´If you have a purpose that’s genuine and comes from something pure, it’s really hard to lose your way.´
Cherrie is one of Sweden’s biggest RnB stars. At only 28 years old she’s won multiple awards, she’s done a documentary for SVT and released soul-changing music through her own record label. We got the chance to talk to her about inspiration, fashion, pressing matters in Sweden and of course music.
Tell us a little bit about yourself/background.
My name is Cherrie. I’m a Swedish, Somali artist. I produce music, write music, and sing. I’ve been singing ever since I could talk, but I never really thought I was going to make it into a profession until I was 22. So, I started late, but music/singing has always been a huge part of my life.
What inspires you? Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of my music is socially aware of the society we live in, especially as an immigrant in Sweden. I would definitely say my music is very much inspired by the people who have “been through stuff,” especially the women in my life and the women I look up to like my girlfriends and my mom. The people in countries like Sweden that are less fortunate or come from nothing but try to make something out of it are who really inspire me, but I also have huge musical inspirations like Maria Carey, Mary J Blige, and Aaliyah.
Who is one of your favorite artists at the moment and why?
I mainly listen to two artists right now, and that’s Wizkid and Burna Boy who are both from Nigeria. They have slowly become my favorite artists because there’s not a lot of music that is based off of emotion anymore, and a lot of their music feels spiritual. You know, like the motherland. I think it takes me to a place that I have never gotten to experience in person but I get to experience it through their music because I’m African as well. There’s a lot of emotional connection to their music for me.
What is your go to outfit? What do you go for when it comes to your personal style?
Before I started making music, I was a dancer, so I’d say clothes that are very comfortable. I have to be able to move around. In the beginning of my career, you would definitely see me more in hoodies and baggy jeans, but I’m getting older now and as time goes on, I’m getting a lot more in touch with my feminine side and wanting to look beautiful. So gradually I’ve been learning things like how to do makeup. I’m also a very curvy girl so I’m trying out clothes that accentuate my figure without showing too much because I’m still shy. Also, a lot of colors. I’m understanding now that a lot of colors suit me. I’m working on being confident and feeling beautiful while at the same time being able to move around and be myself. Where I’m from, people also wear things like adidas track suits, sneakers, and the over-the-shoulder fanny packs so I’m definitely into that, but at the same time, I like to wear a dress sometimes. It’s a wide spectrum that I can play around with.
You mentioned you don’t have a label, why is it important for you to be an independent artist?
I think when I started out as an artist, I knew Sweden had a rich musical culture, but there’s definitely not a lot when it comes to R&B music. When I was starting out, I wanted to get signed, but most of the labels that I went to meetings with didn’t believe in what I was doing because there had never been a black girl who wanted to tell stories about the areas I’m from. Also, people thought that no one wanted to listen to Swedish R&B. So I felt like in order for me to do it the right way and for it to connect with people the right way, I just had to do it myself because there was no major label that believed in it which would have messed up the energy of how I was going to release it. After a while, I understood what it meant to be an independent artist. I think now, I understand how much it actually means for people to see a black, Muslim girl from Rinkeby have ownership of her creativity who can be an entrepreneur or who can be an inspiration to people around the world. As long as you believe in yourself, you can actually do stuff that people who look like me never think they’re worth. It has had a huge cultural impact in Sweden and I’ve made it more with time a thing I want to portray and show and inspire people with because it instills hope in people that don’t really have much hope.
What is one of the most pressing issues in Sweden in your opinion? What do we need to do to change it?
I would definitely say the lack of understanding, lack of empathy, and lack of unity. All over the world, everyone wants to fight for their own cause and don’t really want to understand anyone else’s situation, even though we are all different. I tell stories about places that you can read about in the media and there are a lot of statistics like crime rates and this many people died. No one really tells the emotional experience behind it, so I always made it my point to get the feminine and emotional perspective of it. If you see statistics every day, after a while it’s not going to affect you, but if I talk about a mother’s sorrow because she lost her son or a girl who is in love with this kid who chose the wrong path. If I tell you the story from that side, anyone can relate to sorrow, pain, hurt, and hope which is why I try to make music from that perspective so that people can relate over the same stuff even though the stories are from somewhere else. That’s my way of working towards unity and I hope that a lot of people do that too because if people had more empathy and understanding for each other then we wouldn’t have half the problems we have today. At the end of the day, feelings are the only think we can all relate over. Feelings is the only language everyone in the world can understand even when language is a barrier. And today, phones and social media can make blind to our emotions so I wish people would just chill and connect emotionally. But I definitely believe we need more unity, understanding, and getting in touch with what makes us human.
What advice would you give to any young woman starting her career?
If you have a purpose that’s genuine and comes from something pure, it’s really hard to lose your way. If you don’t really know who you are, what you want, or if that doesn’t come from a place that’s pure, you can lose your way and what your goals are. When you do that, it’s not worth doing if it doesn’t make you feel good. It’s very important to find a purpose that’s not just about money or something like that. It should come from a place because you want to inspire people or because the representation is very needed. There’s a lot of different ways to give yourself a pure purpose and when you do that, it’s very easy to hold onto that when times get rough. Also, patience. I started recording music when I was 13, but nothing happened until I was 23, so that’s 10 years of just working, working, working; sometimes that’s what it takes.
Also as a female in a male-dominated industry, you have to believe in what you do; you have to be the “boss of your own mind” in order for people to respect you. When I first started out, there were male colleagues who genuinely wanted the best for me, but they tried to put themselves above me and control everything because they think they know what’s better for my brand. I became the girl who was nagging “I want to do this this way, or that way” because I saw things differently. It got to a point where I started doing things myself because I felt like they kept owning more and more of my creativity. At first I didn’t know how to record myself or edit the beat, but eventually I learned, and now I can go to a studio session with my own computer and get creative. Try to learn as much as you can about your profession so you can work hard. If you know what you are doing, no one else can tell you what to do. As a female it’s very important to have that power because you don’t want to compromise your own art.
What do you have in store for the future?
It’s crazy because I have been releasing music in Swedish for 5 or 6 years now, and I’ve had a lot of listeners from outside of Sweden. I’ve toured around the world in Swedish, which has been amazing, but my goal is creating music in English so I can do this in a bigger sense. At first I didn’t want to, I was pretty happy with doing music in Swedish, but after a while, you just feel like as a female you want to break the glass ceiling even more. I’ve done that as much as I can as an independent artist in Sweden so I want new goals and new heights to reach. This is a multicultural country/world, so I think for people to see girls like me in bigger audiences around the world would be super dope. I have other goals as well like getting more into makeup and clothes. I just want to keep inspiring and being happy. Who knows, maybe even get a family soon too.