Combine electronic dance beats with alternative, singer-songwriter sounds and what do you get? The unique musical style of New York-based band CAFUNÉ. After writing music together sophomore year of college, friends and bandmates Sedona Schat (SS) and Noah Yoo (NY) decided to continue making fun, inspiring music that lifts people’s spirits up, thus forming CAFUNÉ. With backgrounds in songwriting and producing, Sedona and Noah unite their talents to form edgy beats and heartwarming lyrics that cut right to the soul while also creating a positive energy. Their self-produced EP, Love Songs For Other People, shows off their unique sound and will remind you of The Strokes mixed with Daft Punk… fun, alternative vocals blended with edgy, electronic beats. Achieving success all over the world, such as reaching number one on Brazil’s Viral 50 Chart on Spotify, Sedona and Noah admit that the key to music success is to simply follow your dreams without waiting for any kind of external source or outside help. “Everybody has access to unlimited information and unlimited distribution. So there’s no longer a gatekeeper! Instead of waiting for outside help, we just try and do everything in our power to help ourselves,” says Noah. With such a determined mindset and a talent for creating music, there is no stopping CAFUNÉ from taking over the music scene.
How did you two meet and decide to form CAFUNÉ?
SS – Our sophomore year of college, Noah helped me out with a solo song and it ended up turning out really well. Later that summer, he crashed at my apartment for a weekend, and we wrote a song together. It just felt really natural and good, so we decided we wanted to continue making music together with the primary idea being we just wanted to make fun music.
Who or what first inspired you to get into music and start a career in this industry?
NY – Personally, I was inspired by all the bands I grew up listening to— how putting on a pair of headphones could take me away from real life and lift my spirits immediately. I got pretty addicted to that feeling and so I just kept seeking it out.
Sedona, you are the singer-songwriter, while Noah produces. What do you think are your roles in the band?
SS – Noah and I definitely have disparate backgrounds in that respect and our skill sets compliment each other because of that. The things that I lack, Noah picks up, and the other way around. That being said, it’s very important to both of us that the dynamic is not a producer + vocalist-slapped-on-top kind of thing. NY – Both of us write, both of us play, both of us produce. It’s usually dependent on how the writing process starts for each song. Sometimes Sedona will have a full song written and come to me with that and we go from there, sometimes we write in the same room, and sometimes I’ll have a beat that Sedona writes on top of. In each scenario the roles vary a little bit.
How did you come up with the name CAFUNÉ and what does it mean to you?
SS – Noah found the word on the internet and we really just loved the meaning. It’s Brazilian-Portuguese for the act of caressing or running your hands through a loved one’s hair. Noah was saying last night that the coolest thing about it is the idea that the culture is so emotionally intelligent that they have a word for that gesture. One that we don’t have in English.
NY – Mostly we’re sentimental nerds and we love that kind of shit.
You are based in New York City. How has your hometown influenced your sound and style as a band? What do you learn from the NYC music scene?
NY – It can get pretty lonely in New York, even when you’ve got friends around… Everyone’s doing their own thing, and it’s easy to get caught up in work and grinding. Sedona and I aren’t originally from towns with thriving music scenes, so making music in New York is really inspirational. I thought there would be more of a thriving “scene” that I could join when I initially moved here but it seems to be a lot more disparate.
Your single, “Warm Body”, has such an upbeat, unique sound mixed with alt-pop beats. How have you developed your musical sound? How would you define your type of music?
SS – The other day we said “electronic music plus guitars” and we think that describes it pretty concisely. Noah has a heavy background in electronic music and I have a heavy background in singer-songwriter alternative stuff, but our tastes align in the weird middle point— bands like The Strokes, Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club, Daft Punk, Justice, Madeon, Yelle….
NY – We both love French electronic music, we both love post-punk alternative stuff. What we try to do is incorporate those two things together and maintain a sense of fun about it.
You admit that your self-produced EP, Love Songs For Other People, was “created across the Atlantic in our bedrooms in New York and Paris.” Tell us about this type of recording process. Any memorable stories along the way? What did you learn from the recording process?
