Photographed by Lyle Owerko
|Birth name||Cassidy Durango Milton Willy Podell|
|Born||New York City|
|Occupation(s)||DJ, record producer, MC|
|Labels||RCA, Sony Music|
|Associated acts||R. Kelly, Robin Thicke, Jessie J, Usher|
Cassidy Durango Milton Willy Podell (born 1981) better known by his stage name DJ Cassidy is an American DJ, record producer and MC.
With his trademark boaters, cricket sweaters, bow ties, color-blocked tuxedos and 24-carat-gold microphone, Cassidy is known for his work at celebrity functions, including the 50th birthday party and 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama, and the 2008 wedding of Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Born in New York's Upper East Side, Cassidy is the son of the music agent Jonny Podell. Interested in deejaying from an early age, Cassidy describes himself as a "hip-hop kid": "When I was three years old, I would watch cult classic dance films Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. When I was five years old, I would jump up and down on my bed to Run DMC. When I was 13, I idolized Grandmaster Flash, [DJ] Kool Herc, and Afrika Bambaataa. DJing was my way of contributing to the culture."
For his tenth birthday, he asked his parents for two turntables and a mixer. He worked at teenage parties, school carnivals and talent shows; from his senior year at high school he started working in nightclubs. In 1999 he began his undergraduate studies at George Washington University before transferring to New York University, where he graduated in sociology in 2003.
Cassidy was discovered by Sean "Diddy" Combs while working the 10–4 night shift in the basement of Lotus, a club in Manhattan. Combs wrote his phone number on a napkin and asked Cassidy to call him, which led to invitations to work at Grammy parties and the MTV Video Music Awards.
As of 2011, according to Forbes, Cassidy was performing 200 gigs a year, sometimes earning $100,000 a night. He has worked at parties hosted by Oprah Winfrey and Anna Wintour, and at the weddings of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian. After he worked at the opening party in 2009 for Oprah Winfrey's girls' school in South Africa, she recommended him to the Obamas. He worked at President Obama's first inauguration ball in 2009, the president's and Michelle Obama's 50th birthdays, and at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
During performances, Cassidy uses two CDJ 2000 digital turntables by Pioneer Electronics, a Pioneer DJM-900, in-ear headphones custom-made by JH Audio, and a 24-carat-gold microphone custom-made by Shure. He has become known for his trademark boaters, cricket sweaters and tuxedos, often in pink and green.
Cassidy announced in 2013 that he was working on his first album, Paradise Royale, which he said aimed to "bring back the greatest and most universal dance music of all time," capturing the architecture of 1978–1982 dance music. Cassidy said he was bringing together a 14-piece string section and 22 of the world's most notable musicians from that period. The album was expected to be released in May 2014.
While working on the album, Cassidy created an iTunes playlist of 25 songs recorded between 1978 and 1982, then set about researching how to make his music sound like those songs. He realized that the producers had repeatedly used the same musicians to create the sound. Those are the musicians he sought to recruit for Paradise Royale.
The album's lead single, "Calling All Hearts", sung by Robin Thicke and Jessie J, was released in the US on iTunes in February 2014. It featured Nile Rodgers on guitar, Verdine White on bass, Philip Bailey on percussion and background vocals, Larry Dunn on keyboards, John "JR" Robinson on drums, and Jerry Hey on horns and strings. The video, with a 13-piece band performing on a pink heart-shaped stage, was directed by Director X and shot in London.
Director X also directed the video for the second single from the album, "Make the World Go Round", which was shot on an elevated train in Chicago. Featuring R. Kelly, the single was released in the US in April 2014. On "Calling All Hearts", Nile Rodgers played the same guitar as on Chic's "Good Times" and Sister Sledge's "We Are Family". On "Make the World Go Round", Ndugu Chancler used the same drums as on Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean".
