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By entwining her acoustic roots with gentle electronic textures, singer-songwriter Cassidy Mann finds her true voice on the upcoming debut EP, If It’s Not Forever. As a lyricist, she often reshapes a small moment into a powerful and poetic song that feels both personal and relatable. What makes these recordings stand out, though, is the way the sonic approach enhances the storyline, allowing her to share her most intimate memories in a singular way.
Co-producing with her friend Roman Clarke, Mann wanted to find a cinematic yet wistful sound to complement these emotionally driven pop songs. They achieved that effect through reverb and delay on the guitars, along with crafting lyrics about specific moments in past relationships.
“My favorite thing is to write about tiny things that make the bigger picture more important somehow,” she says. “I was wondering a lot about how two people can be in the same situation and have different memories attached to those times. It’s interesting to me how memories are interpretable that way."
Mann notes that these songs also serve as a catalogue of how her early relationships ended and why – and she hopes that other people will feel seen and comforted by her stories. While processing one particular breakup, she remembers sitting on her bed and eating the same sour candy she once shared with the person she missed. When she discovered the metaphor – “this thing that seems sweet, but also physically hurts you if you have too much,” as she describes it -- the song “Tropical Sour Candy” emerged.
She wrote “Election Night," tweaking the melodies with Clarke, to capture the intense awakening and transformation that many people experienced over the four years of the prior presidency. The lyrics focus on a couple that moved beyond just friends that night but ultimately ended as strangers. Her skill as a writer is especially clear on “Fine,” as that simple word takes on multiple meanings in the context of a heartbreak.
Certain moments in a relationship are almost always at the core of her songs, whether it’s the potential start of something special (“Since I Met You”) or the inevitable end (“Stop a Heart”). There’s also an acknowledgement that listeners can carry those important parts of the past through the rest of their lives (“If It’s Not Forever”).
“A lot of the time, whenever I’m remembering something, I find myself connected to these subtle moments that made me feel alive in some way. Those are the things that I replay in my mind a lot.”
Growing up in the Prairies of Winnipeg, Mann has been singing since she could talk. Her parents bought her a guitar as a birthday present when she was 9. By 14, she started taking songwriting more seriously and her emerging talent led to a nomination for Aboriginal Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards. Still, she felt uncertain about the next step.
“In my early teens I wasn’t sure what music was going to be to me,” she says. “I was writing and playing shows a lot but after high school I studied film for a while and worked in restaurants. I definitely meandered a bit before really deciding that this is what I was going to do.”
Her family’s Indigenous community of Sagkeeng First Nation offered encouragement and support throughout her journey-- and she notes how Indigenous tradition influences her.
“When it comes to my Indigenous heritage and cultures, it is based around oral storytelling – songs and spoken stories,” Mann observes. “That is so fascinating to me and it ties into my music a lot because that’s how memories and experiences have been captured in my culture forever. Storytelling is something I feel compelled to do. I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that that’s what my ancestors did.”
Still, in her formative years, Mann struggled to blend her introspective writing style with her love of the enticing pop influences of her generation. Plus, she often found it difficult to communicate her creative concepts to the older men she worked with in the studio. Knowing she needed to be more involved in the process, she opted to learn as many production techniques as possible on her own by watching online videos, taking courses in audio engineering, listening to older music as a study in song structure, and doing a deep dive into her favorite artists and their influences for inspiration.
“I felt like I was given permission to do whatever I wanted to do,” she says. “Becoming really involved in production is what helped me come to a place where I feel fully represented in the music that I make.”
Relocating to Toronto after a difficult breakup, Mann made a bunch of demos on her own while relentlessly searching for that certain sound. She brought the demos to Roman Clarke and they experimented on the new songs together, ultimately transcending genre and tapping into the evocative feelings that permeate If It’s Not Forever.
“When I listen to these songs now, I feel a sense of peace because I have captured the story I wanted to tell, and I’ve also captured a lot of the nuance surrounding it,” she says. “I’m telling a story of my evolution and the relationships that I’ve gone through, but this is only my version of the experience and the way I remember it. It took me a while to figure out how to express that lyrically and sonically but I feel really proud of the fact that I do think that’s pretty clear in the music.”