Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
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On the Rise

26 July 2023, 10:00

New York’s Cafuné are balancing deft indie sonics in one hand, and the duo's ambitions in the other.

Cafuné are tectonic plates. In coexisting, Noah Yoo and Sedona Schat have managed to build something bigger than the sum of their parts through the creative friction that bristles between the pair.

Be it concerning songs and their shelf life, their sounds, or ultimately insignificant decisions, the New York-based duo are built around a framework of respect - the rest is just the puzzle pieces flipping and turning. These sections crash into each other until everything makes sense. It's a vision that's worked in their favour with their resulting lush and authentic sonics building a swarming fan base, including a 2022 support slot with Chvrches

“Having someone who's constantly questioning your specific worldview and your specific perceptions is beneficial,” explains Yoo. “Especially when it’s something like art where you can get wrapped up in your own sense of what is good and what is not.”

Finding each other in 2012, after joining NYU’s music production course, these kindred spirits bonded over a joint love of 00s indie and ambition. While their divergent paths by all rights should’ve been incompatible (Schat aimed to be a singer-songwriter, while Yoo held EDM in his sights), the pair found the unlikely matchup made sense.


“Some of our peers were trying to play the industry game when we were very young, and I felt pretty frustrated with that,” Schat recalls, circling the pair's joint point of view. “I just wanted to actually experience making music. I didn't think it's important as a young band to think about anything other than making music, finishing it and then putting it out.”

Put simply, the duo are driven by an insatiable love for their craft; Yoo’s stems from his time in various bands in high school, directly opposing his classical violin training as a young boy. He eventually found his way to electronic and dance music, “because it was so exciting and different from all the indie rock and alternative music that I'd grown up listening to.” The flip side also was the representation. Of Asian descent, he found more familiarity in dance than the whitewashed 00s indie.

“I feel like it's easy to forget now, but at the time there weren't any Japanese Breakfasts or Mitskis, or people who necessarily looked like me,” he says. While Yoo was seeking a homestead, he soon found that you can’t fit a square peg in a round hole. “I quickly became disillusioned with it around 2013/2014 as things shifted, and I realised the reasons I like this [music] aren’t the reasons that many people seem to like it, and so I returned to my roots, so to speak.”

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Schat’s story begins more vocally. After piano and guitar lessons when she was younger, it was in high school she began writing songs. Inspired by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, she had what she calls her “vocal jazz” phase. While this inevitably led her to NYU, Schat knew something else was required. “I needed help to make music that was more interesting, and had a bigger reach than simply, ‘Girl writes emotional song on guitar’,” she laughs today.

Together their divergent paths formulated a perfect landscape for Cafuné to arise from. Where Schat is “more concerned with the overall emotional spiritual message,” Yoo is the pragmatic counter: “He's amazing at detail work, specifically within production,” explains Schat. “But also songwriting…what's going to happen in the transition between sections.”

As the pair's creative relationship blossomed, they realised they’d found the missing piece of their artistic ambition. Launching into the world in 2015 with “Letting Go”, the ramshackle indie sound doesn’t stray too far from the path that led them together initially but remains a solid starting point for where the pair would end up.


Following, 2015’s debut EP Love Songs For Other People – which saw them garner a fairly fervent fan base in Brazil, where their name means “the act of running your fingers through someone’s hair” – they then embarked on what Yoo calls their “wilderness” years. It was a listless combination of smatterings of singles and live development. Suddenly, near the end of 2018, the pair were on the cusp of a hiatus. “We weren't speaking to each other,” he explains, “because both of us [reached] a point where we were we need to take a moment from this to even understand what it is that we want to say or how it is that we want to approach this.”

But then fate intervened. The first song they wrote after returning to the Cafuné fold wound up becoming a second wind. One the pair needed to ignite the kindling they’d spent the previous years stockpiling. Initially released as a single in 2019, "Tek It” not only garnered them even more of a fanbase but sparked Cafuné’s joy. "It does feel like a mission statement sonically for the band,” mentions Schat, “it's very representative of what we are trying to do.” Then the pandemic hit.

