Last year, Nasty Cherry made an explosive debut in the music industry with their very first single, Win, a power-pop rock anthem reminiscent of all-female supergroups such as The Donnas, HAIM and The Runaways.
After a streak of excellent pop singles in 2019, it was announced that the band, which consists of singer Gabby Bechtel, drummer Debbie Knox-Hewson, guitarist Chloe Chaidez, and bassist Georgia Somary, were receiving their very own Netflix docu-series, I’m With The Band, which premiered on the streaming service in December.
“Even when we were pitching Netflix the show, I thought, ‘This can’t be right, this is not going to work out, they’ve made a massive mistake, why us?’” Georgia laughs over the phone. “I don’t think that I ever imagined personally that we would get that opportunity.”
The Big Brother-esque, five-episode series served as an origin story for the band, revealing how they came together at the hands of pop pioneer, Charli XCX. “She’s such a savvy businesswoman,” Debbie says of her mentor, “and she’s such a hard worker that you’re immediately put at ease, knowing that people are really going to work as hard for it as you are yourself.”
We caught up with the two British stars of Nasty Cherry to discuss their incredible new series, what they’ve learned from one of the most exciting and innovative artists in pop, and how they embrace but also challenge traditional ideas of a girl band.
Before this journey started did you think you’d have your own Netflix series?
Georgia: Even when we were pitching Netflix the show, I thought, ‘This can’t be right, this is not going to work out, they’ve made a massive mistake, why us?’ So, no. I don’t think that I ever imagined personally that we would get that opportunity.
Debbie: I think the same as Georgia. Even as we were filming it it was like, ‘This is happening!’ It was only when watching it back I was like, ‘Oh my god, it looks like a Netflix show.’ There were credits, and we all watched it in different languages, with subtitles on, it was very surreal.
Did any of you have any hesitations going into it? Because it isn’t just a little documentary – it’s Netflix!
Debbie: I was mainly excited, nowadays with the way that people want to consume art and their favourite artists, they want to know what’s going on with them, and as a musician you want to share that with people. So, I think any nerves were overshadowed by the excitement at being able to show people how we wrote the songs, how we recorded them, and then how we felt when they came out.
Georgia: I was really nervous because me and Gabi hadn’t been in a band before and we were learning how to navigate that. I was also learning to play my instrument – I still am, you never stop learning – and there were so many unknowns, and doing that on camera made me nervous going in. But it was great because you had a full crew of people there everyday cheerleading you a bit. It was a really lovely crew which helped those nerves disappear quite quick!
For those out there who may not know how Charli XCX brought you all together, what was her process and aim with the band?
Georgia: Charli actually knew us all differently. She’d gone on tour with Chloe [Chaidez], and Debbie had been drumming for her for a really long time, Gabi [Bechtel] had done a music video with her and I’ve been a friend of hers for a really long time, and I’ve performed with her occasionally. She had this crazy idea of putting us all together, but she is obviously, as you know, a great curator of people and she got it right. We all moved in together, and day one started writing and formed really genuine friendships, which is mad. She should form a dating agency!
Debbie: XCX Tinder!
Georgia: Exactly! Charli approached us saying, ‘I’ve got this crazy idea guys!’ and the thing with Charli is that when she has an idea that she really believes in, she’ll sell it to you in a way that you literally cannot believe there is any option other than doing it. She has such a strong conviction in what she thinks will work. I don’t think any of us ever doubted her, all of the fears came much later, but when she pitched it all of us were like, ‘YEAH!’
Debbie: She’s such a savvy businesswoman, and she’s such a hard worker that you’re immediately put at ease, knowing that people are really going to work as hard for it as you are yourself. And we’ve been fortunate that that’s been the case for everyone on Team Cherry.
Charli is one of the most innovative artists in pop right now – what have you learnt from her throughout this process?
Debbie: I’d grown up in school in a male-dominated environment, as a drummer. But then I got this gig which championed and celebrated femininity, which was something I hadn’t really thought about. And with the show, it was all pompoms and cheerleader outfits, and it felt really cool and it always got a really positive reception. Now, we meet so many young girls who want to be in a band. In terms of songwriting, she’s just so quick. You don’t get choice paralysis with what you’re writing, you don’t get time to doubt it. It’s like, ‘This is good, so let’s go with that and make this as great as it can be.’ To me, songwriting has always been quite a daunting prospect, you’re either going to sit down and write your favourite Beatles song or you’re not and you’re gonna give up. We write some really crap songs, but we still finish them and then we move on, and luckily then write something really good, which is empowering.
Georgia: Yeah, she definitely taught us how to treat songwriting like a muscle, the more you do the better you’ll be. Charli makes everything fun.
Debbie: I agree with that.
Georgia: Have fun with it, is what I get from her.
