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New Music Friday: Cassini Circles

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Northampton/London electronica trio Cassini Circles are slowly emerging into the light, dropping their latest ‘Halfway’ with a great video. New Boots caught up with the ladies for the back story.

Who is in the band?
Shannon Kait, Jo Burns-Russell and Yoshe Watson. Yoshe and Jo are our producers, with both of them using ableton live with various control devices. Yoshe also plays keys and flute, and Jo has a TR8 drum machine we use for some songs. Shannon is the lead vocalist, with both Yoshe and Jo on backing vocals too.

How did you guys get together?
Jo originally joined a band Shannon was previously in called Fugues as a DJ/Producer about 3 years ago. Over time this evolved to being just the two of them working with some of the other elements form previous members in a more sample-led way, evolving as we went. With Yoshe joining the project we felt it was time to give us our own new identity, although there are still some Fugues songs in our sets, we’ve adapted them and made them our own,

What has changed as you move to a trio from the original duo of Fugues?
We’re developing a heavier sound, more dancey and adding more live instruments too. The sound the three of us create works really well. It has its own unique feeling too it, and having three of us sing in unison is quite powerful. Oh yeah and also more space focus, bringing in actual Nasa samples and getting nerdy with it. Our live set tracks the journey of the Cassini Satellite on its epic mission to Saturn. The space concept is something you’ll see in our artwork and videos too. We’d eventually like to have a light show element to our live shows to incorporate this more one day.

Tell us about this new single and accompanying video, ‘Halfway’.
‘Halfway’ was recorded around the time of the first Extinction Rebellion, and this was a big influence on Shannon’s lyrics and the video. I think the song combines both the more drifty ambient style of some of our earlier songs, but then builds up to some really heavy-hitting drums which are more in line with our newer work so it’s a nice representation of our musical journey. For the video we wanted to bring in some of the areas around ER and the climate crisis – it became quite abstract in the end but we were projecting natural disaster scenes from the client crisis on to us in a studio where we all did some movement and dance, and this was then transformed into a space journey, reflecting both the Cassini theme and the lyric “why don’t you meet me halfway to the moon”, which is about the lack of response to the crisis from government and business. Yesh, lots of levels! We worked with local producer Chris Lowe on the video, and it was a marriage of ideas from us all.

What are your live shows like?
We’re still pretty new to playing live, but we’ve really found our feet recently, adding in three-part singing sections and the flute which has helped bring it to life. It’s hard as an electronica act to find that balance of not just pressing buttons and engaging the audience. But there are lots of buttons and lights, kind of like a spaceship (see a theme here!)

What has been your favourite moment of the past year?
It’s hard to choose; probably between getting the most beautiful pep talk ever from the legend that is Barry Ashworth [Dub Pistols] at the Craufurd Arms….. or when we first started directly sampling Nasa sounds – that excitement of turning moons and weird sounds from the Cassini mission into drums and basslines – ultimate nerdiness!

What was the last album you bought/streamed?
Yoshe: Grimes Miss Anthropocine
Jo: The Cinematic Orchestra To Believe

What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have for the rest of 2020?
We’ve got another single dropping really soon, we’re just finalising the mastering and hopefully we’ll get a video for that sorted too. Other than that we just wanna play loads of festivals tbh. Maybe a gig in space, that would be very ‘on brand’ for us. Maybe when Grimes and Elon Musk inevitably colonise Mars we can play the opening night.

‘Halfway’ is out now. The group play The Black Prince in Northampton on March 21st.

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