You may know Cassadee Pope in one of three incarnations: There's the former frontwoman of Warped Tour pop-punk outfit Hey Monday, the winner of NBC sing-off show "The Voice," or the country act with a gigantic range and a penchant for breaking records only previously set by one Ms. Taylor Swift. Whatever facet of hers you're familiar with though, Cassadee Pope is an Los Angeles-by-West Palm Beach artist that's taken an atypical route with an au natural approach -- if you just go to the heart of country music, good music will follow.
"With a lot of sessions that I've been in elsewhere, [it's] just not that natural," she says. "It starts off with a drum loop, or someone's already made a track and they kind of leave the room and let you write on top of it. That, to me, is much harder, it's not as organic. Nashville does it the way that I think it's been done for so many years and that's why it works so well."
Taking on a Southern mindset, at least in terms of her writing style, has done wonders for Pope and helped to establish her stance in country music. "Wasting All These Tears," her debut solo single, has been certified platinum and her debut LP, 2013's Frame By Frame, dropped at #1 on the Billboard US Country chart. Pope's prizes have come at a price, though: Many feel that she doesn't deserve such rewards with "The Voice" having been her launching pad.
"[People say] more-established artists like myself and a lot of other people on the show shouldn't be doing 'The Voice,' they should be giving the people with no experience or people that haven't had any opportunities the opportunity now," she explains. "I wish people would think about that a little more before they say things because the people that been through the grinder and that have been at it for a long time, like myself, we have a lot more to lose than the kids that haven't had a chance yet."
She's quick to note that the inclusion of both experienced musicians and young blood alike are what "makes 'The Voice' so special," but while most outlets credit the show with Pope's first foray into country, she actually grew up on the genre, learning Loretta Lynn and similar legends at a young age while spending summers with family in rural Vandergrift, Pennsylvania.
The small town gave her some of that communal Southern feel without having to be in the South, and her hometown of West Palm Beach shared more than a few climate similarities with L.A. One dynamic aspect that Pope had to learn with experience came with the inception of her solo act, long after summers spent deer spotting in Pennsylvania with her grandfather -- these lessons showed themselves on the stage instead.
"The one thing I've realized the most is to not be afraid of silence in between songs because you just need to take a breath and just know that not every little pocket of silence is going to be filled," she says, laughing. "I think that just gives people room to just take it in."
Because of her musical credibility coming into country, however disparate and artistically removed it may be in the eyes of some detractors, Pope's revelations are the product of being seasoned at 24-years-old.
While most musicians her age are still cutting teeth or just finding their feet, she's taking on the stage dynamics of an artist beyond her years and applying them with the finesse of someone who knows touring intimately. After all, Warped Tour should teach you a thing or two, but being able to apply those years of experience to new waters with grace is another challenge entirely. She seems to have figured out how to do so to great effect already.
"I learned to go with your gut," Pope explains. "You're so quick to second-guess yourself and the kind of music you want to do, and what [you] can do to surprise people or shock people, but that's really not the question you should be asking. You should be asking 'What do I feel comfortable doing? What defines me as an artist?' If you're not sure about it, if you're not comfortable doing it, you probably shouldn't do it. You should probably stay comfortable."
Cassadee Pope is scheduled to perform at Country Thunder 2014 on Friday, April 11.
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