Black cat magic

Curse of Cassandra conjures dark,
danceable grooves at Yellow Cab


Curse of Cassandra’s Jake and Nichole Richter lead the “witch dance”

By Tim Walker

What images come to mind when you think of the word ‘witch?’ Because if pointed hats, green faces, broomsticks and black cats have anything to do with that mental picture, you really need to get out of the house more often. Witches, these days, are anything but old and ugly— now celebrated as mystics, in touch with the Goddess, bold and sexy and connected to all the powers of nature and the universe, your basic witch in the modern era has a lot more in common with Stevie Nicks and Björk than with that old hag you recall from Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

Well, except for the cat part.

Curse of Cassandra is a dark electronic music duo comprised of keyboardist and bass player Jake Richter and singer Nicole Richter. Based in Cincinnati, Jake and Nicole write and perform what they call “witch dance” music. They travel the countryside in an RV with their two hairless Sphynx cats, Armand and Asia, weaving a spell of sexy, darkwave music in clubs all across the land. Their most recent CD contains no fewer than 7 songs named after a famous witch from the past.

Nekonomicon is the new album we have out,” says Nicole Richter when speaking to the Dayton City Paper recently. She, Jake, and the cats were still in Chicago, having performed a show at Underground Lounge the night before we spoke. “It’s like the Necronomicon from H.P. Lovecraft, but neko is the Japanese word for cat, so it’s actually ‘the sacred book of cats.’ A lot of our music is inspired by cats… we have hairless cats, and we use Sphynx cats in a lot of our symbols and iconography.”

Curse of Cassandra will be bringing their feline magic to Yellow Cab Tavern this Saturday, April 7 as part of the Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret XIII: Masquerade variety show. It will definitely be a memorable evening of entertainment — also on the bill for the night’s performance are all-original electronic duo Echo Mecca, belly dancers Troupe Roja, aerial artistry from Femme Fatale Fitness, a burlesque performance by Troupe Hëxa, and fire dancing with Skye Amos Wolf and DaShane Starfox. Additional music will be provided by DJ V Ral, and the 21-and-up show starts that evening at 7 p.m. Costumes are encouraged but not required, and tickets are still available.

“Some of my favorite tracks on Nekonomicon,” continues Richter, “are Circe, Bellatrix, and Grimhilde. Every song on the new album is named after a witch from either mythology or fairy tales. And then each song tells the story from that witch’s perspective. I’m into pagan spirituality as sort of an open idea, and essentially what we tried to do was acknowledge the history of witches, and what they’ve symbolized throughout different ages and centuries, and try to bring that back into a modern context. To elevate them, as opposed to demonizing them. So through the music, we’re just trying to bring out the elements that continue to fascinate people about the idea
of the witch.”

“We call the genre ‘witch dance.’ So there’s ‘witch house,’ and we’re ‘witch dance,’” the artist explains. “Which is like fast dance music that has that dark, ethereal aspect to it.” Curse of Cassandra’s previous album release, Cult of Cats, came out in March 2016 and was very well received, receiving airplay on over 70 radio stations across the nation. The success of that album and the band’s 2014 album Night, along with a very well-supported crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, pushed the band to reach new artistic heights while recording Nekonomicon.

But why, I asked Nicole, did they choose the name Curse of Cassandra?

“I named it after Cassandra,” she said. “A Greek myth, a princess of Troy, who had the ability to see the future. She had that gift of prophecy, but no one believed her, and that was her curse. She predicted the Trojan War and things like that, but everyone thought she was hysterical. So that’s the paradox of having knowledge but not being able to use that knowledge because no one believes you. So I kind of see her as a witch, and it all goes back, for me, to how women’s knowledge has been treated throughout history. It’s almost a metaphor now.”

I cannot see the future — and, like Cassandra, you wouldn’t believe me if I could — but I think it’s a safe prediction that Curse of Cassandra, along with Echo Mecca and the rest of Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret XIII’s lineup, will be putting on an incredible show this Saturday night. Meow. 

Curse of Cassandra and Echo Mecca will be performing at Yellow Cab Tavern on Saturday, April 7th as part of Ye Olde Yellow Cabaret XIII: Masquerade. The show starts at 7pm and is 21+. Tickets are $15 in advance, or $20 at the door. For more information, visit www.yellowcabtavern.com

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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