Cherry is out now!
Image: Daniel Mayne
Australian singer-songwriter Inoxia has made her debut with her first original single, Cherry. We caught up with the musician to chat about the release, how busking shaped her artistry, the influence of TikTok and so much more!
Written over Zoom with Phil Simmonds (Jessie J, Willow Smith), who also produced the track, and Jess Chalker (Sam Fischer, Tate McRae), the forward release introduces us to the singers neo-soul pop infused sonic realm, channeling the likes of Jorja Smith and the late and great Amy Winehouse. The singers mesmerising vocals float above spellbinding production, whilst creating an empowering self-appreciation anthem.
To celebrate the release, Inoxia will host an exclusive livestream event on her TikTok channel, performing an hour-long set in which Cherry will make its live debut. Tune in this Thursday 11 November at 7pm AEDT.
Could you tell us a bit about your background in music and what led you to pursuing a career in music?
Hi!!! I Started singing when I was six at a karaoke place in my hometown. I fell in love with performing and playing around with my voice. I started busking as soon as i was old enough. It feels like I’ve gone into Melbourne to busk every weekend since then. My confidence grew through my environment and the reception of the people walking past. That turned into real shows and Open Mic nights throughout those early years. I started taking my own songwriting more seriously at 19, quit my corporate 9-5 and put the work in. Being in my first session, it was like a creative high i’d never felt before, I was addicted! I was so obsessed with the process and I learnt so many amazing skills. It really struck a type of fire in me and a real hunger to perform and busk my own songs, my own lyrics, my own ideas and experience. I love performing, always have. Creation really opened the door to bigger stages and more people to connect and share with.
You were discovered busking on the city streets of Melbourne. How do you think those experiences performing for people and interacting with a different crowd each time help shape your artistry?
To me, busking is the rawest most organic and authentic way to perform. You're literally alone on the street. No stage, no security, nowhere to really hide. I’m not elevated or protected and I'm face to face with strangers who didn’t ask to hear Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ on their way home from work. I learnt what the public thought of me in real time. From my sound, song choice, how I presented myself and how I interacted. The reactions from passers by allowed me to completely customise my performance and mould myself into different shapes to attract the huge crowds and tips!
I made a real effort to understand and connect with the people I sang for. I really cared and I wanted everyone to have a good time when they heard me. It taught me a love for more than my own performance and improvement, it gave me drive to share as much of myself to people as I could and to connect sonically in that way. I found the real me through it all as a performer and person. You really learn to put yourself into your craft fully with a live audience.
I sang covers of so many different artists, I really learnt how to manipulate my sound to fit the artist and their energy and emotion on the song, often putting my own spin on lyrics and melodies. Busking gave me diversity and a plethora of vocal techniques that I implement in my own songwriting now.
What was your favourite song to cover whilst busking and why?
I want to say Amys Back To Black or Adeles Someone Like You. These Two songs were huge for a tiny 13 year old INOXIA. I worked really hard to get these songs right, all the high notes and the power of Adele and the raw, lived emotion with Amy (two things that were very new for me so young). These songs by far pulled the biggest crowds and got the best reception at Flinders Street Station. I got the happiest audiences and the kindest people who saw potential in me. They were the hardest to overcome and truly connect with. To perform for them better and attracting a bigger crowd gave me a huge sense of accomplishment.
You’ve grown a massive audience on TikTok after your viral cover of Dance Monkey. How important has that been as a tool for you to reach audiences, and how do you think platforms like TikTok influence the trajectory of an artists career?
TikTok is mad. I went viral before I even knew about the app. When I got on and started posting longer covers and gained a huge following really really quickly, It was thrilling and scary. I really threw myself in the deep end and had so many opportunities open up. I thought I couldn't hide busking on the street but the internet is next level. It was an incredible tool for exposure and recognition. I had a much bigger audience to please but it was so different from what I was used to. It put me in a spotlight and I was able to reach some incredible creatives around the world that wanted to work with me and I was so chuffed to get started on new projects with these people.
I gained recognition in the industry and was able to meet with labels in LA. I felt like a pop star already with no songs out so it was really strange. I got a taste of something I longed for far sooner than I thought I would. It was pretty overwhelming to be honest. I think the exposure platforms like TikTok offer are incredible. Because it doesn't matter who you are, how much money you have or what kind of team you have behind you. You gain followers organically in the most authentic way, because they like you for you. The internet makes ordinary people like me feel seen, fast. And although it's exciting and thrilling it's not always something you can fully prepare for in the way that you’d like.
Your debut single Cherry is finally here! Unpack the conceptual nature of the track and what inspired you to write it…
I wrote this at a time I was really struggling with my confidence, self love and control. It was at one of the first lockdowns right of the back of going viral. The world closed down, opportunity became fickle and my likelihood of performing again began its decline. I wanted to feel on top of the world again. So I started with ‘You can call me cherry, cuz I'm always on top’ and ran with it.
