pursue: cassidy waring

In September, I celebrated one full year of freelance life! With it, came an overwhelming feeling of relief, pride, and a brand new wave of fear. My loved ones, with beautiful intentions, flooded me with congratulations and spoke to my courage, but I still felt lost within my own thoughts and in a vortex of creativity that can only be described as a self-imposed sophomore slump. Rather than hiding inside my head, I reached out. Over the next ten volumes, you will come along as I speak to humans who inspired me with their ability to pursue their dreams despite fear. I have no idea where this project will lead me, but I’m in for the ride, and I hope you are too. Each piece is meant to be a snippet of a conversation held between two people and with it comes its quirks.

My first subject popped into my head easily. I met Cassidy three years ago when we both worked for an alternative school in Vancouver. As a huge music fanatic myself, I admired from the start how she created her own music, wrote harrowing lyrics, and played a truly unique instrument. Our paths diverged as she pursued her music full-time and I remained in the safety of my 9-5, but meeting up with her recently, in my own photography studio, it all felt full circle as we babbled about life in a creative lane.

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Alright girl, you ready? Here’s scary question number one… introduce yourself.
My name is Cassidy Waring and I write songs, I sing them and I perform them.
OH DANG! Leading off with such a strong answer!
[Laughs]

Do you feel like there was a moment or person in your life where you felt the calling to make music?

Yeah, I’ve always felt it! When I was a kid, I was always singing, writing songs, and making plays. I was always performing - when I was old enough to do it, I was gathering neighbours onto my front lawn and performing acapella songs that I wrote. Like, it was ridiculous, I would go door to door and ask if neighbours wanted to come see a show for 10 cents a ticket. My parents would come around from gardening in the backyard and there would be neighbours lined up with their lawn chairs on the sidewalk. I have a picture of it somewhere! [giggles] I love picturing baby Cassidy singing her heart out on the makeshift stage!

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So yeah, I’ve always been doing it, but there was definitely a moment where something just switched and I started doing it [music] professionally. When I moved to Vancouver, I thought I was moving here to act. I had sang a lot and done musical theater, but I didn’t write songs. When I moved here I started going to open mics with my autoharp and then I fell in love with song writing and writing to help me get through things. I used to write in so much metaphor that you’d have no idea what I was writing about and now I allow myself to be a little bit more straightforward. For me, I’m getting less scared of saying what I really mean.

I realized I wanted to write songs and perform, but I was always a little too scared to really go for it. Then, when I left a solid job and I went through a big break up, I started thinking: “I don't know what I'm doing for work, I don’t know what I’m doing in my personal life, I just don’t know what I’m doing” and I was like  “What do I wanna do? What do I have?” I want to be playing songs. I started writing a bunch and I started booking shows myself and got over my fears and I took a job that wasn’t a career building job so that I would focus on music otherwise I wasn’t gonna do it if I didn’t make the thing in my life the main priority of my life be music. Since then, I’ve only taken jobs that pay my rent that aren’t things that I want to really pursue, it has the be the vehicle to allow me to make music. Since then, music has been a much more professional thing for me. Sorry, that was a really long answer. What was the question? Did I answer it? [Big laughs]

What were some of the fears or factors that stopped you from pursuing it?

It’s very vulnerable.
It really comes down to not feeling good enough, not feeling worthy, why would people listen to me? What’s so great about what I’m doing that people would want to see and hear it and connect them to what I’m doing? It’s so much easier to live your life doing things that you care about, but don’t feel like such a big part of you. You’re keeping your distance from showing your heart to the world. I think that’s scary. I knew I would be sharing really personal things all the time. I knew I was going to fail over and over again at different things, before I figured it out. I had a lot of fear around my ability as a musician since I don’t play a traditional instrument [autoharp]. I think it all comes down to not feeling good enough and believing that your story is worth telling is a really hard thing. That’s a constant battle.

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I get it. It’s hard when you’re comparing yourself with everyone else. I do the same thing on the daily! I look at the photographers I admire and wonder why people choose me when talent like that exists in the world!

It’s hard because we live in a world where we only share the best sides of us on social media. I don’t know about you, but when I go through Instagram, it’s equally inspiring as disparaging because I’m constantly comparing myself to other people. Learning to just feel happy for other people instead of feeling jealous or knocked down - that’s a challenge that I think about a lot.

Funny you brought that up. How do you think technology or social media has impacted being a musician today?

It’s made it easier in a lot of ways I think, when I’m trying to book a show I can send them my Instagram and they can instantly see how active I am, how many people I’m connected with, what shows I’ve done, and how I present myself as a musician. I think it’s made it so much easier because it’s so easily accessible. It can be such a great tool for being discovered and to discover other artists. It’s a way to constantly compare myself to others, if that’s the way I choose to think. It’s hard to remember that you don’t see the full story - you only see what people are deciding to show the world. You don’t see how much everyone is struggling and how everyone has the same insecurities and everyone has stuff going on that you aren’t aware of. Just because it isn’t on Instagram doesn’t mean it’s not there.

