Some of you will know Cassadee Pope from the band Hey Monday, but most of you probably know her from winning the singing competition, The Voice, in 2013. Since being crowned the winner, she has been on quite a journey. After a change of management, a break up and following her heart she’s back, and country is well and truly in the forefront of her mind, and her music.
In February this year, she released her most recent album, ‘Stages’, and now she’s on tour playing to all of her fans. When we asked her what her favourite thing about being in the music industry is, she tells us: “It’s definitely going on tour; I love playing live shows. As a kid, I always envisioned myself on stage and it was always something that really excited me.”
We caught up with Cassadee and got to know more about how her career has taken many twists and turns, her key to winding down and relaxing and what she loves most about being a musician…
“I think country music is just a mentality, a way of life. There is an honesty with the song-writing process. Before, I always wrote songs in a conversational and general way whereas now when I write country music, it’s more natural to me. I feel like more of a story-teller, and it’s a really relatable genre too.” – Cassadee Pope
Taylor Magazine: So, how did you start in country music?
Cassadee Pope: I moved to Nashville after I was on The Voice in 2013, which was incredible. I went back to my roots with it because I sang country as a kid. I used to be in a band called Hey Monday and we actually went over to the UK quite a lot, which was incredible! We got a really strong fan-base over there, which has stuck by me through the years.
When I came to Nashville, I started writing my first record, which came out in 2013 and was called ‘Frame by Frame’ – that brought me back to the UK for a few shows and then I released my first single ‘Wasting All These Tears’, which did pretty well and I was really proud of that. Then I started working on another record, but it was hard because I basically inherited a whole team from The Voice because when you win the show you win a record label, managing team, a publisher and everything. It was kind of like an arranged marriage! That’s when I started running into some problems because there was never that ‘getting to know each other’ phase – we just jumped straight in.
Once I started to understand where I really wanted to go musically, it was hard because my team didn’t get it. I did well with the song ‘Think of You’ with Chris Young, which opened a lot of doors for me, especially because it hit number one on Country Radio. But then it kept going back to the fact that I wanted to do certain types of music but my team didn’t agree or didn’t understand, so eventually, I had to make a decision. In 2017, I left the label, the management, the publishing and I even went through a break up all at the same time! It was a good thing for me, because it forced me to take a good look at myself and go through some self-discoveries.
Through that whole thing, I got into the studio with my producer Corey Crowder, which really helped my record get to the final stages. We were writing through these really tough times, and I continued to write when things started to turn around and that’s when I fell in love with music again – that’s why the record is so all over the place emotionally! I’m so proud of the end result – it’s the most real thing I’ve ever released.
Taylor Magazine: What were you working on before The Voice, and how did you find yourself applying for it?
Cassadee Pope: It was interesting because they actually scout a lot of the artists on that show. They approached me to be on the show a season before the one I was on. I was still in my band at that point and I never thought I would do anything like that. I said no, continued with the band and then eventually, I left my band and moved to LA and tried to pursue a solo career.
It was so difficult – I put together an acoustic tour in the States, which was not well attended at all! I probably lost way more money than I want to admit. But then The Voice came back to me and asked me again and so at that point, I had exhausted a lot of other avenues so I agreed to do it. I got a call back after the first audition and from there it was a complete whirlwind. The whole experience allowed me to discover that I wanted to do country music again – a lot of the songs I wanted to do on the show were country songs, that just came organically and wasn’t pushed from any management side.
“In 2017, I left the label, the management, the publishing and I even went through a break up all at the same time! It was a good thing for me, because it forced me to take a good look at myself and go through some self-discoveries.” – Cassadee Pope
Taylor Magazine: What is it about country music in particular, why do you think you have such a strong connection with it?
Cassadee Pope: I think it’s just a mentality, a way of life. There is an honesty with the song-writing process. Before, I always wrote songs in a conversational and general way whereas now when I write country music, it’s more natural to me. I feel like more of a story-teller, and it’s a really relatable genre too.
Taylor Magazine: Talk to us about song-writing – what is the process like for you personally?
Cassadee Pope: It depends on the mood – whether this is in a writing session or on my own, it just depends how I’m feeling. I’ll always try to bring a concept, or title into a session, so we can all work together to make something. I’m not a songwriter that goes in every day and writes lots of songs – it’s too emotional for me. It can get exhausting. I have to get into the mind space of ‘I’m going to write a song today’.
Taylor Magazine: Do you have a favourite song that you’ve written?
