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December 2020 / January 2021

Getting to know... cehryl

Singer-songwriter cehryl is forging a path unlike anyone else.
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Published: 11:20 am, November 03, 2020 Photos: Jonny Ho.
Getting to know... cehryl

Bad news - singer-songwriter and upcoming pop marvel cehryl was gonna be touring with Cavetown this year, but COVID had other plans. Good news - binning off all her live commitments has meant she's spent the past few months working on the follow-up to her positively dreamy 2018 album, 'Slow Motion'. 

The first taste of new music came over the summer in the form of the retro-leaning 'Moon Eyes', which somehow sounds a bit Christmassy? But isn't? It's a proper wonder that effortlessly charms its way into repeat listens. 

Her latest single, 'Superbloom' is an irrestible bop about the unwinding of a relationship. "'Superbloom' is about flowers dying, about disappointment following a naive, light-hearted love," she says. "The verses reference cartoons and colours and the innocent child-like beginnings of everything and the chorus reveals the ending. The song is about the death of an immature love." 

Give them both a listen below, and introduce yourself to an act who'll soon be all over your playlists.

Hi cehryl, how's it going? What are you up to today?

Hey hey hey! I am just about to get off work. Today was another desk job weekday for me.

Has the pandemic mucked up many of your 2020 plans? How have you found this year?

Actually, this is not a pity party, but my 2020 plans were mucked up even before the pandemic, due to visa issues in mid-2019. The pandemic is obviously horrible, and like everyone, I hope it ends asap, but all the time spent at home with family back in Hong Kong in the past few months have felt necessary and have bought me space to reflect on what I really want in my 20s.

Are you able to write and record music from home? What's your set up like?

It is difficult, but yes, I am able to do that. My set-up is kind of janky, but it works (I don't have a mic stand and my table just fits my laptop, so my bed which is just next to it is usually packed with instruments and cables by 3am). I currently don't have speakers even. I have a trusty apogee duet interface though, and I record vocals using an sm58 or a RØDE NT1-A. The latter sounds way better, but ultimately I'm lazy, so I just use the 58.

Does 'the state of the world' impact the kind of songs you find yourself wanting to make?

It affects how I feel, of course, which I'm sure affects the mood of my music. But lyrically speaking, not directly. I've always found my songwriting to be really personal and I have never written anything explicitly commenting on issues that I care about. That being said, I think really personal art can still be political.

What music did you grow up listening to? How has your taste evolved over the years?

When I moved to Boston for college from Hong Kong, my music taste really really broadened. Growing up, I listened to a lot of pop and singer-songwritery stuff, which all became really boring to me when I got to college. But since college, I've been more into R&B, folk, hip-hop and some electronic stuff. I try to find something to appreciate something about everything, though, even if I don't love it at first listen. I think I hate trance music though, haha.

How did you find releasing 'Slow Motion', did you come up against any unexpected challenges along the way?
'Slow Motion' was my first proper album, and I pushed myself to be less impatient when it came to final production bits. It wasn't that challenging to me… the only thing I wasn't used to was having financial support from AWAL, which I'm really grateful for. It allowed me to plan the release party and work out certain promotional things that I couldn't have done otherwise.

Did the record open up any new doors for you? What opportunities came after?

I suppose every release opens up new doors. It's hard to trace exactly what one singular thing leads to. But since I've released the record, I've started working with my current managers Alex and Jeremy who I really appreciate, who have helped me a lot since mid-2019 and have been keeping me on track with deals and negotiations and all that! Shout-out to them.

How far along are you with its follow-up?

I just finished my next EP, working on the visual aspects now.

Do songs find you, or do you usually have to find them?

Oh, I find them for sure. Songwriting is work. It is silly, in my opinion, to romanticize it to the point where you're just lazy. I believe certain things can inspire you or an idea can pop into your head but flushing it out, executing and expanding on the idea and all the decisions that go into it is what art is, I think. Art is work.

What are your hopes for 2021?

For Covid to be over, obviously. I hope I can move somewhere new, and make 1000000 songs that I am actually proud of.

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