Cassy in conversation with King Britt

Soul siblings King Britt and Cassy chat pop sensibilities, their love for Philadelphia, and parenthood.

Read a conversation between close friends and collaborators Cassy and King Britt, following the release of her album 'Donna'.

Born to an Austrian mother and Bajan father, Catherine Britton (aka Cassy) had a music-centric childhood. Often performing and stumbling across the likes of Sun Ra at a jazz festival close to her hometown, she was always destined to become actively involved in the industry. Spending her formative years on a varied diet of Sade, Chaka Khan, Spandau Ballet, Madness, Talking Heads,The Cure, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong – it was exposure to Vienna's early '90s techno scene, discovering Gilles Peterson, and shopping at local record store Black Market that spawned an interest in dance music. Picking up her first set at Flex in Vienna, she played alongside Electric Indigo, who continued to help Cassy carve a path from DJing into the world of vocals and production – with early work including singing for Elin aka Autorepeat. She also met Dave the Hustler and started a collaboration for Mental Groove with him, as well as co-producing the track La Ondita on Luciano's album 'Blind Behaviour'.

Now perfectly balancing her as work as a DJ, vocalist, producer and mother – she has been a resident at clubs such as Trouw, Panorama Bar, and Rex and can now also cite Steve Bug, Ricardo Villalobos, Mathew Jonson, Tiefschwarz, D'Julz, and Swayzak as collaborators, with work released across celebrated labels Playhouse, Perlon, Ostgut Ton, and Cocoon. Adding to her list of career milestones, 2016 also dawned her eagerly awaited debut album, 'Donna'. A true labour of love, Cassy had six years of stop-start work on the album, which also included a breakdown of her marriage and subsequent divorce, which fogged her creative output.. Several months of uprooting ensued, including Cassy finding out she was pregnant with son Rocky, which sparked a relocation to LA, and then Philadelphia. It was here the album finally took shape, as Cassy found rejuvenation in her new family, and 'Donna' co-producer (aka her "soul brother") King Britt, who ”helped transform the album into a more mature version" that Cassy was ready for the world to hear as she released it via Will Saul's imprint Aus on June 24th.

Looking back on the release last month, we wanted to dig a little deeper into the inspirations and motivations on both Cassy and King Britt so we sat them down for a little chat, which comes complete with a coffee break half way through.

Read the soul siblings' conversation in full below, which spans from their first meeting through to the pair's pop influences and experiences of parenthood.

First impressions

[Cassy sends King Britt a Radio Slave Remix of 'Donna' album track, Keep Trying]

King Britt: “Radio Slave is the fuckin’ best.”

Cassy: “He is an amazing producer, with a very high class remixing brain.”

King Britt: “Cassy, it has been such a pleasure knowing you beyond the music.”

Cassy: “The pleasure is all mine.”

King Britt: “What was your first impression of me at lunch in Ibiza?"

Cassy: “I kind of expected you to be like you are. Wiser and older but in a been there done that kind of way – with no frills.”

King Britt: “An old, wise, jaded ass. LMAO.”

Cassy: “Yeah, [laughs] but without being like the other old and jaded arses. A modern, old, jaded arse.”

King Britt: “Well, I was like, “What is she going to be like?” And when I met you I was like, “Whoa this is my sister!!”

Cassy: “Well yes, this for sure.”

King Britt: “If I had a siblings in this life, you would be it…”

Cassy: “You would have been a great, but also a very strict big brother. Not taking any shit.”

Working together

King Britt: “So when I sent you my demo rework of Feel, how did you first react to it?”

Cassy: It was extremely evident that you got what I was trying to do.”

King Britt: “Ah....and I was nervous actually! I was like, “I can’t disappoint Cassy”. It elevated my thought process, as your taste is impeccable.”

Cassy: “Thank you. I just imagine I would have disappointed you, also quite crap.”

King Britt: [Laughs] “Never.”

On King Britt's hometown, Philadelphia

King Britt: “What did you like about Philly? Was it a fun experience?”

Cassy: “My taste is very easy and based on common sense. Philly is basic... old glamour, that has somewhat of a ghetto glamour and roughness about it. It’s very down to earth, with no frills. The people are great and the city’s also not too big. It’s very easy to get around, and has everything you need.”

King Britt: “Definitely...and of course, Rocky (Cassy’s son).”

Cassy: “AND ROCKY, of course. Philly is a Scorpio city, and we are Scorpios.”

Cassy: “The city has a huge amount of soul, but different to Detroit, which also has a huge amount of soul.”

King Britt: “Which makes for an amazing creative energy. It has a very similar history, which goes into your music.”

Cassy: “It is good to make music there, and especially with all the musicians we used on the album. I had no idea they were so fucking good.”

