We Speak to Indie Musician Electronic Cherry Seraph Ahead of Her Bodega Gig

Photos: Cherry Seraph
Thursday 20 June 2024
reading time: min, words

Female producer and queer artist Cherry Seraph's sonic evolution over the years is displayed throughout her discography. She released her debut EP mid-pandemic, and since then explores an ethereal genre bending sound. We caught up with Cherry ahead of her gig at The Bodega on 11 July.

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Describe yourself in a few words…

I’m a female producer based in Leeds, Yorkshire. Being a female audio engineer and queer artist, I like to make ethereal alternative-pop and use a lot of far-out sounds in my production.

What inspired you to pursue a music career?

I’ve always been involved with music. I come from a classical background originally. I went to do politics in Uni of York, and it was only in my final year that I got into production. I play flute and sax and recently learnt keys and I’ve always been in orchestras since I was young. I’m grateful for having an orchestral background but I was alienated from other types of music as I never really played ‘for me’. I thought there had to be more to sound and creativity, and in the middle of writing my dissertation I got into music production with LNA DOES AUDIO STUFF, she gave me my first lesson in production and the rest of it I learnt off my own back.

I’ve had lots of random jobs since I started production which is important to highlight because people have this limited view of just being an artist and that’s all you do. You still have to pay the bills. I’ve worked in a call centre and only now I’m able to do this full-time and be self-employed. Going to uni to do an unrelated degree and the thought of not being able to pursue music as a career is an old-school way of thinking because anyone in the arts can pursue what they want to pursue. I encourage anyone to just take the leap.

Your first EP was released in June 2021 - how far do you feel your music has changed from your debut EP to your most recent more recent music?

I think it’s become more mature. I think it’s more representative of who I am. I listen to the EP with a more production mindset than what I had back then. I affectionately call it my ‘beep beep noise’ era because I was still figuring out production, although it was kind of chaotic, it was the beginning of my journey as Cherry Seraph. I’ve developed a cleaner sound now, but I kept the fundamental elements, the pads and synths, and I think personally a lot in my life has happened. I think the themes are more present and it reiterates to me growing as a person. My music has become a lot more confident and more open; I was so nervous going into production because I didn’t have role models when I first started and wasn’t sure where my community was, and if I was able to sing about sapphic or queer themes.

I think that I treat the role of Cherry Seraph as an ongoing project, the sound will always have similarities and a signature throughout the tracks but I like to see it as an evolving project and see where it goes. For the most part, I categorise myself as alt-pop and having an ethereal sound. Much like a sonic evolution. I think as artists we aren’t static people and the same goes for sound and can’t always expect each single or album release to be the same.

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You state that you are inspired by Beach House and Art School Girlfriend, do you listen to any other obscure artists outside of your ethereal alternative pop genre?

Oooooo, I don’t know if this will be a shock, I like to listen to a lot of Bauhaus. Really interesting electronic elements same as Machinedrum. Specifically, 'Baby It’s U'. The drum, and percussion were made up with a hydrophone in a body of water used with dolphins to create the beat. Music like that is what inspires me, it’s different to the stuff I produce, but I also like indie bands like Kinsey and Lime Garden, which are more in my lane. Also, after being alienated from classical music back in the past, I take a lot from that as well. I watched Saltburn recently, and I enjoyed the classical compositions within that – London Contemporary Orchestra. I have a place in my heart for classical music.

I hear a tingle of inspiration alike the production of Mazzy Star, who would you say are your main musical inspirations that shape your sound?

Oh my gosh, I think it might end up as a queer holy trinity – The Japanese House, Marika Hackman, whom I’ve listened to since I was 15/16, and Beach House, which influences my ethereal sound. Additionally, artists like Phoebe Green, who pushes through in my lyrics, have a sardonic way of writing lyrics.

As a queer artist, how do you feel you implement your identity into your songs?

Comes down to the experiences that I explore in the songs. The first EP, I think I was trying to figure myself out. I mean, I’ve always written songs about women, but I just didn’t think on a pronoun-level, because I was just writing about people. A queer journey is never a clear-cut, straightforward path. My singles, ‘lucky cigarette’ and ‘watch you blur’, are all about a past sapphic relationship, a very impactful experience, and the ability to channel it into something.

 

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You play the keyboard, saxophone and flute which is your favourite instrument to play live?

Just to chuck a different one into the mix, I use Ableton Push a lot in performances. It’s pad-based and the pads are touch-sensitive. It helps run my set for me, it has synths, and drum kits and helps with implementing samples. I use it for looping and for adding vocal layers. It’s another element which is expressive but still inherently electronic. It’s my favourite because you can manipulate the sound so well.

In April 2021, you retweeted Cher stating: ‘OK, GOING TO WORKOUT. WHILE I’M GONE, EVERYONE SEARCH 4 THEIR INNER CHILD.’ Do you think this accurately depicts your writing process?

Yes, absolutely. I could talk for ages about tapping into your inner child, you must have a childlike wonder to create something special. It’s integral to the production and everything as an artist.

 

Cherry Seraph plays alongside Betsey at The Bodega on 11 July

@cherryseraphmusic

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