In the midst of a pandemic that has affected every individual differently, L.A.’s Cassandra Violet constructs a beautiful, eclectic album that has since grown and taken on multiple meanings. ‘Maybe it’s Not Too Late’ is the debut album for Violet, who is also a teacher in Boyle Heights. Produced by M83’s Joe Berry, it was half recorded before the pandemic hit and LA went into shelter at home orders; the latter was written while Violet was at home and recorded in a makeshift studio Violet created for herself in her closet.
After seeing how the pandemic affected her students, Violet became determined to finish her album and spend time on her art, inspired by the perseverance of her students who showed up to class despite the challenges of online learning and an unsteady time during the first wave of the pandemic.
The sudden arc in everyone’s life provided Violet with the space to really think about what she wanted to relay to the world with her new music, and how she could offer it up to those in need right now.
“This work is deeply personal to me as it’s been my saving grace after teaching 8 hours of Zoom classes to LAUSD students, many of whom have been heavily impacted by the pandemic,” Violet notes. ”Though teaching has been extremely difficult this year, despite many obstacles my students continue to show up to class. And they have really inspired me to show up to create my own art. This album is centered on society’s expectations of women and even domestic cosplay, but it’s dedicated to my students and anyone who needs an escape right now.”
In this way, many of her songs take on a duality where her art is used for multiple purposes. She crafts careful lyrics and pairs them with upbeat pop sounds, both informing and uplifting her audience. Starting off with a short and simple instrumental melody, she dives into “Tick Tock,” a song about how the seeming ticking clock of time weighs on her as she struggles to figure out what is important to her despite the things society says she should be doing right now like having babies and getting her life “together.”
In “Britney,” Cassandra Violet switches from her own life to focus on the recent revelation that Britney Spears has been heavily handled throughout her entire life and has suffered under this controlled life. She sings from a first person perspective, laying out all the hard work, strength, alleged abuse, and hope that someone will free her.
From there Violet sinks into “Hollywood” a do-op of a song with a misleading upbeat melody and laced with a heavy critique about the city and its underbelly.
In “Swim Test,” she sings of a steadfast determination despite the obstacles, penning the song after a story her father told her about doggy paddling his way through a swim test to get into college even though he didn’t know how to swim. Dedicating this to her students, the song grows in meaning to encapsulate her students strong wills in the midst of worldwide adversity.
Cassandra Violet also dissects the psychology of social media and how even though it was supposed to bring everyone together, it has actually made her feel negative emotions. In “Superbloom” she touches on how a person on social media can become obsessed with the fear of missing out as opposed to actually enjoying the experiences in front of them, affirming the thoughts of American writer Susan Sontag who wrote, “Photography is become one of the principal devices for experiencing something, for giving an appearance of participation.” In a similar fashion, Violet asks in her song, if, in the wake of social media, has one even seen the superbloom if they didn’t post about it?
From biting questions about society and how we conduct ourselves to self-reflection and growth, Violet puts together a strong piece of work that is as faceted to the real world as it is deeply personal. It’s an amalgam of personal thought and critique, packaged in upbeat and inventive tunes.
Words: Patti Sanchez