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Interview: Cassadee Pope teases her upcoming record and discusses her Country Music Week experience

Cassadee Pope was one of the highlights of this year’s Country Music Week and her UK fans had waited a long time for her to return to this side of the pond.

Gearing up to release her new album, Pope has dropped the singles Take You Home and One More Red Light so far this year. Following her Country Music Week performances, she performed acoustic versions of One More Red Light and her debut single Wasting All These Tears for us at the Fender Showroom in London.

After her performances, I sat down with Cassadee to talk about her time at Country Music Week, find out about her forthcoming album and discuss her experiences in the UK.

Welcome back to the UK! I know people have been wanting you to come back for ages. After C2C in 2017 your UK fans really wanted you to return for a headline tour. What’s your experience been like in the UK?

It’s always been so great. I came over here a lot with Hey Monday and accumulated this really hardcore loyal fan base that stuck with me after I left Hey Monday. I would love to come here more if I could so any chance I get, like this Country Music Week… getting to come and play Borderline yesterday. It was so eye opening because anything I’m releasing they’re getting here. Hearing them sing along to the new stuff was so crazy. I didn’t really know what to expect with the two new songs I released, Take You Home and One More Red Light, and the reaction was just incredible. They sang so loud.

Your fans have been waiting a while for new music so to get Take You Home and One More Red Light so close together was a treat. When can we hear more new music from you?

I have an album. There hasn’t been a date released yet but it’s almost done. I’ve got to cut a vocal on the last song. I wanted to release Take You Home and One More Red Light to give a good preview of what’s to come. There’s a lot more to my story than those songs. I wanted to start the story off in the place where I am right now – very hopeful, in love, happy – and then people will get into what my journey has been the past year and a half, which hasn’t been great a lot of the time. It’s going to be a very revealing project. I’m really excited to get that out and get my story out.

We saw you over the summer in a surprise appearance at Black Deer Festival with Sam Palladio. Every time you visit you must notice how much Country and Americana is growing in the UK. Has it taken you by surprise?

No, because I feel the love of music is so real over here. It’s not a genre specific love, it’s all inclusive and that’s something that I knew because I had come here before I went Country. I’ve seen the diversity and everything that’s being played on the radio and the different artists that come through. When I did decide to go Country, I was like, ‘there’s no reason that Country music shouldn’t be big over here too’. When I first came back on my solo project it was about five years ago. Fast forward to last year at C2C… I was blown away for sure but I also didn’t think it was out of the ordinary. I thought this should be what it is here.

You got an incredible reaction and I included you in my surprises piece after the festival. That’s even more impressive as you were on the Spotlight Stage where you don’t get a lot of time…

I think I played four songs. I had never gone to C2C and I heard that I was playing the Spotlight Stage. I thought it was going to be a stage on the outside of The O2. I was not expecting to be basically playing The O2 Arena. I was so excited. I was so like happy that I was exposed to that many people and it was really, really awesome. People sang along to Wasting All These Tears, that’s that’s the one that got the best reaction, and it was a big moment. It was cool.

It was nice to hear your voice in that big a setting with an acoustic background. Your voice is incredible and I think it’s one of the biggest female voices of any genre.

Oh wow thank you!

I feel like you should always release acoustic versions of all your music. Could you do that?

Yeah I felt that too because I’m playing the new stuff acoustic. It feels so good that I would love to do an all acoustic record. I also have a lot of songs that I’ve written that aren’t going to end up on the record that I probably won’t release ever on my full band records, that are best acoustic. I was even thinking of doing an acoustic record where there’s some just strictly acoustic songs that are original that no one’s heard before so it’s definitely been a thought.

I remember years ago being spoiled when Jewel released an album where one disc was full band and one was acoustic. It was perfect…

Yeah, it’s a commitment. To a lot of people when they do an acoustic version it’s the same vocal track but then they just throw in an acoustic guitar. I would love to do an actual project where you go in and recut everything and make it specific to acoustic.

Cassadee Pope
Credit: Cassadee Pope

You performed two shows yesterday as part of Country Music Week. What was your highlight?

It kind of was a blur but I also was really touched by the fact that a lot of fans here gravitate towards a song called 11 from my first record. That’s a really personal, really big song for my career because I had never written a song about my parents divorce until that song. It was one of those that when I put it on my record I never thought it was going to be a big deal. I never thought it was going to be single or anything like that. I hoped it would help some people, whoever was going through it or even the parents that went through divorce, hearing a perspective from a kid that went through that maybe that would help. I actually got a request from a fan. I saw her at the Kacey Musgraves show the night before and she asked if I would sing 11 at my show and so I did. Everybody sang along. Afterwards all the fans at the meet and greet were like, ‘that’s our favorite song we’re so glad you played it’. It was a big surprise because it wasn’t a single so it was a really cool moment.

