Did you watch Degrassi: The Next Generation? The Canadian show was only the ultimate teen drama ever. It starred Drake (back when he was Aubrey Graham), Nina Dobrev, Shenae Grimes, and loads of others who crossed over to U.S. fame. The next up is Cassie Steele, 24, who is working with Randy Jackson on new music. Her first single “Mad” is out now, so OKMagazine.com chatted with Steele about her new music and keeping in touch with old co-stars.
OK!: When was the last time you released music?
Cassie Steele: Last year I released just a small demo, EP. My first record, when I was 14, had a single, but that was a decade ago so it doesn’t count anymore. My last solo album was when I was 19. Everything’s sort of spread out, with your acting schedule, and you write music, and you’re like wait, I don’t get myself anymore!
OK!: Why this music, now?
CS: I have really awesome, loyal fans who stuck with me when I wasn’t putting out music. This is a song I’ve had for a while, and unlikely any other song, I can still relate with it. It stuck with me, so I was like maybe other people can relate with it, too.
OK!: What is the story behind the song?
CS: “Mad” is—I feel like everybody doubts themselves for feelings they have, or being weird, being angry. You can’t be yourself because you’re always hiding what you’re really feeling. You shouldn’t feel bad just because you like to have a good time.
OK!: The lyric video is really sexy! Why release a lyric video instead of a regular video?
CS: It’s really important to me to put out a lyric video because the lyrics are really dear to me! I’m just so attached to the song. It’s kind of weird when people try to reiterate what you’re saying, or get the lyrics wrong. I worked with this band, We Are Twin, who directed it, they’re really awesome. They’re an indie band also managed by Randy.
OK!: So you write your own music. That’s amazing. That’s not very common for the pop world. Is that important to you?
CS: Yeah, it’s really important to me. I started out doing it because I loved doing it and loved to write. I started so young, it was like a hobbby. I just can’t imagine doing it any other way. I love collaborating with people! When I was younger, I was really against it, wanted to do my own thing. Later on, you realize it’s such a growing process, to work with other talented people on lyrics or melody or production.
OK!: How did you begin working with Randy Jackson?
CS: A couple of years ago, he heard my music through his daughter and called me into his office, and we just hit it off. He’s an easygoing, easy-to-talk-to guy. He’s got great insight. He never forgets a name or face. He’s so kind to everybody. It just felt like an honor to meet him, let alone work with him, and I’m really glad I did. You don’t meet a lot of people like that, you know?
OK!: What’s the best advice he’s given you?
CS: “Cass, just don’t worry about it.” I worry a lot. It’s so simple! But it sounds like he really means it. “Seriously, we got it. Don’t worry.”
OK!: How would you describe the sound of your music?
CS: Well, it’s pop. I listened to a lot of pop and grunge growing up. I think it has sort of that garage-y, grunge sound to it, with R&B underneath. But yeah, pop.
OK!: What are you listening to right now?
CS: I’ve been into a lot of spooky blues. I really love the Dead Weather. Love all of Jack White’s projects. I really love Dan Auerbach, who’s in the Black Keys. His solo album is great. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Anything with amazing bass or undertones.
OK!: Do you play any instruments?
CS: Just enough to say I can!
OK!: You’ve had fans since you were 11. How are they different now?
CS: Well, they’re grown up. Before it used to be kids. When you’re a kid, you see someone you know, you can’t grasp that they’re an actual person. Degrassi being a soap opera thing, they feel like they know you. So they get really comfortable. They’ve always been great, sweet, nice, loyal. Now everyone is just really friendly, and not intimidated.
OK!: Do you keep in touch with your cast mates? I saw that you and Miriam [McDonald] have some Instagrams together.
CS: Miriam and I, we haven’t seen each other a lot the past few years. I usually see her on her birthday, when I’m in Canada. We’ve been best friends since we were 11, and even though we don’t always see each other, we still talk. She’s still a dear friend of mine. We went through so much together. I keep in touch with other people. Shanae just directed the video for “Mad.” She’s really great. She’s got a great sense of style, taste, aesthetic. I had to film a movie last month, and I couldn’t think of someone better I could trust with my style and what I was trying to portray. We’ve known each other for a decade now. We like a lot of similar things, though she may be more refined.
OK!: What about Aubrey? I feel like you both do music, it could be a natural collaboration.
CS: He invited me to one of his shows, I guess it’s a couple of years ago now. I hadn’t seen him in years. It was really nice to connect with him. He’s such a nice guy, he’s so funny, he’s so smart. But we’re all busy. It’s hard to keep in touch with people—like I said with Miriam, we’re not in the same city.
OK!: It’s like your middle-school friends, your high-school friends.
CS: Exactly. When I see everyone, you pick up where you left off. Shanae lives right down the street from me. But she’s married. My friends are growing up and getting married and sh*t! [laughs] I’m only 24!
Did you watch Cassie Steele on Degrassi? Do you like her new song? Are you familiar with her music? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.