Photography by Joana Meurkens
Chrrry is a new kind of pop star, transcending genre and gender. Born and raised in New York City, their vision is one of vulnerability and romanticism, exploring the complexities of human existence. A musical chameleon, Chrrry marries a unique sound with campy cabaret-style live performances, always delivering an electric experience. We asked Chrrry a few questions upon the release of their new EP Hot Head, set to drop on Sunday March 21st.
Tell us about yourself! (Name/age/pronouns/where you are based)
Mars Maldonado, 24, they/she, born and raised in Brooklyn. I make music and art through the fantasy of Chrrry, the renaissance circus freak.
Tell us about this project, how did you come to make it?
HOT HEAD was born of two goals — firstly, to engineer my own beats, and secondly, to create a monochrome pink visual as I had just impulsively dyed my hair a super obnoxious shade of bubblegum. It was supposed to be a quick-n-easy project to hold people over till my next big undertaking, but the universe had other ideas. I wrote “PEDESTAL” in 2018 as a love letter to my now fiance, and shot most of the footage in 2019. The vision for this project has taken so many forms, with various songs being added and removed until we settled on the perfect, three-song vignette. It’s a portrait of vulnerability and accountability, where I ended up examining a lot of the healing I was going through in real-time and realizing all the ways in which I have contributed to my own struggles. A lot of the lyrical content is centered around learning how to love again after years of romantic abuse and trauma, a journey so many of us face as we grow past the rollercoaster of second puberty into our mid-twenties. HOT HEAD says yes, I’m a little toxic too, but that’s okay because I’m doing my best to be a better me than I was yesterday. HOT HEAD says yes, I’m afraid to open up and let you into all this darkness, thank you for making me feel safe, seen, and accepted. HOT HEAD says yes, I’m angry at all this adversity I’ve faced, but I’m tired and I want to let go now.
What was the process of producing this project during Covid times?
We had one scene left to shoot when the pandemic hit, and of course, it was the group choreography for the third track, “ATTN”. We ended up having Caitlin Byrne, who choreographed the number, record herself teaching the sequence and sent it to the other dancers, who then went on to record themselves performing it in their quarantine spaces. We took this as an opportunity to have friends submit clips of themselves dancing to the song at home. I was absolutely blown away by the videos we got, and it made me super emotional connect with my community through art in such an intimate way.
How does your cultural identity influence your art?
My upbringing was pretty unique, so feeling like I don’t quite fit in anywhere has always been a theme in my art. My mother is a Brazilian immigrant of Italian and German descent, and my father is mestizo Puerto Rican from East Harlem. While I was more removed from my Puerto Rican side growing up, I was taught Portuguese before I was taught English and spent my summers as a child in Brazil. I remember being made fun of by my peers for speaking another language and for the food my mom packed me for lunch. My parents are both visual artists, so the culture I was most thoroughly exposed to was that of the New York gallery scene. I was surrounded by eccentric characters from all walks of life, of various nationalities and identities. I suppose this is why I feel most at home when surrounded by other artists, especially those that can identify with a multicultural experience.
What were your inspirations behind this project?
Musically, I’ve been really into the lush synths and melodramatic vulnerability in MUNA and Lorde, as well as the glitchy textures in Charli XCX . I’ve also been incredibly influenced by the candid unapologetic lyrics and hypnotic trap beats in SZA, Dounia, and Kehlani. Visually, I’ve always been obsessed with camp and this idea of warping time aesthetically, from Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette to Cardi B’s music video for “Bartier Cardi”. Visual albums like Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer, Beyonce’s Lemonade, and Tierra Whack’s Whack World have been a massive source of inspiration for me as well.
Anything else you want to tell us?
I could not have made HOT HEAD come to life without my stellar team, my support system, and my community. I am beyond grateful for Kassandra Kyriakis (Director of Photography), Jane Lincoln (Producer/Mixing Engineer), Xuan Rong (Vocal Producer), Augusta Levov (Art Director), Lily Loreno (Drone Operator), and my amazing assistant and publicist Jesse Raymundo. Lastly, of course, my muse and mastering engineer for life, Atlas Blaque.