EP 19: About the Power of Music, Struggle and Honesty w/ Ryan Cassata
Updated: Jun 30
Ryan Cassata is an award-winning singer-songwriter, actor, performer, writer, LGBTQ activist & motivational speaker based in Los Angeles. With features in GRAMMY.com, Rolling Stone, Billboard, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and The NY Daily News, Ryan has made the most of his career, which started when he was just 13.
Cassata speaks at high schools and universities on the subject of gender dysphoria, being transgender, bullying and his personal transition from female to male, including a double mastectomy surgery in January 2012, when he was 18 years old.
Billboard Magazine called Ryan a “true force in the industry“, put him on the "11 Transgender & Non-Binary Musicians You Need to Know" list, and premiered his award-winning music video "Daughter" which has been viewed over 800,000 times.
Some Questions I Ask:
- What is growing up in the position you have? And how has that impacted your life?
- What are the 3 constants in your life that have been the foundation of your success?
- What’s the one thing you think we all should experience at least once in this lifetime?
- In your song Jupiter you sing about your soul was meant to be free, what does freedom mean to you?
- What have you learned through your journey that you can tell someone who’s struggling to find their place in the world?
In This Episode You Will Learn:
About spirituality, overcoming addiction, the 3 pillars of his success, what is growing up in the position he has, how that has impacted his life, a very emotional moment during the tour, the source of his inspiration, and much more.
I’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and I honestly feel that when I’m performing is like my break. I get a break from that anxiety for a minute. Whatever that is, 30 minutes or an hour I feel I get to be my best self. I don’t know if it’s because of the adrenaline or because I’m most connected with myself when I’m playing music. When I’m on stage something takes over and after that, I’m able to socialize with whoever comes to the show.
When I was 15 I went on the Larry King Live Show and I came out to everyone at once by going on that show as trans and I also became someone that the LGBTQ+ and trans community knew and at that time there were not many people that were out as trans especially not young people. Going on that show it put on a position where I was high profile in the trans community overnight, following that I went on Tyra Banks and the media just never stopped.
As a teenager that was a lot of pressure for me, and I don’t regret any of it at all, I really see it as a gift because I’ve been able to connect with so many people and live my dreams but in those initial moments, adjusting to that was really hard.
For example, in high school people never wanted to hang out with me or even talk to me and then as soon as I went on all those shows people wanted to talk to me and be like: I show you on TV I’d like to hang out with you!
Being on TV shouldn’t be what makes you wanna hang out with me. I’ve realized very young that some people just want to talk to me because of the numbers and not because of who I am as a person.
My true friends, I keep them really close, they are the ones who know what’s going on on a day to day basis. They have been there forever!
This year I opened up about my fibromyalgia and then a lot of people came and said they had the same. It’s interesting that these things that we keep to ourselves we don’t really need to keep them to ourselves. Other people are also going through it and other people need to hear about these things so that they could feel less alone too and then maybe they’ll share their story and the people they know will feel less alone. It just kind of snowballs like that.
I do consider myself a very spiritual person as well and that’s something a lot of people don’t really recognize about me. I talk about God in my songs and people think I’m saying it as a metaphor. This album that’s coming out it’s very spiritual, it’s about queer love and it’s about and a lot of dark topics but there are a lot of God references and I hope that people will really listen to it and hear that stuff.
I really get inspired by my own personal life and my own journey. I’ve had a lot of struggles with mental health and there have been people that have been able to empower me and help get through those things.
The three constants in my life that have the foundation on the success I have right now are:
- The support that I’ve gotten.
One of the most supportive people has been my mum, she bought me my first guitar, my first guitar lessons, she drove me on my first tour because I wasn’t old enough to drive. That encouragement is so important and fundamental to get to the next level.
- My sobriety.
This month of March 2020 I celebrate 6 years of consistent sobriety of drugs, alcohol, and even marihuana. That’s something that’s also made me way more spiritual as a person, more clear-minded, very goal-oriented, very focused, very driven, I’m not lazy at all, I work around the clock. Maybe I’m addicted to working but it has served me and it serves me well.
- Being open and honest.
A lot of artists are afraid to share truthfully and authentically and open up about things outside of the music, or things that are influencing the music that the fans might not know about and I’ve been extremely open all my life about everything that I’ve gone through and everything I go through. That openness has allowed me to connect to people on a human level and to build a solid fan base too. I just put myself out there and I love to connect with people which has allowed me to build a solid foundation.
There a lot of things we should all experience and it’s interesting because my mind is going to hard things because I think feeling empathetic towards people going through your own personal experiences opens your mind and that would help people to love each other more, respect each other more and support each other more.
Things like hard breakups, heart-break, being discriminated, that’s something I’ve experienced a lot based on who I am in this world. That sucks but it’s also made me a more empathetic person, it’s made me an activist, it’s made wanna fight for human rights, it’s made me understand things that I don’t even personally have a part of, things like immigration.
The struggles that we go through in our lives help us to be more empathetic towards others. Everything we go through good or bad it’s experience and can eventually be used to help others no matter how terrible it feels in that moment. All pain, all struggle helps to grow, understand other human beings, and love each other more.
I never want to drink or use drugs again because I think doing that is an illusion of freedom that doesn’t serve me anymore, it causes destruction in my life and the people that love me.
I’m grateful that music has the power to change the direction of someone’s life and empower someone enough to just keep going another day, keep going another year.
My message to the world if I had to leave the planet today would be to live your life being of service to other people instead of only looking out for yourself. I wish people were more compassionate, more kind, and accepting. Be there for each other and stand with each other in the struggles.
Connect with Ryan:
If my work is uplifting or assisting you, donations can be made at paypal.me/missfirestar ~ thank you! 😎❤️✨