Panorama Bar's Cassy spins her superbly deep beats in NYC.
Tue Aug 26 2008
Photograph: Courtesy Plexi PR
Berlin’s Panorama Bar is considered by many to be the pinnacle of the nightlife mountain. A recent readers’ poll in Resident Advisor ranked the boîte the number-one club in the world and stated that the nitery (along with its sister establishment, Berghain, located in the same building) “puts nearly every other club in the world to shame with its impeccable sound, music programming and unique design.” It would be natural to assume that to become a resident, one needs the desire, drive and fortitude of an Olympic athlete. But according to monthly Panorama Bar spinner Cassy, who’s playing Monday 1 at the Sunday School for Degenerates’ Afterschool Special, subjecting a crowd to her musical whims had never been very high on her agenda.
“It took me a long time to even think of myself as a DJ,” recalls Cassy (who forgoes her last name of Britton). “I thought being a DJ was overrated, a bit too hip and just not very cool, really.” Born in London, raised in Vienna and a Berliner since 2003, the 33-year-old didn’t exactly lobby for a spot on the club’s roster. “I had always enjoyed hanging out there. I finally played there at a night that Cadenza [the Berlin label run by Luciano] was doing, and the people who run the club must have liked it because they started asking me back every month. At some point, after about a year, they asked me to do a mix-CD, and that was when I finally realized that I was actually a resident DJ there.”
That CD was 2006’s Panorama Bar 01, and it not only introduced Cassy to the world outside Berlin, it set her apart from the hordes of techno DJs that the city’s become associated with over the years. Sensuously textured and placidly paced, it had more in common with good old-fashioned deep house than the machine-tooled minimal sound that many (if not most) Berlin dance-music mavens had adopted. “When I first tried deejaying in the late ’90s, I was playing with people like Electric Indigo, Miss Kittin and Acid Maria, and those women were spinning techno. But I actually like house more, and it was a little bit frustrating, so I gradually started playing more and more house along with the techno. But it’s funny—a lot of people think that house is something that’s soft, which is complete nonsense. Real house music actually has the fattest kick drums and the strongest basslines.”
Cassy’s housey inclinations probably surprised more than a few people who came to her NYC debut this past spring at the Blkmarket Membership bash. Taimur Agha, one of that affair’s residents, was among them. “She wasn’t playing techno at all,” he says. “It was a lot of the stuff that I can remember hearing Danny Tenaglia play back in the day—nothing minimal, more like just good, very cool New York house music. It was completely different than what I expected, but it blew me away. And the crowd loved it—they were even singing along with some of the songs she was playing.”
That’s almost unheard of in a scene where vocals are sometimes dismissed as a relic of a bygone day, but Cassy isn’t afraid to include them in her sets and productions. (Her latest release, the Cassy 2 EP, features her own warm voice, lending the two tracks a nicely soulful edge.) “I’ve had plenty of weird reactions about the vocals in my records,” she admits. “But I don’t think that I’ve ever pissed off more than five people at a time when I’ve played them at Panorama Bar. It’s nice to play something a little uplifting sometimes, especially after, like, 50 monotonous tracks. I find the whole ‘no vocals’ thing sort of funny, anyway.”
Considering the recognition that comes with being a resident at Panorama Bar, Cassy still seems a bit unsure of her standing. “I’m not really conscious of my position, or how I got there,” she says. “In every creative world, you have hierarchies, and there are certain steps that you have to take to become successful. And I never really know what those steps are. But I started getting more friends on MySpace, so I guess something is working.”
Cassy spins at Sunday School for Degenerates: Afterschool Special Mon 1. The Cassy 2 EP is out now.