NY – It’s certainly different from being in a room with somebody and being able to bounce ideas off of them immediately. Trading ideas and being able to respond on your own time was nice, as was being able to wake up to like, new vocals in the Dropbox, but personally I much prefer being in a room with Sedona when we’re working on stuff.
You wrote and produced your EP, Love Songs For Other People. What is the meaning behind the title of your EP? Do your songs come from your own experiences?
SS – We called the EP Love Songs For Other People because at the time both of us were in relationships— a lot of the songs on there are pretty romantic, and we thought it was sort of funny that we were making such lovey-dovey music with each other, directed at other people. Thus, the title.
NY – Our songs definitely come from our own experiences! Sometimes the lyrics end up being a sort of heightened or altered version of the real life experience, they always begin from something real. You perform at a lot of live shows, including The Bowery Electric and Baby’s All Right.
Do you have any pre-show rituals? Any nerves before going onstage?
SS – Sometimes we jokingly do the Mighty Ducks chant before we go onstage… We’re working on getting our pre-show routine into a solidified place, but I always take about 20 minutes to lock myself in the bathroom with headphones while I do my makeup. It helps me feel more diva-ish.
NY – I don’t get nervous on-stage just because I turn my brain off. Immediately afterwards is a totally different story.
Your EP has been such a success across the world, especially hot on Spotify, such as being number one on Brazil’s Viral 50 Chart. How does it feel knowing your songs are being listened to all over the world by so many people?
SS – It honestly was such a surprise when we found out we were trending in Brazil. For a second Noah was like, “Are we cheating?” because we were so blown away that people so far away could just find our music without us specifically promoting it in that country. The internet is crazy.
NY – It’s an unreal feeling. Some of these songs I started in my basement in Northern Virginia two years ago, and now there are people in other countries telling us that they wake up those songs every morning.
Who are your music icons and inspirations? If you could collaborate with anyone right now, who would it be?
SS – As far as ultimate goals/inspiration for the band goes, Daft Punk and The Strokes are our absolute idols. We could go on for much longer but those artists have been in the back of our mind since we started the band.
NY – I’d love to write a song with Madeon someday. I’d love to pick his brain when it comes to crafting melodies and the arc of a song.
What advice do you have for other people trying to start a music career?
SS – Our philosophy up to this point— mostly because I spent the first half of college not doing this— is to simply do stuff without waiting for a sign from an external source. Especially today, everybody has access to unlimited information and unlimited distribution. So there’s no longer a gatekeeper! Instead of waiting for outside help, we just try and do everything in our power to help ourselves. And that allows us to be in a better position when we are negotiating with other people; we’re not coming from this position of, “Help me! I want to be discovered!” but rather, “Here’s what we are, here’s what we have, are you onboard? No? Cool, we’ll keep doing our thing.”
NY – If I had to give any advice to someone trying to get into music, it’d be to keep an open mind and to listen to music outside of the genre purviews of what you’re making. And consume as much art as possible. And surround yourself with people that you’re constantly learning from, about music or otherwise. It’ll make your art better.
What is your favorite part about being in the music industry? Least favorite?
SS – I LOVE it when you find genuine people who really care about the music. Love that people can all be casual and friendly! Hate the weird superficial power-posturing. It’s a strange side-effect of people trying to prove their hustle.
NY – Yeah, I really enjoy meeting people that are more “music” than “industry” and aren’t musicians or creators. It’s a pretty rare thing. Least favorite thing has to be people who try to assert themselves over you from the jump. Especially hate people mansplaining music industry shit to Sedona, I can practically see the blood boiling over in her brain when it happens.
What are your favorite hobbies outside of music?
SS – I enjoy biking and yoga and eating!
NY – I like reading, whenever I get the chance. A lot of the times I end up reading about music, though.
What are your dreams and goals for 2016? What should fans look out for?
SS – Our main goals are reaching more people and becoming better! After every time we play, we’re excited to do the next one and put on a better show. We are currently working on several songs that we’ll probably be putting out as singles, we are putting together a badass music video, and hoping to make it out to the west coast for some shows.
NY – I wanna do more DJ sets as CAFUNÉ as well. We recently just did our first one ever and it was so much fun.