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It’s funny you say that. People always say “You’re doing so great, I’m so proud of you! You’re so busy!” and I say “I’m really good at looking busy on Instagram” and if that’s what you think I am, it’s because I’m trying to portray that.

And I’m the exact same way! People are always like - You are so busy!  Oh my goodness! You’re doing so much. Yeah, that is what I’m putting out there on social media. I am busy, but I think I look busier than I am.

For me, there are some projects I put out there than can come across as a paid gig or what not, but really it’s a personal project, a favour for a friend, or something that really I’m doing to heal the soul. I don’t correct it, I just let it sit as it does on the internet.

Yeah! I’m constantly posting pictures where I’m filming a video or in the studio, but I’m not putting it out there that I can't pay my rent or I’m not getting paid for any of this! This is all donated time for the love of it. All of my band members are so committed and so lovely, but I can’t afford to be paying them to be in the studio and they’re doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, for the music, or because they want to be a part of the project. That’s also not something I’m putting out on social media. I’m not explaining that I’m asking people to donate their time and energy and I’m so grateful for it, but it is presented in a way that looks more impressive.

Yeah, I feel you. It feels like that that’s the game we need to play though…

Absolutely! And that’s going to get people to go on your social media, see how busy and professional you are, and that’s gonna get you another shoot, or me another gig. With my last project, Bad Strangers, we were a brand new band and I pumped out social media stuff. We put so much time into the social media presences right off the bat that people would hire us and ask us how long we’ve been a band and we’d say a few months and they would be shocked. It is a bit of a game - but I don’t mean game in a bad way - it is strategic, it is planned, it’s not random.

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What do you feel is your proudest moment as a musician to date?

Just because my last band broke up, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a successful venture. I really jumped into that project more than I jumped into my solo stuff. I had never booked a cross Canada tour, and I just jumped in, had faith, and booked a 50 show tour. We were going to make an album and I had never made a studio album. I kept pushing myself to not be terrified of it! Now, this is allowing me to take more risks with my solo project. Like, I’ve decided that I want to play with a full band, but I was always too scared to ask 6 other people to be in my band! I’m getting over that fear now. I don’t know if there’s one certain thing that I’m proud of. I think it's the constant waking up every day and choosing to keep going, even if it’s scary.

How do you handle writing or creative blocks?

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Not sleeping? [Roar of laughter] Sometimes, it all comes out at once and I try to take advantage of that. Blocks happen! I don’t think I handle it very well. I will just torture myself and stay up all night trying to get out the feeling  I’m having inside through a song. Another way is connecting with my body - dance! If I feel connected to my body then I feel connected to my mind. When I take care of myself, that’s when things start to unblock and open up. Sometimes I do that, sometimes I will stay up all night and try to force it out. It works sometimes It’s not the healthy thing to do.

Real talk, girl! Do you ever feel like you need a back up plan?

Yeah, I did a couple years ago. I love working with kids and I really enjoyed working at an alternative school. I used to have that as a career path and music will be the side hustle. But is that what I really want? Of course, I really love working with kids and I will always want that in my life in some capacity, but music is my priority. Ever since it switched in my head, I haven’t entertained the thought that I will be doing anything else - which is crazy, but maybe not. I feel like it’s the only way that it will happen. That’s the only way it will move forward. Do you have it in your head that you will do something different?

I’m not entirely close minded to teaching again. I’m not against it and I’ve realized that maybe I need to make that switch where the side hustle is teaching and the main gig is photography. But, now I’m starting to feel like if I have back-up plan, I’ll use it.

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What would you say to someone who is standing on the ledge?

Ahh. Just freefall. You’re never gonna know unless you do!

What’s the worst that happens? It doesn’t work out, you realize you don’t like it, or it’s really hard! The worst is you go back to doing something you were doing before. Unless you decide that you are going to be fully committed, then you’re not making the space in your life for those things to come in and support you. You need to make the space in your life for things to happen. I had a fear that what if I found out that this isn't me.  I think there’s a fear that just dreaming about it is more exciting and feels better than actually doing it because it’s a lot of work! It’s a shit ton of work! I read something the other day “Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” but it’s do what you love and you’ll work so hard because you’re going to have to work very hard to make it a reality and that’s what makes it worth it. Yeah, you’ll have to work so hard and it’s going to feel so good!

I really think it’s a mindset. Who else is going to believe in you if you don’t?

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You can find Cassidy all over the internet. She has a super fun instagram, which will let you know where her next show is. You can listen to her full-length album with Bad Strangers on Spotify. Her newest single, Hard Done By, made it onto my 2018 playlist and was belted in full volume countless times in my car. Support her by listening to her jams, seeing her live, and all that good stuff!