Singer, songwriter and producer Carawei is an artist who has founded her own studio in Ellerslie, focused on LGBTQ+ artists. Ahead of the release of her first full-length LP, ‘The Moon And The Tides’ later this year; she talks to express about her musical inspirations, coming out as trans, and nurturing queer talent.
Where were you raised and how was growing up for you?
I grew up in Auckland in a Chinese family. It was quite hard going to school as a queer Asian person, but I had some really good teachers and mentors. Near the end of primary school, I moved to a Rudolf Steiner school, which was really good for me to explore my creative side.
What did your coming out experience look like?
I think coming out as trans is one of the hardest things regardless of the amount of support, but I was quite lucky to have supportive family and friends. Socially transitioning was the hardest part, but I’m here now!
We are LOVING your music from your dreamy new song, Space Lesbians, to more moody tracks like Sidechain. What inspires your ethereal sound?
I’ve always loved the use of reverb in my music – I think it comes from listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins and Saturday Night Wrist (Deftones) in high school. I love building soundscapes/soundstages in my mixes because with headphones, you can disappear to another world with music.
Where do you draw inspiration for your songs from?
My music inspirations range from groove metal to folk, so whenever I sit down to write/produce a track, I always have different ideas; however, it’s usually structured as Pop/RnB tracks. Most of my lyrics come from love, lust, trauma and empowerment.
Which artists do you most look up to and why?
Lianne la Havas. She has such a talent for songwriting and guitar and has a voice like buttermilk. BOOTS, who was homeless in New York and has ended up as the go-to producer for Beyonce. His solo work has amazing composition and sound design. Last but not least, Gerard Way; he’s an artist who’s empowered so many depressed kids – Danger Days being one of my all-time favourites.
You founded Milky Avenue Studios, ‘an LGBTQ+ music studio and creative community, based in Ellerslie.’ Can you tell us a bit about the process of setting this up and what inspired you to do this?
When I first came up with the name, I didn’t even know that I was queer. Coincidentally, my first client was bisexual, the next was a lesbian, and the one after was gay. When I eventually came out of the closet as a trans woman, I realised how important it is to have safe queer spaces, and that there is a lack of spaces for queer musicians.
Who are the artists we should be getting excited about who you are working with at Milky Avenue?
Josh Trujillo! We have so much music produced, we’ve been sitting on tracks for over three years. it’s just a matter of time before we get these bangers out there.
What are your ultimate goals for Milky Avenue Studios and your music career in general?
I think Milky Ave will always be a grounded, humble home studio, but I’m hoping the space can be expanded and it can have multiple studios like the name implies. As for my solo music, I think the main thing I’m after is recognition. I also have dreams of performing on the big stages but we will see!