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In this episode we catch up with CARA-MEL, an up & coming female hip hop artist from the east coast! Press play above & check out the article below! Mahalo.
Q&A with Cara-Mel;
• So let’s get to know your story. Where did you grow up? What made you decide to become a recording artist?
I’m originally from Chesapeake, Virginia. Growing up as a child, I was always fascinated with R&B/Soul music. I recall just hearing the passion and the emotion in songs by artists like Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, and The Isley Brothers back in the day when my parents would play these tunes. For me it was not just about the singing aspect of the song; I would study the lyrics and hear how they would tell a story that invited listeners on their journey. By age eleven, I started to take music in general serious; as I desired to be a singer/songwriter. However, it was my brother that put me onto Hip Hop as well as Jazz. I used to hang out with him often and he would play all kinds of music while he washed his car or was chilling in his room. I became very intrigued and one of the first cassette tapes I got from his collection was by the artist “Luke.” Oh my goodness, I was such a Luke fan! The beat and the energy of his music were amazing to me! Then came Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Rakim, Slick Rick, A Tribe Called Quest; I mean the list goes on and on. So by the age of fourteen, I started writing rhymes.
• Since everyone has a start-up point, can you give any indie or local bands or artists looking to get gigs and airplay some tips?
So, when I decided to return back to music in 2015; I set out with a goal to network and collaborate with artists from various genres. I have collaborated with a Rock/Metal band, various Hip Hop/Rap, Pop, and R&B artists. It did a few things for me… allowed me to build professional relationships along the way, grow my cross fan base, assist in my artistic development, and most importantly allowed me to demonstrate my marketability. So, I say this is great starting point for any artist. In addition, it’s important to learn the business and an artist can do this by reading books and later perhaps linking up with someone along their journey to mentor them as long as it is a good fit.
• Do you ever make mistakes during your live performance sets and or performances; and how do you handle that?
I try to prepare ahead of time when I know I am planning to perform so usually I’m on point. I do recall one incident back in Chicago in 2018; I performed at the Poze Music Awards and I had got a bit out of breath, but I played it off nicely and just jumped back into the rap. No one didn’t notice, but I knew. But here is the thing, only you the artist will know nine times out of ten if you made a mistake, so don’t panic and just keep it moving.
• What hurdles do you personally face in everyday life and how do you overcome them?
The living of check to check is the most frustrating thing for me. Our economic system is so rigged up to the point where working a full-time job and/or having even a two person income household are not enough! Due to the need of maintaining my full-time job with its fluctuating hours, normally there is limited time for me to put 100% into my music to perform and write. Also, because I am on a budget; I have to pick and choose opportunities that will be the most beneficial to me and this method has been working for me. However, I have missed some great opportunities simply because I did not have the funding to invest in myself.
• What are some specific roadblocks to watch out for as a music artist?
Whatever you do…never sign anything without having someone review it. You can sign the wrong paperwork and that can ruin you for life before you get started as an artist. Watch out for people that claim they have connects and if they are legit; then they won’t hesitate on giving you referrals. Also, other roads blocks that can occur are procrastination, discouragement, and you have to be strong enough to believe in yourself when others don’t.
• What's the most common reason for people failing or giving up? Why do people put their passions down and walk away…?
First and foremost, they need to ask themselves what are they in the music game for? Is it just for the money, the love or both? Each artist needs to answer this question, because this music life is not easy. It will take time to develop, to find that key support team, and personal monies in the beginning of their career. Too many artists fall off because they think they are going to drop this one song and make all this money or hit success immediately but it usually doesn’t work like that. So at the end of the day, I think these discouraging factors and lack of support from family and friends usually is the reason many give up.
• What is your favorite word and why?
“Love” is my favorite word. I believe that at the end of the day love is the best medicine to heal life’s wounds.
• What turns you on? What sound or noise do you love and why?
I have always been told I have an old soul. So, for me I’m a true NeoSoul/R&B head and my thing is kicking back and listening to some Isley Brothers, Jon B, or Jodeci, just to name a few. I’m also into Yoga and believe in meditation to relieve stress. With this said, I like to sit with the lights down to calm my brain and listen to some New Age music or simply enjoy the piece and quite.
• Do you tour or travel? If so, is there anything interesting you’d like to share about your experiences on the road that you think our audience would enjoy hearing about?
Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic going on… like many I haven’t been traveling to perform; and in 2019 I had to take a break from my music to deal with my health so it’s been a while since I performed in person. However, what I am doing now is performing live on Instagram more. I just hosted and performed on my first open mic night a couple weeks ago and plan to do more of that. So, I will continue to increase my presence online and perform live to stay connected with my music supporters.
•Any planned studio upgrades? What are you working with now to create your music? Explain your process.
My husband (D-Law) is a music audio engineer and we record on FL Studio majority of the time, and use the MXL 93 microphone, and our HP computer. But we have other software and equipment like Pro Tools, HS7 Yamaha studio speakers, and Adobe Audition, etc. I recorded Maybelline from home and he mixed and mastered it using FL.
• So tell us, how do you find ways to promote your brand and services? What works best for you?
No matter the budget, an artist must have a strategic plan set in place in order for any musical project to be successful. With this said, for me I plan ahead by doing research in reference to figuring out what organization or individuals I want to use to help promote my music and create an outline. I look for legit organizations that can provide more than one service under one roof; as this cuts down on time and money in some ways. I have been blessed where people usually find me and if I try out their service and like it; I continue to build on that business relationship and use them for my next project.
