Sara Kawai / Producer Q&A

photo by @alf.bordallo

Music is a male-dominated space, especially among producers- how do you navigate that?

The music industry definitely still has a long way to go in terms of supporting more women/femme creatives in this space. I often feel my voice isn’t heard enough, as do other female/femme producers and it takes us even more effort to be noticed and requires a whole nother skill set to reach the broader audience. Fortunately, I have been in sessions where my voice and opinion is valued but I have definitely felt small and afraid to speak up in some situations where I feel the environment isn’t being open for women to express themselves. I, and many of my female friends, have also been in situations where producers try to book sessions with women just so they can make a move on them and makes it easy for them to prey on us. It is up to the people in this industry to speak up about people who do this in order to make a change. For me personally, I believe I attract people who respect my craft so it hasn’t been too difficult navigating that in music but I am constantly looking out for my fellow women producers and artists that are dealing with this. I believe solidarity is the true answer in these situations for us women to succeed effortlessly in this business, just as men do.

You’ve been playing the harp for about 15 years- How has your relationship to the instrument changed?

I started playing harp at 8 years old and quite honestly, I really hated it at the beginning. I had a scary Russian teacher and cried a lot when practicing. But my whole perspective on it changed after I started doing orchestra in middle school and all throughout high school. I think a big aspect of truly loving my instrument was the ability to collaborate with others. I never liked playing alone or learning solo pieces but playing in orchestra and being a part of a big group like that made me feel like I belonged somewhere. After getting to USC, I realized I didn’t want to go into classical music for the rest of my life and was confused about what path I should take. That’s when I started pursuing harp in different genres like rap and R&B which is what I listen to the most. After that transition, that’s when I felt like the harp was my true passion and I definitely see myself doing that for the rest of my career.

You’ve worked with Kehlani, Roddy Ricch, UMI, BLXST- What’s your favorite sessions you’ve done thus far?

My favorite session I’ve done is definitely working with Monte Booker. He has been such an inspiration to me when I started making beats and just seeing him produce in real time was crazy.

Do you have any artists you really wanna work with?

Definitely Smino, SZA, and Tom Misch!

What do you have coming up?

I’m actually throwing a show in the summer with the help of my manager Annie that showcases my artist and DJ friends! 

Unknown talent of yours?

I’m really good at hula hooping lol

Fav food?

Japanese curry

Fav clothing item you own?

Any of my baggy cargo pants, they go well with everything and I wear them all the time 🙂

Follow Sara on IG or check out her website!

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