Chxrry22 opens up on debut EP, ‘The Other Side,’ with XO Records

By Alexia Hill

If you haven’t heard of Chxrry22 yet, you’re missing out on the next big artist in the R&B game. Her debut EP, “The Other Side,” is a delicately balanced mix of love, heartbreak, self reflection and the way life coincides with these different facets between people versus self.

Lydia, more widely known by her alter-ego stage name, Chxrry22 (pronounced “Cherry”), has been singing her entire life due to her Ethiopian roots and religion.

“My parents actually were both in a choir...So we grew up singing Christian, Ethiopian songs,” she said. “So, you'll look at all my home videos, and we’re literally just singing songs. Like there were no talking videos, just always singing me and my own family. I think music was just always around and we all sang. It was just always a part of who I am, my DNA.”

Over time, Chxrry22 became known for her singing at weddings and events in her hometown of Toronto, as well as for singing covers online. Around 2017, Chxrry22 took her musical career to the next level by moving to Atlanta. Shortly after her big move, the rising singer signed with XO Records, which was co-founded by The Weeknd, as its first female talent.

“I feel like I'm grateful to even have this opportunity. It's not something I take lightly,” she explained. “I just want to open the door for other women. I think that's, to me, the coolest part about being the first female on this label is that I understand my responsibility. I'm honored and I just want other women to get the same type of opportunities.”

“The Other Side” has seven can’t-skip tracks, including “The Falls” and “Call Me,” two singles that were released earlier this year. With influences from her hometown, soft pop, soft rock and real life experiences, this EP is a reflective, welcoming look into the singer’s metaphorical diary.

“The more you share, the more the person feels connected to you,” Chxrry22 said. “So, I think songwriting just feels like me talking out loud. I just put it on paper and I make it run. But it really just feels like a FaceTime call. I just like to write it live and put it in a song and put a melody to it.”

To best encapsulate the EP in one word, Chxrry22 said it would have to be “Duality.” With lyrics like, “I was wrong and I know it” juxtaposing with “Wish I liked the cold a little more / So I didn't need you at night / Wish I liked singin’ on my own / So I didn't need you to harmonize,” the tracks go back and forth with the archetypes of victims and villains, and how people can be both at the same time. Chxrry22 explained further that her perception of herself growing up was warped because of the different perspectives from other people. However, she now appreciates that she is complex, that nobody is perfect.

“I learned in therapy that shame is the number one cause of anxiety,” she said. “So, when you feel ashamed or something, you feel really, really anxious and I think that if we can normalize certain things and normalize women being OK saying like, ‘OK, I did this,’ or ‘I did that,’ and they feel more heard and seen, I think it will cause less shame. It's OK to own your decisions.

And, you know, we all make mistakes, and we all do things that maybe we wouldn't do now...It's OK to be like, ‘I did that and I'm accepting it, and I'm moving on from it.’”

Sexy, sultry, mysterious, memorable, vulnerable and nostalgic are the words I would use to describe the aesthetic of Chxrry22’s music and music video visuals. Chxrry22 elaborated on how she creates mood boards on her phone, and that the mystery element comes naturally to her. As for the sounds of the songs, she and her producer were so in sync that everything came together very organically.

“My biggest inspiration is probably young girls that grew up like me, and being a voice and a face and someone that they can look at and be like, ‘Oh, I see myself in her.’ Like, that's what I think about when I do things,” the artist said. “I think also just not letting myself down and, like, not letting my family down. Like, I went through a lot to get here.”

After the release of her EP, Chxrry22 announced a live performance in Toronto for Oct. 13. Promoting the event just three days before it happened, it was still a major success and eye opener for her. With ambitious goals of modeling, acting, clothing lines, and not being boxed into only R&B music, Chxrry22 plans to continue elevating her career and pushing the envelope.

“Even since this project came out, I listened to it now and I'm like, ‘Oh my God, there's so much I want to do differently, like, I already feel like I've outgrown so many things,’” she explained. “I'm just excited for the new project coming because it's going to be even crazier.”

After my encounter with the up-and-coming artist, I feel that both her artistry and her energy will take her far. She has a light hearted and kind energy, saying “period” and complimenting different interviewers throughout the press conference. Despite keeping her life private, her music is the outlet that allows people to see a personal and sensitive side to her. Chxrry22’s “The Other Side” speaks volume to her growth and transition to fame.

“I would tell her [Chxrry22’s younger self] that she became a singer and that people are gonna like her, that she wasn't delusional this whole time,” Chxrry22 said. “I literally used to go around telling people, ‘I'm gonna be famous, watch,’ and people thought I was literally insane. Like, they thought I was, like, not all there. But, it paid off. Delusion really pays off.”