“Don’t You Forget” to Love Yourself: An Interview with CAFUNÉ

CAFUNÉ © Savannah Daras
CAFUNÉ © Savannah Daras
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People don’t talk enough about the need for me time. We are constantly surrounded by distractions and commitments, but every so often it’s important to turn off the noise and check in with ourselves – as CAFUNÉ’s Sedona Schat says, everyone needs “a reminder to check in with that inner self so you don’t get lost in what you’re doing just because you feel like you should be.” We need to be comfortable in our skin – to love ourselves – and that’s exactly what CAFUNÉ’s new song “Don’t You Forget” is all about.

I’m sleepin alone tonight, got something right on, it’s tight, it’s tight
won’t play any games with me, the world leaves me be tonight
this moment is so sure, it won’t come around anymore
I’m keepin its pulse in me, I know what these nights are good for

Listen: “Don’t You Forget” – CAFUNÉ

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There’s a fun, quirky vibe surrounding “Don’t You Forget,” but inside the carefully-crafted song lies an immeasurably real and meaningful message. Comprised of recent college graduates Sedona Schat and Noah Yoo, alt-pop duo CAFUNÉ creates a safe space for celebrating and embracing our unique individuality. Imploring the listener (and herself) to “give your reflection a kiss,” Schat passionately sings atop a warm, fuzzy dance beat that’s fast enough to groove with, and slow enough to pick apart.

CAFUNÉ’s chorus is both infectiously catchy and impressively empowering:

Put some red on your lips, give your reflection a kiss and
t-try to make it feel right, t-try to make it feel
It’s a vision you say, they can’t take it away and
don’t try to hang on too tight, don’t try to hang on too tight

We should all be able to give our bodies and minds a warm embrace, loving ourselves for who we are, but “life” often gets in the way of that. Schat would agree: “The world is kind of an intense thing to face every day,” she explains, “and it does a really good job at making you feel like you aren’t good enough, aren’t skinny enough, aren’t productive enough… I have to actively combat that otherwise I’ll go crazy!”

Don't You Forget - CAFUNÉ
“Don’t You Forget” – CAFUNÉ (artwork by Noah Yoo)

We are taught from a young age to act a certain way, dress a certain way, talk a certain way, live life a certain way. Instructions on how to live and who to be come at us from every angle, and it’s easy to get lost in the deluge of comments and critique. Being alone isn’t easy, but me time is so imperative to personal health. If we are secure in who we are, then we can help to make this world a better place not only for ourselves, but also for others. This concept far from novel; the maxim “know thyself” was inscribed in the Greeks’ Temple of Apollo at Delphi, meaning humans have observed this idea as a universal “truth” for over 2500 years.

And yet, it’s still a battle for all of us. Thankfully there are outlets, like music, to remind us of how special we truly are.

I let my mirror lie to me, sometimes I’m satisfied with what I’m tryna be
I’m taking a moment to waste away, leaving some space to see clearly
this moment is so sure it won’t come around anymore
I’m keepin it’s pulse in me, I know what these nights are good for

A fun song with deep layers of meaning, “Don’t You Forget” has all the makings of an indie pop hit. It is the perfect introduction to CAFUNÉ as they venture beyond their 2015 DIY debut Love Songs For Other People EP – which, as Schat adoringly notes, “was basically about cuddling.” CAFUNÉ challenged themselves to try harder and dig deeper this time around, the results couldn’t have been more rewarding.

A promising 2016 Artist to Watch, CAFUNÉ succeed in blending light with heavy on “Don’t You Forget.” Join them on their personal journey through the music world, and join Atwood Magazine in going behind the scenes of “Don’t You Forget” in our exclusive interview with CAFUNÉ.

“Don’t You Forget” is much more than just another love song: It’s a self-love song. Enjoy a closer look at a track that addresses the often-overlooked, but all-too-important subject of me time.

CAFUNÉ © Peter Slattery
CAFUNÉ © Peter Slattery


Atwood Magazine: Musically speaking, where are you now compared to where you were last year?

