Words between friends: an interview with singer Cherée
27 Jul 2017
Turning 22 today, singer Cherée is at a crossroads; her fourth single, ‘Just Like Me’, was released on 25th July and her music is beginning to spark industry interest and loyal listeners. We met at high school and I interviewed Cherée during one of our many ‘catch-up’ sleepovers to catch a glimpse of this precarious yet hopefully moment many 20-somethings can relate to.
What inspires you to create?
A lot of things. I write loads about relationships, and my drama with wastemen and whatnot. I guess how we deal with emotions is what inspires a lot of my writing. I try to analyse how I have dealt with different human interaction, not necessarily romantic, just relationships in general.
You’ve always wanted to be a singer. How have you dealt with that dream when the music industry can seem so competitive and unreachable at times?
When I was young, singing was always something that seemed so far-fetched. I was so passionate about it and it took a long time to for me to actually tell people, “I wanna be a singer.” I was embarrassed to say it ‘cause I felt like people would think “that’s so unrealistic, why do you wanna do that?”. There’s loads of times when I have self-doubt. But I want to live my life doing something that I love, that is the momentum that keeps me going. At the end of the day, I know other things will not make me as happy as pursuing this, knowing I put everything into this.
Are you glad, in hindsight, that the journey to success has been slow and steady?
For ages, I wished I already had music out, but looking back I feel that I learnt a lot along the way in terms of writing and production and what my taste is. In terms of building character that definitely helped with my writing. I was writing songs at 10 but it was a bunch of rubbish! I was writing love songs but obviously, I had never experienced that so it was emulating other songs I listened to. It was fun to do that and practice, but it’s not real. I think just live life a while if you want to be an artist in any form, understand what it is you are trying to say.
“The whole song is me talking to myself and saying maybe, through the hurt and confusion, I will grow”
Tell me the story behind creating your newest release ‘Just Like Me’?
I wrote ‘Just Like Me’ two years ago now, that was written at a shitty point. I was dealing with depression which was a new thing for me to deal with, I had never labelled my emotions as that… I wrote that song with hope that things get better. The whole song is me talking to myself and saying maybe, through the hurt and confusion, I will grow, that’s where the line ‘maybe in the dark I’ll grow’ comes from. It’s just a reminder that you often have the power to uplift yourself. Depression is a difficult thing, it’s not like ‘just be happy’, it’s not that simple. But in my personal experience, a large part of it came from me having to will myself to want to be positive […] I think it was good that I wrote it so long ago, I feel like if I had released it as soon as I wrote it I wouldn’t have been open about the topic. Now I feel like I deal with my emotions better and the media is more open to mental health discussions, it allows me to be honest.
Being women, I think we always feel like no matter what we achieve we have to be beautiful as well as talented. How have you processed entering the image conscious music industry?
There is pressure in life in general for females to be worried about the way they look. I am aware that as much as the music industry should be about music it is also about a lot of other rubbish. I’ve always been aware of that. But, girls in general, have to remind themselves to be happy with themselves and not care what other people think, even though it’s easier said than done. It’s a difficult thing to just put yourself out there like that, I am so in awe of the girls who are part of this whole body positive moment. There are so many positive things going on with our generation, in terms of body image and self-care, so I think it’s a good time for girls to try and grow in terms of the way they see themselves.
“We’re incredible and complex as people. I want to be remembered as someone who shows that as a spectrum”
We both grew up in mixed heritage households, do you feel you still have a strong identity culturally?
I think my cultural identity is not super specific to my heritage – I identify as a mixed-race girl from London. That can be a lot of things, but then it is almost one community. Growing up having friends from all sorts of backgrounds, I could relate to a lot of the things my black friends experienced growing up. But, at the same time, I am mixed so my experiences were not completely the same. There’s times you feel you fit outside the boxes. Embodying my mixture of heritages is what I relate to more than being Danish or Ghanaian, although both those identities do influence me.
What type of women do you want to be remembered as?
I want to be remembered as someone who is always authentic to themselves yet always growing. I hate when artists are pigeonholed, no one in the world is one thing. It’s unrealistic. I want to be able to show every aspect of me and hopefully, that reflects how women have so many aspects to them. We’re incredible and complex as people. I want to be remembered as someone who shows that as a spectrum.