Cartoonist and musician CECE CAMACHO started creating art to heal herself and decided to share her healing process with others.
CECE CAMACHO, 27, has always been artistic, but music was not her first outlet. CECE has always used art as a way to process her mental health. She used various creative outlets to deal with her anxiety and depression and calm her "restless" and "chaotic" mind.
Around 2014, CECE started dating her first boyfriend, and he highly influenced her art style.
"He was really big on graffiti, and I was really big on him, so the influence was there."
To spend more time with him, she developed a character head she could quickly draw. Since then, CECE CAMACHO has become a talented cartoonist and painter with a style she has dubbed YETWAHS.
"The name YETWAHS derives from a nickname my late homie gave me, 'Shawtey.' When my homie died, I had a few epiphanies, and amongst those lessons, I realized that my current reality was a reflection of my state of mind, as in my art. So YETWAHS is a reflection of SHAWTEY. My art is a reflection of the inner workings of my mind."
Despite being an established cartoonist, CECE shifted her focus to music in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was laid off from her corporate job and decided to invest in a production studio where she printed shirts and hoodies for cash. At this studio, she met someone with a recording studio who showed her how to create music. She found a new artistic outlet where she could "record the pain away."
Influenced by Nas, Lauryn Hill, N.E.R.D., Erykah Badu, Quasi, Madlib, DOOM, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Lox, Jay-Z, Dipset, Wu-Tang, and Blu & Exile; all the musicians she grew up listening to, CECE went into the studio every day for a year.
"I love the art of freestyling and fell in love with spoken word, so once I learned how to combine that with instrumentals myself, it really was a wrap for me."
Because she uses music as a form of therapy, catapulting a music career was never the intention. Eventually, "it was time to share my healing process with the world." She created a stage name to release the music under.
"CECE is my middle name, given to me by my mother. And CAMACHO is my late grandfather's name, and he is someone I hold very dear to me, so I had to represent the bloodline."
Since starting her music career, CECE CAMACHO has released four EPs, an LP, and countless singles, all with the help of producers like Zamasue17, Petobeats, 1996beats, Atto Pilot, and more.
"They're not only my producers but good friends of mine. And we all kind of had this understanding that this music shit was deeper to me. It was never for the aesthetic but more for the healing of my being."
With so many songs in her musical catalog and countless in the vault, CECE is most proud of the ones that serve as messages and reminders to herself about the lessons she's learned.
"I'd say the last verse of Sofa Beds & Ramen really could be interpreted as the spirit speaking to self. 'Bet that you regret the times you find yourself alone, knowing it's by choice you got no voice with the unknown, zoning in and out, you got your doubts, it's in your tone, but we got more routes to the way out, let's hit the road. When it comes to truth, I can see her in my dreams; not sure what you're used to, but there's no fooling me.'"
On a weekend in October 2021, CECE recorded her most recent EP, The Chrysalis, which was released earlier this year.
"I freestyled most of those songs minus Bermuda, which explains why there's a lack of song structure, especially evident in that project. There were about 11-13 songs to pick from, and I just chose my favorite, really, and the ones that sounded the best together."
For her most recent single, Geekin', CECE deviated from her typical freestyle format and wrote a verse instead. With no musical background, it was a challenging feat.
"At the time I wrote Geekin', I was overflowing with emotions. It's kind of my thing to feel things ever so deeply, good or bad. And I was infatuated and living off a high that I could not contain inside. . . It was a really vulnerable moment for me to step into my femininity and be soft with my voice like that. I was just being honest about my feelings."
Constantly exploring different forms of artistry, CECE decided to take her music to the next level by performing it all over New Jersey and New York. Last month, she worked up to a 40-minute set at Hart Bar in Bushwick, NY.
"The 40-minute set, I performed off three hours of sleep since I had performed the night before, but I love music so much I don't think anybody really noticed."
Because stepping on stage and performing her music was never the intention, her biggest obstacle so far is scrambling to get performance tracks for all her songs. However, she knows there are so many more things to come.
With so much talent, charisma, and passion, CECE CAMACHO has quickly gained success and respect among her peers.
But traditional accolades and success are not the goal.
"I want to channel whatever energy and messages that are meant for the world to hear and feel. Hopefully, contribute to raising the collective vibration, whether that be visually or sonically."
She finds joy in creating art that helps heal herself and others, to create art that moves people. She wants her art to remind people that healing is all about finding a way to cope, an escape that leads you to the light at the end of the tunnel.
"[I want to spread the message] that mental health is something to be constantly watered and catered to, and that the voices of depression, anxiety, worry or sorrow, are not you. These are feelings you should let pass and not identify with. That you can very much get lost in creation and free yourself of all that may be mentally holding you back from appreciating the present moment, hopefully, to encourage people to be more real with themselves and their experiences, know everything will be okay."
From the very beginning, CECE CAMACHO transformed her grief into beauty. She took her anxiety and depression and turned them into her unique YETWAHS cartoons. Music helped her find yet another creative outlet for healing. CECE CAMACHO is a naturally talented artist and musician whose ability to combine her passions and switch them up when necessary keeps her on the cusp of her next artistic breakthrough.
"Don't be afraid to level up and try out something new."
Watch for CECE CAMACHO's upcoming singles and a new EP entitled CITA in January 2024.
Catch her at Supreme Bars at Supreme Pour in Brooklyn, NY, on Saturday, July 15th.
Listen to CECE CAMACHO's music on Spotify.
See all of CECE CAMACHO's newest YETWAHS on Instagram.