Be honest. How many of you have been thinking about the direction of your lives since the pandemic? I know I have spent many nights thinking about my career and where I feel I should be. Now, how many of you are in college? I can feel the anxiety rise.
TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
Better? Good. Have you ever considered writing a song about your existential crisis? Wait, you haven’t? Well, that’s precisely what Demie Cao did. Demie is a Chinese-American singer and rap artist that officially debuted in China with her single, “NIGHT VISION.” It earned a spot on Billboard Asia’s 2019 “Best of Rap: URBAN ASIA Vol. 2.” Around the time of her college graduation, Demie penned her newest release, “Yung.” The midtempo, melancholic jam is both an ode to her youthfulness and acceptance of adulthood that is forced on us all.
I am not shy about my age. As I said before, I’ve had my nights of uncertainty. I had to know why someone standing at the tip of her future was having such profound thoughts, so I jumped at the opportunity to talk with Demie in person and get to the bottom of my curiosity. Before we got started, I did a bit of research and discovered that she started out going through countless grueling K-pop auditions. That’s where our conversation began.
Demie told me that seeing K-pop artists like SHINee at a concert inspired her to start a music career. She began auditioning with one Korean music label after another until her big chance finally came after an audition with CJ Entertainment. Right after, Demie received a scholarship to attend the now-defunct K-pop training company Sia in LA, California.
“I actually had a lot of fun doing that. I was blindly going around, applying to different entertainment companies, and going to that academy gave me more structure and confidence to pursue this lane of career,” she says of that experience. Her music didn’t sound like K-pop to me, and I wondered if she still wanted to join an idol group.
“I grew out of that simply because I have a bigger understanding of the value of artistic freedom. I wouldn’t want to give that away and join a K-pop group now.”
Speaking of Demie’s music, Let’s get back to her US debut. I had to understand how she could have a crisis so early in life?
“My friends had plans and knew exactly what they were doing. I was just kind of lost. I wanted to reflect on how I felt about growing older. It’s an exciting time but at the same time, a bit scary.”
Perhaps that’s why she had her friends join her as they said goodbye to their youth. “I was working with a lot of my close friends, so we just all got together and pitched ideas. And I wanted everyone in my music video to be people I was comfortable working with so that I would go out of my comfort zone and shoot something that I normally wouldn’t shoot.”
I asked if she still felt the way she did when she wrote “Yung” and Demie said that although nothing has changed, she does feel better about the future. “I don’t think you need to have a 20- or even 15-year plan to be okay, and I’m just comfortable in not knowing about the future for now.”
As someone older yet still not sure about directions in life, this resonated with me. I know many of my peer fans are experiencing those same doubts. I hope that we can all learn from Demie and find a way to release the pressure.
What’s To Come
Speaking of the future, Demie has plans on releasing her debut album, “Airplane Mode,” soon. Though the current mini-apocalypse prevents her from being able to say exactly when, she did assure me that we can expect another single within the next few weeks. The song is titled “Sage” and features 5A Label producer Holly. “He’s really dope and produced most of my album.” I have heard some other songs that Holly has produced, and I must agree. “Airplane Mode” will consist of four unreleased tracks and two bonus tracks, including “Yung.”
I asked what her favorite song on the album is. “Wake Up,” she responded without hesitation. “It’s also produced by Holly.” Demie describes it as something that she did that feels different from what she usually does. Her excitement about it was evident. “I’m really excited for when that comes out.”
Even though rapping comes easily to Demie, she’s no one-trick pony. “I think what comes naturally to me is rap, but I do enjoy writing melodies. I think I’m more of just a singer/songwriter that raps too.”
Even with her outstanding accomplishments so far, I know the road hasn’t been easy. I asked what piece of advice she received that was important to her, and surprisingly, she said it was from MC Lyte. Some of you may not know much about MC Lyte, but take it from me, she is a literal rap goddess. She was among the first pivotal female rappers in the game. The legendary rapper visited Demie’s college and spoke to the students about what it’s like to be a woman in the rap industry. “She said to not think about yourself as a label and just to do what you do,” Demie recalled, “and ignore the circumstances of your situation.” I can understand why that advice stuck with her all this time. It’s useful in both career and life.
Since Demie mentioned labels, I moved the conversation to her officially signing with 5A Label in Los Angeles. If you don’t know, I am a massive fan of 5A Label. They produce amazing domestic artists like Justin Park. I like their work. Regarding her decision to join the 5A family, Demie thought for a bit before responding. “I think it’s really important to work with people that you trust, especially in this industry. Music is very intimate for me, and I don’t want to share that with or work with people that I’m unfamiliar with or do not trust. I feel like 5A really works well with me as a family, and I love each one of them with all my heart.” It’s refreshing to hear that a label can create that kind of feeling with its artists. I know how cutthroat the entertainment industry can be.
When we ended our talk, I walked away excited and proud of the young artist, Demie Cao. Her single “Yung” has earned over 140,000 views within the past month. This proves to me she is on the right track with her music. I wish her continued success and look forward to the waves she and 5A will make together.
Keep up with me to get a review of her album upon release and follow Demie on all her social media!