October 22, 2019
Tune-In Tuesdays #41: Professional Smiler Cassidy King on Being Okay with Not Being Okay
Cassidy King basks in the sunlight, free from inhibitionsSource: hi guys,… | Cassidy King
Pop artist Cassidy King explores what it means to “fake it ’till you make it” when everything’s far from picture perfect in her latest, empowering single, “Professional Smiler.”
Recently, we spoke to King via telephone to learn more about what it means to be a “Professional Smiler.” We also got a behind the scenes glimpse into the music video for the track and learned more about the vibrant, refreshingly honest, delightfully candid singer.
How old were you when you first started singing? What’s one of the first songs you remember singing along to?
The first time I sang in front of a crowd was in seventh grade. I sang “Grenade” by Bruno Mars and I moonwalked across the stage ’cause I was trying to impress a crush I had that came to the concert. I was like, “Y’know what? This’ll really get ’em.”
I remember my whole outfit; I had UGG Boots on, an Abercrombie & Fitch T-Shirt, Hollister sweatpants. It was sooo bad, but I killed it!
The first song I remember singing was “Grease Lightning.” It was like, “Goo grease lightning!” I used to get up and dance when it was on the TV.
When did you begin pursuing music professionally? What helped you realize this was more than just a hobby for you?
It wasn’t until after high school.
In high school, I tried out for the musical two times in a row and I didn’t make it. I didn’t make the choir, either, so I really didn’t think that music was even an option for me. I just knew that I really liked it.
I started writing poetry in high school because I was trying to impress a guy that I liked way back when. He used to write me poetry, so I was like, “Y’know what? This is my sophomore year, I’m gonna get him. I’m gonna start writing poetry.” I got really good at it and continued with poetry even after the crush [on him] died.
I didn’t pursue music professionally until my freshman year in college – I no longer go to college. I actually ended up dropping out because my passion wasn’t what I was majoring in.
Right when I started [college], I was living in the dorms and my friend had convinced me [to pursue music].
I used to just joke around and flip really pretty songs into “Cassidy Remixes” by singing some stupid shit. I remember one time I was doing it and my friend was like, “Woah… You can actually sing!?”
I said, “Yeah, and I really love doing it.”
Then she said, “Please, can you just try singing seriously one time? Just one time, I want to hear you actually sing.” I agreed and she took a video of it that ended up doing really well on Twitter. It went far for what viral meant to me then; it got about 50 thousand Twitter views, which was crazy at the time.
After that, a guy had DM invited me to come sing in his studio. He had a basement studio and I started there.
Right after that video, I started doing vocals for whoever I could. I was doing hooks for any SoundCloud rapper I could find locally just to get in the studio.
I’d be like, “I’ll come and sing on a hook for you. I promise I’m a good singer and I can write a good song. Let me come and put a hook on one of your songs,” and I just kept building from there.
Professionally, my first song that I dropped on Spotify was Oct 2017, so all of this is still super fresh.
I’m from a really small town where nobody really pursued music as a career. It was more of a hobby for people, so I didn’t really think it could be a thing for me until I escaped the small town I was in.
Fastforwarding to your latest single, how did you think of the title, “Professional Smiler?”
That is about me in high school. I wrote it with my best friend who I’ve known for about two years. We connected through music.
In high school, I was the class clown. I was trying to fit the picture perfect of everything.
Where I grew up, everybody had the perfect family with a mom and a dad, a dog, white picket fence, as well as a nice house. I kind of had the opposite of that.
My dad had left when I was 10 and my mom struggled financially. I was really raised by my mom and my sister.
I didn’t want to say because I figured no one would understand and I felt really alone. The more that I brought it to my attention, or to other people’s attention, the more it began to overwhelm me.
So I’d go to school, laugh it off, hide behind a smile to make sure nobody would ask [what was going on]. I was the opposite of picture perfect.
I grew up in a really, really, really small town. When I say “small town,” I mean cornfields and farms.
I also liked girls in high school, which was the first time that I had really liked a girl. I was like, “nobody can know this.”
I didn’t have a phone in high school – I had an iPod – so I didn’t know that other people who liked girls existed. I was really overwhelmed by feeling alone.
It’s passed me but it’s still relevant to me, so I wrote [“Professional Smiler”] as the story of me putting on a face for everybody else. I didn’t want people to know what was going on inside of my head.
The guy part is about one of my really good friends that went to my high school, Steven. He was the exact opposite of me. I was kinda like the popular girl, the class clown, I won homecoming queen. He was kinda like the guy that flew under the radar. He was in choir and theatre.
Steven was someone who wanted to be more like me, while I looked at him and wanted to be like him. So I wanted to write a song about it ’cause you don’t want to be me! Then he’s sitting there like, you don’t want to be me!
Online, you say you made “Professional Smiler” to help others who are finding their identity, from embracing who they are to embracing their sexuality. What advice would you give to our readers who are currently trying to find themselves?
That’s the only thing I can tell anyone. There just comes a time, and it’s in your own time. It’s not like you can just wake up and expect to be comfortable like everybody else.
