Los Angeles psych-pop singer/songwriter Cassandra Violet is preparing to release a new single, “Superbloom,” on June 5 — a song typically rooted in local Laurel Canyon-esque folk-pop, though with her own dreamy vibe. We had a chat about it…
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you start writing and recording, and when did you realize it could be a career?
CASSANDRA VIOLET: I’ve been singing and whistling since I was a kid, and in high school I was in choir. I’m from L.A. and went to Santa Monica High School, and the music program there is amazing. I also played classical clarinet for a long time. I didn’t write my first song until I was 26; I always wanted to put writing and music together but couldn’t figure it out until I had more stories to tell. I do make some money on music, but I’m also a teacher, which is a stable job that I really appreciate, and my connection to my students keeps me grounded.
Describe your sound…
Lately I’ve been describing my sound as hazy folk-pop. My songs usually tell a story, either about my own neuroses or about how much the patriarchy bothers me. Sometimes they’re like little pep talks to myself. There’s usually a ton of clashing harmony. Sometimes I write from the perspective of a prairie woman who is out there defending herself against the elements.
Tell us about the “Superbloom” single — what is the song about?
This song is about how social media has ruined my mind. Last year, it seemed like everyone I knew went to the desert to see the superbloom. I forgot to go until it was over, and I was angry with myself. Then I thought: Do I actually want to see the flowers, or do I just want to post a picture in front of them? I know people are using social media for more essential connections now that we’re in a pandemic, but even some of these connections still feel produced to me. And I am completely guilty of this myself. I bake cakes just to post them on Instagram. I know social media was designed to bring people together but sometimes I feel like it does just the opposite. I got tired of feeling bad about myself and comparing myself to everyone else, so I wrote a song about it. My friend Joe Berry produced it, and the sound is inspired by the 1970s, Harry Nilsson and Joshua Tree. It was mostly recorded live and everyone really shreds at the end.
How have you been coping with the lockdown? How are you staying busy?
I’ve been cooking a lot and writing a few songs. I’ve been going on lots of walks, but I get lost easily, so I go on the same route almost every day. I delight in routine, actually. I watched the entire series of The Sopranos and made baked ziti last night. I’ve been doing a cooking and singing livestream every Sunday where I bake something and then play songs while it bakes. I just made a lemon cake one hour ago. The problem with all of this quarantine cooking is that then I eat everything I cook. I’ve been eating a cake a week basically by myself, so I’m looking for some people to give some baked goods to. I’ve seen people having fun by learning dances on TikTok, but learning a dance in reverse makes my brain feel like it’s melting. I’ve been doing yoga and “gardening,” but I got bored of gardening when the lettuce seeds I planted took too long to sprout, and when they finally did, a squirrel ate them. I like things with a more immediate payoff, like writing a song or baking a loaf of bread. Pretty wild times!
What do you have planned for after the lockdown is lifted?
Things feel too uncertain to plan right now, but I can tell you what I’m dreaming about: casually wandering into a restaurant and grabbing a menu, running to the grocery store just to buy some parsley, singing with people in a cramped little room, sharing a drink with a friend, traveling, sitting in a crappy airport bar with some onion rings, walking on the beach in Mexico with a drink in my hand. Wow, now I really want to go to Mexico.
“Superbloom” is released on June 5. For more info, go to cassandraviolet.com.