It was shaping up to be quite the end to the year for Chxrry22: the up-and-coming artist was selected to support her fellow Canadian, The Weeknd, on the Australia and New Zealand leg of his world tour. Having never been to either country before, Chxrry22 was naturally excited about the prospect of visiting.
“Abel [Tesfaye] was telling me, “Make sure you get lots of pictures and take pictures with kangaroos,” she told Rolling Stone AU/NZ ahead of the trip.
Two weeks after our interview, Chxrry22’s excitement was curtailed by the news that The Weeknd had postponed his Australia and New Zealand shows “due to unforeseen circumstances.” The wait is on now until she gets to support him Down Under once the shows are rescheduled for 2024.
Luckily, though, Chxrry22 was an artist who had so much more to discuss aside from the tour in the meantime, including a recently released EP, Siren. And as the first woman signed to The Weeknd’s XO Records, big things are definitely in the emerging artist’s future.
Siren contains two huge collaborations: “Favourite Girl”, which features a guest spot from Offset, and “Never Had This”, a joint effort with Vory. “I actually made the song years ago. I sat down with my team, and for the first time ever, I had them pick their favourites. I could tell the direction of the music that they were choosing,” Chxrry22 revealed about the latter track.
The connection Vory, facilitated by her cousin, added an extra dimension to the track, Chxrry22 expressing her excitement at discovering a perfect match. “He [her cousin] DMd it to Vory. Vory texted me and he was like, ‘I want to get on this,'” she recalled, emphasising the organic nature of the collaboration.
The Canadian was quick to highlighted the collaborative aspect of the EP as a whole. “This project was very much a mishmash of a lot of people working on it at different times,” she explained, a far cry from her usual style. “I do generally like writing alone and I do like starting things with a very tight knit team,” she added.
Drawing parallels between her current release and her previous EP, The Other Side, Chxrry22 spoke of her artistic growth. “I feel like I’ve reached a new level in my career and in my life,” she insisted. “I think when I made it, I was very lonely, fighting to be seen, and wondering like, ‘Will any of this work?'”
Chxrry22’s experienced a somewhat meteoric rise in her career, rising from posting covers on social media to signing with the aforementioned XO Records. “I didn’t really have a plan,” she admitted. “I didn’t know what I was doing, and I think that’s why it worked out so well!” It was this fearless approach that allowed her to navigate the tricky terrain of the music industry with determination.
The subject of XO Records naturally came up in conversation, and Chxrry22 was only too happy to acknowledge the transformative impact signing with a record label associated with one of music’s biggest names had on her.
“I’m very lucky because I know that there are two sides to this industry,” she said. “It’s very scary for women.” She expressed gratitude for the level of protection and respect provided by the label, enabling her to navigate the industry with a heightened sense of assurance. “I feel very lucky,” she added.
Working with The Weeknd – or Abel to Chxrry22 – was also a huge influence on the artist’s musical journey. “When Abel and I speak, I learn a lot from him,” she said.
Both The Weeknd and Chxrry22 grew up in Toronto, and the Canadian city proved formative to the latter’s rise. “Growing up in Toronto is very interesting because you do see a lot of different people that come from different walks of lives and different cultures,” she explained. “The music you hear is kind of all over the place.”
“It makes you feel like – especially as a black woman – I can make any type of music. It’s very liberating knowing that you can make anything you want.” For Chxrry22, iconic artists such as Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Nickelback, Shania Twain, and Avril Lavigne proved instrumental to the development of her own sound.
She might be dropping stylish EPs and touring – until postponement, of course – with R&B superstars, but that doesn’t mean Chxrry22 has stopped working on herself. “I have a vocal coach, and she is very big on me trusting my own style and not singing like anyone other than myself,” she revealed. As for her future projects, there’s lots on the way, including a debut album.
What advice does Chxrry22 have for artists looking to follow her path to musical success? “Stick to what you like and stay very rooted in your decisions,” she advised, also stressing the significance of authenticity in one’s journey, and the need for genuine connection with fans.
Chxrry22’s Siren EP is out now.