Emerging Artist Demie Cao Raps in Three Languages
© Photography by Howard Min
"I'm just a writer whose medium is rap." - Up-and-coming rapper Demie Cao talks about her music, her writing and the industry's expectations of Asians as distinct from artists of other ethnicities.
Growing up in Arcadia, California, Demie was first trained as a classical dancer in ballet. When she discovered her love for rap and hip-hop, she chose a very different path and embarked on a career in music. With a B.A. of Arts in Music Business from USC, Demie is focused on the burgeoning industry not only as an artist but also as a writer. Demie's latest album "Thicker Lines" was released in September 2020.
What attracted you to make music?
I started as a ballet dancer, so I've always worked closely with music. I've always looked to music as a form of expression, and it was there for me during some difficult times growing up. Therefore, for me, creating music seemed like the logical next step.
Who inspires or has inspired you to make music?
As an Asian-American kid, there were very few people to look up to in the music industry who looked like me. It was when I first discovered K-pop that I really found an Asian role model. So I guess you can say SHINee inspired me to make music.
© Photography by Hannah Cruz
What do you want to achieve with your music?
I just want to be able to write the music I love, and I'm just grateful there are people out there willing to listen :)
How would you describe your music?
I would say my music is very personal. I rap, but more than that, I would say I'm a writer. I'm just a writer whose medium is rap.
Do you write your own songs?
I do. My process is very organic. I wouldn't say I like to pump out like three songs a day. I like to work on half of it, leave it, work on something else, and then come back. Songwriting for me is a very personal process, so I always write in the safety of my own bedroom.
What is your latest album, "Thicker Lines" about?
Personal growth. The album had so many different songs written at different times of my life. I don't necessarily relate to some of the songs on there, but it's cool to kind of listen back and see what kind of person I was then.
Is it difficult for you as a woman to gain a foothold in a male-dominated music genre?
I'm really just kind of focused on myself. Since I have a really great and supportive team and since I work alone, I've been able to ignore the other noise and work on being the best version of me.
Do you believe Asian musicians are underrepresented in the western music industry?
Yes and no. I think K-pop has taken great strides, which I love to see. However, I believe that there is a fetishization, and there are expectations for Asians in the industry that is different from artists of other ethnicities. I still don't see many Asian artists in the mainstream doing things outside of the K-pop/J-pop aesthetic, which is disappointing.