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Lil Cherry is a Mukkbang mama with an undying love for poetry

“It’s Far East Disney with a side of chaos, Punk rebellion, Miami heat, Korean spice & family love.”

LiFTED | Sean D | 15 May 2023

Korean artist Lil Cherry has been on LiFTED’s radar for a few years now, and we finally got a chance to catch up with her recently to talk about her unique take on K-Hop. It’s not easy to describe Lil Cherry’s sound because it flies in and out of Trap beats and various rhythms, often sounding futuristic and Twerky, but with a big dose of bass and always catchy AF. The sound has a lot to do with her producer-brother and partner in crime GOLDBUUDA, who makes most of her beats and often features on their tracks.

Lil Cherry’s lyrics are often chanted through layers of distortion and repeated until they are almost part of the song’s rhythm. Her videos are some of the dopest coming out of Asia, and clearly her and GOLDBUUDA’s creations feel like freaky dreams that are also inside jokes that everyone wants to be in on. It doesn’t hurt that Lil Cherry is adorable, but she never seems to play on that. Her videos are never overtly sexualized like so many other female rappers. If anything, she goes out of her way to look strange and alienated in a stylized way, but that also looks sexy. Lil Cherry is in her own space and on her own shit, and we’re excited to hear from her in her own words.

YO! Lil Cherry what’s good? We love your music and your crazy-fun videos! Where are you right now?

LiFTED WHAT’S GOOD?? It's Mukkbang Mama. I'm in Seoul right now.

We think of you as Korean-American, since you’ve lived in New York and Miami growing up. Where are you from?

I was born in Seoul, spent my childhood in Miami, moved back to Seoul for high school, and went to college in New York. Everywhere is home, which is a big blessing and a lil curse because when everywhere is home it sometimes feels like nowhere is home.

How did you start making music with your brother GOLDBUUDA? How does the process usually happen?

In my junior year at college, I came back to Seoul for winter and BUUDA had turned his room into a studio. He had been working on his producing and he played me a beat, turned on the mic, and told me to freestyle, and the rest is history. Our music-making process to this day maintains this type of spontaneity and freedom. When we were growing up in Miami, BUUDA would show me lots of new music and we loved Trick Daddy, Lil Jon, Chamillionaire, T-Pain, Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Pretty Ricky, Nelly, Missy Elliot, Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Flo Rida, 50 Cent and the list goes on. Since our ears for music were already merged at a young age, we usually don't even need to talk much when we collaborate now because our sonic selves meet in the nether sphere. BUUDA will usually lead the sound direction and I'll bring the storytelling. BUUDA is hands down my favorite collaborator because we don’t need to work with any specified references in mind; we just are ourselves and create together.

What was the song that first got people to stand up and take notice of you? What was your reaction to getting fan love?

‘Motorola’ 2018 baby! The first song I ever made. It's the first and last time I experienced a spiritual release while recording - it felt as if the song was simply speaking through me. ‘Motorola’ was originally an unnamed poem I wrote in college and I added melodies to it and freestyled the song. And my fans, my Pye Gang is the absolute best, no doubt about it. I really truly love meeting them in person and I really truly love connecting with them at our shows.

Your songs really explore many sounds and are definitely genre-bending. ‘CATWALK’ lives on the edges of Drum & Bass, while ‘Pye Life’ is on an Afrobeats rhythm. Is that more the influence of GOLDBUUDA? How do you describe your sound?

BUUDA got into dancing and breaking in high school so he’s been into Drum & Bass for a while. For CATWALK.’ he wanted to experiment with Drum & Bass and redevelop it into our own version. Unlike our other, more Miami-influenced sounds, this is BUUDA’s new perspective on K-Hop and as always, we wanted to bring something new to the table that people have never tasted before. The synthesizers were soundcloud influenced, but we wouldn’t narrow the genre of this song to Electro or Hip-Hop or H-Hop or K-Pop or Hyperpop; it’s a mix of all.

Before CATWALK became what you hear now, though, it was originally a completely different sound. It would have become our first Techno song. Rico Nasty had already dropped her verse on that beat with us too but as time passed by while preparing for the release, the beat started sounding outdated to us. So BUUDA stepped in to flip the project upside down and, long story short, now we have the ‘CATWALK’ you hear today.

During the Rona season, I think I naturally wanted to listen to peaceful, beautiful music that would bring me momentary bliss amidst the madness and I fell in love hard with Afrobeats. After being immersed in Alpha P and Rema for months I decided to reach out to London and he produced ‘PYE LIFE.’ After screaming “PYE” with my fans for so long, I finally put that chant into song form. So this is a very special song indeed for me and the Pye gang.

We like to call our sound the SAUCE CARTEL sound: chameleons of Pop, Hip-Hop, H-Pop, Rock, Hyperpop, and more to come. It’s Far East Disney with a side of chaos, Punk rebellion, Miami heat, Korean spice, and family love.

You studied poetry at NYU in New York. Does that affect your lyrics? How?

When I write music, the story always comes first. And poetry, poetry slam, Rap, and music are pretty synonymous to me. Studying poetry there was a class where I had to read French poetry aloud and I don’t speak French. The point was to hear and feel the sonic expressions so this affects my storytelling very much. It’s not just about the meaning of the words but the sound and delivery of the words.

We’ve seen your sound described as Hyperpop – what does that even mean?

I’m a hyped Pop star is what it is.

Where do you see yourself in the K-Hop scene?

I am the Mukkbang Mama.

Who comes up with the concepts for your videos? They are really next level. It feels like it’s based on your own ideas with your bro – is it?

Yes - because storytelling comes first, we usually have a few key visual concepts in mind at the start of a song. Then we'll communicate these ideas to the director and brainstorm together how we want to depict these concepts into real life.

There’s an otherworldly feeling in your songs and music videos. Do you feel detached from present reality, or is it a reality that you aspire to?

My life is like Everything Everywhere All At Once.

What artists inspired you growing up? Who would you give your eye tooth to collab with?

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

FROM 'SAUCE TALK' to 'CHEF TALK' to 'SPACE TALK' to WHAT’S NEXT? My undying love for poetry and music shall continue to unravel itself whether five or 50 years from now. I see myself moving with love for Earth and its Earthlings. My definition of true success is having love in my heart and having the passion to share that with the world.