Debbie: There’s a scene in the show where we’d had high television drama and she was like, ‘You guys should just be having fun, remember this is fun,’ and that’s something really nice to have in your mind, for every writing session you go into, or every gig you’re nervous to play… It’s just supposed to be fun. Take it seriously, and do your best, but have fun while you’re doing it, and I think she’s really good at doing that.
Throughout history, girl bands have suffered at the hands of misogyny and have often been undervalued as musicians when compared to male bands – do you think those ideas are breaking down, and how much more can be done to change people’s perceptions?
Georgia: I’m coming in with a new eye, but I think the way you can change perceptions is just by doing the best that you can within your tiny little pool. At Nasty Cherry, we take the piss out of ourselves and we’ll be the first to make the joke. When we’re sexualising ourselves, it’s from us. When we’re being rude and talking about shitting, it’s from us. Whatever the conversation is, we’re the ones leading it. The comments on our Instagram don’t have a lot of misogyny because there’s no room for it. I know that’s an easy thing to say, and it’s not the same experience for a lot of other artists, but I think in terms of what we’re doing, the fact that there are four of us, the fact that it goes from being super feminine to super non-feminine, it’s a narrative that we’re so loud about that it helps with that.
Debbie: Yeah, I agree. I think the way you fight it is by making more music as a woman. I think there’s this confidence that men have in general to just give something a go, and that’s really championed. It’s not criticised and you don’t feel the pressure to be the best female drummer in the world, or the best female whatever, as a guy you just do it. I think the best way to combat that is for more women to join bands and start making music, and we hope that coming to a Nasty Cherry gig makes you leave feeling like you’ve had the wildest night of your life, or want to buy an instrument. You have to start somewhere, and I think that’s the main problem, people just don’t get it going.
Georgia: I think that is a symptom, we’ve all gotten messages from girls saying, ‘You’ve made me want to try the drums.’ It sounds really basic, but boys don’t grow up with that mentality, they’re given it all. They play the drums, then everyone is like, ‘You’re good, you’re in the band!’ No one then goes through that guy’s career questioning that they’re not the best drummer. It’s such power in knowing that girls are picking up an instrument and not giving a shit if they’re not great straight away, but they’re enjoying it.
In what way does Nasty Cherry embrace, but also challenge the traditional idea of a girl band?
Debbie: Good question! I like to think that we just don’t really think about it too much. And I don’t mean that in the sense that we hide away from it, I’m very proud of us. I know Georgia has a different opinion, which I find really interesting, but for me it’s something that I’ve wanted to put a stamp on whatever I’m doing, in the hopes it’ll make more women want to play. I think the way to challenge it is not to be thinking inside the box of what traditionally the girl band aesthetic or music really is. We just do what we think is cool.
Georgia: There’s not a uniform for us. In interviews, we make sure everyone has a separate voice. It’s not, ‘This is what Nasty Cherry thinks, this is what Gabi thinks, this is what Chloe thinks.’ But at the same time, we take from all those girl bands that we grew up loving, the comradery and the supportive nature that they had. Just being in a group of women, and this is going to be the cheesiest thing ever, who are stronger together. I’m down for that bit of the girl band, lifting each other up a little bit.
This is the love issue, so I wanted to ask: what’s your favourite love song of all time?
Debbie: Anything by Joni Mitchell, just because I am such a Joni fan. And she’s been really ill recently, and I check the news daily to make sure she’s alright! Or Van Morrison, Astral Weeks. I just think it’s the sweetest song, and I have a lot of childhood memories with it, with sweet love, not Bad Robin love, which is also a very good song.
Georgia: Mine’s Ruler of My Heart by Irma Thomas, but it’s a really sad one, because I do like a really sad song. A melodramatic, have a cry on your own song.
On the flipside, what is your favourite break-up song of all time?
Georgia: I can’t even think, Debbie have you got anything in your head?
Debbie: Whitesnake, Here I Go Again. It just says it like it is, makes me feel powerful, makes me feel like I have an electric guitar, which is what I need after a break-up.
Georgia: I’m genuinely going through playlists on my phone and I don’t go for that vibe. I don’t think I’ve ever gone for that vibe, which I think is the best thing.
Debbie: Most people don’t. I don’t think I’ve ever said in public that I go for that vibe, but here we are.
Georgia: You know what is a good love song? Thinking About You by Britney. It’s from the first album, both of you should listen to it today, because honestly it was my most listened to song of 2018. It’s such a cute little date song.
Finally, can we expect a full length studio album from Nasty Cherry?
Debbie: Yes, you can. When? We cannot tell you, but soon! We hope. And maybe some other things beforehand. We’re going on the tour throughout March and April in the States and the UK and we play South by Southwest. At the moment, we’re just excited to perform and share the Season 1 EP, but there are bigger works there in the future, not the too distant future.
Georgia: And anyone who comes to the shows might hear quite a lot of stuff that might come out. A lot of new gems… potentially!
I’m With the Band: Nasty Cherry is now available to stream on Netflix.