Interview: Ryan Cassata
Ryan Cassata is a transgender pop /rock singer-songwriter, activist, and actor based in the Los Angeles, originally being from the Long Island area. He has been featured in outlets such as The Rolling Stone, Buzzfeed and Billboard Magazine, and has received awards for his ongoing LGBT activism. We chatted with Ryan on his upcoming tour, public speaking, activism, and more.
EL: When we swap new artists with each other, we like to play a game. We pick 3 bands to ascribe the artist's sound to. Which three would you choose to describe your sound?
Ryan: people have said... Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello.
EL: How does your approach towards performing music relate to your experiences as a public speaker and advocate? Is it a similar process, or do you try and keep them separate from each other?
Ryan: I combine them when I can. I play music at almost all of my public speeches. It's a good way to get the crowd to connect to me and then open up. I also have a lot of songs about being queer. One that comes to mind is "Shine On."
EL: You're a YouTuber as well. How does making videos compare to touring or speaking?
Ryan: YouTube is something I do for fun. I don't know if I would call myself a youtuber. I do it to educate people and make people more aware of the transgender community. I also do it to help other young queer people. Youtube videos, I can do for fun. Touring takes a lot of effort and energy.
EL: Much of your career is centered around helping others. Is that part of your goal while writing music, too, or do you tend to write more for yourself?
Ryan: I write for everyone that will listen. My main goal is to take people away when they hear my music. Everyone has crap going on in their lives and sometimes you just need to listen to music to forget it all. Live in the moment. Music cures.
EL: You're venturing out on tour next month! How does being transgender and identifying as queer affect the touring process? Does it impact where you tour and who you tour with?
Ryan: I have never been told I can't play a venue because I'm transgender. I've been welcomed everywhere I have wanted to perform at. However, I make sure to be very careful when I'm in more conservative places, like the Bible Belt.
EL: Recently, you acknowledged an article of ours focusing on the allegations made against PWR BTTM. How do you feel the situation has affected the LGBT community?
Ryan: I'm devastated. I loved PWR BTTM. I think this is very bad for the queer community but we shouldn't let it define us. I hope another band comes out that's as influential as what they were doing on stage.
EL: The word ethos describes the basic morals that form one’s customs in creating their culture. Describe your ethos as an artist- what makes up your cultural input?
Ryan: Punk rock, beatniks, hippies, and queer people.
Interview by Courtney Brunn
You can find out more about Ryan Cassata, including tour dates, music videos and more, on his website. You can subscribe to his YouTube channel for any upcoming content. You can download his most recent album, Shine, here.
Ryan Cassata was featured on our LGBT Artists Spotify playlist, which you can stream here.
6/30 - 7/2 This Ain't No Disco @ Poughkeepsie, NY
7/4: Oneonta's Hometown 4th of July Celebration @ Oneonta, NY
7/6: Ham & Eggs @ Los Angeles, CA
7/7: Mutiny Radio Cafe @ San Fransisco, CA
7/7: House Show @ Oakland CA (Email for Address)
7/9: House Show @ Sacramento, CA (Email for Address)
7/13: House Show @ Silverton, OR (Email for Address)
7/14: House Show @ Portland, OR (Email for Address)
7/15: House Show @ Seattle, WA
8/23: LGBT Festival Akron at Jilly's Music Room @ Akron, OH
9/3: 7th Circle Music Collective @ Denver, CO