The Brooklyn native, up and coming artist Carley Portera, drew considerable buzz performing pop and rock music in both Europe and New York under her given name and variations, most notably the abbreviation ‘Cara.” She is known for her strong 3 1/2 octave range, from colorfully dark and smooth contralto, to Madonna-esque mid-range, up to rare high whistle-register; possessed most notably by Mariah Carey. Bravely at age 18 she flew to Helsinki, Finland by herself with no set plan on arrival to pursue a career in music and then attended college in Jyvaskyla, Finland. She split her time writing and recording between Finland and London / Nottingham, England. She is strongly connected to the United Kingdom and considers it to be her ‘second home.” Carley currently resides in Los Angeles, California working with prominent producers on a future release. http://www.musiccrowns.org/rock-music-crown/cara-singer/
Entertwine: How did you get your start in music? What kind of musical background do you come from?
Carley Portera: I have been singing for as long as I can remember, and according to my family even before I can remember. I’d sit in front of the radio for hours with my cassette tapes singing them over and over again. As a kid I was always just very into music and it stayed with me as I got older. The best escape and distraction I’ve ever had.
As far as background goes, its definitely diverse. I went to catholic school so I had sang in church up until 3rd grade. I wasn’t ever really into that type of music though, even at that age. I listened to the radio a lot and it was always 103.5 KTU The Beat of New York or Q104.3 New York’s Classic Rock I’d have on.
ET: How did your hometown of Brooklyn, NY influence your music career?
CP: Brooklyn was definitely a big influence on my music career. And I’m talking about before downtown Brooklyn was cool. Being born and raised in Brooklyn means you’re basically manufactured with an upfront, loud, expressive attitude, you have an extra coat of skin. You don’t care what people think, you don’t take shit from anyone, no matter who the hell they think they are. When I’m out of NYC people always compliment me and say “Wow, I really admire you for being able to just speak your mind with no fear.” Or “You are such a strong person.” And I would be thinking, “What are these people talking about?!” It’s just normal everyday coffee drinking, get the hell out of my way, cursing out the MTA [New York’s Public Transportation system] life for me at home.
I’ll never glamorize New York City into something it’s not. I’m never going to walk down 42nd street with rose-colored glasses in a glitter-covered sequin outfit saying “I love New York City so much I want to be a building!” No. Fuck off. I do love New York, but it’s not glamorous or theatrical. If you want theatrics Hollywood, California is waiting for you. Even right outside of the Hollywood-Highland metro station you’ll have all the theatrics you can ever dream of. New York City is dirty, gritty, fast paced and most importantly it’s REAL. I don’t want to take that away from Brooklyn because that’s why I miss Brooklyn when I’m not there.
ET: Why did you have the sudden urge to fly to Finland at the young age of 18 to pursue music?
CP: That’s a question I get very often. When I was in high school I was in Guitar Ensemble and some of the guys listened to Scandinavian metal bands. Naturally the high school classic I was, I had to know which bands they were so I’d seem cool. Contrary to everyone’s doubts about me I won the Youth For Understanding Finland U.S. Senate Youth Exchange scholarship when I applied for it at 16. I represented New York’s two senators at the time, Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer. No-one could picture the weird loudmouth Brooklyn chick they knew as an ambassador, but there I was.
I made a promise to myself to find a way to get back there when I was 18- and I did. It wasn’t easy, I just one-way ticket flew there not knowing anyone really, I wasn’t familiar with Helsinki and I didn’t really have a place to stay either. Getting off the plane I didn’t have a choice anymore, I had to put up or shut up. After a few long hard years I found Jani Lagerström who had produced and engineered gold and platinum records in Finland for Sony, Universal and Warner Music artists. He really believed in me and my voice, and he gave me the chance I’d been living and dying for.
ET: How would you describe your sound to an audience unfamiliar with your music?
CP: Twisted pop. Heavily 1990s influenced. My songs have powerful energetic vocals and a lot of emotion. I’d say my vocals do have a melancholic tone to them that’s usually found in rock music, and I think that is part of the pop with a twist aspect. I am always a part of writing my music and lyrics.
I’m constantly pigeonholed into being called a “rocker” because of my look or my attitude, I mean it doesn’t make me any less of a female that loves pink and obsessively does her nails. Marilyn Monroe did say it best though, “I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me.”
People love to love me and love to hate me, but they never quite understand me. But I’m singing the human experience; Love/ Hate relationships, love in misery, wanting something you can never have, wanting someone you feel like you can’t ever have, things you wanted to say and stories you want to tell. People can relate to all of that and identify with genuine emotion though, no matter what you want to call me or say I am. Then again sometimes people inventing characters for me isn’t always a bad thing, it adds to being somewhat mysterious or egregious.
ET: When you aren’t performing, what takes up your free time?
CP: In all honesty probably Kitchen Nightmares or Law And Order. I like watching music videos and concerts of my favorite bands live. Documentaries, interviews, reading about whatever random thing popped into my head and I want to research… I hang out with my roommate and her friends when I feel like going out, most of my friends aren’t in LA. Sometimes I’ll rent a car for a few days and I love wasting my free time driving anywhere really fast, blasting music at maximum. I love BMWs, I call them beam beams. And sometimes I’ll wake up and decide to go somewhere completely random because I felt like it. I’m just wired like this. I live for something to constantly do or something new. The rest of all of my time is Cara related.
ET: Out of all the places you’ve performed, recorded, or written in, which captures your heart the most, and why?
CP: I’d have to say England. I don’t know if it was the ‘Cool Britannia’ thing I grew up with as a 90s kid, or because London can look and feel like New York. England has always been an experience for me every time I’ve gone there. I can’t really explain the connection I have with the UK and pin it down to one single reason but it always just felt like my second home. It was the first place to really capture my heart, and I knew it would. They say LA is paradise but it just isn’t the same for me.
Almost all of my songs are about people from the UK or things that’ve happened there. Some people told me that I’d been abroad for so long that I actually developed a strange Brooklyn-British-Euro accent mixture.
ET: What is next for you in 2014?
CP: Right now here in Los Angeles I’m working on getting a video done for one of my tracks, doing some photo shoots, preparing for live performances, writing new material, I have a lot going on but life isn’t fun without some surprise right?
Quite simply, a lot of Cara is next. I’m not the kind of artist that wants to rush things before their time, though I can be an extremely impatient person. I’m working on perfecting everything to the best of my ability so people can enjoy it for exactly what I envision it to be; And that will be worth the wait.
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