• If you could perform a set anywhere and with any artists or DJs (Dead or Alive) where and who would it be with? And of course tell us why?
RIP to Prince and Michael Jackson; as that would have been a dream to perform with them if they were still living. I have a list of artists...LOL! I would love to perform with Janet Jackson, J Cole, Billie Eilish, H.E.R., Jon B, Le Crae, AWOLNATION, Childish Gambino, Queen Latifah, Sade, and Ronald Isley/Isley Brothers. For me, I love artists that have their own unique style and this is what draws me to these particular artists and the reason I would love to perform; no matter the place.
• So, what’s next for you? Are there any new upcoming projects that you want to talk about?
I just dropped two more singles back in mid-June. One is called 5:55; a song about my spiritual awakening and reflects on the things I see that’s going on within society. The other is a remastered version of “No Justice No Peace” from my Racial Profile mixtape. Also, I am really excited about releasing a new remix to my Q.U.E.E.N. single as well as the new music video to that in September.
• If you weren’t making music and working as an artist, what would you be doing to make a living?
Just like many indie musicians I do have to keep that 9 to 5 until that big break starts popping off. I currently work as a Corporate Health Manager; where I supervise and assist in running the day to day business operations at a corporate fitness facility. Now I do have my own fitness business called PhabFuzion, LLC that I have recently revamped with a focus of online fitness and wellness support. So, I’m looking forward to getting this going so I can get back to my entrepreneurship thing on my own terms and doing what I love combined (fitness and music). Also, for those interested in working out with me and joining my group exercise classes online can start in September by going to my website at: www.phabfuzion.com for more details/enroll there.
• What’s your favorite song that you never play and why?
My favorite song that I love and still think is relevant today of my creations is this Down south/Miami bass dance tune (the name is a secret for now). I have not yet played it or publicized it as much to the masses since my return to music. So for now I am keeping it a silent one; as I'm debating on its release or not.
• Describe your style for us... what’s your genre preference and why?
In summary my genre preference is Hip Hop/Rap. But when it comes to my music I don't really like to put myself in a box. However, I describe my style as a blend of R&B, Hip Hop, Down South, and Dance meets Trap with a Social Justice aspect. Which I likes to sum it up as Conscious Trill.
• What should audiences around the world look forward to in the next year or so from you?
My audience can expect a Racial Profile 2 album from me next year, more musical collaborations, see expansion in my Cara-Mel Couture clothing line, and a few other things I just want to keep low key for now.
• Any Shout-outs? Where can we find you on online?
Yes, shout-outs to D-Law (my hubby), my family/friends, and to all the beautiful souls that follow and stuck by a sister while I was going through the Big C. People can connect with me on Twitter, Instagram & TikTok: @caramel_dmv Facebook: @CaraMelDMV and I put a newsletter out the first Sunday of every month so people can connect and be a part of Da Tribe mailing list when they go to my website at: http://www.iamcara-mel.com
• What’s your favorite music streaming service and why?
Spotify is my favorite streaming platform because I the simplicity of its set up and I usually can find everything I am looking for from old-school to the music of today.
• Are you familiar with crypto currency? And if so how do you use it in your business or personal life?
I am familiar with bitcoin, but never got into it or crypto currency like that. Now, that I see how big it is. I wish I had. But right now, I have been investing in Doge Coins.
• How has 2020 impacted you with everything going on in the world right now and how do you see things going forward from here in society?
Personally on a deeper level, I have been focusing on my faith, meditation, and prayer in order to keep my mind, body, and soul refreshed. I never thought I would see the day where the whole world would shut down. Though these are trying times, it has worked in my favor as an indie artist. With more people home, they are searching the web and looking for new music to vibe to. Not to mention, because I was forced to stay at home and could not work it allowed me time to focus on my music. But on a more even serious note, I think this world will not be the same and this virus has changed the way of life in our society forever. For example, the way we gather for events, to masks being the new everyday attire, to even seeing a potential great depression; if not careful.
• Are you a stoner and what’s your favorite strain and genotype?
I don’t smoke. LOL! The closest I get to plant based is my Vegan diet.
• What is your favorite curse word and why?
Real talk, I try not to curse. I may slip up every once in a while; if I’m pissed off. However, my secondary favorite word is “foolishness.” And with all the craziness going on in this world; I use this word very often.
• What’s your favorite instrument and why?
My favorite instrument is the alto saxophone. I started playing it in the sixth grade after growing up and watching my brother playing it for years. I fell in love with the style and sound of this instrument as well as musicians such as Najee and Kenny G, etc.
• Do you think the «music scene» is men's world? In your opinion is it harder for women to become a famous or well known DJ?
• What was the coolest place you did a set and how did that moment feel for you?
The coolest place I performed so far was at the Oxygen Lounge in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the most memorable for me because it was there I performed for the first time in years to celebrate the release of my mixtape Racial Profile back in 2016 and my return back to music.
• The best quality music comes from which country? USA or UK or Italy or Germany?
For real, I listen to various genres and styles across the globe. However, I’m really digging the quality of music the UK is putting out; if I had to choose. But, for real right now I’m more on the vibe/been listening to mostly Afro beat(s) style artists and musicians from Brazil.