[Interview] Keepin' It Cheesy With KSUHDILLA
BOD tries to keep its finger on the pulse of the Denver EDM scene so it's no surprise we've kept a close eye on the moves that Hannah Cassera aka KSUHDILLA has been making. It seems like she popped up out of nowhere with a brick of cheese in one hand and a mixer in the other. Although, she's been putting in work and earning her stripes like no other. That said, she is no doubt on the quick come up. In a very short time, she's gone from just a basement warrior to tearing up venues and festivals all over Colorado. As a result, she has picked up quite the following along the way and it seems to be only the beginning of a movement.
Not many DJ's can say their career started out by "DJing" for a classroom of middle school kids lacking the motivation to do their work but hey, we all have to start somewhere. Peculiar but nonetheless, it was a start. It seems pretty fitting also, considering there isn't much about KSUHDILLA that could be considered ordinary. On top of that, most great success stories start out with some sort of humble beginning. Gone are the days of just being the amped-up BASSment DJ at parties with close friends. She's taking her talents out into the world and there's no doubt she's making a name for herself.
Speaking of names, the first thing that may come to your mind when you see her name is the movie, Napoleon Dynamite. The movie has some great lines in it but one of the best is, “Knock it off, Napoleon! Make yourself a dang quesadilla!” The way Napoleon's grandma says the word quesadilla (kay-suh-dill-uh) is the way KSUHDILLA is correctly pronounced. Consequently, if you approach her after one of her bass'd out sets and mispronounce it, she won't mind:
"It’s fun and cheesy and an ice breaker when people ask me how to pronounce it."
That quote is a perfect embodiment of the type of person that Hannah is. She's very laid back, silly and likes to keep things extra cheesy. You may be wondering what's up with all the cheese? Well, that's just a small part of her personality that she likes having shine through within the context of her unique artistic expression. However, there is much more to the DJ/producer extraordinaire and she took the time to let us get to know her better, giving us a deeper look beyond the cheese.
BASS'D Out DNVR: Describe the time when you fell in love with bass music. What are your favorite genres?
KSUHDILLA: My friends got me into EDM about 5 years ago. Feeling the energy of the crowd and the intensity of the music allowed me to get lost in the moment and use it as a therapy for all the struggles in my life. I love all genres of music but my favorites are dubstep, riddim, bass house, and funk...anything bass music really!
BOD: We have a mutual friend, SHUA, who told me a story about you wanting to learn to DJ. Is it true? How long have you been DJing for? What made you want to be a DJ?
K: I started my DJ career as a first-year teacher at a middle school in Grand Junction. Some of the students were refusing to do their workouts so I offered to play motivating music to get them to agree to participate. I had no desire to be an actual DJ at that point. Then when I started going to shows/festivals I realized I loved making a set or playlist for parties we would have at the house I was living at. This house had a basement that was pretty sound proof so we were able to throw parties without disturbing the neighborhood. We started calling it the BASSment and I started DJing pretty regularly using a free program and my Surface Pro 3 laptop. My friends, as well as random strangers, would come over and we would have themed parties, raffling off tickets to pay for the beer everyone was drinking and giving away silly prizes like fake mustaches and glow sticks. People started telling me I was really good at keeping the energy and flow of the night going. I really discovered my passion for making people move and be physically active through the power of music. My first paid gig was at the middle school, in which they paid me in a Sports Authority gift card. I had no equipment just my laptop.
BOD: Seems like you’ve been on the quick come-up; how have you been able to build your brand up so quickly? What advice would you have for DJ's looking to expand quickly like yourself?
