The Shortlist: Cassy

Cassy is one of the most dynamic DJs, with past residencies at Panorama Bar, DC-10 and Rex Club. She gives us a selection of tunes from Kwench Records, the label she founded.

The Shortlist with Cassy

When Cassy describes the improbably tricky job of balancing a career as a DJ with motherhood, she doesn’t hold back: “It was fucking hard and horrible,” she says. “I found it extremely difficult to have a baby and be an internationally touring DJ.”

It’s a subject we mull over throughout our conversation, even though when prepping for the chat, I initially crossed the question off my list, cautious of perpetuating the same tired tropes about working mums, aware that men are never asked to reflect on becoming fathers in the same way. But having lived it, Cassy feels differently.

“No one wants to talk about this stuff,” she says on the phone from Vienna, where she lives with her seven-year-old son and her mum. “But it’s tough, and you must get on with it. I could bitch about how unfair it is, but I gave birth, and I’m the mother, so I have a different relationship with my son than the father.

“When I leave home to go to work, it’s shit to leave my child behind. On the one hand, I get to spend more time with him than the average person because I’m there during the week, but then I get less sleep, and it’s almost impossible to take care of myself and my son and be on top of my career at the same time.”

Cassy DJ

But this, she says, isn’t a curse that’s exclusive to women. It’s not easy for men to leave newborns at home, and she thinks it’s tricky to remain at the top of any artistic career, regardless of gender. “I’m not saying it cannot be tough for women,” she affirms. “But the most difficult part is not what they think it is. It’s not difficult to be a female DJ if you’ve got the fucking guts, balls and stamina.”

Born in the UK and raised in Austria, Cassy has been a prolific force in dance music for over two decades. Raised in a home surrounded by colourful musical influences, she attended music school from age five before training as a singer, musician and actor. As a DJ, she’s renowned for dexterity behind the decks, a sixth sense for selecting tunes, and an innate ability to extract meaning from the intriguing, indefinable space that separates house and techno.

Feeling for a light switch in the dark, she illuminates dance floors with one perfectly considered flick, a skill that’s led to residencies at some of the best clubs on the planet, including Panorama Bar, Trouw, Rex Club and DC-10. She’s also famously headstrong and proudly outspoken, sometimes contradicting the status quo.

“It was never difficult for me to be a DJ because I’m a woman or where I come from,” she continues, in a transatlantic accent formed from stints living in multiple countries. “Never. That’s complete nonsense. There are many problems within the nightlife industry — it’s dark, and there’s a lot of shit that you see, part of which is misogyny, racism and other nastiness.


“I’m not saying there’s no ignorant bullshit going on, but I’m a woman of colour, and I’ve never had a problem because of it. Many younger women say it’s a man’s world, but I never had that feeling. It’s only certain aspects that are difficult.”

It’s an expression that could ruffle feathers, but it’s a truthful reflection of Cassy’s attitude to work, music, and life. Inspired by the talented female DJs she grew up watching at clubs in Vienna, she’s grafted to get where she is now, ploughing hours into her craft, developing a unique style in an era when DJing was respected as an art form, and tackling the challenges of being a DJ and a mother head on. She does not claim it’s been easy, but rather that the hurdles haven’t come in forms that are widely discussed and assumed for her: human experience has no blueprint.

“I have to say I am fortunate because I have a lot of mental strength and the capacity not to care what people think,” she says bluntly. “If you’re too dependent on what everyone else thinks, you will never be a happy person. And just because some people say stupid things doesn’t mean it’s difficult for me. You have to try and stay as positive as you can.”

She has had her obstacles to overcome, of course, but there’s a stubbornness within Cassy that refuses to quit, even in the face of adversity. And when things get tough, she doesn’t take it personally. There have been times when her dedication to dance music has wavered — most recently during the pandemic, but in those instances, she’s reassessed and returned to the job with a renewed sense of how to serve herself better, her son, and the scene.


“I was forced to take a step back [during lockdown] because I wasn’t into being a DJ on social media,” she laughs. “And I was really over the music. I couldn’t listen to house and techno. But allowing myself the space and time to do this was good.” A lot of self-reflection marked the period.

“At the time, I just thought, I don’t know who I am anymore,” she continues. “I always wanted to be a good DJ, and I was, so I didn’t know what else I could get out of what I was doing. I completely forgot that I was doing it for myself because, as a mum, you feel like, ‘Okay, now I have to do everything for my son.’ But now he’s older; I feel I can start doing things for myself again.”

That sense of identity loss will be familiar with mums everywhere — in selflessly nurturing others; it’s common for their roots to end up parched. But for Cassy, who was instilled with determination and accountability from a young age, settling on stalemate wasn’t an option. Over time, the love for music began to stir again. A Fold live stream featuring drum’n’bass legends Ray Keith and MC Flux played a massive role in the switch.

“I was blown away,” she admits. “The way they played and performed was exactly how dance music should be. I hadn’t listened to drum’n’bass for a long time, but it helped me get back into house and techno. I was seeing people out there who were actually for real, you know?”


Before this, her disillusionment with the industry, in general, contributed to an underlying sense of malaise; dealing with the relentless self-promotion required of DJs, especially when coming from a background that values authenticity, was challenging.

“There are so many dumb things about the business of DJing,” she laments. “And that’s difficult when you come from a school of DJing and working that respects the foundations of the art. There are organic rules, but it’s easy to become a DJ these days, and it’s shocking, actually, quite how bad some of them are. But then again, it’s a job to a certain degree and a passion to a certain degree – the same as anything.”

Cassy has filtered through these feelings with characteristic tenacity for her benefit and that of the job she adores, eventually beating down the weeds to find a way through. Perhaps it’s this doggedness that fuels her individualist mindset and steadfast belief that everyone’s in charge of their destiny — it’s certainly an attitude that’s allowed her to achieve personal and professional empowerment. Today, she’s earned the right to celebrate that progress, headlining gigs across the world as she always has but finally feeling freer to express herself again creatively. She’s having a lot of fun in the process.

“The best part is that I’m united with my records,” she says. “And I’ve enjoyed connecting with so many people and playing at many underground parties again. I’m super happy about all of that.”

In the past, Cassy has hopped between countries, switching cities at pace and thriving amid the thrill of it all. But for now, her son is settled in Austria, and her role as a mum takes priority, so she’s remaining grounded for the time being. It’s the kind of sacrifice parents often make without a second thought, personal identities laid aside temporarily. It can probably feel like you only have yourself to rely on at times.

Deep down, Cassy knows she’s at her best in motion, beating a unique path. But stillness won’t be required forever; until then, she’s listening to the internal force that’s always propelling her forward, mentally if not physically.

“I realised that if you want to change something in this world, you have to be that change,” she concludes. “And you must stop complaining and go out there and do it and be that person, no matter how dark or shitty it is. We have no choice but to be there. Do it.”


This playlist features some of my Kwench Records gems. The first track is a Ron Trent mix of a track I did with Pete Moss. Ron asked what vibe I was into, and he returned with this incredible killer remix. It is just ageless and overwhelmingly good. The other tracks are maybe less known, but the music is timeless — they are DJ tools but also tracks that are great for home listening, which I think is an incredible achievement. I’m happy I had a chance to create a label, especially as we’re now really finding our groove. Kwench is here to last!

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