Having seen the magical world brought to life through song in musicals such as Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, Sena Kana believed from a young age that anything was possible when she sang. “Growing up in Japan, I was fascinated by musicals even before I learned to read or speak, and even though I sometimes could not understand the background of the story”, Sena told WWD, “I was still fascinated by the music and scenery and gave me such magical feeling.”
Over time, music and singing would help her on a much deeper level.
“I fell in love with the power that music has,” Sena said. “As I grew up, I learned that singing positive songs lifted my spirit and encouraged me to overcome hardship. When I was feeling down, I would sing and the world would change for me. Singing has given me a positive view of the world and that’s what I wanted to share with people as I started my career in music.”
Then, as an adult, I learned that singing a positive song when I was having a hard time could encourage me.
At the core of her songs, is a key message of light and positivity that Sena hopes listeners will embrace. Having earned Gold certification in the U.S. – the first female Japanese artist to do so since Yoko Ono in 1984 – has already made her message heard stateside and has even crossed genres with collaborations with Wiz Khalifa, Sheppard and Ty Dolla $ign.
“Working with Ty Dolla Sign showed me how magical a collaboration can be because it really took the song to another level,” said Sena. “Our song ‘Show Me’ is about persistence and trying to overcome the struggles of showing your true feelings, believing that it will change for the better and that the light will always shine. Ty Dolla $ign comes from such a different perspective than I do and he works in a very different genre but ultimately we both loved the song and that enhanced the song’s message.”
At the same time, achieving Gold status in the U.S., Sena said she felt the importance of recognizing that even in a difficult era of COVID, her message of warmth was important to listeners all over the world — a world made closer by social media. “Through social media and the Internet, we’re really not as far apart as it may seem” Sena said. “For everyone, not just musicians, I hope that my accomplishments can serve as an image of strength to give others the courage to pursue the future.”
Beyond collaborations with other artists, Sena acknowledges the power that fashion and beauty can have, again referencing the magical worlds that she saw come together in musicals. Knowledge about fashion, in particular, is something she is pursuing.
“Fashion really enhances my message because it gives me strength and provides a sort of suit of armor to take on the role of someone that my listeners can look up to,” said Sena. “Putting together my wardrobe, to me, helps me show an image of strength. I always looked up to Audrey Hepburn for her style and grace and she became an icon to me that I looked up to and emulated. But as I’ve become myself, I know it’s important to find my own style and incorporate what I love about today’s trends.”
Celine, Saint Laurent, Gucci and Givenchy, are Sena’s most loved, go-to designer brands, also noting that Proenza Schouler has become a new favorite. While Sena told WWD she tends to favor wearing monochromatic looks in a lot of gray, black and white, she’s been inspired to try brighter colors lately too – and although she’s starting small with bags and shoes, Sena said she’s felt the strength and power of the trend.
As fashion month winds down, Sena said she’s inspired by the Y2K fashion trend because of its bright colors and flashy sparkles. “During the pandemic, it felt like so many people were covered in sadness, and I really think that this trend in fashion is giving people power and happiness,” said Sena.
“Even if it is just making everyone slightly happier, I like to see people represent themselves in that way,” she said.