K: Honestly, coming into this I had no experience in business or the music industry (I have a teaching degree and license). I have worked hard at being myself and discovering what makes me happy and everything I do in life is meant to spread joy and love. I try to educate myself on whatever it takes to make my environment a positive one. People enjoy being around someone who is down to earth, stays true to themselves stays humble, and works hard. I have entered a lot of competitions and contests in the hopes to get feedback and it has in return opened the door for huge opportunities such as playing my first festival last year at Global Dance Festival when I came in second for the Global DJ Competition. I communicate with a lot of artists and any time someone says “who wants to play this, tag people, etc” I am all over it and I make sure people know I am here and ready to throw down! I show up and support my fellow Dj friends in the industry- I also make funny and cheesy posts regularly on social media to keep my audience engaged and up to date on everything I’m doing! I probably get tagged in about 3-5 memes about cheese a day. Not only that but I also have merch (some of which I have personally tie-dyed) that helps promote my cheesy brand. I even thought of a cheesy idea to take the 200 clothes pins I had from teaching, paint them yellow with paint I already had, and write #keepitcheesy on them and have my friends pin them on people at shows. That hashtag was started by my first manager and it has paved the way for my yellow cheesy
BOD: I heard another crazy story about your alias and quesadillas. What’s that all about? How mean are your quesadillas?
K: My name started after a really fun party in the BASSment. The next morning I woke up and made a quesadilla on a paper plate. I accidentally spun the quesadilla and maybe just the adrenaline from the night before made me make a silly Snapchat taking a selfie and “scratching” the quesadilla like a turntable. “What’s up I’m DJ quesadillaaaaa” was all I said and it was all over after that. Because of that joke, my friends started actually calling me that and I would always reply “stop calling me that, I’m not a DJ! I’m just some teacher playing music in a basement.” I never thought that I would be where I am when I made that joke. My friends really were the ones who made me have the confidence to pursue something I quickly started having a passion for. I owe it all to them! When I finally decided to own the silly name, I sat down with my best friend Megan. She told me I needed to make my name memorable and at the time “Suh Dude” was very popular and I also would use the quotes from Napoleon Dynamite a lot. We wanted to make it sound like it does when the mom says, “Go make yourself a dang quesadilla”. So it started at DJ Quesadilla (pronounced normally) and then it quickly transitioned to DJ KSUHDILLA (pronounced Kay- suh - dill- uh). To this day people still aren’t clear on how to pronounce it which is so funny to me because some people have called me KUSHadilla. I love weed - don’t get me wrong - but it’s definitely not pronounced that way. It’s fun and cheesy and an ice breaker when people ask me how to pronounce it. -My quesadillas
are average. I really need to step my cooking game up. They have come a long way though!
BOD: Describe the vibe you get when you perform live. Do you remember the first time you took the stage in front of a crowd?
K: Honestly, my vibe is different depending on the show, location, and what’s going on in my life. For the most part I try to get lost in my set and be as real as possible. For me it’s therapy for what I’m dealing with but I also take into consideration everyone else is there to do the same thing, take a break from reality and have a good time! I am very active when I DJ – I will shuffle, headbang, jump, drop it low, laugh, cry, scream, and get out all the energy I can! It’s such an intimate thing to be in front of a crowd and be as genuinely open as possible. My first time actually playing for a crowd was at a bar in Grand Junction. I was up on the top level and the crowd was downstairs. There were a few equipment issues, and because of this all I could hear was my friends screaming for me (I was glad they couldn’t see how nervous I was). My first EDM show was at Mesa Theater where I opened for Crywolf and PLS & TY. The owner asked me to play “chill house” and I remember playing more melodic dubstep and mostly house, however, they gave me 10 extra minutes so I decided to drop some heavier bass music. 'Bass Head' by Bassnectar was my closing song and I had the whole crowd going crazy because they wanted a more heavy set due to the rest of the evening being more chill.
BOD: What’s the hardest part about being a DJ in the Colorado scene? What do you love about the Colorado scene? What’s the hardest part about being a producer?