|"Calling All Hearts"
(featuring Jessie J and Robin Thicke)
|2014||—||—||6||Paradise Royale (TBR)|
|"Make the World Go Round"
(featuring R. Kelly)
|"Future Is Mine"
|"Kill the Lights"
(with Alex Newell and Jess Glynne featuring Nile Rodgers)
(featuring Grace and Lil Yachty)
Cassidy's iTunes playlist
- One Way and Alicia Myers, "I Want to Thank You" (MCA, 1981)
- Aretha Franklin, "Jump to It" (Arista, 1982)
- The Brothers Johnson, "Stomp!" (A&M, 1980)
- Central Line, "Walking into Sunshine" (Mercury, 1981)
- Chaka Khan and Rufus, "Do You Love What You Feel" (ABC, 1979)
- Change, "The Glow of Love" (Warner Bros, 1980)
- Cheryl Lynn, "Got to Be Real" (Columbia, 1978)
- Diana Ross, "I'm Coming Out" (Motown, 1980)
- Earth Wind and Fire, "Let's Groove" (Columbia, 1981)
- Evelyn "Champagne" King, "I’m in Love" (RCA, 1981)
- First Choice, "Love Thang" (Gold Mind Records, 1979)
- George Benson, "Give Me the Night" (Warner Bros, 1980)
- GQ, "Disco Nights (Rock-Freak)" (Arista, 1979)
- Kool & the Gang, Too Hot" (De-Lite, 1979)
- Luther Vandross, "Never Too Much" (Epic, 1981)
- Frankie Beverly and Maze, "Before I Let Go" (Capitol, 1981)
- Michael Jackson, "Rock with You" (Epic, 1979)
- Patrice Rushen, "Forget Me Nots" (Elektra, 1982)
- Rick James, "You & I" (Gordy, 1978)
- Roberta Flack with Donny Hathaway, "Back Together Again" (Atlantic, 1979)
- Shalamar, "The Second Time Around" (Solar, 1979)
- Sister Sledge, "We are Family" (Atlantic, 1979)
- Stevie Wonder, "Do I Do" (Tamla/Motown, 1982)
- Teena Marie, "Square Biz" (Motown, 1981)
- Chic, "I Want Your Love" (Atlantic, 1978)
- "DJ Cassidy". RCA Records. Sony Music.
- Brennan Williams, "DJ Cassidy Shares Details On New Album, 'Paradise Royale,' And The Resurgence Of Disco", Huffington Post, 10 March 2014.
- Nicole Berrie, "D.J. Cassidy Celebrates His Birthday with Music's Biggest Names", Vanity Fair, 9 July 2009.
- For the microphone, Claire Davis, "All aboard the soul train with DJ Cassidy", MusicRadar, undated 2014.
- Claire Davis, "All aboard the soul train with DJ Cassidy", MusicRadar, undated 2014.
- Lee Hawkins, "Deejay Cassidy: Deejay to the Death Star", Wall Street Journal, 29 November 2011.
- "About DJ Cassidy", MTV.
- "Cassidy Podell (CAS '03) – World Renowned DJ", NYU Arts and Science Alumni Blog, 29 January 2010.
- Zack O'Malley Greenburg, "The Incredible Business of Hip-Hop's Favorite DJ", Forbes, 9 August 2011.
- Cecilia Vega and Eric Johnson, "DJ Cassidy Keeps DNC Rockin’: Obama’s Spin Master Behind the Scenes", ABC News, 6 September 2012.
- "Oprah Recommended Obama's Inaugural DJ", NBC, 21 January 2009.
- For Jennifer Lopez's wedding, Greenburg (Forbes), 9 August 2011.
- Hilary Hughes, "A Trip to the Tailor with DJ Cassidy", Esquire, 26 August 2013.
- "DJ Cassidy", Vanity Fair, accessed 14 April 2016.
- John D. Luerssen, "DJ Cassidy Salutes Classic Dance Music - Premiere", Rolling Stone, 16 December 2013.
- Matt Munday, "Mr disco: Friend to the Obamas, Beyoncé and Oprah, DJ Cassidy is now cosying up to the sound of the 1970s", The Independent, 9 March 2014.
- "Bio", djcassidy.com.
- Gary Graff, "DJ Cassidy's 'Paradise Royale' Album Unites R&B Dance Legends With Newer Stars", Billboard, 16 January 2014.
- "DJ Cassidy Enlists R. Kelly, Usher, & Kelly Rowland for ‘Paradise Royale’", Rap-Up, accessed 11 March 2014.
- "Calling All Hearts (feat. Robin Thicke & Jessie J) - Single", iTunes.
- "DJ Cassidy – Calling All Hearts, ft. Robin Thicke, Jessie J", YouTube; "Music videos", directorxfilms, accessed 14 March 2015.
- Edwin Ortitz, "DJ Cassidy Links Up With R. Kelly on His Groovy New Single 'Make the World Go Round'", Complex, 27 March 2014.
- "Honor (single)". iTunes Australia.