Hawaii’s MAKENA Rocks the Mainland

The lyrics on their self-titled CD speak of relationships, of being the best one can be for both one’s self and one’s partner, and of being true to yourself. "Tell Me," for example, speaks about the self-doubt that can creep in when in a relationship: "Dreamt last night you had to say goodbye/But when I woke up there you were at my side."

Many of their lyrics are refreshingly positive, such as in the song "That’s Why I Keep Keeping On." This optimism comes through when speaking with them as well. "Thank God for The Secret!" Lee exclaimed when I remarked on their positive outlook. This documentary has been very affirming for them.

"In a nutshell," Lee explained, "The Secret has provided structure and clarity to ways we’re living. … It’s about the laws of attraction and about taking responsibility."

It has particularly been helpful for them as they work in the music industry. "It’s been challenging for us," she continued. "We’ve given up [music] a handful of times and jumped back in, and The Secret‘s been an anchor for us on how to turn things around and see things in a light that feels good to us, to not settle. It’s about keeping what you truly want in your heart."

MAKENA’s mission statement reflects how they incorporate what they’ve learned and what they believe: " To serve the worldwide community with music goods and services of comfort and joy, in order to support people’s worthwhile purposes through strengthened spirits of peace, inspiration and love."

Yet it’s not just people who they serve. " Our home is a magnet for cats with any kinds of needs," Tajiri said. "If it needs dental work, it comes to our house. If it needs a leg amputated, it comes to our house. If it’s lost, it comes to our house." So Lee and Tajiri founded Concerts4Cats. "We wanted to figure out a way to combine our music with this. Sometimes we’d have to run home from our gigs to administer medicine to someone recovering from IBD or from a heart condition. It’s been a very emotional experience."

And costly. Since so many of the cats who came to them were seniors, they weren’t able to find much help with funding the needed medical treatment, since many agencies concentrate on kittens or cats who are more adoptable. Their concerts4cats.com website provides more information and features bios of several of the cats they’ve helped.

Other projects for MAKENA include an upcoming benefit for Animal Acres, an agency that assists abused farm animals, and a benefit for The Vagina Monologues Hollywood. They are also working on new songs." Siena and I have been talking with each other lately, and since we’ve been together, both musically and personally, for a while now, we have a better handle on what our style is musically."

Lee agreed. "We’re able to look back after a certain amount of time and can be more secure that ‘this is our style,’" she said. "We’re really excited about the next project. It’ll be more flirty, fun and playful."

Though they’ve played venues as varied as straight weddings and Pride events, the Los Angeles County Fair and Hawaiian cultural festivals, they have a special place in their heart for their queer audiences. "We love playing for lesbians, love playing for families, for the gay men out there, and for everyone in between," Lee said.

"It’s such an overwhelming feeling of love, warmth and validation for us, something that you don’t know it’s missing until you experience it. Like with the L.A. Women’s Fest, as soon as we got onstage, we received the acceptance we haven’t felt before in such an enormous way. The queer audience is our audience. It also makes us feel 110 percent more comfortable sharing truthfully the experiences in what’s behind each song. And to share how we are a couple and to talk about that, too."

Tajiri continued: "I want to express — and I know Siena feels the same way, too — that we’re grateful for the lesbian community and their support of lesbian artists. We’ve often received questions from the gay press about whether or not we have experienced discrimination, and the answer to that is yes, but on the flip side, we’ve experienced even greater amount of preferential support because we are lesbians. Because we’re women and we’re gay, we can be a part of the community."

Learn more about MAKENA and hear clips of their music at MAKENAmusic.com.

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