Noah: We’ve gotten better at writing songs together. It used to be the type of thing where one of us would take point and the other would follow, and now it feels like we’re making more musical decisions as a unit.

Did you, as CAFUNÉ, have any explicit goals or agenda when you started out?

Sedona: We definitely discussed certain characteristics that we wanted to remain constant, no matter what music we end up making. We want to make fun music, and be a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. So many bands are so obviously trying to be really cool, and we just don’t want that to be what the project is about.

We want to make fun music, and be a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Has that changed over time?

Sedona: We’ve gone through lots and lots of growing pains, breakups, graduating… a whole bunch of life stuff that was definitely a challenge. We’ve gotten better at communicating with each other, understanding each other’s point of view.

Was the Love Songs For Other People EP a defining moment for you?

Sedona: It was and it wasn’t. We wanted to have a project, a complete statement that we could refer people to as opposed to a bunch of scattered singles. That being said, it was our first EP and the songs on there are a mix of a bunch of different directions we could go. It was a good start, but we’re really excited about the stuff we’re doing now because it feels a bit more unified.

Listen: “Love Songs for Other People” EP – CAFUNÉ

[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=3769390567 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]

How does “Don’t You Forget” differ from your previous releases?

Noah: “Don’t You Forget” is one of the first songs we’ve created where as we were making it, we were really, really excited. That’s always a good sign, when you can feel that the song is gonna be good even when you’re just building the bones of it.

“I’m sleeping alone tonight” is a powerful way to open a song. What inspired that lyric – was it the touchstone upon which the song was built, or did it come after?

Sedona: Being alone and enjoying being alone was not something that I was taught was important. I’ve only really discovered that in the last few years or so. I feel like “I’m sleeping alone tonight” challenges the idea that the absolute ideal is ending up going to sleep with somebody every night. Our entire first EP was basically about cuddling, so you know I’m all for it, but it feels empowering to start the song that way; my basic translation of that first little couplet is I’m hanging out with myself and I feel sexy and that’s just for me.

What was your songwriting process like for “Don’t You Forget”?

Noah: This was one of the ones that started with a beat from me, then Sedona wrote a chorus, and then we wrote the bridge together.

The song has a strikingly playful musical vibe, probably due in large part to that bouncy synth lick. How did that come about?

Noah: Oftentimes when I’m making beats or messing around on my computer, I’m just assigning different parameters to the mod wheel on my keyboard and seeing how I can use it to change the part I’m writing. In the case of “Don’t You Forget,” what really did it for me was how gliding that monophonic synth part was — it reminded me of a whistle, but not as annoying, if that makes sense.

How does meaning play into your lyrical decisions? Do you spend more or equal time on lyrics vs. music?

Sedona: It depends on the song how much actual time is spent on either, but meaningful lyrics are really important to us. That being said, We’ve also learned that you don’t have to be crazy precious about it all the time either. That’s why our songs “Warm Body”, “Letting Go”, and “Lay Low” can all be so simple — the meaning can still be significant even if the lyrics aren’t crazy metaphorical, and the energy of the music carries those songs.

The meaning can still be significant even if the lyrics aren’t crazy metaphorical.

What was the hardest thing you encountered when developing “Don’t You Forget”?

Noah: There was one background vocal part that we fought over a lot that in the end wasn’t even crazy significant. But it was really hard because like we said before, we were so excited about how good the song could be, so we were very personally attached to certain decisions. It ended up delaying the process.

“I know what these nights are good for” – that line stands out so much from the rest. What does it mean to you?

Sedona: Like I was saying earlier, I only really discovered how rad alone time is relatively recently in my life. So when I just take a night to really enjoy my own company and treat myself to whatever, I feel more centered, more myself for the days following. The world is kind of an intense thing to face every day, and it does a really good job at making you feel like you aren’t good enough, aren’t skinny enough, aren’t productive enough etc. I have to actively combat that otherwise I’ll go crazy!

