Cara Frew – Show jumper, model, singer, songwriter, artist
People are always going to judge others on their appearance; all this does for me is give me motivation to continue to pleasantly surprise everyone who has a preconceived idea of me.”
Cara Frew gets around. But not in the way that this may sound. She gets around by being a constant achiever.
From doing show jumping since she was 10 and becoming a South African champion, to modelling (but not belonging to an actual agency) to pursuing her biggest passion, music – it would be easy to attribute her success in music to her easy-on-the-eye good looks.
But as we discovered in this interview, Cara Frew is not your stereotypical ‘blonde bombshell’ hoping for a shot in the spotlight of music entertainment.
She’s a hard working artist who understands the hustle and seems to have the tenacity to continue pushing until she is a household name both in South Africa and globally, if she has her way.
She first popped onto our radar when she collaborated with Black Coffee on the song ‘I’ll Find You’ at the end of 2014. What was significant about this release is that a music video was filmed in Paris and whilst the single may not have been his biggest hit, it certainly showed the superstar DJ/Producer’s faith in Cara Frew and in the song.
Notably it is also the last track on his ‘Pieces of Me’ album.
Many may have wondered how that collab came about as did we and it’s just one of many questions we were dying to ask…
What impression did your time at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles leave you with when it comes to your artistry?
Cara Frew: My time at the Songwriting School of Los Angeles gave me confidence and technical knowledge that I apply to my song writing process. We were lectured by phenomenal musicians and songwriters and learnt about the music business side of things.
On the day of Madiba’s passing I wrote a tribute song, videoed it and tweeted the YouTube link [to Black Coffee].”
How did your collaboration with Black Coffee on “I’ll Find You’ come about and what do you feel was the most significant benefit from this collab?
Cara Frew: I met Black Coffee in 2013 at ADE, which is a music conference in Amsterdam.
He spoke on one of the panels, which I attended. After the panel was over, I introduced myself and told him that I was a huge fan of his work and would love the opportunity to pitch on one of his upcoming tracks. He very politely listened to my story and we exchanged details. After that brief encounter, I must have emailed him for the next six months, twice a month with no reply, but I wasn’t disheartened.
On the day of Madiba’s passing I wrote a tribute song, videoed it and tweeted the YouTube link. The next thing I knew, Black Coffee had followed me on Twitter and sent me a private message saying that he loves my voice. From there, we spoke of the possibility of a collaboration and finally got the chance to link up while I was training for the World Equestrian Games in France.
He then gave me a beat to write to, to which I must have written over 30 different variations. A month or so later, I landed and went straight to his studio, we wrote, tracked a few ideas and he flew out to Europe. The experience was surreal, being in studio with someone who has inspired me so much over the years and realising that he truly is everything that the public make him out to be – humble and just incredible. A month or so after that, I received a call from him asking where I was and if I’d be free to shoot a music video by the end of that week.
I regretfully said that I wouldn’t be able to get back to SA before the end of the month as the World Games was now just a few weeks away. He said, no problem, I want “I’ll Find You” to be my next single and it needs to be out next month, so we will just have to fly the camera crew over and shoot our video in Paris. Well, that’s exactly what happened, he landed in the morning, we finished writing and recording the chorus to our track at a studio in Paris and we shot the video for the next four days.
The experience was absolutely insane. He has given me an opportunity of a life time, has supported me and continues to be my mentor. He has helped me grow as an artist, letting me perform with him on stages across the globe and he has given me credibility in the music industry as well as exposed me to markets that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to reach.
Every time I’m in the room with another artist I grow myself. Everyone writes differently and has their own style and interpretation of music.”
I’m sure you’ve been asked this before but what is Black Coffee like to work with?
Cara Frew: He truly is an incredible man. He’s such a giving, honest and kind person, who wants to see the SA music industry flourish. This is evident in him giving me an opportunity to collaborate with him, when I really had nothing to show for myself except for determination and a dream. He continues to be a part of my support system, he is always the first person I run any possible new releases by, I respect him highly and am inspired by him daily. I’m very lucky to have worked with him and to be able to call him my friend.
