September 05

Interview: Cheeky

Also playing Saturday, September 5, at Pine Box Rock Shop, is Cheeky.  I hate to say it, but there aren’t that many women in indie music, especially locally, and all-girl (all-woman?) groups are not that common.  We had a nice chat about the female perspective in music, as well as their writing in general.  They have some nicely orchestrated tunes that you can have a listen to, below.

st. lenox:  that song “Merry Go Round”, actually brought back some memories.  it reminded me of some like early 90s pop.  had a similar tempo and hook-instrumentation as that one joan osborne song, “one of us”.  hopefully you don’t find that offensive.  what’s that song about?

Cheeky:  Who’s Joan Osborne?  Sure she is lovely, no insult taken.

st. lenox:  lol. joan osborne was a kind of pop-blues singer in the early-mid 90s. she had an album called “Relish” which was a very huge hit record for her. “One of Us” was sort of a classically written pop song. I got that kinda classic pop vibe from that first song.

st. lenox:  sorry, i’ve dated myself.  what’s “Merry Go Round” about?

Cheeky:  Merry Go Round was the first song that we ever wrote together as a band, it was when we just became friends, and we were actually trying to figure out how to cover Blue Cantrell, “Hey Ladies”… as in “hey ladies when your man wanna get buck wild” … We ended up rewriting the entire song, until it was nothing but our own. The song is about miscommunication, the feeling of being strung along, and the inability to get ones meaning across properly to another. Our style of writing uses a lot imagism, which is sprinkled throughout the verses.

st. lenoxaaah cool cool. okay i get it.

st. lenox:  so your songs have some writerly qualities that I think are interesting.  i’m just going off of listening to this EP here.  it’s an interesting chord set you’ve got at the beginning of “Thief”, and when you transition back to it after the chorus.  how do you approach your writing in general?  is it sort of a writing the music first, lyrics second or in reverse? or do you have a general method?  i guess you sort of answered the method for that first song.  but i take it the others were a little different?

Cheeky:  There really is no method. We work off of each other. Someone might bring a certain melody or chord progression to the table and through trial and error we build the song. We also don’t settle easily. We have spent months revising transitions, lyrics, etc, until it feels right.

st. lenox:  ha, no that makes sense.

Cheeky:  We’re over thinkers, if you haven’t gathered.

st. lenox:  i mean, i’m a different sort of writer, i just put stuff down and put it out there. but i have a lot friends who are much more thoughtful when they write.  i mean, i can hear the thought in the music too – i thought the instrumentation was thoughtful.

Cheeky: Thank you!

st. lenox:  so, i see that you’re an all-girl group. was that intentional or was it sort of something that happened?

Cheeky:  Intentionally unintentional (next album name… jk) meaning, we all found each other organically, but our image served best as an all female band, as well as our dynamic as a group.

st. lenox:  hah, well i guess organic is supposed to be better for you.

Cheeky:   good one, Choi!

st. lenox:  so, do you feel like there are certain expectations that you get being an all female band?

Cheeky:  Yea, low expectations. People assume we don’t know how to play instruments, and we don’t know how to write songs. Apparently, we just stand there and look pretty, and somehow the instruments play themselves. We haven’t figured it out yet, amazing right?

st. lenox:  well, there was that interview with Bjork in Pitchfork, where she was like “men still don’t credit me for the work I do.”  is that something you feel on the more local level even? I guess that’s of course how it would turn out.

Cheeky:  Not necessarily, I think people are prejudice until they hear our music or see us perform on stage. We tend to win people over.

st. lenox:  ah yeah i can identify with that.  although i guess it can be annoying to have to win people over to begin with.  but sort of you take the victories you can.

Cheeky:  Exactly.  We’re up for the challenge.

st. lenox:  do you think there’s a kind of female perspective which doesn’t get voiced very much in indie music in general, because of this expectations thing?  and is that something you actively think about as a writer, or maybe it’s something that just sort of comes out.

Cheeky:  Giving this thought, it’s hard to speak for other female artists in the scene, because we, Cheeky, are a separate entity. But, we can understand how an all female band might want to play it safe. They might not always say what they feel or want to say, for fear of being judged or devalued in a highly sexist industry.

As for ourselves, we write about what we want to write about, we say what we want to say. If you look into our lyrics, yes, there are overtones of being a woman in the industry and being objectified. First and foremost, you are an object, you are recognized first by your looks and second by your talent. For instance, the lyrics to one of our unreleased songs “Sex Doll Music Box,” we say, “you prop me up the way you like in a pose, i’ll be your sex doll music box.” This directly references our experience as women in the industry.

st. lenox:  ah interesting.  so you aren’t speaking for all women, but you do want to comment on it, and think there are pressures that can make it harder to present that perspective?  i’m sure i’m not not getting the half of it.  but I do find it interesting.  i know for ethnic minorities and gays, there can be similar issues – but i’m sure it’s not exactly the same.

st. lenox:  what do you see as being like the next step for your music and for the band?

Cheeky:  Have you heard of Radiohead? We want to do THAT.

st. lenox:  lol. aah. what is it about Radiohead that attracts you?

Cheeky:  We are just really big fans, more of an inspiration. But our plans are to record a full length album and tour full time. We already have our eyes set on a Winnebago. Literally, we plan to sell all our belongings, give our cats to our parents, and wear the same clothes everyday like cartoon characters.  . . . oh, and play shows everynight.

st. lenox:  haha. sort of a musical Scooby and the gang.  except instead of solving mysteries you play shows.

Cheeky:  We’ll play your grandmother’s birthday party, you’re high school graduation, the shit hole bar you’ve frequented since you were eighteen, and then we’ll make out way to Madison Square.

st. lenox:  cool, cool. 

st. lenox:  well, that’s all i need for now.  i’ll be able to correct and edit, post it in the next few days or so.

Cheeky:  okay sounds good.