What’s the importance of addressing self-love in song?

Sedona: You need a soundtrack to that solo night! I don’t know about other people, but one of my favorite things to do when I’m alone is dance in the front of the mirror to my favorite songs. I think there’s a special kind of resistance in making yourself feel confident/attractive without the validation of an outside source, which is what the “I’m sleeping alone tonight” line is referring to.

In addition to self-love, “Don’t You Forget” also seems to address those who may hurt us. At least, that’s how I read the “don’t you forget her” lyric. What’s the significance of that bridge?

Sedona: Noah helped craft the fun little word puzzle that is that stanza, so that’s one tidbit of significance. I like how vague it is, and want to leave it open for interpretation. To me, “don’t you forget her” refers to your inner self, the inner voice that gets pushed aside because life happens and you always have people surrounding you, influencing your daily decisions. “Don’t you forget her” is a reminder to check in with that inner self so you don’t get lost in what you’re doing just because you feel like you should be.

Do you see “Don’t You Forget” as an important step forward for CAFUNÉ?

Sedona: “Don’t You Forget” was one of the first songs where we really musically experimented together, and workshopped the musical decision making together. [It’s] the first time where I think we really achieved our goal as a band, which is to make pop music that isn’t dumbed down/doesn’t adhere to rules like “You can’t change the time signature because then the song is hard for people to listen to.” We like the challenge of incorporating musical things that aren’t “straightforward” in a way that doesn’t disrupt what we’re going for.

What is the significance of music, as far as CAFUNÉ is concerned?

Sedona: Gosh what a question! Well, our friend says to us a lot that he feels like our music has this energy that is infectious, and helps people feel happier if they’re not feeling great. Something that comes about pretty naturally and consistently in our music is the juxtaposition of melancholy with high-energy happiness. We looove that space and think a lot of truth can be found in it. We see our songs on playlists like “Trying to Feel Better” and it’s like wow, that’s what we want our music to do! Give someone that song to escape into… The significance of music in general is that it has the power to transform how people feel and connect people to each other because of it.

It’s possible to call for change and dance at the same time.

If you could write a timeless song, what would it be about?

Sedona: One of my big goals is to write an effective song about the state of society and the social change that needs to be happening. The murder of innocent people in the name of religion, or race, how broken the US government is, how much we’ve damaged our planet… There’s a lot to talk about. It’s pretty difficult to speak about without coming across as cheesy, overly dramatic, or even exploitative, but if I was able to do that I feel like that accomplishes one of the main duties an artist who lives in the world has.

Noah: And I don’t think music about serious stuff has to be a drag. It’s possible to call for change and dance at the same time.

Sedona: It’s hard to exist as someone who claims their job is to translate emotion into a musical experience and not feel the need to address all the pain and hurt that humans cause each other. How do I do that without being preachy? How do I do that without being whiny? How do I add something fresh to that when there are generations of songwriters like Bob Marley, Bob Dylan, Kendrick, Lamar, Pete Seeger and so many more who’ve done it in such a beautiful, simple way?

One of my big goals is to write an effective song about the state of society and the social change that needs to be happening. 

Judging from your repertoire on SoundCloud, you’ve done a lot of experimentation with various styles. What styles, if any, have you struggled with, and which ones came to you naturally?

Noah: Honestly the more electronic style and the more indie-rock styles both come naturally, just because of the kinds of music we both really enjoy. What we’ve been trying to do is marry them… with varying degrees of success thus far.

What lies in CAFUNÉ’s future? What are you most excited about as we enter into the second half of 2016?

Noah: We are working on a music video, we have some rad remixes coming out soon, and a whole bunch of new music that sounds really different that we’re crazy excited about. The live show has been slowly expanding as well — I’m looking forward to bringing on more people, breaking apart our songs to see how we can make the best live performance we can.

Don't You Forget - CAFUNÉ
Don’t You Forget – CAFUNÉ
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Discover more new music on Atwood’s Picks
cover photo: CAFUNÉ © Savannah Daras
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