- Words Maria Mukaranda
In the perpetual ebb and flow of today’s indie scene, Cassia - a band that has, and continues to be on the come-up - have dropped their EP, Home Soon…
From the ethereal embrace of their inaugural single ‘100 Times Over’ to the introspective depths plumbed in their 2022 sophomore release ‘Why You Lacking Energy?,’ Cassia‘s harmonic trajectory has been fresh, fun and full of bright, melodic instrumentals.
Hailing from Macclesfield, near Manchester, this triad has cultivated an oeuvre that intertwines the rhythms of tropical euphoria with wistful introspection. ‘Home Soon…’ serves as a sonic atlas: each track, a melodic chronicle penned in diverse corners of the world, unfolds against the backdrop of an EP artwork inspired by a refrigerator adorned with tokens of their nomadic touring life.
At its thematic nucleus, ‘Home Soon…’ navigates life cycles, an exploration of those times when chapters are drawing to a close – and the uneasiness that comes with that. Frontman Rob Ellis lays bare the turmoil of grappling with such a change, transforming the EP into its own story, that captures the silver linings found in the midst of it all.
With three distinguished ‘Hottest Records’ accolades on BBC Radio 1 and an impressive 75 million Spotify streams, Cassia are on, what you could call, a very upward trajectory. Their sold-out EP release show at London’s OMEARA serves as a testament to the anticipation for the next chapter in the Cassia story.
As they step out of the more insular world of the band’s past creative endeavours, engaging in collaboration with peers and producers, Cassia now extends the invitation to their listeners. It seems ‘Home Soon…’ strives to be an evolution; it is a revelry of change, a manifestation of the trio’s spirit, and a venture into the ever-evolving auditory experience otherwise known as the Cassia sound.
Rob: After a long trip of writing in America, travelling and meeting loads of new people I remember being sat on the plane with all this newfound energy to just go and write more. When I arrived back home and got settled in the studio I started to make sense of all my lyrical jottings and gamma rays was the first tune I wrote. I think being out of your usual surroundings for a while re-centres the way you approach creative work. Gamma Rays really felt like a breath of fresh air just filled with loads of great memories and good times.
Rob: I feel like our goal has shifted over the last couple of years. Growing up in the cold rainy north we initially set our sights on playing our music in the sun and that drove us to delve into what was at our disposal at the time which was catalogues of Afrobeat and high life and soukous music which were often melody lead and this brought about the sound which we feel is now is our baseline. Playing loads of shows these last years really added a whole new element of intensity into the mix and I think the highs and lows of touring can be heard all across the lyrics we are writing now, ‘whatstheuse’ clearly and directly talks about wanting to find a new fresh outlook again and songs like circular motion talks about chapters starting and ending. It sounds corny but I think now we are writing this music to make sense of the journey that we are on as a band.
So, the songs on the EP were written in different places around the globe – how did these new writing locations and experiences with collaborators impact the overall energy and creative direction of the project?
Rob: The places I visited gave me that fresh outlook I was hoping for, it’s almost hard to not feel inspired when experiencing so many new places, cultures and just driving around some of the most incredible nature. I think I rediscovered that feeling of writing without expectation when I was traveling around and inviting friends into the cassia bubble opened up the possibility of experimentation and progression for the sound.
Jake: Yeah there are loads of memories on that fridge, there are photo booth photos from our time at Reeperbahn festival where we ended up being nominated/winning an international award. It was completely surreal as we’d never expect to win something like that. We were judged by various prominent figures in music who we’d looked up to our whole lives so the whole experience was just a bit crazy. We ended up at an after party hanging out with all these mad people with a free bar and champagne having a mad one in Hamburg. Our team is quite small and super close knit so it was amazing to share that experience with them! There’s a Cornish pasty magnet on there too which is quite special as it is where the band really started to begin. We used to go down to Cornwall, and kick about for a week or two, mainly to busk but we’d skateboard around and live out of tents. It was so wholesome and in doing it we started to believe that this could be something actually worth pursuing. I remember vividly coming home from that trip feeling so psyched. It was definitely the inspiration we needed to just start doing anything we could to spread the word.
Jake: I think it could have been a side effect of Covid really, we lived in Berlin for that whole time all together and it was such a mad experience.. we had moved to a completely new place, away from everyone and everything we knew and within weeks a worldwide pandemic hit. Having had some time now to look back I think it shifted a lot of people’s values. It definitely did mine. We’ve since moved back to the UK so I think that the cyclical themes came from a period of time where we unconsciously were reflecting on and processing the past few years. Even now looking back it seems so vague, almost like a dream, as it was so far removed from our everyday lives here.
Rob: I think as we’ve grown as a band we’ve been introduced to so many new, talented people from all over the world. Everyone has a widely different approach to creating music and there is so much you can take from the way other people do it. I think it was a natural progression to start experimenting and seeing how our sound can evolve with the help of other great songwriters and producers. It tends to push any boundaries you have whether you know them or not and keeps things fresh. When we finish music we always tend to do that just the three of us, so at its heart the music always stays a really true reflection of us, we just have inspiration from further afield and the music across the board becomes more eclectic. I think we kind of see it like going out and collecting songs and bringing them back to craft at home.
Rob: So looking back I have absolutely no idea how we managed to pull together ‘circular motion’ out of a 4-hour songwriting scramble with our mates Kawala. A good catch-up was high on the priority list that day, considering the first time we met them was when we were all blind drunk toe tapping to Bombay Bicycle Club at Barn on the Farm fest that summer. I think the fact that we had no expectations and we were all totally relaxed allowed for a proper upbeat and groovy tune like circular motion to appear. And putting that together was a real highlight of making this EP.
Jake: Well I think the place/situation you’re in completely inspires what you make, we were locked down inside, cut off from a lot of friends and family so I think that was why WYLE came out that way. We don’t talk about it or think about it much whilst we’re making music but when we started bringing the album together we realised that in the absence of new life experiences, we started to naturally gravitate inwards, and a lot of themes of WYLE became very introspective. Since then obviously everyone has regained much of their freedom to travel and experience life properly again so I think that has impacted us and the music that comes out. I still personally cherish music that bares the soul in some way but I think we’re maybe surrounding that with more positive and outgoing ideas as we’re now getting to live a bit more.
Jake: Well when you play a lot of shows you get a pretty good insight into what kind of songs and feelings really connect with big audiences. When writing I always love imagining how people will feel experiencing the song at festivals. I think without realising it probably creeps into so many of your subconscious decisions. Maybe most of all it makes me strive to create feelings and lyrics that I feel will deeply connect with others and reflect the truest form of what I’m experiencing at the time. To be able to share something like that with people you don’t know is incredibly special and feels like one of most human things you can experience.
Jake: Yeah it’s crazy really!! It’s hard to fully get your head around. Knowing that people are so keen to come and see us play the music we’ve created feels amazing, it’s very humbling when you think about it for more than a moment. We of course get nervous as the shows get closer as we want to make sure we give people something memorable, a moment of escape that can hopefully inspire them with whatever may be going on in their own lives. Whenever I go to shows I often come away feeling that way so we hope to be able to give that to people. It does also get us really excited to release ‘Home Soon…’ and also to keep releasing more music as it really feels like there is a growing community of people who are becoming more and more invested in the music we’re making