By Madeline Pennington
“Shoot it’s locked. I don’t have the keys to this place…yet,” Cassidy Goff said with a smirk as she tugged on the door to the independent record label, VibeHouse.
When she finally accepted the door wouldn’t budge, she headed down the street to a quaint coffee shop called Perennial. Surrounded by plants, Goff is in her element.
Goff, a UNC-Chapel Hill student and musician, uses the stage name Alo Ver when she performs. The name is a play on the Aloe Vera plant and the phrase “a lover.” She didn’t realize the latter meaning until she doodled the name on a piece of notebook paper on a whim.
Like much of her music career, Goff insists finding the double meaning for her stage name was fate.
She hopes her music sends messages of love and acceptance to her listeners. With songs typically incorporating nature imagery and philosophical musings, her music is a crash course on what it means to love every being on the earth.
The music isn’t just about what she can give to others, though that is a priority for Goff. She’s also learned the importance of independence from years of musical collaborations that didn’t work. Goff hopes to make her listeners think critically about the world, while she works to be less critical of herself.
Finding Her Sound
Growing up in small-town Davidson, North Carolina, Goff was surrounded by music from a young age. Her father had a college music career of his own, playing drums in a band called The Strugglers. He encouraged her to pursue music and gave her a banjo, her first instrument, at the age of 13.
The banjo attracted Goff because she loved the folk-band The Avett Brothers and cited them as one of her inspirations. As she explored her music more, she picked up guitar and piano along the way.
Before discovering Alo Ver, Goff formed a musical duo with her friend in high school. The two recorded and distributed a CD together.
However, she and her music partner parted ways before the end of high school. Her friend felt Goff was more serious about the project than she was. What was a hobby for most freshmen in high school was Goff’s passion.
When she began college at UNC-Chapel Hill, Goff again sought out music collaborators. She landed in the popular campus band, Web Threats. Still, she didn’t feel inspired by the jazz-influenced music.
She sang. She performed. But she waited for something more.
The day she found her footing as Alo Ver, she’d been walking home with her friend Ethan Taylor. The two had been working on more experimental tunes, and Goff was enjoying the electronic sound and collaborative process.
On their way home, Goff and Taylor threw around band names until Taylor threw out Alo Ver. It stuck.
But yet again, the partnership didn’t last. Taylor wanted to be a front man more than he wanted to produce Goff’s music, so the two split.
Though it was difficult at the time, Goff is grateful for the splits she has gone through. It has taught her how to rely on herself and trust her own creative voice.
Goff’s silky soprano tone lilts over layers of ambient noise to create a full-bodied soundscape. In her most popular single, “Planet Earth,” her voice soars through the bridge of the song in a melodic, bird-like caw.
She builds worlds with her music and wants people to access deeper questions through nature. It is as if she becomes a modern Thoreau, if he had been interested in avant-garde music, encouraging her listeners to find themselves away from the bustle of daily life.
Her mission was amplified when she joined the VibeHouse 405 team during her sophomore year of college. After splitting with Taylor, she was directed to VibeHouse by “a friend of a friend of a friend,” as she puts it.
It was at VibeHouse that Goff shifted from a solo student to an on-the-rise artist recording a full-length, professionally produced album.
She started at VibeHouse as an intern, helping out when needed and occasionally snagging studio time when she could. The owner of the recording studio, Kevin “Kaze” Thomas saw something special in Goff and gradually gave her more studio time.
Thomas mentored Goff in all things from music to spiritual guidance. Goff laughs calling him her “manager and guru.”
She can’t recall the moment when she became an official VibeHouse recording artist. Thomas just began calling himself her manager, helping her record her new singles. By the end of the summer of her junior year, she had a contract signed.
Practically unparalleled ambition combined with a natural empathy make Goff an unstoppable force. The cheers from the crowd of her 2018 album release concert ring in her ears as inspiration to work harder. More than that, her need to question things drives her to create.
So what’s next for Goff: A 20-year-old who casually reads philosophy books like “The Power of Now” in her free time and who buys clothes for herself and her performing alter ego?
To start, she’s adding a full band to the Alo Ver project. Though she’s enjoyed playing her songs with backtracking, she thinks a band could give her the same layered sound she has in her recordings live. Chapel Hill musicians Knox Engler, Tommy Vaughn and Patrick Lydon will add their instrumental talent to Goff’s singing. They plan to start rehearsals in late April.
She has a much larger stage on the books this summer. She’ll be joining rapper Rakeem Miles for a song during his set at the Firefly Music Festival in June. The Delaware-based festival is the East Coast’s largest music and camping festival with headliners that grow in acclaim each summer.
It is clear Goff’s hectic life won’t be slowing down any time soon. She fears losing motivation and settling for the traditional job market that she sees her peers applying to enter. Yet, she also can’t ever see herself giving up on her dreams.
She’s willing to trade it all for the ability to create music, and because of that drive, Goff is confident she’ll succeed. Mostly though, she views her pursuit of music as a spiritual journey and is excited to learn about all the universe can offer her.
Edited by Bailey Aldridge