Shoplifting with Cassandra Jenkins

Rough Trade Records

June 26th, 2024


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“I just have a deeply personal relationship with this record because I have a jazz dad. I think a lot of my friends have Steely Dan dads but I got a jazz dad. So jazz dad passes on to me.

Eloquent storytelling with beautiful sonic intricacies, Cassandra Jenkins makes some of the most inviting music we have come across in this past decade, leaving us eager for more since the release of her stunning debut An Overview on Phenomenal Nature (a Rough Trade Albums of the Year 2021 top 10 title). In 2024, Cassandra makes an anticipated return with My Light, My Destroyer, her second album and first on new label home Dead Oceans.

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A soothing dreamworld with astute observations and warm humour, My Light My Destroyer thrives with Cassandra‘s familiar blending of genres (folk, ambient pop and found sound), idiosyncratic yet graceful, keeping the whole album sonically fresh whilst wielding some new musical tricks.

We asked Cassandra down to Rough Trade East for our Shoplifting series and gained an incredibly rewarding look into the singer-songwriter’s diverse inspirations and many influences. Taking place just ahead of her Rough Trade East in-store and first London show in two years,  Cassandra was joined on stage by Glaswegian band LYLO (including Rough Trade East’s own Justin Allan on drums) who have accompanied her on a couple of her EU tours in recent years.


Having a ‘jazz dad’, Lou Reed Halloween costumes and De La Soul. Cassandra Jenkins shares a selection of favourite books and records and the personal connection she has with them.

Miles DavisKind of Blue

I wanted to go super classic here and get Miles DavisKind of Blue. This was one of the first records that my Dad gave me. I think it was when he was sort of starting to recognise that I was developing a taste in music of my own. And it wasn’t a record that we listened to a lot in the house, but it seemed like had come from his personal vault of records that meant a lot to him. So it felt like a rite of passage when he gave it to me. It was given to me alongside Joni Mitchell‘s Blue, which I tried to shoplift, but it seems everyone else has already gotten there before me. I love that he chose to give me two classic albums with the colour blue in them. I just have a deeply personal relationship with this record because I have a jazz dad. I think a lot of my friends have Steely Dan dads but I got a jazz dad. So jazz dad passes on to me.


“I’m just being so greedy. Is that okay? I mean, once you open the gates of Shoplifting, it’s really hard to stop.”


Rebecca SolnitMen Explain Things to Me and Other Essays and Wanderlust: A History of Walking

So I got really greedy and I decided to grab two Rebecca Solnit books. The first one being Men Explain Things to Me, it popped out on the shelf. I love her writing so much. It has influenced the way that I just moved through the world. This is also why I picked up Wanderlust: A History of Walking. Men Explain Things To Me I feel a personal connection with because there’s a chapter called ‘Cassandra Among The Creeps’, so you know, I feel like she really understands me (laughs). London too, is such an incredible city to walk around. It gives me a special appreciation for the art of walking. I know it’s been written about in this city in particular. So to be here and think about walking as an art, it is really special. So yeah, I wanted to pick this up while I was in London specifically. I’m just being so greedy. Is that okay? I mean, once you open the gates of Shoplifting, it’s really hard to stop.

So I’ve also grabbed another book called Stargazing, which, you know, this never gets old. It’s a little pocket guide to stargazing, which I really know nothing about. But I would love to know more. I just opened on the Cassiopeia and I just feel very understood by these books. Stargazing is something I’m trying to invest more time in these days. I wanted to appreciate the fact that Rough Trade has a book section. It’s amazing. I kind of was surprised at how crazy I went for the books. I was just kind of like dragging them off the shelves!

Lou Reed Transformer and Coney Island Baby

To be honest, I was looking for Lou Reed‘s New York because I’ve been thinking about that record a lot recently. But these are two records that I’ve listened to endlessly. I had the pleasure of performing as Lou Reed on this album and doing a few songs from this album for Halloween with friends of mine in Chicago who have a country music night called the Cosmic Country Showcase. I decided to go full Lou Reed and did the makeup. I actually recreated the jacket that’s on the cover, which is a velvet jacket with this hand beadwork on it. I drive myself crazy. But now I have it and I love it. I like to go all the way with Halloween costumes, I love to really commit to the bit. And so I listened to this album endlessly over and over again. It was really good to revisit it. We performed Satellite of Love which was maybe my favourite. I had in my band, not only a full band but a choir, which included a shrimp, an alien and a cowgirl. So that was just an unforgettable moment. This record just means a lot to me too. I loved the collaboration between Lou Reed and Bowie. I think as a young person listening, as a teenager listening to this record, that really transformed my idea of what music making can be and my idea of those two artists and how they shaped each other’s careers and each other’s music so much. This album really changed the way that I think about recording.


“I love these guys so much and I’m so proud of them, so proud to be their friend and I love this record.”


Cassandra on stage at Rough Trade East, accompanied by her band, members of LYLO.

LYLOThoughts of Never

Last but not least, this is Thoughts of Never, by the band LYLO. We’ve got some incredible songs on this record. This is a band from Glasgow and I love them dearly. They’re good friends of mine, and they happen to be playing in my band tonight at Rough Trade East. Track nine is called Downtown which features yours truly. They performed on Friday night at the Servants Jazz Quarters, it was a brand new record, most people hadn’t heard it yet, but by the end of the first song everyone in the place of singing along. They are such an incredible live band and they have a sort of contagious energy about them. That’s really exciting and you can’t help but give yourself over to it. I love these guys so much and I’m so proud of them, so proud to be their friend and I love this record. It’s the best they’ve ever made and they’re still so young. I think they’re on to the next one already… yeah, I love these guys.

Cassandra Jenkins with our 3 Feet High and Rising poster at Rough Trade East

De La Soul 3 Feet High And Rising

I just spotted this poster and I was bummed that I hadn’t shoplifted this one. This is a record that I’ve listened to endlessly. There’s one song in particular, I don’t know if the title is called ‘dandruff?’ (Can U Keep a Secret) It’s been stuck in my head endlessly lately and just kind of keeping me going. I think there’s such a sense of humour in their music. It’s been really influential to me and I just love it so much. Yeah, that’s it!

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