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Vandalism interview: Exploring New Avenues

Author: Cyclone
Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Melbourne dance scene is breeding one crossover act after the other. The UK-based Bodyrockers have savoured international success with I Like The Way. Closer to home, Rogue Traders have recast themselves into viable chart raiders after a rocky beginning. And that celebrity DJ Grant Smillie is recording with Ivan Gough as TV Rock. Now we have Vandalism...

As it happens, Vandalism is the brainchild of Vicious Vinyl co-founder Andy Van, whose Madison Avenue blew up at the start of the decade. Van has developed Vandalism with Kam Denny of 16th Element fame and they've recruited vocalist Cassie, who, in the tradition of pop icons like Madonna, is exclusively using her first name. The vivacious Cassie is the voice behind Vandalism's premiere hit, Never Say Never. It's a sure-fire electro-punk bet - with especially frisky lyrics (check out the line "I might like you better if we slept together"). If Cassie is inexperienced when it comes to the interview process ("it's my first time around," she confesses), then she's picking it up quickly.

Sports types will recognise the singer from the program Slam as she was co-host. "It was the Slam basketball show on Channel 10, it was on Saturday mornings after Video Hits, and it was a behind-the-scenes TV show. I co-presented with another guy and we'd take the basketballers to the Big Day Out or the races, all different things, showing the other side to basketballers 'cause there's such a big fanbase out there."

Cassie, also a dancer, was cheerleading for the Melbourne Tigers at the time. "I danced for the Melbourne Tigers, so they'd come and film me doing that as well, and I'd present from the Melbourne Tigers games sometimes."

However, Cassie does have credentials in music - aside from dancing. She's performed with Girl Mansion.

So how did the aspiring star meet the Vandalism DJs-
"I've known them for a long time. They liked my voice and really thought my voice would suit the track [Never Say Never]. We put it down in five minutes and it just sounded great, so then they spoke to each other about whether I'd be good for the band I really wanted to join and so then we made a classic decision - and now we're a group, Vandalism, and so it all started with the song!"

Vandalism are working towards an LP in the same vein as Never Say Never. The combo have been touted as electro-punk-funk. "That would be right - like electro-meets-rock-meets-funk, all different types," Cassie affirms. "We don't really wanna put the album into one category but, if it was to be, it'd be electro-rock. We're still writing at the moment, so we may come up with some other ideas, but that's where we're heading at the moment."

Punk is again in vogue, albeit in a relatively innocuous form. The 'new' punk is more about style - and a sense of play - than overt aggression or railing against the establishment. The video to Never Say Never features a dude with a mohawk, to Cassie's delight. It's all very ironic...
Cassie concedes that she's into rock. ("I am a bit of a rock chick.") She is currently listening to Franz Ferdinand. She's bought a David Bowie 'Best Of' ("I love his lyrics"). And she's a No Doubt fan.

What's it like for a rock chick writing with two DJs-
"So far so good - we all work really well together," Cassie responds. "I record mainly with Andy and then the three of us get together some days and sometimes we work by ourselves - like I'll be writing lyrics.
"It's different on each song. Sometimes Andy and Kam will come up with the music together and I'll write the lyrics over the top and then sometimes Kam and I will write a lyric or Andy and I..."

"It's different on each song, but basically we work by ourselves and then we come together as a group."