Cindy Abila, popularly known as Cara Feral, is a fast rising Kenyan songbird who uses her craft to make reggae and dancehall music. Although this genre is seen as male-dominated in Kenya, Cara Feral is working on making a name for herself and has several songs under her belt, including "Hakuna Matata", "Feel What I Fell", "Born to Win", "Kazi ni Kazi", "Keys to my Heart" and "Friend Zone". She talks to Nation.co.ke.
Who is Cara Feral?
She is a lover of life, making the most of everything to reinvent herself, looking her best and trying new things. She's all about family and a lover of music too. She works to be the best version of herself and will not stop at anything.
Where did the name come from?
Cara is an acronym of my names. Feral was a name given to me by my music teacher, Fila.
Tell us about your musical journey.
It has been a fun one, with its ups and downs. I have been singing since childhood, and my first song, "Closer", came out in high school. It was a collaboration with Ulopa, the music producer. From the outside, music looks fruity and fun, but it's really a jungle once you come to understand it.
I have been finding my way, growing my craft, learning techniques and meeting people who propel me to the right channels. I have also grown in song writing. I have been meeting other artistes who help me learn and grow by the day because the industry is not so easy, especially for women.
How would you describe your music style?
I started with an R&B feel but I drifted into reggae and dancehall in 2013. I got a fetish for this genre mostly because I loved it and it's all I would listen to. But over the years, I have been infusing it with afro beats and pop. I want to be an artiste who can deliver on any genre and style.
How would you describe the industry, especially since not so many female artistes make reggae music in Kenya?
It hasn't been the easiest, to say the truth. The entire music industry in Kenya is male-dominated regardless of the genre. But I'm grateful for the support I've received so far. I have been able to meet and work with different producers, mostly from other countries.
However, a lot can still be done in regards to the reception.
Airplay has also been a challenge. I am working with a new team to make sure we get airplay and recognition. I am going to fight for my dream.
What of your newly started outreach programme?
I love children and I always want to encourage those who are orphaned or disadvantaged. In 2017, I celebrated my birthday with children at SOS Children's Home in Buru Buru, Nairobi, and that pushed me to doing more.
I also have a special spot for women and I want to inspire them in the best way I can. I am working on visiting women in prison to encourage and inspire them.
One of my greatest beliefs is that one can always do better as long as they live. I also plan to engage different brands to work together on this course.
I've been through some challenges myself, and so I know how important encouragement is for others.
Children and women are inseparable, which is why I want to make a difference with them and a better place for them. Spreading love is a good cause especially because the world seems to be filled with so much hate. I hope that the outreach grows bigger with time and I hope to get support from others for the cause.
Do you have any sponsors?
I'm doing it on my own at the moment, but anyone can come on board at any time. The support will be really appreciated.
What challenges have you faced with the outreach programme so far?
Not much really, but organisation has been an issue especially with reception because Cara is not a big brand yet. I still have to get my things in order so that I can get a listening ear, but working on it is still worth it.
Who are your musical influences?
Beyoncé has to be my all-time favourite. I loved Whitney Houston too. Around Africa, I admire Tiwa Savage and Vanessa Mdee. My mother is also a big inspiration because the life I have envisioned for her pushes me to be better.
I want to see the best for myself too; to be able to look back and congratulate myself for following my dreams. We tend to forget to appreciate ourselves, which is why I strive to do that every day.
Future plans for your music?
I am preparing to drop the video to my song "Over and Over", which I was to do on Valentine's Day. We are working on its marketing and promotion plan, which is why it's taking some time.
I have put strategies in place to be able to dive more into the music industry.
I am also working on an extended play record (commonly known as EP) consisting of seven songs; working with one of the best producers in Kenya and hoping to collaborate with some big artistes in the industry.
For the Cara Feral brand, I hope to do more hosting and influencing for other brands. I am a fashion enthusiast as well so I hope to own a line or brand of merchandise for the Kenyan market.