‘Falling’ with The Kiffness is doing really well on the 5FM Top 40. What did you have in mind when working on this song and what do you think makes this track ‘radio hit’ quality?
Cara Frew: Thank you! I wanted to make a track that had a cool vibe, big beats and a personal message that many people could relate to. I think that if a track sounds good acoustically, it’s a great track no matter the genre or how it ends up being produced. I believe ‘Falling’ was well received because it’s a current sound. Tropical house was a big movement towards the end of last year and it’s also a fun, vibey track that must have struck a chord with a few people. Thanks for the compliment.
David Scott is a pretty zany character and is a good example of how to make Social media work for an artist. What did you learn from working with him?
Cara Frew: Yes I agree David definitely knows how to make the most of his social media platforms! He’s such an interesting character and talented musician; I absolutely loved working with him. Every time I’m in the room with another artist I grow myself. Everyone writes differently and has their own style and interpretation of music. I definitely picked up on his way of writing and watched him closely while he built the track in the hopes of picking up a few tips that I could use when writing and tracking my own vocals in my home studio.
The music video for ‘Falling’ will be out soon, any release date as yet?
Cara Frew: Yes, I am so excited to release the video; it will be live on Monday the 22nd of February, so keep your eyes on my social media platforms!
Can you disclose the creative concept behind the video?
Cara Frew: The concept of the video is me thinking of the man I was falling for and how, in fact, I was falling for someone he pretended to be.
As an individual you wear a few different hats, you’re a vocalist, songwriter, show jumper, and a model. How do you manage to balance what to focus on and when?
Cara Frew: I have a very busy mind and need to constantly keep learning, growing and expanding as a person. I have a tight schedule which helps me balance my life, I make sure that I get eight hours of sleep a night and give myself time to relax and spend Sundays with my family. I’ve never been with a modelling agency and this isn’t something I focus on at all but love to take the opportunities when they come along if it fits in with my brand.
My singing and horse riding have been two aspects that have consumed my life since the age of 10, when I was 18 I was picked for the Show Jumping team to represent SA at the World Equestrian Games, at that stage of my life my main focus was doing the best I could for my country although I took the opportunity of being half way to America to work on my music in the States. Singing is my career, so that is my main focus and riding is a serious hobby of mine.
You also have a four track EP that you’ve worked on with Daniel Heath due out soon; when can we expect this release and how does it differ from your previous collabs?
Cara Frew: Yes! This collaboration was very different because I was in LA when I co wrote it with Stephan Skarbek, who wrote with Amy Winehouse and tracked it in Daniel’s home studio, where he worked with Lana Del Rey. This alone was an incredible experience. It is also very different because it’s cinematic pop as Daniel is a film composer, having worked with Hans Zimmer for years and having had many song placements in movie soundtracks including Big Eyes, Malificent and 50 Shades of Grey. Expect this EP to be out by June!
Some music industry questions:
a) How do you feel about the current state of the SA music biz?
Cara Frew: I think that we have exceptional talent in our country and this is proven by our artists making a name for themselves around the world. I think the SA music business is doing well and will only continue to do better as we learn and collaborate with the other artists both locally and internationally.
b) Does being a model mean you need to work harder at getting the industry to take you seriously or have you found it not to be a problem thus far?
Cara Frew: People are always going to judge others on their appearance; all this does for me is give me motivation to continue to pleasantly surprise everyone who has a preconceived idea of me. I’ll tell you a funny story, two days ago, I went into a music store to try out some equipment, no one paid me much attention but when I started singing, the room started to fill up as people came in to check who was singing. They all commented on how, when I walked in, they never expected me to sing like that at all. This shows me once again that many people from all walks of life are often prejudged for many reasons and we should not let that affect our confidence or work performance.
WITH CARA FREW