Interview with Canadian Alt/pop singer Cassandra Maze.Cassandra Maze

Q: What’s new in the world of Cassandra Maze?

A: I’m releasing a new single and going on tour this month!

Q: How was it recording your upcoming single “Wait?”

A: Amazing! I had a very clear vision for the song after writing it, so production was a relatively seamless and highly enjoyable process. “Wait” was the third song I recorded with Ryan Worsley (Dear Rouge, Van Damsel) at Echoplant Sound, so we had a solid working rhythm established at that point. I also decided to take a unique approach to recording the vocals and moved the whole operation to my home studio! I prefer to be totally alone when laying down lead vocals—it allows me to lose myself, forget my surroundings, and focus on nothing else besides conveying the song’s true essence and emotion.

Q: Would you say that the making of proper artwork for a single release is almost as important as the music itself?

A: That’s a tough question! I would say the artwork accompanying any record is important, as it provides another avenue through which to communicate the ideas and influences behind the music. I would also say that, with the rise of music streaming services and digital retailers, artwork has taken on a significantly smaller role. It’s not like the ‘70s when you could buy an LP on vinyl and have this big, beautiful piece of art to take home with you. Of course, you can still do that today, but it’s not the norm. (I actually have some of my favourite LPs framed and hung, if that’s any indicator of just how beautiful they are!)

Q: When writing a song, is there such a thing as investing too much time?

A: Interestingly enough, I think there is, yes. The songwriting process is an unpredictable animal. Some songs come easily, lyrics and music and all, while some songs entail excessive toiling, uncertainty, rewriting and more rewriting. When I hit a wall with a song, and I feel like I’ve done everything I can think of to transform it into something, I might put it away and start working on something else. Coming back to the idea with a fresh perspective is always an option, or sometimes this particular idea won’t flourish, which is okay. Sometimes it’s about the act of writing, not necessarily the finished product, that counts.

Q: Do you have any shows coming up in the near future?

A: I certainly do! I’ll be on the east coast this February, playing Stonewalls in Hamilton on February 17th, and the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on February 20th . Following that, I’ll be doing some dates on the west coast: February 25th at Studio Records in Vancouver, March 2nd at Lucky Bar in Victoria, and March 3rd at the Queens in Nanaimo. More touring is in store for May and June, and you can stay in the loop via my Facebook page!

Q: Could you describe some of your earliest influences in life and in music?

A: Gwen Stefani was one of my earliest female icons. I grew up on No Doubt, and I loved Gwen’s spunk and vivacity on stage. She truly was not afraid to be herself, and I admired that. Also, when I was about 16, my mom bought me “So Real: Songs from Jeff Buckley”. It was the first time I heard Jeff’s music and it flicked on a switch for me. His realness and rawness helped increase the emotional depth of my songwriting and inspired me to follow my instincts as an artist.

Q: How important is it for a musician in this generation to spend time on social media?

A: It’s very important. Social media is your direct link to fans new and old. If you’re not on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, it’s unlikely you’ll reach the fullest extent of your audience, and therefore you won’t do justice to the music you worked so hard to create! That being said, there certainly is a balance between spending too much and not enough time online, and I think I speak for most artists when I say actually making the music is where the majority of our focus goes.

Q: Which notable bands have you played with throughout the years?

A: I’ve been lucky to play keyboards and sing backups for Victoria Duffield, as well as Brandon Lehti, formerly the front man of The Latency. I also had the esteemed pleasure of singing on Devin Townsend’s Ziltoid 2 album, as part of the Z2 choir!

Q: What would we be surprised to find in your music collection at home?Cassandra Maze

A: Well, my parents’ music tastes have rubbed off on me over the years. Some selections that might surprise you: Frank Zappa, Steely Dan, Yes, Koko Taylor, Thelonius Monk…

Q: Your voice is a delicate instrument. How long did it take you to perfect it? What do you do to keep it strong and healthy?

A: I started singing at a young age, mostly just for fun, although I did take some vocal lessons along the way. I’ve mainly followed my intuition when it comes to singing and I learn from experience. I’m still “perfecting” my voice, and I don’t expect it will ever be “perfect”! To keep it in good working condition, I do my best to get enough sleep each night and rest my voice as often as possible. Hydration is also key. I drink a lot of water with lemon, hot and cold, especially before and during a performance. I would also say that you can’t underestimate the power of a proper vocal warm-up before singing.

Q: Any words of wisdom to share with aspiring artists?

A: The artistic process isn’t always going to be easy, comfortable or self-evident—in fact, most of the time it’s not that way—but that is no reason to shy away from your dreams. Discomfort is a sign of growth. When you feel like you’re not making progress, you still are. Even small steps forward are meaningful. Also, trust your instincts and remember to create for YOU first.

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