I don’t think that you should pressure yourself to come out. It comes within yourself. I wouldn’t want anyone to ever feel like they need to rush themselves.
In a way, I want to put myself out there. I feel I almost have to for other people who feel the same way that I do.
If somebody were to see my video or hear my music and understand what the story’s about, they would feel less alone.
The turning point for me was really escaping the closed mindedness and surrounding myself with people who were loving of who I am and loving me for more than what I could do for them.
It really got better when I realized people still loved me. I literally used to think that people weren’t going to love me the same and that’s so detrimental. I used to worry they’d think I’m weird.
In reality, people will love you no matter what – and the people that act differently toward you? You do not want them in your life, anyway.
If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you give to yourself?
All of this that you’re going through right now is going to make sense.It always does, it always will, and it’s always going to get better. That’s just how the world works.
I still tell myself this everyday.
One day, you’ll reach a point where you can look back and say, “Oh, okay, that makes sense. That’s why I went through that.” That’s why I felt like I went through all of that with my father and my sexuality, so that I can speak for people.
I am that reservoir for people. I am that person who can help somebody feel comfortable because they’re not alone.
I think it’s a great time for music, queer musicians, bisexual musicians, however you identify. They are able to drive today because there are so many people out there who feel like you.
I want people to know that they’re not alone in anything they’re feeling.
I used to think something was wrong with me that I liked a girl. I had convinced myself that it wasn’t allowed and that I’m just gonna live my life without dating anyone. It was bad!
I’m open with talking about how I felt because I’m sure there are people out there who feel the same way. Don’t keep yourself out of how you feel.
Could you give us a behind-the-scenes glimpse into “Professional Smiler?” What went into writing and producing the song? What was it like shooting the music video?
Music video for “Professional Smiler” by Cassidy KingSource: Cassidy King – Professional Smiler (Official Video) | Cassidy King
We were actually in a studio in April of 2018. I had just had a conversation with my friend Taj, who I wrote it with. He’s one of my best friends.
I had opened up to this conversation I had with Steven about our experiences in high school and I explained that I was like a professional smiler.
Taj was like, “Cassidy… We’re making a song about that.”
It was going to be about me, but I told him about that conversation with Steven, so we decided to make it between a boy and a girl.
With that song, I knew right when the lyrics were made that it was something. It didn’t even have a beat yet, it wasn’t even finished, yet I knew it was going to change people’s life.
I remember having the voice memo of just nothing but my voice and a little bit of music and I had chills down my whole body [listening to it].
When I wrote the treatment, I sat and I cried because I was literally replaying my life. It was crazy.
I sat down for about two hours to write this whole treatment. I knew exactly what I wanted everybody to look like, how I wanted them to act. The mom killed it.
I wrote this whole script, that was kinda like a movie script in a way, based on my vision. I took it to this video producing company and I told them my story before I even showed them the song or the script. I described the story and how I needed it to be portrayed in the music video. I made it clear that if they couldn’t do that it wouldn’t work – and they agreed.
Then I showed them the song before it dropped, I showed them the treatment, and they brought the whole thing to life. We shot the music video from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
All of the people in the music video are all of my friends. Every single person you see plays themselves; I play myself, Steven is Steven. The mom is the only person we casted, along with a few extras.
All the kids at the party, the girls in the Jeep, all of those people are relevant and this is a real story. It is the most genuine, organic music video and song that I’ve been apart of it. It’s so real.
We shot it in Ohio, it was my friend’s dad’s Jeep. It was thrown together in the best way. It was really cool.
What is your favorite part about being in the studio? Are there any moments that stand out to you that stand out in particular?
I love going into something not knowing the outcome. I love not knowing what I’m going to create, it’s just really based off of the feeling I had that day, or what’s going through my mind, or how I’m singing.
It kind of feels like an escape in a way. The studio is a place that you can go to let all of your thoughts out, no matter what they are. I would 100x go to a studio instead of anywhere else. I look forward to it.
The studio never feels like work to me. It just feels like a release.
It pushes that out of me, and I don’t know how, but it takes the words out of my mouth.
What are some of your biggest goals and aspirations, both personally and musically?
Personally, to keep reminding myself that everything will make sense one day. To keep going and keep growing – not only with music or numbers, I don’t talk about numbers, but as a person.
It’s okay to grow and if you outgrow people? That’s okay, too. Don’t feel like you owe anybody anything. I want to remind myself to always surround myself with people who want to see me do well and that I want to see do well.
Musically, I really want to go on tour. I just want the world to hear me and my story. I feel like they need to hear my story, so that’s my goal.
I don’t need the world to know Cassidy King, I just want them to know the stories and the lessons from what I have to say.
What’s next for you, Cassidy? Any tour dates or additional song releases in the works? Perhaps and EP or an album?
I do not have tour dates, but I’m getting ready to release a new single in November called “Polaroid.” That’s all that I can really say right now.
Then, I’m working on a project for early next year, probably an EP or something of that nature.
Do you have any additional comments or final thoughts to share?
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