We had the good fortune of connecting with Cassandra Violet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cassandra, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
This is a tough question, especially now that many people are working from home, myself included (as of this moment). It’s been a lot harder to get inspired to write my own music at home, since I’m home all day, and there is no cutoff between where work ends and relaxing begins. I often try to officially “get dressed” for the day and then change into sweatpants when I’m done working, since wearing sweatpants all day makes me kind of depressed. It’s also tricky because I’m both a high school teacher (in Boyle Heights with LAUSD) and we have been doing distance learning for almost a year at this point. I am also a musician putting out my debut album, independently. So, there is a lot of “administrative” type stuff and small reminders that I often forget to do and then end up doing at night. Such as this interview! Distance learning is hard, and everyone is feeling pretty bad at this point that we are learning through a screen. But we are waiting for our vaccines to go back to the classroom, so it’s just a waiting game at this point, and it seems like we are almost there. I remember when my home was a place where I could find inspiration, light a candle, write a song, water my plants. It is still those things, but the monotony of it gets overwhelming sometimes. Buying cheap flowers helps me get through the day. That honestly does a huge amount for my mood and feeling positive. Now that I am thinking about it I should write off flowers on my taxes. I feel like they are that essential for working at this point! As far as work life balance, I am usually pretty good about it, in “non-panny” times. I have always appreciated having a job with a lot of structure and hard boundaries around when it was happening and when it was not, and I would try to get as much done at work and not take it home. These days, if I can get up and go on a run in the morning before I start working, I consider my day a success. I think everyone is kind of trying to find the motivation to keep going, and wondering how we used to be so motivated. How was I such a bottomless fount of motivation? I can barely put on jeans, let alone teach all day and then go to a show at night. I used to do that all the time. So anyway, to balance work and life, change from one less comfortable pair of pants during the day to sweatpants at night and go on walks sometimes. That’s it. That’s my answer.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think of myself as a storyteller first. I have often been called “quirky,” but I think that’s because I write both heartfelt and witty songs, and I am also a whistler, and people want musicians to be categorized. I think I am more multidimensional than that. I write about my life and sometimes I write from the point of view of other people as a form of therapy, I guess. What I am currently most proud of is recording and finishing my debut album, produced by my friend Joe Berry. I have always wanted to record an album and we did it! We did it. It chronicles my anxieties of the past few years (ahem, my whole life) and my hopes and dreams. Someone once told me, to succeed in life you have to be the most hopeful person and the most cynical person at the same time. I think that can be applied to almost everything. The album is both hopeful and cynical, but I think that optimism wins. The album has a lot to do with the anxieties and the pressures and trappings of domestic life, of being a woman, and my desire to be free of those pressures, but my inability to reconcile what that means. It’s also just a really great record that I am super proud of. You can listen to it and go on a real journey.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Okay. I’m going to imagine it’s pre-pandemic. First, we go to the Huntington Gardens, we wander around and maybe get some tea. Then, we go to Roma Deli in Pasadena and pick up the sandwiches there. We drive to the beach and eat our sandwiches. Then we have a sunset cocktail at one of those overly priced rooftop bars next to the ocean. Then we drive back and go to a show, maybe at Resident, they have a great patio. We get some late night tacos in Echo Park. Looking at that itinerary, that is way too much driving for one day and I did not plan it out very well. Basically: food, beach, music.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to all of the teachers out there who are working so hard to make sure their students get the best education possible right now. You are doing a great job!
Photos by Anna Azarov