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XO Records signee Chxrry22 is an alt-R&B singer to watch

Signed to the Weeknd's XO Records, singer Chxrry22 is a rising name in R&B. With the release of her EP The Other Side, she talks about her debut project, songwriting, and more. Continue reading…



Welcome to AP&R, where we highlight rising artists who will soon become your new favorite.

Scarborough, the easternmost district of Toronto, has long been a breeding ground for exceptional talent and world class entertainers. Prominent figures such as Fefe Dobson and the Weeknd have come out of Scarborough, and now there’s another compelling, new act coming out of the area: R&B artist Chxrry22. With a life-long passion for singing, Chxrry22’s humble beginnings started on social media, where she gained a following by performing an array of popular songs in her distinct, dreamy and luxurious vocal style. Eventually, she caught the attention of hometown hero the Weeknd, who promptly signed the artist to his highly-curated XO record label. 

Read more: Review: On SOS, SZA ditches her “sad girl” identity for being a 21st century rap rock star

This past September, Chxrry22 unveiled her debut EP, The Other Side, a seven-track collection of minimal, downtempo beats with a hazy and atmospheric quality that serves as the perfect backdrop for her voice to shine. Lyrically, the project is an intimate experience that touches on themes of empowerment and making peace with the past. And now that The Other Side has been unleashed into the world, Chxrry22 has made it abundantly clear that she is just getting started. We spoke to her about the new EP, exploring confidence through her music, what’s next, and more. —Alessandro DeCaro

How are you feeling after signing to XO Records? 

I feel very excited. It came as a shock to me because Abel [Tesfaye of the Weeknd] and I grew up on the same street and we’re from the same background. I feel like a lot of people manifested it for me for a long time when I started doing music and I started taking it seriously as a career. A lot of people came up to me and they were like, ‘I bet you he’s going to sign you,’ or, ‘I think you guys are going to work together,’ and that always felt very far-fetched. So when it happened, it was very exciting. So far it’s just been really good — really, really good. 

So far, how has your experience in the music industry met or defied your expectations? 

I think you hear a lot of bad things about the music industry before you enter it. It’s like any other industry. It’s just normal people. It has highs and it has its lows. So far, I’ve had a pretty good experience. I’ve worked with a lot of amazing people and I’ve met a lot of amazing people. Obviously, I’ve had my moments. But overall, I think it’s been very gratifying. I’ve found that when you actually accomplish things, you feel very good.

You have a couple of singles out so far, “Call Me” and “The Falls,” and both of the music videos for them are super evocative and eye-catching. Do you have any plans to do more visuals in the future? 

We have an EP coming out with seven songs, so there are no more singles, but we do have more visual content pieces. There’s more content to do with the project, but there won’t be any more actual music videos. 

Are those like the same video-collage kind of vibe as the previous visuals?

So with “Call Me,” it actually was a photo shoot. Our manager Steph was like, ‘You should just shoot a music video.’ So, we started recording. We went to a karaoke bar, she did my makeup. So, that was more lifestyle. I think moving forward, yes, I will do more lifestyle-type videos, but I [want to] keep things interesting and do [both] high-production videos and also lifestyles. It’s honestly whatever I’m feeling at the time. 

A lot of your releases are about being confident, but also being real and unafraid to show the less polished sides of who you are. How do you reconcile those two things and feel comfortable putting that out? 

I’m an artist, so I’m very outspoken and very open about who I am. I’ve always been that way, which is why I think music came so naturally to me and being an artist has been so seamless. For me, I am very honest, so it hasn’t been hard to express myself. I think whatever I do, I always want it to be the honest truth from me — like from everything from my music to my visuals. I want it to be very me, very honest, and vulnerable. I think as you listen to the projects, you’ll notice they get more and more vulnerable. 

Are you satisfied with how you defined your sound on this first project?

I think with this project, it has its own sound. That was what I was going for. I didn’t want to do anything too crazy. I didn’t want to go too big. I wanted it to feel like me, but still push the envelope in a way. I’m excited for my future project because I am more excited to show different sides of myself musically. 

Who are some of your influences in music, fashion, and art in general?

I have to say Rihanna. Down from style to always being so bold and trying different genres, trying different styles — she’s the queen of that. Growing up, listening to her, I was always like, ‘I’m going to try different things’. I also have to say Madonna because that’s my queen. I think how honest and detailed she is in her writing and her storytelling, that’s always been really inspiring to me. I’ve tried to adopt that style of writing. I would say a newer one is probably Kacey Musgraves. I like her music and how honest and vulnerable she is. 

What can we expect from your debut project? 

A lot of toxicity, but also a lot of honest conversations that I don’t think many people are having right now. There are songs about being alone and how important it is to be alone. We are in an age where dating is at an all time high and no one really gets time to just be alone and face all the things that they’re going through. I think it’s a good body of work with a lot of variety, different topics, different sounds, and something you could listen to on repeat. Almost anyone can find something that they can relate to.

Are there any trends that are sticking out to you right now that have stuck out to you either in music or fashion? 

With music, I like how people are becoming more experimental with production. For a while, it was very slow — which I’m guilty of as well, because my whole project is pretty slow. But I like how we have people like Rosalía, who is very alternative and the sounds she chooses are really cool. So, [I’m really into] the trend of trying to push the envelope and trying different styles. I do that fashion-wise. [In terms of fashion, I also] like that women are dressing more androgynous and baggy.

You spoke a little bit before about wanting to branch out in the future. Do you have any specific goals in mind or places that you think you want to take your sound? 

My god, everywhere. I really want to have an international appeal. I want to make music for everybody of all races and all cultures. I would love to start a fashion line eventually. I would love to do more acting. Those are my big goals.

What do you hope people take away from your music? 

I hope that people feel like they have a friend in me. I hope that when people hear my music, they feel more confident in their decisions and owning their own decisions. I think a lot of times we do things and then feel very embarrassed or shameful, or like a bad person. That’s all a part of life — making mistakes, making decisions, and owning it by being like, ‘Okay, it happened. I can make a song about it, I can make a joke out of it, or deal with it or move on.’ Especially with women, it’s owning who you are and not being afraid or feeling like less than because of your decisions. I hope when they hear my music — because I’m so certain and so accepting of what I’ve done — I hope they can feel as accepting of what they’ve done and are able to make light of it. 

Do you have any more big plans for 2023? 

I want to drop another project, hopefully do more interviews, and be able to put myself out there more. I’d really like to let people get to know me better and grow the fanbase.


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