One of your songs that went down really well at C2C was Me, Myself and Wine. People still tweet us about that one now. Will it ever be released?

No, it’s not even going to be on the project! When I went and did C2C I was so desperate to play something new because I’ve just been writing for so long and had such a collection of new songs that I didn’t release because I was in a tricky spot with my team at the time. I was just like, ‘I’m just going to play this song because it’s fun and it goes over well live in the States so I’m sure it’ll go well over here, and I’m just going see what happens’. I’m glad I did but I also feel bad because I’m not putting it on the record so fans might never get a recorded version of it. But that’s really sweet that they remember it.

People are still talking about it…

Well maybe I’ll release it exclusively at some point. Once you hear the record you’ll understand why I didn’t put it on, it just wouldn’t fit. It’s a part of the story that doesn’t really fit. Production wise it doesn’t fit.

With the Summer EP and the two singles this year, you’ve really been exploring your sound. Has it been difficult to find where to go next musically or has the process been quite organic?

It was organic yeah. The closest to my sound I had gotten was my last EP. I did that with my producer Corey Crowder and I like, ‘OK I think I’ve landed in the right place’ but I had a team that we weren’t seeing eye to eye. We were creatively in different places so I still compromised even just a little bit, even just on the song choices. That was always difficult because I’ve always felt like I definitely know where I want to go but I’ve had things holding me back. This project is self-released so everything is exactly the way I want, exactly the songs I want, the production is what I want. There’s really no in between writing the song and releasing it now so it is the most authentic version of what people are going to hear. It’s the exact sound that I want people to hear. I feel like I’ve finally landed, like I finally figured it out.

I can’t wait to hear it, especially following the two singles. I’m desperate for the full record…

I know it’s frustrating for me too. I like the way the way that I’m starting the story because people are like, ‘wow this is going to be like a really uplifting project’ and I don’t want it to be a downer. There are some dark moments on the record but that’s life, life is just so messy and up and down so I wanted the record to be that.

Are you bringing out any Christmas songs this year?

No, no Christmas songs. I actually sang on a Canadian artist’s album, Jessica Moskaluke. She released a Christmas album and I sing on Santa Baby so that was really fun. I don’t have anything of my own coming out.

Next year?

I would love to. I love Christmas so it’s definitely up my alley. I released a Christmas E.P. with my old band and that was so, so fun. I love to do that again. It’s a really tough thing to pull off because you’re promoting it and pushing it for a few months and then it’s gone because Christmas is over. It would be something that I would love to do some day.

I always think it must be hard to get into the spirit as you have to record these songs during summer, which is the least festive time…

You have to decorate the studio to get in the mood, turn the AC way down and wear Christmas sweaters but I’m down. I love Christmas.

Are you going to get some time off over Christmas?

Yes! Christmas I always have off and we’ve started to do Christmas in Nashville so my mom, sister and grandmother are all there already. Family fly in and they’ll stay with each of us in our respective respective homes. I’m going on a cruise for New Year’s Eve, I’m so excited. Thanksgiving I’ll be home. It’s nice… everything kind of slows down and shuts down around the holidays so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything or feel like I need to stay home so I’m good to go off on a cruise and relax.

A lot of artists like the idea of relaxing but once they get time off they start thinking up new songs…

Yeah I kind of have those moments. I’ve learned balance. For a very long time I didn’t have balance and I didn’t give myself time and I didn’t think about self-care and oftentimes I would get into like a weird headspace or just become unhappy. No matter how it looks to people, I just take the time if I need some time and shocker it doesn’t end my career (laughs). I was like, ‘wow what did I think it was going to happen before?’ I thought people are just going to forget about me after a week of not being on social media. You just gotta do what’s best for your heart and your head. I can definitely relax now. It’s good.

Next year is going to be all about new music and the new album. Do you have plans to head out on tour in the US?

Yes. There are two tours that haven’t been announced yet so I can’t say. There is one that we’re announcing in November so people will know soon about that. Then we’re actually really trying to put something cool together for over here. I’ll be back at some point next year probably later in the year. As far as other other projects, that’s really it, that’s my main focus.

It is a lot….

It is a lot know yeah. I don’t know if I could do much more than that (laughs). I’ll definitely be on the road a lot so it’ll be good.

One More Red Light is available to download and stream now. Watch Cassadee’s exclusive acoustic performance of the track below:

[brid autoplay=”true” video=”315161″ player=”531″ title=”Cassadee Pope One More Red Light live at Fender Showroom in London”]

Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip Ellwood-Hughes
Pip is the Editor of Entertainment Focus and the Managing Director of agency Piñata Media.

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