Top to bottom: Alannagh, Hannah, and Nyree
Cherym is a three-piece pop punk band from Derry, Ireland. The band consists of Hannah Richardson (guitar/vocals), Nyree Porter (bass/vocals), and Alannagh Doherty (drums/vocals). With their infectious songwriting and impressive credentials, they’ve kept up the tradition of Derry producing the best in noisy pop punk with attitude.
We were fortunate to connect with Hannah and Alannagh in our latest interview where we talked to them on the formation of the band, their newest single, "Kisses on My Cards,” their recent signing to Alcopop! Records, inclusion and acceptance of the LGBTQ community within the industry, and why some of their songs are seen as controversial in mainstream music.
How did Cherym form?
Hannah: We all played in different bands and played separately. Once we all met, we realized we wanted to be in a band with all women and write from our perspective and create this safe space for us and for others. Our dynamic is completely different from the guys.
Alannagh: There were many bands in Derry that were just all guys and Hannah had this idea that we could create a band that other people can relate to. I came in later, but we’d always see just guys playing and we wanted to create something different.
What is the scene in Derry like compared to other parts of the world?
Hannah: There really isn’t just a punk scene or an alternative scene or DIY scene, it’s just a music scene. So, you know there’s all these different mixes of music and in live music which is really cool, and the venues are all great. You don’t have to rent or pay or anything, you can just show up and play.
Alannagh: Yeah, so where we come from, because there’s not really a punk scene it’s quite small, we often go to other festivals or big events where we have an intake of all these different types of music like pop and techno and all of this stuff. Not to say it plays a huge part on our influences, but it’s something we’re exposed to a lot of the time.
You just came out with your latest single, “Kisses on My Cards.” Can you talk about the process in putting that together and the message behind it?
Hannah: Yeah so “Kisses on My Cards” is the first single off of our new EP that will hopefully be released in October. It talks of a personal experience for me, being bisexual and falling in love with a guy for the first time in a really long time and not really knowing what to do with that information because I’m not fond of men. The writing process was really nice. We got to go to Birmingham and we were in this amazing studio and it was all just incredible. We woke up to the most amazing views and it was the first time we had a catalog of songs to record since the lockdown. The lockdown definitely gave us time to figure out where we wanted the direction for this to go and we were writing every day and sending each other different demos and melodies and everything so we could take it to the studio and record.
One thing that’s remained consistent in your songwriting is that you write about things that are still seen as controversial in mainstream music, such as a girl/girl relationships like in your song, “Abigail.” Is this a conscious decision that’s drawn from personal experiences?
Alannagh: We like to be very inclusive with our music, but it’s never really a statement for us. It’s just who we are. You know, everybody in the band is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and we just write about our own experiences. Whenever we talked about “Abigail,” people were like “Oh, you’re writing about a girl and you don’t want to do that.” It’s a statement to other people but within the band we don’t think like that because it’s us writing about experiences we’ve had in real life. We’re trying to live our lives.
Hannah: We got told our music is controversial and we don’t write about normal things. We were a little taken aback and were like, “Are you talking about us writing about women? That’s totally normal to us.” He apologized, but what we sing about people try and make something bigger out of it.
In the US we’ve taken great steps towards inclusion and acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community, but we still have a ways to go in a lot of areas. Seeing as your songs are labelled as controversial in that regard in some areas, would you say you see a similar environment in the UK/Europe along those terms?
Alannagh: Being an LGBTQ+ member, there can be a barrier in certain places where you don’t really know people. Whereas here in Derry everybody kind of knows each other and knows your friends and who’s with who, so it’s not really like how it is in other places. Within our city it’s fine but when we go outside of that we wonder if we’re able to be open about it. But we’re making it, we’re taking steps towards acceptance.
Hannah: Yeah, it can be scary as well sometimes too. We’re already different for being in a band and when we’re traveling to other places, there’s some that aren’t safe for us to play. Sometimes you know where those places are and sometimes you don’t and that’s the reality of this industry. Playing the kind of music that we play and being the people we are can be confusing sometimes.
You got signed to Alcopop! Records in February, how did that come about?
Hannah: That was one of the labels that we’ve been listening to since we were teenagers, we’re obsessed with them. I just loved the kind of bands they had on their roster, all of them were bands I grew up listening to. We started following them on Instagram and we got our manager to send them an email with all of our new music and they thought it was pretty good and wanted to meet up. Jack from the label came down when we were recording, and it was so great and so genuine, we could tell they were in it for the bands which we absolutely loved. It was love at first sight and we signed straight away.
What’s next for Cherym?
Alannagh: Hopefully we have the EP in October, and we’ll have a couple of other surprises along the way as a buildup towards that. We just hope with the pandemic we can actually play and go on tour soon.