“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
Sometimes the clarity of a Zoom chat is contingent upon the luck of the draw. I inch my way toward my laptop in hopes of signaling the R&B-meets-hip-hop duo, Ceraadi, to follow suit. Either by coincidence or an alley-oop from the universe, the Roc Nation artists seem to catch my drift during our video conference. And soon, the songstresses begin to pixelate beautifully.
Sporting neon gear and highlighted hair, the Hollywood-based sisters appear to have fashioned a path far-removed from their Iowa stomping grounds. The pair’s 5-track major debut, Ceraadi’s Playlist, balances cues to cuff something against ’90s-inspired breakup bars. Ceraadi’s buzzing single, “Loyal,” and its nostalgic music video are representative of the girls around the way. Think TLC.
The visuals’ dance breaks on a block, from women, draped in baggy pants, and doorknocker earrings, are relatable. Still, Ceraadi has been after this dream realized for some years now — their ascension perhaps most notably took place following their stint on Christina Milian Turned Up, a former E! TV series. Together, Emaza, 22, and Saiyr, 25, resurface on screens distant from any plastic aesthetics. New song collaborations such as, “Show Me,” alongside their labelmate, Angelica Vila, extend Ceraadi’s lyrical chin-checks.
“We are like the sisters that are best friends, or your dream girlfriend,” Saiyr says confidently. Whether entertaining millions of viewers by way of tutorials on their YouTube channel, accumulating an upward of 400K while dancing in a single TikTok video, or interacting with their 2 million Instagram followers — the digital queens have not let the constraints of COVID-19 impede upon their interaction with their fanbase.
Beside VR Entertainment’s Platform, AmazeVR, the musical influencers are gearing up for a multi-sensory experience, by partnering to launch virtual concerts this fall. “With this virtual situation, I feel like we were built for this because we are so big on social media. In-person concerts have become a distant memory of 2020. When we are recording, we hear the VR, and it sounds so real. It gives you chills,” explains Emaza.
Notions of their unity surpass a budding catalog and cyber lifestyle activities. While connecting with The Knockturnal, Emaza, and Saiyr often complete one another’s sentences. Time will tell what type of numbers Ceraadi puts on the boards. But between their manifestations of staying power in the music industry and bubbly outbursts about an immersive partnership — one thing is clear – Ceraadi is true to themselves, by being themselves. And that certainly counts for something.
The Knockturnal: Your major debut EP’s breakthrough music video, “Loyal,” has accumulated 4.4 million views on YouTube. Describe what it was like behind the scenes for those becoming acquainted with your art?
Emaza:: We are Ceraadi. We are just hard-working girls that have been through a lot. We are influencers and examples that you can come from nothing and be something. We are apart of something great.
Saiyr: As far as the music video for “Loyal,” we are really hands-on. So, we got the dancers. We found the choreographer and helped come up with the choreography. We chose the styling. We did our hair and makeup. [Laughs] We made sure everybody was good and okay. Roc Nation was there to support.
Emaza: We just tried to give everybody what Ceraadi has brought. Here is what you get. So, I think everybody got their point across.
Saiyr: We are here to stay!
The Knockturnal: How has signing to Roc Nation changed your life?
Saiyr: It is crazy. Everybody is like, “Oh, my God. The Roc girls is here!” [Laughs]
Emaza: We made some noise at the brunches. You know? The Roc Nation Grammy brunches. It is crazy because, you know, you have JAY-Z being a big part of it.
Saiyr: Big man! You know? His wife is Beyoncé. A famous entertainer we look up to.
Emaza: They are very artist-friendly, though.
Saiyr: They are very supportive in what we want to do. Not a lot of labels do that.
The Knockturnal: Your most recent release, “Secure The Bag” is a get money anthem. How important is your independence as on-the-rise artists and young women?
Emaza: Very, very, very important. Yes, very important!
Saiyr: You might not have a lot of people telling you to read your contract. [There is not always someone at a label to teach you about] writing splits [or how to find] the right lawyers.
Emaza: There is so much business involved in the music industry. They will tell you, “Oh, you guys can focus on being an artist.” No, you are an artist and a business. JAY-Z said, “I’m not a businessman. I’m a business, man.” [Laughs] That is what we take from it. We are writing and making sure that we are having publishing — all this other stuff. It’s your life.
Saiyr: And, as far as, “Secure The Bag,” that was just the anthem, no matter what it was. It could be a 9 to 5 or an independent business.
Emaza: Or getting good grades in school. [Laughs] Getting your education is something that can set you up — whether that is going into the field or college.
Saiyr: It can be mental health. Yes, securing that mental health bag. [Laughs]
The Knockturnal: With consideration of you being family, what does sisterhood mean to you?
Saiyr: Everything! This is my best friend. This is my twin. This is my partner. My ride or die.
Emaza: People look at us, like, “Are you guys really, sisters?” And we are like, “Yeah.” They are like, “How can you guys be around each other so much?” If you are into astrology… I am a Capricorn, and she is a Taurus. [Laughs] So, we just get each other. We are like twins.
Saiyr: P B & J!
Emaza: We just get each other. We can feel each other. When one needs a hug or someone is down — we will hug each other.