With Schat’s day job in the restaurant industry removed, and Yoo fully working from home, it gifted the pair the chance to take stock. Initially trading files back and forth under the understanding of potentially getting an EP together, as the brief lockdowns turned into never-ending staycations, “we were like every other artist who was like maybe I'll finally write that opera you know, maybe we'll finally get to do an album on our terms.”

Their 2021 debut Running is the much-needed culmination of Cafuné’s experimentation (though Yoo now rates it at a "6...6.5"). It hosts all the moving parts they’d established over the previous five years, under the scope of a more definitive existence. Their now-manager at the time also encouraged the inclusion of “Tek It” – a track then two years old. “She was like ‘You need to put it on the album because this is the time for new people to find that song and to fall in love with that song’…and she was right.”

In 2022 Tik Tok found “Tek It”. Here it soon became the soundtrack to various personal, 30-second moments of melancholic reflection, thanks to Yoo’s hazy production and Schat’s gut-spilling lyrics: "Watch the moon / Let it run my mood / Can’t stop thinking of you”. As for its allure, Schat puts it down to it being “a very emotionally potent song…it comes from a very genuine place. I really do believe that when you are genuinely engaging with what you're making people naturally connect to that.”

Before “Tek It”’s 2022 blast off, the pair were hunkering down to record their next EP, the follow-up to Running. They were heading out to a cabin in upstate New York in the winter of 2021, ready to pivot Cafuné. Describing the plan to create something “more intimate, a lot of acoustic guitars, some bossa nova influence – a King’s of Convenience type thing,” things changed the moment they were thrust into the hyperactive Tik Tok spotlight. “Energetic is what we need to do right now,” Schat affirms. “We can have our intimate and acoustic moment later.”

This is the joy of Cafuné: between the two of them, they’re able to navigate any weather with reasonable familiarity, whilst knowing the rough seas will only bring them brighter pastures. 2023’s offerings include “Perspective” – a track that begins sparse, before building upward alongside Schat’s honeyed vocals – and most recent single “Demise” – a borderline pop-punk jam. Another slice of self-effacing reality, its threateningly-relatable refrain of “I love to overcomplicate my stupid little life” feels immediately destined to connect with just about anyone who sets ears upon it.

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For this sonic patchwork quilt they’ve wrapped themselves up in, Cafuné’s distinction is in the pair's chemistry. As Schat mentions, “What really excites me about Noah and I coming together pretty naturally is we have been able to tap into a couple of different genre zones.” They’re able to bolster each other's separate interests and tastes. “We love indie rock, we could do the straight-up rock. We can do weirder stuff as well,” challenges Sedona.

Akin to a trust exercise, the pair's relationship has required commitment. It’s a fact that’s not only worked in their favour but also paid dividends. While a third party would be easy when it comes to needed “tie-breakers” as they put it, Yoo enthuses that “Being a duo is a lot of fun in a lot of respects, especially after you've spent so much time with somebody where it feels like you're sharing one brain…or maybe one brain cell,” they chuckle together. Under the guise of Cafuné, they've grown together; they’ve learned together; they’ve even found a consistently burgeoning success together; “but it also can be a challenge,” he continues. “Especially if the other person is going through something, it’s really hard not to feel it very deeply."

This is how Schat and Yoo have managed to bring Cafuné to life. Theirs is an intrinsic relationship that – on whatever surface it resides – wraps around the other like a steel Yin and Yang forged from a love of Two Door Cinema Club and the like. “Over the arc of our personal lives, the band has changed a lot in how it works," Yoo considers thoughtfully. "There were times when Sedona wasn't writing, or it was tough for me to come up with stuff, and the other had to be there to say like, ‘Hey, it's okay that this isn't working for you right now. I'm not gonna abandon this, I still have faith in this’!”

Cafuné support Cavetown at Alexandra Palace on 24 September; new EP Love Songs For The End is released on 13 October

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