Hype Avenue got hold of Cara Frew who recently signed a world-wide deal with Sony Music Entertainment Africa. Cara has previously worked with the likes of Black Coffee, Sketchy Bongo and a number of American-based producers. At 18 years of age, having studied at the Malie Kelly Vocal Academy in South Africa, this passionate muso ventured to the City of Angels (L.A. USA) to follow her dream and enrolled at the Song Writing School of Los Angeles to develop her musical talent further. Cara’s first single, ‘Falling’ charted on many of South Africa’s top radio stations including national radio station, 5FM, where it spent 12 weeks on the Top 40 charts, 4 of which were in the Top 10, reaching #4. Cara’s second single ‘Invisible’ superseded by spending 3 months at #1 on the radio chart. We got hold of Cara to discuss about her debut album she’s working on, her successes and the lessons she’s learnt thus far:
Q: You are very talented and at a young age you’ve done a lot in your life, for those who might not know you or maybe reading about you for the very first time, who is Cara Frew?
A: Thank you for the compliment. I’m a South African born and raised singer songwriter who’s dreamt of making music her career ever since the age of seven. After studying music at junior and high school I got the opportunity to study further in Los Angeles, and so I did. After studying abroad I wanted to come back to SA for a year or two to continue growing and start working in my home market. I believe that touching home base often is important as I am a South African who represents internationally and I don’t ever want to lose my roots. After having 2 successful radio singles with Falling and Invisible, learning and collaborating with top SA artists such as my mentor Black Coffee, performing on the biggest stages in the world including Ultra SA, Ultra Miami, Ultra Singapore and Coachella to name a few and having signed a worldwide deal with Sony Music Entertainment, I feel like now is the time to venture to LA once again to see what I can do on a more global scale.
Q: You’ve recently signed a world-wide deal with Sony Music Africa Entertainment; please tell us how did this deal come about?
A: Earlier in March this year I had an unplugged evening in Johannesburg and among those who came to support me were reps from Sony. After the show Sony wanted a meeting but I had to leave to perform at Ultra Miami shortly after. I then stayed unexpectedly in LA after Miami as I connected with a great song writer and producer and wanted to benefit as much as I could so I continued writing with him before coming home and because of this, when I did finally get back to SA in August, I had half an album written and demoed that I was able to play in my Sony meeting and we went into negotiations from there as they loved the material and we both wanted to work together.
Q: There are so many recording and distributing companies why Sony Music (viz. Columbia and Epic Records)?
A: To be honest, I would not have been opposed to any deal or partnership if there was equal enthusiasm and interest but my connection happened to be with Sony as I’ve forged friendships and working relationships with various reps at Sony internationally and locally over the years and because of this, I’ve always felt like Sony was my home. I’ve also always wanted to be signed to a major label and so I was ecstatic when Sony showed interest as they were always my dream major.
Q: Having read your bio, I think your life might have gone any direction and you would have been a success. You were once South Africa’s Show-jumping champion, who has competed at the World Equestrian games three times. Has music always been your first love?
A: I was picked up as a young talent in the Show Jumping world and I’m a very competitive person so this career jump started at a very young age even though singing was my first love. I sung throughout primary school, high school and beyond, was lead in the choir, lead in my school’s musicals and have studied music throughout my life and continued to do so even when Show Jumping and competing was my main priority. After the last World Games I knew that if I were to make it as a singer, just like any new business, it takes 100% dedication and if I didn’t give myself the chance to do it right away, I might never get the opportunity, so I made a decision to focus on building my singing career and had my Show Jumping take a back seat.
Q: There are many who find it hard to get a break in SA’s music industry, how were you discovered?
A: SA’s music industry is tough but internationally it’s even tougher. It takes resilience and perseverance to crack it. I wasn’t “discovered” in fact, rather, I worked hard at finding what makes me unique and expanding my skills set and then made connections with key people to be noticed and given a chance. I think one of the biggest reasons that I’ve managed to break through is because I treat my music as a business. I’m very serious about my work, I have always and will continue to always learn and grow as an artist and I’m focused, dedicated and passionate, which I don’t believe any successful business can run without. I’ve also never given up my dream, I’ve had many disappointments and been turned away more often than not and been put down but at the end of the day, I took the criticism, learned from it, dusted myself off and worked even harder.
Q: Looking at the pace at which technology is developing, is it still relevant to make a demo or are there other ways one could explore to get their voice/talent heard?