Cassadee Pope: I’m proud of a lot of the songs I’ve written on this record, especially ‘How I Feel Right Now’, which is about how you feel in a moment, embracing feelings and realising that you should enjoy how you feel about someone at the moment in time. Having gone through a break up, and a lot of let downs in relationships, I’ve realised that it’s important to just let things happen. There’s also a song on my first record about my parents’ divorce, which was a really therapeutic writing session, because it was so hard to talk about. It was poetic in a way, and I’ve been playing that on my current tour in an acoustic form – I get emotional every time I play it because I’m so proud of myself for writing it and having an outlet to talk about a difficult situation in a positive way.
Taylor Magazine: What would be your dream collaboration?
Cassadee Pope: That’s a good question! If I could write with anybody it would be Avril Lavigne – she’s a great writer and I’ve always loved her. As far as a collaboration, I’ve always said that I would love to do something with Shania Twain. She has always been such a huge inspiration for me as she stands so strongly for female empowerment and being able to cater for both men and women. I think she speaks to both genders in such an amazing way that nobody else can do.
Taylor Magazine: How has life been for you since winning The Voice?
Cassadee Pope: It’s been such a crazy journey. Since winning the show I already had a platform with such a big fan-base, so I skipped the grind of having to go and get fans by doing lots of smaller gigs. I’m sort of doing that now, and a really good amount of people are coming out every night to my tour which is really interesting because it’s like my journey has almost been backwards, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. After the show, it feels like you have to prove yourself and make people understand that you are an artist who doesn’t just sing covers – you have an identity. That was something I found really important and it was something I wanted people to know about me. It was really validating when people believed it, and winning the show was validating in itself.
Taylor Magazine: What’s your favourite thing about what you do?
Cassadee Pope: It’s definitely going on tour; I love playing live shows. As a kid, I always envisioned myself on stage and it was always something that really excited me. I found the most joy in performing live on stage. I love writing and I love being in the studio, but there is something so special about performing in front of fans and seeing their reactions. Watching fans sing along to the lyrics that I wrote is the craziest feeling in the world. I also love getting the chance to meet fans and hearing their stories about how my music has helped them or how they can relate – there’s so many aspects of touring that are amazing but, for me, being on stage is the best.
Taylor Magazine: What has been a career highlight for you so far?
Cassadee Pope: The Grammy nomination definitely takes the cake. I was nominated with Chris Young for the best Country Collaboration for ‘Think of You’. When he called me and gave me the news, it blew my mind. I did not see this duet coming and I did not think my first ever big hit would be with Chris Young, never mind it being a Grammy nomination. There were a lot of moments within that song that really surprised me. It was a huge career highlight.
Taylor Magazine: What is a dream day for you?
Cassadee Pope: I would love to be at home, probably out on a nice hike with my dog and my boyfriend because there are some beautiful lakes nearby. If it was a rainy day, I’d be on the couch with my dog and my boyfriend watching Game of Thrones eating a cheeseburger. That would be perfect.
Taylor Magazine: What advice would you give to your sixteen-year-old self?
“When people say things that aren’t very nice or say things about you, you shouldn’t take things personally because most of the time it’s a problem within that person. Granted, there are times when I’ve taken these comments on board as a growing adult, but I would’ve told myself that people have their own problems and to not take things super personally.” – Cassadee Pope
Cassadee Pope: Don’t date him! Just kidding – it would probably be to not take things personally, and that’s something I just learned a few years ago. When people say things that aren’t very nice or say things about you, you shouldn’t take things personally because most of the time it’s a problem within that person. Granted, there are times when I’ve taken these comments on board as a growing adult, but I would’ve told myself that people have their own problems and to not take things super personally.
Taylor Magazine: What do you do to relax?
Cassadee Pope: I really like pilates. I have tried yoga and I know I need to give it another chance, but I’m not as good at turning my brain off when I’m not exerting myself a lot of energy. Pilates is good because I’m exerting myself to the point whereby I can just focus on balance.
I also really love taking walks; I think that’s my version of meditation. I love walking, listening to nature and feeling the ground under my feet while turning my thoughts off for a minute. If I’m having a hard time and want to get away or keep myself grounded, there’s a book I like called ‘You Are A Badass’ which is about self-love, and it has really helped me throughout the transitional periods of my life. I’ll turn to a chapter about not sweating the small stuff or loving yourself, and those chapters will help me reset and check in with myself.
Taylor Magazine: How have UK audiences been when you’ve performed here before?
Cassadee Pope: It’s definitely always been really energetic, and the fans are always so grateful! I feel like music is heard in a different way in the UK, so when I come over I love to hear what songs are the fan favourites.
Taylor Magazine: What is coming up for you that we should be looking out for?
Cassadee Pope: Coming to the UK is a big thing for me and I’m so honoured and excited. Tickets are flying so it’s going to be really fun! I’m also just continuing to write and I still want to release one or two more singles from my new record. For my next record, whenever that may be, I’m going to continue telling the story I’ve been telling so far.