K: The hardest part about being a DJ in the Colorado scene is not getting consumed in the negative politics. I try to work my hardest and build positive relationships and surround myself individuals who are honest, positive, and hard working. I love that there is SO much creativity and inspiring artists out there. The support I receive from fans and fellow DJ's is so overwhelming sometimes. The hardest part about being a producer is I have no background and so I have to teach myself tricks and tools to learn as much as possible. Also my confidence with being so new and not feeling like I have really discovered my unique sound yet. It’s discouraging most of the time but I’m learning how to balance my creativity and time with making money, playing shows, and production – and I guess having a social life.
BOD: I’ve caught a few of your live streams on IG. Is that something you like to do often?
K: Going live on IG has been one of those things I enjoy doing because it helps me perform under pressure more effectively. Sometimes I just want to share what it’s like when I’m freestyling in my room, usually when I’m having a really bad day or a really good day. There will be a lot of emotion in those bedroom live sets. That’s when you truly hear how I critique myself because you can hear me saying, “Wow that was terrible,” or, “OMG that was amazing." If I go live at a show, I feel like it allows a lot of family and friends that don’t live here see me play, and I love that. Technology is good in that way!
BOD: Your FB page has some videos of you working out at Red Rocks Amphitheater. How into fitness are you? What else are you into outside of music. What would you be doing if you weren’t DJing?
K: My new #RedRocksChallenge is something I started because I wanted to stay active (now that I’m not teaching physical education). In addition to that, I wanted to set a goal to go there as many times as possible to help train my mind and motivate me to one day play there. Everyday at noon my phone alerts me that I am going to play at Red Rocks and from there I say it out loud: "I am going to play at Red Rocks". When at the amphitheater I go up onto the stage and look up at the stairs and try to envision my closest family and friends there having the time of their life. All I can say is that I cannot wait until this dream becomes a reality! I know I have a long way to go, but I'm working every day to reach my goals- If I’m not doing music-related things then I am working for Instacart, hanging out with my two puppies, doing any art related projects, long-boarding/biking/hiking or anything outdoors really- If I had never gotten into DJing I would probably still be teaching. Now though, I don’t know if I would ever go back to the public education system. I don't believe that what they are doing for students is what's best for ALL students. It’s a shame because I love teaching, no matter if it’s physical education, sports, music related or really just anything I’m passionate about!
BOD: Are there any artists out there that you’d like to work with in the future? Any events you’d like to perform at?
K: I have a few projects started. Jenvoix is allowing me to remix one of her songs off her album – let me just say, her voice is so amazing and it's what I listen to get me through the hard days. Snuffy the King and I have a collab right now in the works which I’m really excited about- There are so many locals I want to work with, but I do not want to head in that direction until I am confident in my sound and with what I'm putting out. A few that I would like to work with though, are local artist V3NUS, Scarlitt, Wav-E, Braxx, Kalatana, Hazardous Tofu, M-Port, Green Matter, Betawolf, Exzached, and many more. Bigger touring artists (which would be a dream) include: Bear Grillz, Boogie T, Lucii, Sippy, Illenium, Alison Wonderland, Arius, Spag Heddy, Dirtysnatcha, and Griz.
BOD: Any comments? Shout-outs? Future projects? Upcoming events?
K: I want to thank everyone who continues to support me on this journey. I had no idea it would even go this far this quickly! I have so many production projects halfway completed but...
"I am taking my time to really focus on quality, not quantity. I have a pretty busy couple of months coming up - come by and come get cheesy with me! Also doing a wedding in June! Can’t believe I get to be a part of someone’s special day again! Such an honor."
Much love to KSUHDILLA for checking in with Bass'D Out DNVR! We love her energy and look forward to seeing where her career leads her. Be sure to catch one of her sets live and follow her at the links below. Don't forget to blast the guestmix she did for the BOD Podcast until your speakers blow. Listen below!
4/13: ??? Special Guest appearance at one of my favorite spots in Denver ???
4/19: Church Nightclub: BASSment SoundWAV Session #006: B2B w/ WAV-E
4/26: Church Nightclub: BASSment SoundWAV Session #007: Headlining w/ an all-female lineup
5/3: Larimer Lounge: CRANKDAT, Moonboy, and Pwnage Method