Interview with Cherie Lily: Fitness queen and dance music artist
You may have heard the Chicagoan’s single Werk on a night out in London’s Soho, or viewed one of her energetic “houserobics” workout videos. You have definitely heard of her spouse, rocker Andrew WK, but who is Cherie Lily?
We met in London’s HMV Forum. Cherie Lily was due to perform just hours later as part of her husband’s band, for the first stop of the on-going ten-year anniversary world tour of the Andrew WK I Get Wet album. After a few minutes of searching for a suitable (and unoccupied) dressing room, Cherie Lily and I sat down to begin.
Cherie, thank you so much for agreeing to the interview and welcome to London. Tell us, who is Cherie Lily?
Cherie Lily: (laughs) Who is Cherie Lily? Cherie Lily is multi-dimensional; there are lots of aspects to me, aggressive, tomboy… I used to be in punk rock bands (Spank, Flurt) since the age of 16. You know the type, but I guess there are two main sides to me that stand out. You could say I’m like two people in one, both of which are complete opposites. The first side is the masculine rock chic that you see on stage at an Andrew WK concert, the screamer! The second side is the complete antithesis, the feminine girly person who does houserobics and likes dance music. I also design fitness gear that I want to wear. I have a line created with the designer John Renaud called Thrills Collection.
Music is obviously a huge part of your life. Who are some of your icons?
I’m a huge fan of Heart (Ann and Nancy Wilson) and then of course there is Joan Jett, when she was in The Runaways. They are all very strong women and are very inspirational to me.
Tell me about your role in the band with your husband Andrew WK and the I Get Wet anniversary tour?
I’m really excited to be here and be part of this ten-year anniversary tour of Andrew’s first album. I joined the band in 2006 to bring a female element. You know there was a lot of opposition to my joining at first, especially in the media, but I’m welcomed now. It’s great! I’m showing the world that a woman can rock too; it was always my dream growing up and now I want to show the girls out there that they can do it too, inspire them you know? To be proud of who and what they are no matter what society and the folks around them are telling them. I believe that in this scene I’m a strong female role model for all the young girls who are into rock. I want them to see me and know that they too can shine, to be confident in themselves no matter who they are, or what they look like. Just believe in yourself and be sexy and confident.
Talking of looking and feeling good, let’s talk about “houserobics” which you created.
It all stems from wanting to feel good and I feel good when I work out. I feel great! I started working out in school and after that I moved into group fitness. I love their atmosphere, the way they change your life and how you can draw inspiration from the team effort of those participating. My passion for it led me into teaching and you know, the one thing I noticed – bear in mind I was in punk rock bands – there was no rock music involved in group fitness. It was all Hi-NRG dance music; no vocals, but the music worked for the purpose of working out and it was here I began to develop this other side of me, the dance music artist! In part it was because I wanted to create the music that I wanted to hear when I was working out, non-cheesy music that still inspired the listener to keep pushing towards their goals. It was actually Andrew’s idea to fuse my two passions of music and fitness and I guess the rest is history… houserobics was born!
Your first single Werk came about as a result of this marriage of fitness and music. Tell me about that?
Definitely. My first single, which was actually released in the US in 2010, links to fitness and also came about from my love of the movie documentary Paris is Burning which is about this dance style and scene in New York called Vogue that plays such a big part of the nightclub and LGBTQ culture. I kinda became obsessed with the New York vogue scene. I was lucky enough to be introduced to Grandfather Hector Xtravaganza of the House of Xtravaganza – a legend of the scene – and he invited Andrew and me to attend the Xtrava Motor Ball at Irving Plaza. The whole ball thing just blew me away, the music, the fashions, the dance style, the ball “categories” and the phrases that were tossed around by those involved. All of this is what inspired Werk. I wanted to pay homage to the scene that was a tribute and that would show my support of the community. Both Andrew and I have become big supporters of the LGBTQ community.
What is next for Cherie Lily?
My new single! The release date hasn’t been set yet, but it will be sometime this year for sure. It’s called Dripping Wet and was produced with New York’s Richie Beretta. It’s another houserobics track, but this one is more of a nightclub and radio banger. A little more mainstream than Werk and has more of a pop structure. The video is going to be major! Lots of amazing New York City stars such as Amanda Lepore and Cazwell, real NY fire-fighters and some strippers (laughs). Aside from this EP, I’ve recorded a song with the rapper Cazwell called Hard to be Fresh and worked with Beyoncé’s choreographer Jonte Moaning on a track called Lotion. I’ll also be working with house music producer Vjuan Allure plus, of course, more houserobics and continuing my role as part of the Andrew WK band. Yeah you can say things are very busy for me, a lot to look forward too!
One last thing before we wrap this up. What has been your favourite or most notable experience here in London?
Apart from the fact that I almost die every time I cross the street when I’m here? Andrew and I are both big fans of English food; fish and chips, scotch eggs and I love an English breakfast. What gets me every time though, is the quirky side of London! I love it. Where else can you go into a supermarket and buy a glass of wine off the shelf that has a foil lid and is ready to drink? I love that!
Thank you Cherie Lily, performer, musician, songwriter, dance music producer, group fitness innovator, celebrity trainer, apparel designer and Andrew WK’s vocalist, dancer, and wife…
Cherie Lily is currently touring Europe with husband Andrew WK for the ten year anniversary I Get Wet tour. You can find out more about Cherie’s music and career on her website here and follow Cherie on Twitter for get-fit tips, insights into her life and more @CherieLily.
Ian Michael Turner
Watch Cherie Lily’s debut track Werk here: