For all its apparent directness, “Cherry” is an inward-looking song, cooked up from pandemic paranoia and days spent compulsively checking a phone that won’t ring. “You make me feel hot and sexy, I wish you did not,” she broods, as a droning bassline circles oppressively overhead. It’s a freeze-frame of being stuck indoors, tunnelling deeper and deeper into your most destructive thoughts as the world goes on without you.
MINOE, who was born in Nova Scotia but now lives in Montreal, spent lockdown as an essential worker, knuckling down to business while most of us were just switching off our cameras. Still, she was every bit as susceptible to cabin fever, unable to shake off the suspicion she was being shut out by her closest friends. “Cherry” was written in an effort to confront those negative feelings head-on.
“I was in a really bad place struggling with myself internally, during a bad bout of depression and feeling disconnected from the world. I lost confidence and my self-image really took a hit,” she elaborates. “Seeing my friends on social media, I convinced myself they left me out on purpose. My inner demon was telling me that they hated me.”
But MINOE wasn’t about to let her demons win. Instead, she made songwriting partners of them. “Usually, I would be embarrassed to admit these vulnerabilities and feelings of jealousy. I’d shove those feelings down as they aren’t productive,” she says. “I think it’s important to explore undesired emotions and show people it’s okay to have these feelings.”
Overwhelming insecurity is not typically on the menu for MINOE. Most of the time she likes to inhabit a stage armed with dazzling confidence, relatable stories and perfectly-appointed lipliner. But rather than let feelings of bitterness and self-doubt damage her sense of self, she decided to simply try them on for size, like items raided from a dressing-up box.
It’s an experiment that allows her to play around with dynamics; one moment rasping confessions deep into your ear, the next hollering from the rooftops – while the conflicting emotions slowly build towards a cathartic finish. And, it’s the catharsis that has the last word here. This is an artist who refuses to quarantine her emotions, laughing in the face of FOMO as she channels her darkest moments into a seductive, cage-rattling anthem.