The little ol’ college town of Champaign, IL surprisingly hosts a small-but-booming musical community. Karena Tse joined us for the first episode of our Champaign run of Quarantine Tapes. She serenaded us with a handful of songs exploring the oh-so-multi-faceted experience of love. In her tape we chat about what makes the Champaign music scene special, finding creative inspiration, and the project she’s been up to during quarantine.
Karena got her start in music playing guitar with her father, who taught her the ropes. Once she got the hang of it, she began exploring her own voice in song-writing, gaining inspiration from artists like Snail Mail and other guitar-focused artists. While going to school she became immersed in the local music scene, which welcomed her with open arms. The community in this college town is full of encouragement, giving the music community a feeling of family.
The first time she performed at the local music venue, The Canopy Club, solidified Tse‘s passions to pursue a music career. She’s played several sets at this local favorite, not much different from the one you see here in her Quarantine Tapes, but the space is usually jam-packed full of students in and residents to Urbana-Champaign.
While she’s been eagerly awaiting the safe return to music events, Karena Tse has been hard at work on her music. She has been performing in writer’s rounds, hosted by Mike Ingram in a Zoom setting with other local acts. She has also been busy in the student-run studio Perimeter Road at Parkland College, recording her debut EP! Keep an eye out for this emerging artist; her lovely r&b voice and effortless guitar playing will be such a treat to hear on a full-length and fully produced project.