Saiyr: Or when we are in the studio. We will be in different rooms. We will write [song lyrics] to a beat and come back to [one another and say,] “I would like the song to be about this.” It’s like, “Girl, me, too!” [Laughs]
Emaza: We will have the same concept. So, [us being intuned] is definitely an advantage. You know this person. We get along. Even if we were to get into a little rah-rah situation. [Laughs]
Saiyr: What are you talking about?
Emaza: We regroup.
Saiyr: We come back like, “Girl! Let’s go get some food.”
The Knockturnal: I would imagine you are accustomed to being around one another. At this point, you have been recording as a unit for a few years now.
Emaza: Yes, it has been a journey, but knowing each other strengths and weaknesses [allows us] to help each other within the group. We know what we can provide individually.
Saiyr: We definitely support one another — whatever we want to do — we want each other to be happy. Because when one person is happy, the other person is happy.
The Knockturnal: The coronavirus pandemic has affected musicians and their listeners globally. How will your partnership with the AmazeVR app be groundbreaking in maintaining interaction with your fanbase?
Emaza: Well, this is the first time for the whole thing. They chose us! Now we have to be the glam squad. We gotta be PR (public relations.) We have a new EP, a new sound and image. We are stepping out of the gate with this whole virtual Ceraadi world.
Saiyr: It is crazy, yeah.
Emaza: It is a step up, too. You know? We were groomed performing live. Now we have to do a Zoom call. Still, now we are giving people an experience. This is taking performance to another level.
Emaza: This has never been done before.
Saiyr: Ever! This is really crazy in my head. We were just talking about it. Like, “We are the first people that they chose.”
Right! You are launching.
Emaza: Yeah! They chose Ceraadi. So, oh, we cool. [Laughs]
Saiyr: We are providing our fans happiness. It is a sense of escape from whatever they are going through. Literally! With this virtual performance, they are escaping. I put it on and was like, “Oh, my God!”
Emaza: I think it is going to give people a little bit of comfort, and a little of going back to the way stuff was before.
The Knockturnal: For people who are accustomed to consistently being at concerts — I think that an interactive piece is what is missing.
Saiyr: We are excited.
The Knockturnal: What is that process like behind the scenes getting ready for a virtual performance, versus a live performance? Is there a bit of a difference as far as rehearsals on the app? How does that go?
Emaza: The AmazeVR team was so awesome and professional. They let us be creative.
Saiyr: They were professional. They let us be creative. [We got] whatever we wanted. When it came to food, it was there. [Laughs] They were disinfecting things. I’m like, “Oh, my God!”
Emaza: The procedure of whether it was rehearsals or we were actually filming, [their team made an effort to keep us safe]. We had hand sanitizer and temperature checks. Everyone there was supportive. They had good energy with the rehearsals.
With this virtual situation, I feel like we were built for this because we are so big on social media. When we record our YouTube videos, we are talking to an audience. Still, no one is behind that camera. Hearing the audio [on the AmazeVP App], and hearing the cheers gave me chills. This is something that we have seen for ourselves, being in arenas. They are giving us that opportunity.
Saiyr: It was another step toward us, one day, actually performing in a big arena.
Emaza: When we used to rehearse for shows — little intimate ones, we’d be like, “I can imagine hearing the crowd.” When we are recording, we hear the VR, and it sounds so real.
Saiyr: I’m like, “Where they at?” [Laughs]
Emaza: Yeah, I wanted to cry because it is very real. It gives you chills.
The Knockturnal: Your recent music video collaboration, “Tear It Up,” with Az Chike displayed and offered a nostalgic ’90s vibe. Who are some of your influences from that era?
Saiyr: We were rockin’ heavy with SWV.
Emaza: My mom played them all the time. Yes, I am always playing them. We studied the greats, TLC. The baggie clothes, their fun, and energetic vibes…
Saiyr: Them being who they are…
Saiyr: We did listen to a lot of men. That is probably why we are tomboys. We have a cool little swag.
Emaza: We listen to a lot of rappers. A Tribe Called Quest, Biggie Smalls, Wu-Tang Clan [are influences]. All that stuff was playing in the house.
Saiyr: The whole Bad Boy era. Mary J. Blige! It is dope to grab some inspiration from that or see what we can take from that, and give 2020 [vibes].
The Knockturnal: What is your duo’s mantra? Who is Ceraadi?
Saiyr: We are like the sisters that are best friends, but you can relate to them as your homegirl, your dream girlfriend, and someone who has your back — a ride or die. Good vibes.
Emaza: We believe in spreading happiness. There is no such thing as being too happy. Everybody should be super, super happy in this world. Why not?
Saiyr: We had to be serious during the pandemic. We did not want to come off as insensitive. Still, once we started posting the regular content, we provide which is positivity, and just lit-ness.
Emaza: People were like, “I needed that.”
Saiyr: If Ceraadi is not out being happy, I do not think a lot of people are going to be providing that energy.
Emaza: A lot of people were like, “Oh, you guys got that Chihuahua, crack head energy.” [Laughs]
Saiyr: Chihuahua energy! [Laughs] We just want to spread love.
The Knockturnal: Aesthetically, that is very much on-brand. I collected that, whether that be by way of TikTok or any of your social media accounts.
Saiyr: We got big Chihuahua energy! [Laughs]