Meet Cass Beau, audio engineer, songwriter and producer, who works across many different genres and styles. Their favorite part of the process is getting to write songs, and then helping with the production and mix to get the song to its finished state.
November is trans awareness month and we’re honored and inspired in sharing Cass’ story and perspective. When sharing or commenting, please use the pronouns they / them or he/him. It may feel like a separation for some from our strictly female guests thus far; however, part of Women in Vinyl’s mission is to be allies to all marginalized groups in the industry. Based on the fact our most recent podcast episode had issues with certain hashtags like #transawarenessmonth on huge social media platforms, just shows we still have so far to go.
When Cass isn’t helping to create your new favorite ear worm, they say: “I love boxing! Boxing is a nice offset to the sedentary job of audio engineering at a desk“. They also love reading, walking their dog with their partner, going to shows, consulting the tarot deck, and cooking meals for friends. “Creating a live-work balance is a challenge for me sometimes but I am always trying to learn and get better at fostering it in my life“.
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you to get into it?
I always knew that songwriting mattered a lot to me; I started writing songs in my early teens and eventually I realized how much artistry and power happened behind scenes with production. The first moment I remember thinking “I want to learn to do that” was when my piano teacher recorded me singing in his home studio when I was 14. Later on after starting to do live sound for my own gigs and for friends at around 16, I got fascinated with the gear and signal flow in engineering. The motivation for me was definitely in realizing how many components work together to make songs “work” or get finished, and most of it is in production and engineering. That’s what pushed me to keep learning about the technical side of things.
What is a day in the life like?
Whew, it’s never the same day to day! Right now my work-life balance is in flux, and I’m focussing heavily on producing and writing music for libraries and songs for pitch. Every day I make green tea, then coffee with my partner, and walk my dog in the park near our house. Mornings are usually for emails, meditating, and figuring out the priority of tasks for the day. Some days I’ll be going in to a studio to record or edit, and other times I’ll sit editing perched at my kitchen table. I’ll often work 6-8 hours with breaks in between, from around 10 am until 7pm. Timing always varies depending on the project, client and workload.
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
The coolest thing I’ve worked on was actually something that I got to be a part of as a participant, the BeAGirlConnected song camp this past August 2021. I was hired to engineer writing demos made by my friend, the producer Jeia, and several artist-songwriters. We were up at Collabo Camp, which is a dream and a half, and got to focus all our energy on writing and creating ideas together. The vibes were just so elevated and special because of how beautifully the weekend was put together. It was incredible to be working in such an artistic and supportive environment.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
I think there is a myth of scarcity in the music industry that is indicative of a greater fear of scarcity within the capitalist world we exist in. So much of music work is unregulated and freelance, which is ok, but it means that people are both proprietary and exploitative when it comes to resources, opportunity, mentorship and connection. In my experience this is a major barrier for so many people trying to create in music; and so coming up against this, time and again, along with the systemic issues of wage inequity and lack of benefits/coverage (for things like mental health and dental) means the culture in music lacks these basic frameworks of support.
To me, this is the most difficult part of working in music: the structural issues we all face and struggle with, that alienate us from being able to practice our crafts with security and safety/wellness as something we can prioritize.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Find a mentor! Or at least don’t be afraid to network and ask people who do what you’re interested in how they got started. Meeting people in my community through events and online platforms helped me gain confidence in my first couple of years starting out in the industry.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
I am a vinyl collector but my collection has dwindled since my turntable broke a few years ago, lol. Vinyl to me will always be the epitome of ‘cool’ for music, it is such a beautiful and involved way to listen to music (compared to Spotify, etc). I think the notion of transferring something that’s physical and moves through our bodies like sound, into etchings on wax is just never not going to be incredible to me.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about?
In music I am actually really excited to see how people are mashing up genres and production styles all over the place with songs in the last year or so. It’s really exciting to see people create irony and also maintain effective storytelling with arrangements or idiom components that contrast. I also find Tiktok audio so interesting! Zedd just opened a DJ set with a couple of edited Tiktok clips leading into the Squid Game intro. Because of Tiktok music is following this sort of meme-culture pipeline, with tiny identifiable clips meaning certain associations for listeners, which is exciting for songwriters to be a part of in the types of ideas they can use and produce in the future.
During this time we’re currently in, what message do you have for music and vinyl fans? How can we support you, the industry?
Keep experimenting, and connecting with each other. We have to keep supporting each other and making space for each other to succeed, because that’s the only way we’ll keep growth at the forefront of all our crafts.
Anything else you want to share?
Right now I love nothing,nowhere, his emo-pop production is just too tight and he’s really funny in his word choices.
Note from Women in Vinyl:
This post, and our recent The Women in Vinyl Podcast episode with Heath Gmucs of Wax Mage Records are dedicated to all of you out there who identify within this community. Women in Vinyl as allies, want to represent and provide a safe space for all, to include LGBTQ+, non binary and other marginalized groups in this industry. Be sure to take a moment to check out the organizations below for ways to get involved, support the community, and more.
November is Transgender Awareness Month
November 13 – 19th is Trans Awareness Week
November 20th Transgender Day of Remembrance
National Center for Transgender Equality
GLSEN – Whose mission is to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Human Rights Campaign – Be An Ally
TRANS RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS