When you're not prepared to accept the barriers that may lie ahead, there's nothing stopping you from achieving your greatest dreams. Set your goals and shoot for the stars.
Cassie Davis has done just that. She's a courageous musician, determined to speak her mind and make music on her own terms while drawing power and inspiration from the line of talented and skilled artists hailing from her native Western Australia.
Cassie's debut album, Differently, encompasses everything she is as a musician, songwriter, producer and a woman. She's sassy, driven, multi-talented and has a true passion for creating songs and bringing them to life.
"In my music, my life, fashion -- I do everything a little differently," she says. "I don't do things just because other people think that's the way it should be done. That wouldn't be staying true to who I am. I've always been like this. I like being a bit odd and the odd one out."
After paying dues in local Perth bands, Cassie decided that if she was going to make it big, she needed to go straight to the top.
With her sister Emma in tow, Cassie spent years shuttling between Perth and New York and set up their own record label, 12 Stones. Emma, who manages her younger sister, is also co-owner of 12 Stones.
Early preproduction on Differently happened in Perth but Cassie later went to LA to finish off the rest of her debut album. She worked with and gained valuable advice from the likes of Rodney Jerkins (Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Beyonce), Printz Board (Black Eyed Peas musical director) and Wayne Wilkins (Beyonce, Kylie, Natasha Bedingfield, Pink) who has come to be a big influence on Cassie's writing. Differently was mixed in LA by Brian Paturalski and Dave Pensado.
Not content to be simply a singer and songwriter, Cassie is studio-savvy, knows her way around the boards and is her own producer as well as a multi-instrumentalist.
"I've always thought, 'yeah, I can do that', then I go do it." Almost unheard of for a debut artist, Cassie has produced Differently.
"I never really believed I could produce. I always thought it was a boy's job because that's only who you ever saw doing it. But one day I decided that I could do it too.
"Women are so creative and as songwriters they have that emotional thread but in production we have just stepped back. Yet production is such an emotional thing and people need to be able to feel that as part of the music. I love it when you hear a guitar lick in a song and think 'that's amazing' because it touches you."
Cassie's first single Like It Loud has surpassed gold status and grabbed fans with its infectious, stand-up celebration of genre-hopping. Now with her album, Differently, it's time to discover the other sides of Cassie.
The album's title track, 'Differently', was written and produced with Printz Board in LA. "We agreed we wanted a song which people could bop their heads to but the theme was that everyone has a way of dealing with things and what's important to them. It's about finding your individuality and the things that make you different.
"It was one of the last songs to become part of the album and we weren't even looking for a title. After it was done, we realised what a cool title it would be and it really served to pull everything together."
Cassie's second single 'Differently' features Gym Class Heroes Travis McCoy as guest vocalist. He was attracted to the song because of its overall sassiness and says it's refreshing and totally appreciates someone doing things a little differently.
"I don't model myself on anyone and I think that's what gives artists longevity and makes them stand out: when they don't follow what's cool and step outside the box," says Travis.
Also featuring on 'Differently' is drummer Phillip 'Fish' Fishbone, founding member of the seminal ska/metal/funk band Fishbone. He's worked with a long list of notables including Justin Timberlake, 50 Cent, Rihanna, George Clinton, Pharrell, Q-Tip and even Cirque du Soleil.
While there's no doubt Cassie has influences, she's filtered them through her own world view to come out with a hybrid which treats pop, rock, punk, ska, urban and gospel like favourite shirts she can't choose between. Depending on the day, depending on her mood. Whatever!
"When I am writing or producing a song, I naturally love this style or that but don't always know which way to go. So I just use them all, so I can have my cake and eat it too!"
Cassie's musical influences span styles and decades with Aretha Franklin, Mahalia Jackson and Brenda Fassie and MIA at the top of her list. She loves them because you can feel their singing deeply, to the core of your being. It's something Cassie has incorporated into her own music. 'Like It Loud' is one of those examples -- an urban pop piece of heaven which is a perfect entree to Cassie's vocal power and stylistic dynamism.
'Amazing' is a healing tonic for the soul. Written during a family holiday she didn't want to be on, Cassie spent most of it inside with her treasured keyboard composing this powerful ballad about never holding anything back when it comes to a relationship.
Cassie's childhood best friend is from Ghana and music in her house pricked the young music-maker's ears to the rhythms of Africa. Listen hard and you'll hear the infusions in songs like 'Hero' and 'Necessarily'. She also injected that influence into 'Do It Again', a song about having a night out which takes its base from traditional Ghanaian rhythm and throws in some chugging guitars.
Cassie's journey to Differently has unquestionably been about "throwing my whole self into it and letting go of everything around me".
"I have never been scared to write about things that are real to me, which includes the album's darkest song, 'Mess Of Mine'. I was going through some really heavy stuff and I talked about it and let it out. In that song, I wanted the feelings to match the production and didn't try and lighten it up."
The road to Differently hasn't been easy, but for Cassie Davis it's been an adventure in which she's learnt plenty about herself as a young woman and an artist. Arriving in LA two years ago not knowing anyone was daunting and lonely but Cassie found her feet. She forged amazing relationships with some of music's coolest identities who very naturally started to sing her praises. Their encouragement and support along with Cassie's own determination and vision got the album finished.
"'Do What I Do' was a direct result of that time, whether it's habits or people in your life that you need to let go of, somehow you keep going back to the same thing. It's a bit of a serious topic but I wanted to lighten the mood with the production, give it a Motown feel and put in some trumpets to counteract it.
"There are few songs on this album where I discovered something I wanted to fix or change in my life. But that's what happens through the song writing process -- you come to terms with what's happening in your world and realise it's not the end of the world and you can get through this. That's always how I come out at the end of a song."
Cassie Davis is a home-grown talent determined to forge her own path in music as a triple threat: singer, song writer and producer. With Differently, she's proven to have an astute and creative handle on it all.
To Cassie Davis, Differently isn't just a word -- it's a state of being.