top of page
Chxrry22, Toronto-born music artist signed to The Weeknd’s XO Records, says “the more you share, the more the person feels connected to you. Songwriting is like me talking out loud, but you put it to paper and make it rhyme. It just feels like a Facetime call. You just put a melody to it.” And while she Zooms us from her Tokyo hotel room in a white bathrobe at 3:00am, it feels like we are on Facetime.
Chxrry22, whose real name is Lydia, possesses the rare combination of being a dreamer, so much so that she calls herself “delusional” several times on the call, while also being extremely down to earth. Her presence is large, which is not unexpected for someone whose head is far above the clouds, yet with feet firmly planted on the ground. When asked what she would tell her younger self, she says “I would tell her that she became a singer and that people are gonna like her and that she wasn’t delusional this whole time. People thought I was literally insane. Delusion really pays off!” As for her future, she says, “I want to take over the world- I want to do modeling, acting, and start a clothing line. I’m so delusional so I think I might start a tech company some day. I want to do as much as I can while I’m around.”
Like many women do, she chalks her success up to delusion, yet she is acutely aware of the position she holds for other girls and women who watch her. Chxrry22 says, “I grew up in a very Ethiopian household. My parents were both in a choir so I grew up singing a lot. I was also very Christian so we grew up singing Christian Ethiopian songs.” Her family and culture seems to be the force that holds her feet to the ground, as she says, “People in my culture don’t really have women in music and arts who they can look at. There are some, but we need more. That motivates me along with not letting myself and my family down. I went through a lot to get here and I’m very grateful and don’t want to take it for granted.” She is the first woman under XO Records and hopes to “be the door for other women,” as she says her “biggest inspiration is young girls that grew up like me [so that I can be] a voice and face of someone they can look at and see themselves in.” So while she calls some of her hopes delusions, she also knows that there is nothing delusional about believing in yourself and your abilities, which she seems to carry in fiery spades.
Her debut EP, The Other Side, was released in early October and includes 7 tracks. She says the EP is meant to showcase her “dual personality and come with a lot of different sides. To this day, I’m the victim and the villain. I’ll always make music about my story.” This realization is one that she started understanding and accepting in therapy. She says, “I used to get really bad anxiety and I started going to therapy and learned that shame is the number one cause of anxiety. If we could normalize certain things, and for women to be okay saying ‘okay I did this,’ they feel more heard and seen. I think it would cause less shame. I want younger women to realize that it’s okay to own your decisions- we all make mistakes and you can accept and move on.”
Chxrry22 knows that any trait can make you a hero or a villain, like a gradient from light to dark that merges together, good and bad are not necessarily two separate colors, just different shades of the same tone. While talking, she mentions a few times that she is an Aries- a fire sign said to be honest, direct, tenacious, eager, ambitious, impulsive, self-aware, and opinionated. Not a single one of these descriptors equates directly to either “good” or “bad.” Ambition, for example, is good, but bad at other's expense. Every trait has a dual tone- The same fire that keeps you warm can also burn a house down.
While she is aware of her dual tones, she is certainly not willing to be monochromatic as she is ready to paint herself in any color saturation she likes at any time. As a child, she struggled with other’s perceptions of her, but now she is an advocate for controlling that herself. When asked what advice she would give to emerging artists she says, “I think my advice is shoot your shot, take a chance, but if something is not working, go back to the board, regroup and find new ways to present yourself. I think even with this project, I archived everything I had on my page. Some people were like, ‘why would you take those pictures down,’ but I'm in a new era. I want people to see me now. I want them to see what I see and the vision in my head. The new Chxrry. I think that will be my thing- it’s okay to go back to the drawing board. Perception is everything and you control it.” In this era of her music, visually, many of her music videos have a certain aesthetic- one saturated with cherry red neon lighting and a film camera blur with late night scenery. She says, “I have so many albums on my phone called Chxrry Part 1, Chxrry Part 2, Chxrry Villain Era- I have so many albums and I’ll add stuff and ask people what they think of it. The other day I said, ‘we need to start wearing all black!’ I have different moods depending on the era of the song. I usually have a reference ready to go!” In anything she does, she wants to “try to push the envelope and talk about things other people don’t,” as she almost creates characters for herself that are all still true to her life and personality.
“I want people to see me now. I want them to see what I see and the vision in my head. The new Chxrry. I think that will be my thing- it’s okay to go back to the drawing board. perception is everything and you control it.”
“I’ve always been very honest and outspoken, but I’ve always been insecure. When you’re loud, people think you know what you’re talking about. I’m naturally an oversharer so it comes off as confidence.”
“It’s all gonna work- chill out. Go for a walk. Go play in the grass. You’re not gonna die. I used to sit and cry and say ‘am I gonna be a loser?’ I told everyone I was gonna be a star.”
I always want to be daring and different. I want it to be iconic every single time.”
When making The Other Side, Chxrry22 worked with Sensei Bueno, Grammy nominated Producer and Writer who happened to live down the street from her in Atlanta. She says, “I met Bueno and we clicked right away. He told me to come over because he had a mini studio at his house and one day led to a month of me going over there and us working on this projector. It was very brother and sister vibes- very natural and easy. I would come over there every day, take off my shoes, sit on his bed and think, ‘what do I want to talk about today?’ ‘What story or shameful thing have I done that I want to write about?’ That was it. We’d make a song and then we’d go and record it.” This process is exactly why she describes her EP as a Facetime call. She got the chance to perform The Other Side for the first time on October 13th in Toronto which she describes as “surreal.” She says, “I didn’t think that many people knew me. It was an eye opener to see that people feel connected to me and came up to me saying the nicest things. I was like ‘really? You really like me?’” We expect Chxrry22’s audience to continue to grow, and for her to become the icon she hopes to be (she kind of is already!)
bottom of page