
So you’ve already started mentioning this, but you also work in television as a producer. Apart from the obvious of, like, the music sphere vs. the TV sphere, what would you say are some of the similarities and differences between working within the two factions of entertainment?
Cassie: They’re very similar actually. It’s funny, when I moved out here five years ago, I started working on a small reality show. After that show ended, I moved on to another show and just met so many people. I was like, ‘Holy cow, this is such a small world!’ I worked on The Bachelor franchise for a few of their shows, and I got that job because a former boss of mine knew someone that worked over there and recommended me. But yeah, it’s such a small world, and I’ve started realizing that more and more as I’ve gotten into the music scene, but it’s so awesome because it’s like getting to hang out with my friends all the time! I’ll go into a co-writing session and they’ll be like, ‘I just wrote with so-and-so the other day’ and I’ll be like, ‘Oh my gosh! I love that person!’ It’s great because at the end of the day, whether it’s film or TV or music, however I can work with my friends just makes me happy. And they’re different in so many ways too, but just being able to be in the creative areas fulfills me as a person and always makes me happy.
And how do you balance your professional life with your personal life?
Cassie: I was thinking about this one a lot too, because a lot of the things that I am interested professionally are the same things that I’m interested in personally. It’s a cool balance because it’s like, when I go to shows or when I go see friends or I listen to music, I feel like I’m doing it because it’s a personal fulfillment and it just happens to tie in professionally too. I do a lot of writing and a lot of journaling, and I just love sitting on my balcony drinking coffee and writing in my journal. I mean, it’s really all about self-care, and it’s a huge thing nowadays because it’s important just to be able to balance that. Being able to put yourself first is important, because in the end it will help you make better art and make the world a better place.
And it’s so awesome that you bring up self-care because I feel like so many people say it, but it’s also easier said than done.
Cassie: It really is.
It’s like, ‘I should be doing ‘this,’ but I also want to do ‘this’ at the same time.’
But that’s what coffee’s for! *both laugh*
If you can give yourself some advice in regards to what you’ve experienced so far in music or just like in life in general. What advice would you give her?
Cassie: Gosh, I think about that question a lot because when I was in high school and college in Wisconsin, the only thing that I wanted to do was get out.
Especially for small town kids. You either want to stay there for the rest of your life, or you want to leave and never come back.
Cassie: And it’s like none of those are wrong options, you know? That was like the main thing that I wanted to do, and I feel so proud of myself that I actually did leave, so I would definitely tell my younger self to do it because it changed my life for the better. I also would tell my younger self not to be afraid, and to be myself and do my own thing. Like we had mentioned earlier, you make the music that you make and create the art that you make, and not everyone will like it, but there’s one person out there that will like it. That in itself is what makes me happy, and at the end of the day, even if it’s just my parents being like, ‘I like what you’re doing’ or ‘I’m proud of you,’ as long as one person in the world resonates with them then that’s cool as long as I don’t have to change myself in order to do that.
Absolutely! And in the end, everybody really wants to see the real you.
Cassie: Yeah! I mean, look at Taylor Swift, she’s been opening her heart to the world since she was a teenager, and you realize how loved she is and how much everyone just appreciates her as a person. I feel like in a way, a lot of younger artists, especially female artists, have really have taken that to heart as they’ve been writing and releasing music. The world has been getting to be more and more of an honest and open place, especially with social media.
And what do you hope that your audience will take away from your music?
Cassie: I hope that people aren’t afraid to share how they feel. When I listen to music, I really like to tap into how I feel, and it inspires me to write and to tell others and to not be afraid to do my own thing. That’s what I hope that other people take away, and I hope that they enjoy listening to it too!
Yeah! And to end us off, what other big, exciting things should we be expecting from you? You already mentioned you’re working on some new stuff!
Cassie: Yes! And I’m so excited about it! I’m working on a jazz project actually, and it’s just completely different from anything that I’ve ever done in my life. I’m ecstatic about it! You don’t grow unless you try new things, and I’m a big advocate for doing new and different things and exploring, so I’m excited!
About The Ugly Mug:
We have a special place in our hearts for Burbank and we are happy to finally list The Ugly Mug as one of our long list of reasons why we will come back to the city again and again. This family-owned shop takes you to the past once you step inside with its adorably vintage décor (comprised of old-time-y artwork, clocks, cameras, and coffee pots) and traditional fifties interior layout and design, complete with rustic hardwood accents and a warm and inviting color palette. Apart from its physical appearance, the shop’s menu is absolutely something to praise as they’ve found a harmonious balance between classic recipes and potential new favorites. On the food side, you’ve got a variety of fresh-baked pastries of the croissant, muffin or bagel form with options ranging from sweet to savory to fruity. On the beverage side, lattes, iced coffees and espressos are the scene stealers with plenty of flavor options to choose from, in which I gluttonously opted for a Blueberry Lavender Iced Coffee for our visit. Don’t drink coffee? No problem! There are plenty of equally delicious tea and non-caffeinated beverages to choose from, including fruit-infused smoothies and hot chocolate.
For the past two decades, the Ugly Mug owners have strived to create a welcoming community for coffee (or tea, smoothie, or non-caffeinated beverage) lovers from all walks of life, and it’s always impressive and exciting to hear about a local mom and pop shop staying alive in an era of instant gratification in shop form (think Starbucks or Coffee Bean) or delivery form (i.e. subscriptions, pickup services, etc.). In a way, it shows that there are still many of us who crave a homecooked (or in this case, homebrewed) experience when it comes to the types of businesses we step foot in, which is something that has slowly been returning as a trend in the modern age. Hats off to The Ugly Mug and cheers to many more years of caffeine fueled memories!