Take KARE of yourself
With Dysphoria, KARE Collective explores “sustainable” self-care
The self-care movement can be guilty of looking too superficial. Just search on YouTube: Quirky fonts, plastered smiles and cute dogs can sometimes be a winning recipe for “My Sunday Routine” videos that grab thousands of clicks.
Chazayah Yisrael agrees. His song “Ballroom” is a lyrical lesson on how to navigate depression and anxiety without hurting your romantic partner. He learned this the hard way.
“You can’t hurt people because of what you’re going through. We’re all human, but it’s still not OK,” says the singer-producer who co-leads KARE Collective, a Sacramento self-care project and hip-hop band. “Ballroom,” featured on its debut EP, Dysphoria, is a particularly powerful track, with Chazayah oscillating between soaring heartfelt vocal melodies and straight-forward hip-hop rhymes over a light beat with washes of surreal synths. The EP releases July 29 with an event at Classy Hippie Tea Company.
“The EP is about being able to take care of yourself when you’re feeling dysphoric,” Yisrael says. “Each of the songs [tackle] an aspect of self-care that isn’t the glamorous side.”
In May, KARE received funding from the California Arts Council to implement and expand the self-care programming they’ve been developing for black and brown communities over the past few years as part of the arts co-op Sol Collective. Their workshops include topics such as meditation, therapeutic writing exercises and herbal healing.
From the band’s start in 2017, it has held live performances and self-care workshops. The members are Yisrael, his brother and rapper/poet Yeshahyah Yisrael, singer Diamond Key, videographer Demetrius Williams and photographer Kennet Rey.
Yeshahyah says he was inspired by Salvin Chahal, an organizer at Sol Collective, whose mantra is: Find what your community is lacking. Then provide it.
“I saw that self-care was what they needed,” Yeshahyah says. “I found ways to best provide that through art, music or actually giving you the tools to take care of yourself.”
Dysphoria stays heavy. The song “Words Of Wanting,” features a powerful spoken word performance by Yeshahyah, who describes the emotional aftermath when he and his girlfriend decided to get an abortion when they were teens. Over solemn keys, electric guitar and pipe organ, he says: “I was born to be the thing that answered your prayers / But that’s not what you wanted.”
“That’s probably the most vulnerable piece I’ve ever written in my life,” he says.
With the grant money and the new EP, Yeshahyah says KARE Collective hopes to show a “self-sufficient” and “sustainable” self-care that doesn’t require people to spend money on temporary solutions. Its EP release performance will be paired with herb bundling, planting dreams and affirmation activities.
“We hope to inspire people to take care of themselves, because it’s a very complex and heavy journey,” Yeshahyah says. “Once you figure out your tools, you’ll be ready to conquer life. Because those things are going to help you inside of your day-to-day activities.”