I wanted to create this character in the song that was a super, in charge bad ass! Because at the time I felt everything was out of my reach. It was also a way to embrace my sexuality and be playful and a bit cheeky with it. I wrote it so I’m the one in control and it’s the guy who is a bit desperate and cowering. You actually hear a lower voice whisper “I love you” in the song; which is my voice pitched down. It was almost like I was trying to get part of me to get a hold on the rest of me. To remind myself I'm still the shit, no matter how shambled everything is. Overcoming my demons and whatnot.
This song is only really the start of my songwriting journey but it’s such an important milestone because it’s the first time I had a lyrical and musical idea that drove the process from start to finish. I tracked the vocals myself on my little home studio set up and then sent it to my producer over a classic zoom session. Phill (the prod) really gave me a lot of creative freedom and confidence with this track and I felt really proud of myself for the new skills I learnt in the process.
You present a genre-bending soundscape on the track. What prompted you to explore this sonic realm?
I really wanted to replicate the feelings of different elements of the artists that inspired me. I wanted to take the best things I'd learnt and loved listening to. I have a heavy competitive dance background. I know how I like to sing, how I want to sound, and what feels good dancing to and I wanted to make Cherry really special. I tried to put it all into one. I love the captivating syncopation of the Verses. The rhythm of the chorus and the euphoric grace of the bridge. I know I'm going to love performing this track live. There was no real formula, just over excited creative rapid fire. So it might seem unconventional, or dissimilar to what we’re used to hearing but it has all of my favourite things packed into it like a little gift from me to you. (with a cherry on top of course)
You’ll be celebrating the release with a livestream event on Tik Tok! What can fans expect from the performance?
I’m so excited!! I'll be performing my track live for the very first time! Which has been my dream my whole life. I have worked so hard and been so patient with the release process so the pure joy I feel sharing my work with the world is huge. I'll be throwing in a few covers of my favourite artists and speak on my songwriting process and the elements I find most captivating. You can expect Rihanna, SZA and Olivia Rodrigo. But most importantly, i'll be able to create that fun supportive atmosphere I did on the streets of Melbourne.
Do you have any further live show plans for the near future?
Yes! I’m so excited to play my own shows next year, but until then ill be busking in and around Byron Bay!
What’s one line from the song you find at times can be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
It’s not a line per say, more of a BV. It would have to be the “I love you” with my down pitched vocal. It's a real moment in the song and I don't know if it's conceptually clever or just funny because I laugh every time. When I first wrote the track I would play it to my friends and that was the only line they'd sing. At random points in our hang out, they’d just quote “I love you” in a whisper and it would crack me up.
If Cherry was a piece of pre-existing visual art, which artwork would it be?
It would be a scene from the movie Birds of Prey where Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is holding on to the back of the car on roller skates. When Phill and I were writing it, the strings reminded me of this movie and we tried to replicate that weird haunted edgy feeling with the adrenalin of a high speed chase on roller skates. It was a lot of fun!
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts and why?
Whatsonot is my absolute fave Australian Live performance I've ever seen, I saw him at Laneway Fest in 2019. He pulled out a literal drum line and I was so close to the front that I felt the music in my chest, it's a moment I hold onto for sure. I’m also a huge fan of a band from my home town called Aeroplane Mode, they were kind enough to let me be part of their creative processes and songwriting which really shaped me in the way I go about things. The really supported me and had so much excitement with my updates on track mixes and video concepts. They really nurtured and guided me.
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2021, leading into 2022?
More music for hot girls! More releases with a further articulated style. I wrote my debut close to a year ago now and since then I've grown and changed so much as a person and an artist. I'm excited to catch you up on who I am these days!
My old singing teacher, Dance coaches, mums old school muso friends.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Lost and Found - Jorja Smith.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Fluid, conceptual, escapism.
Best song of 2021 so far?
Get Into It (Yuh) - Doja Cat.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Miss Montana baby.
What was the first song you loved to sing?
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Lost - Frank Ocean.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Monkey Business - Black Eyed Peas.
First concert you went to?
Best concert you have been to?
First album you ever bought?
Love Angel Music Baby - Gwen Stefani.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
What’s your favourite back street?
Little Collins Lane in Melbourne.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
The Big Bash Leage at the MG in 2021.
Guilty music pleasure?
Playing Adele or Amy and crying on purpose when I'm not even sad at all.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
Ludwig Van Beethoven.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Stand your ground, stay firm in what you believe you deserve and practice your confidence, you’ll need it!
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When I listened to my primary school teachers' classical exam tapes.