A: Yes, I believe it’s very important to make a demo and as we are living in a technological world your demo must be digital! Without music, you aren’t an artist, and without a demo to show, you don’t have a business. Demos are crucial in getting people to support, buy into and grow your business and this is impossible to get this without examples of your work. I would advise artists to work very hard on their demo’s as these mixed tapes are what the world will hear first and we live in a very unforgiving and cruel world where first impressions are lasting. I don’t mean that you need to spend hundreds of thousands producing your demo, no, in fact a simple, real acoustic recording in your bedroom will do, the more authentic and unproduced the better but I strongly suggest that you find what’s unique about you, whether it be your vocal tone, range, your songwriting skills or production and hone in on that. Also, you need to grab your listener in the first 3 seconds so make sure your work stands out.
Q: You work in an industry that’s full of temptations, how do you avert this challenge and maintain discipline?
A: I have too much to lose and too much that I want to achieve to be silly enough to get caught up in anything that doesn’t add to my career and my journey. I’m also a sportswoman first and foremost and lead a very healthy life, up early riding before studio and rehearsals and simply can’t be effective after a late night out. I also know that by not drinking or taking drugs is definitely the main reason why I am able to maintain focus and keep motivated. Don’t get me wrong, I have lots of fun with friends and family but I find fun in other aspects of life like travel and relaxation.
Q: You’ve worked with very talented artists and producers like Dj Coffee, Lauren Christy, Andre Lindal, Daniel Heath, etc. please share with us how that process was like and what lessons have you learnt individually or collectively from these experiences?
A: Each process has been incredibly different as each person has had different abilities in terms of writing style, genre and production and creative journey. Coffee is the king of house, Andre and Lauren are pop chart toppers and Daniel dominates the sync world but we normally start by sharing ideas in terms of direction, chords, melodies, rhythms and lyrical content in no fixed order. I try to soak up as much info as I can while in studio but because I’m learning so much, I find it difficult to remember everything and this is where I find voice notes a huge help 🙂 Apart from technical knowledge and growing as an artist, I am reminded that although I have a lot to learn compared to the singers, songwriters and producers that I look up to, they have been on a long journey themselves so I must have faith, perseverance and patience to reach the heights that they have.
Q: You are working on your debut album; who are you working with and what’s the process like?
A: I am working with UK hit songwriter Neil Ormandy who is signed to Ultra music and lives in Los Angeles. Our goal is to have an album to release before the end of April next year. We are in studio 2 to 3 times a week, writing and recording. In terms of production, we have chosen to use up and coming producers who have fresh ideas and can run with my vision of fusing African beats with a pop foundation. I am also very excited to have Coffee produce one of my singles on my upcoming album.
Q: Your singles “Falling” and “Invisible” did exceptionally well on the charts, has this created pressure and what can your fans look forward to on your upcoming album?
A: The success of my first two singles haven’t put more pressure on me more than I would have naturally put on myself as I always want to learn, improve on and top my last work 🙂 My FREW CREW can look forward to an international pop album with African influenced beats and vibe.
Q: You support a number of charitable causes ranging from social responsibility to nature conservation and animal rights. How do you find balance between your personal and professional life? Further, now that you live between SA and Los Angeles how has this impacted your contribution to the community upliftment projects you are involved in?
A: I make sure to find time to do what’s important in my life which includes time for my family, my music career and give back. I’m able to find balance with difficulty and careful planning as there just aren’t enough hours in a day! The way I am able to continue my passion projects are to spend time with my charities when I am in SA and continue to fund raise for my various causes whether I’m at home or abroad.
Q: What advice would you like to give to those who wish to enter the music industry?
A: My advice would be to focus on what makes you unique and work on honing in on that, keep learning and expanding your music knowledge, sing, produce, write and pick up instruments. Do as much as you can to have the widest understanding possible of your career as this will make or break you and put you ahead of those in the same field or not. I would suggest that you connect with as many like- minded people in the industry as you can, reach out and be keen to learn, find a mentor and stay focused on why you started this journey in the first place. Think of your music career as a business, don’t be side tracked, work hard, be perseverant, believe in yourself and never give up on your dream.
Q: How can we get hold of your music and where can your fans reach you on social media?
A: You can find me on all online platforms,
& my music is available on iTunes, soundcloud, spotify and all other online streaming devices.
Comment: Thank you Cara for the opportunity, you’ve done a sterling job in your singles we look forward to your debut album. At Hype Avenue we wish you all the best!
A: Thank you so much for your time, love and support, it means the world!