Prince

King Britt: “Which brings me to our mutual hero, Prince. His departure is still hurting.”

Cassy: “Hmmm, it hasn’t been digested by me. I find it weird, Prince leaving.”

King Britt: “Especially because of Strange Relationship and how it is on the album prior to his passing.”

Cassy: “Very strange, that’s one of the first things I said when I found out. Before I even started this album, many years ago, I thought I will cover a Prince song.”

King Britt: “Yes! That takes balls.”

Cassy: “I wanted to cover a different one first, Forever In My Life.”

King Britt: “Oh really? That’s a great tune. But your choice, as usual, is perfect.”

Cassy: “(Strange Relationship) is very good and simple. [Hums] Dududududu, dudududududd. The beginning, the bass...all super simple. Then I finally started on my album, and everything that came up, everything I lived and saw in other people, was more Strange Relationship. This is what people do to each other, all of the fucking time.”

King Britt: “Yes! I could relate all so well too!”

Cassy: “It’s a universal song.”

King Britt: “When I heard the idea I was like, “Oh snap!“ The idea you had totally was: “This needs the Philly treatment.””

Cassy: “Yes, well Lad (sound engineer/mastering technician) said, “This needs instruments”. My reply was, “OK, I will ask King.””

King Britt: “Yes, I had to get the boys, Chuck Treece (live bass/guitars) and Damon (keys) in.”

Cassy: “Fuck, yes, that was scary.”

King Britt: “A simple beat rework but with the Philly treatment.”

Cassy: “I had no idea who they were, they were so sweet – really sweet and lovely people, and fucking relentless.”

King Britt: “Chuck played with everyone from Billy Joel to Bad Brains.”

Cassy: “They are so at ease playing their instruments.”

King Britt: “Damon Bennett, Kindred & The Family Soul, Maysa (from Incognito). I have access to everyone you need.”

Cassy: “That is why we work together.”

King Britt: “It just clicks. It’s a bit telepathic.”

Cassy: “You just said Chuck played with everyone from Billy Joel to Bad Brains. If you had to describe what I like, and what I listen to, then that’s exactly it. I listened to everything from Billy Joel to Bad Brains.”

King Britt: “Oh snap [laughs]. I still know the lyrics to many of Billy Joel’s songs when they come on the radio.”

"It just clicks. It’s a bit telepathic.” - King Britt on working with Cassy

Austria (and coffee breaks)

King Britt: “How was growing up in Austria?”

Cassy: “Life saving.”

King Britt: “Wow ok. Beautiful.”

Cassy: “Otherwise I would have turned into someone I am not I think.”

King Britt: “Your parents are from Barbados and Austria, right?

Cassy: “Yes, mum is Austrian and dad is Bajan [pauses]...sorry, brb. I’m just grabbing a coffee quickly.”

King Britt: “[Laughs] for the record, this is how Cassy and I talk everyday.... so you are getting the real deal.”

Cassy: “Very true, this goes on every day.”

Pop sensibilities

Cassy: “You know, you train yourself to be a certain way, and it becomes a habit.”

King Britt: “Anyway, music saves. This was this the idea with the album, to span many genres.”

Cassy: “As many as possible, in the most subtle way as possible.”

King Britt: “Subtle is deadly. I love the Stuart Matthewman contribution.”

Cassy: “At Coachella I watched Anderson .Paak for the first time. Then we went to see SIA, which was a great show.”

King Britt: “Oh yeah...I’ve loved her since Zero 7. I actually met her years ago with them.”

Cassy: “Was she the singer of Zero 7? I had no idea.”

King Britt: “Yeah she wrote all their hits! I can see you two working together.”

Cassy: “I would love to write music with and for her, that would be cool.”

King Britt: "What do you have on now whilst typing? I’m listening to Ariana Grande – it’s really solid album.”

Cassy: “Who is Ariana?”

King Britt: “A pop singer, she is extremely talented.”

Cassy: “I have no idea of pop singers now! By the way, Hateful 8. Did we speak about that soundtrack?”

King Britt: “No, I need to hear it.”

Cassy: “I actually hate soundtracks and I hate that movies have soundtracks. Personally, I think they’re awful. If a movie needs a soundtrack, then you can kind of see it’s a certain type of movie. But I am telling you...fucking hell...this one is incredible. Ennio Morricone...Tarantino got extremely lucky.”

King Britt: “Another great Cassy trait. No fucks given.”

Career development

Cassy: “One thing I was thinking the other day – how do you make your personal music tastes and career development go hand in hand? Obviously you having output across so many different channels and different directions, it must stand for something in your personality? Do you think that one day, you would be like Jimmy Jam and Quincy Jones, or more settled?”

King Britt: “Yes!”

