Sunday, March 29, 2015

Kawehi, YouTube Sensation & One Woman Band, Comes to Fort Lauderdale

Janet Sarduy-Genn/WJSG Internet Radio Original

Photo by Janet Garcia
As a kid in Hawaii, Kawehi took piano and viola lessons. She grew up listening to Hawaiian Music, Pop and Rock. Many have told her she sounds like Portishead or Bjork. Now, at 32, she listens to a pretty wide spectrum of music with one exception- no country music. 

Originally from Oahu, Hawaii, she moved to LA, where she was chosen for a girl group but quit after 2 months because the music they were doing was not for her. After her fill of LA and 5 years of being tied to a record contract, her husband (who she met in LA) and her, packed up and moved to Kansas where she could concentrate on making music on her own terms. She has no interest in major record labels or fame. And having worked for one, I can’t say that I blame her.

She writes her own music as well. Like a 7 track EP called Evolution which was just released March 17, 2015 thanks to funding from a Kickstarter campaign. Her music isn't your typical girl likes boy, girl gets boy, girl loses girls stuff. Instead, this story is based on a Robot who becomes a girl. For one of her Kickstarter campaigns, she took requests in exchange for contributions. Now, Kaweki doesn’t exactly write love songs, but took on a challenge that was out of her comfort zone and nailed it. The request was a love song for a couple who’d been together 20 years. The appropriately titled “20 Years” which is a meshing of what she thinks it’s like to be in a relationship for 20 years and the apocalypse, a strange combination but lyrically genius. Her husband, Paul Wight, collaborates on the songwriting, producing, and mixing process across the EP. (below)

She learned how to loop, layer her voice, play guitar, use a small synthesizer and an Apple laptop mainly from watching how to videos on YouTube. She came up with a basic skeleton or structure, and builds the songs around it. With a lot of practicing, trial and error she learned to see what fits the music and as her until they’re ready to be recorded for YouTube or be performed live.

Kawehi first gained a real following posting innovative covers with her own twist on them like Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" and Nine Inch Nails “Closer”. Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel." has been viewed a little over three million times. Diddy posted it on his Facebook page, saying, "She's dope!!"

On the night of March 26, 2015, Kawehi performed in The Riverview Ballroom at The Broward Center of the Performing Arts located in Fort Lauderdale, Fl. Promptly at 8pm she quietly walks into the room when she is suddenly recognized. Clapping and cheering comes from a room full of people. Guests who arrived at the opening of the doors at 7pm were lucky enough to get seating while the stragglers line the surrounding walls.

Kawehi hops on stage and immediately starts pressing buttons, building layers while the audience sits in anticipation waiting to see or hear what she has in store for them. She’s already dancing to rhythms she’s creating with her equipment. And then she sings and she’s transported to a happy place caught up in the music. Occasionally, she returns to earth to tell her audience funny tidbits or intentionally playing the audience using a medley of about 7 songs or she’ll stop for a second between sections just to take a quick swig of her beer, making the audience laugh again.

On that stage, she looks like she having so much fun that it’s infectious spreading through the room. Part of her tour includes taking selfies with the crowd behind her. But tonight it doesn’t look like the crowd understands how it works and everyone rushes to get on the stage with her. She gets her picture anyway.

After the show, she invites everyone to come by and say hello. She stands by a table set up outside with souvenirs from the show for sale. She greets every single person that walks up to her with a hug, making them feel like she’s known them for years. She’s very easy to talk to and very accommodating to everyone in that line. She listens to each one, takes pictures and receives invitations to hang out nodding her head so as to not disappoint.

Up close and personal, she wears a big warm smile along with her signature 10 year old brown boots and a cute little dress. Not a fan of heeled shoes, she says, “I’m not really a girly girl.” I asked her if she was interested in Producing sometime down the road. And she responds with an enthusiastic “yeah”. She likes manipulating the boards, the technical aspects of it all but she would prefer to be behind the scenes and not be the actual center of attention. But she does it for the beer.

Completely wiped out from having just arrived earlier that same day by car, doing a show and breaking down her equipment, she leaves so she can crash in her hotel room getting some much needed sleep. There's really no time to socialize or explore her surroundings before she has to jump in the car the next day, drive to the next city and do it all over again… for the beer of course.

Kawehi's next performace will be a Homecoming:




Video by Felip3paixao

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