Cassy: “Are you not settled and not like this now? If not, then why? What are you looking for?”

King Britt: “I am music....this is what I’m saying. I love so many sounds and directions. I tend to try them all, but I’m now moving into that settled mindset. I’m bringing all I learned into the pop realm together. It’s time…”

Cassy: “Absolutely, but why now?”

King Britt: “I went so left-field in the past four years that it was time to come back to the essence...but with the knowledge. The way pop is now, it’s really an open door.”

Cassy: “I feel there is nothing much going on, like there is no real pop anymore?” Something needs to be done.”

King Britt: “I don’t know...I love FKA twigs, SZA, and Beyonce productions.”

Cassy: “Yes well, there is always something good – thank god.”

King Britt: “I feel Pharrell killed the game. I’m 47 now, so I feel it’s time to bring this wisdom into this world.”

Cassy: “It’s not like it was when we grew up. It’s a different thing to listening to artists like Robert Palmer, The Cure, Sade, David Bowie, XTC, etc all in one radio show.”

King Britt: “XTC!!!!!! OMG, whew! I saw all those bands.”

Cassy: “JUST IMAGINE THAT IS WHAT WE HAD!!!!!! And look at the people now, what they have. Nada. Rihanna, with a dodgy outfit, and a nice voice.”

King Britt: “It’s sad but it’s coming back. With groups like King (from LA) and Sidibe, there is hope.”

Cassy: “Maybe we should kidnap some music executives and hold them at ransom.”

King Britt: “Nah we would get nothing, as they have no worth.”

Cassy: “OK, they have to sign a contract to never ever work again.”

King Britt: “Artists forget that we are the creators, the magicians, the muses. This is why it’s so great to release your own stuff or find those few that are real, like Hyperdub. What a great label. I’m honoured to make records for them...and Aus.”

“I went so left-field in the past four years that it was time to come back to the essence...but with the knowledge. The way pop is now, it’s really an open door." - King Britt

Motherhood

King Britt: “How has motherhood changed your life in the music world?”

Cassy: "A lot. I am more focused now, and I have no choice. I don’t have to buy any designer clothes anymore and I don’t need no fancy cars."

King Britt: “Exactly.”

Cassy: “None of that...BUT, I want a nice home for us and I want good education for my son...and a boat maybe. I would love to go out on the sea with him, one day.”

King Britt: “We can have that too....I’m sure after this album, designers will be knocking at your door. You could live on a boat.”

Cassy: “That would be the best, to sail the world and live on a boat. So my goal now is for my son to speak three languages and have good education, and see the world, and use everything he’s learnt to make something out of himself. Have drive and ambition to change something.”

King Britt: “How do you balance it all? I have found a happy medium of  travel and home life.”

Cassy: “Danny (Cassy’s partner) is helping me a lot and I have a new team of people that I started working with.”

King Britt: “Danny is the best. It takes a village. My daughter graduates from college this weekend.”

Cassy: “How amazing is that?! Congratulations.”

King Britt: “I can’t believe it! Actually, thinking back, you did well in the studio – breastfeeding and beats. That would make a good t-shirt.”

"Actually, thinking back, you did well in the studio – breastfeeding and beats. That would make a good t-shirt.” - King Britt on Cassy's studio juggling

Role models

King Britt: “Lastly, as a woman in this world you are killing these dudes. It must make you feel so empowered.”

Cassy: “Oh please, whatever [laughs]. Who cares, I just want to make good music, and play good music.”

King Britt: “Do you feel responsibility as a role model?”

Cassy: “Yes, in the way that I have to keep thinking progressively.”

King Britt: “Who were yours? Chaka Khan?”

Cassy: “Yes...and Sade, Electric Indigo, Miss Kittin, PJ Harvey, The Slits. Cool women.”

King Britt: “I love Miss Kitten...and The Slits!!!”

Cassy: “Madonna to a certain extent, as she is a very hard-working woman.”

King Britt: “Oh definitely. Maybe you can produce for her, she needs it.”

Cassy: “Hmmm, Madonna needs us and Baby Face again, to make soft lady like hits that you can drink champagne to whilst feeling like a million dollars.”

"[Madonna] needs us and Baby Face again, to make soft lady like hits that you can drink champagne to whilst feeling like a million dollars.” - Cassy

King Britt: “Yes.”

Cassy: “A little like her album ‘Bedtime Stories’. That is what she needs. She needs to give less fucks. Be sexy and effortless...and not work so hard anymore, take it easy.”

King Britt: “I want to produce for Grace Jones. I’m working on it.”

Cassy: ‘Yes, very good idea!”

King Britt: “Mmmmm hmmmmm!”

Cassy's album 'Donna' was released June 24th on Aus (buy).

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