Rebecca Winter and Cheryll on the Importance of Friendship

Rebecca Winter and Cheryll are not only rising stars but also good friends. In what has been a busy year for both artists, they decided to collaborate again on the track ‘Come Thru‘. Following this, Rebecca had her first headline show with Cheryll supporting her friend and musical colleague.

We thought it was only right to get these two together and have a chat. It was a fun conversation, deciphering the importance of musical friendships, growth, and the nerves around live performances.

This is your first collaboration since 2018, what made you decide that now was the time for a follow-up?

Cheryll: We always said that we wanted to collaborate again. But, I just felt like this was the right time. I started off the song and Rebecca heard it and she really, really liked it and thought it would be a good idea to do as a collaboration. Also, we said that through different parts of our career, we wanted to collab and it made sense 5 years later. I don’t know if Rebecca feels the same, but it just made sense now (that) we have reached a different level in our careers.

Rebecca: Even though we haven’t publicly put out a song, we have a habit of (making music together). When we first started the song, you (Cheryll) had the verse and you couldn’t get the hook. We do this thing where we’re like, ‘What sounds good? How are we going to finish this? How can I finish this?’ So, when it came to this particular song I could hear myself on it.

I started in R’n’B anyway. It felt like, ‘Okay, let’s take another visit to that side of my journey.’. Again, I love the song. I love all of her songs, but this one, I really love it. We are (in) a good space individually for us to come together.

What has changed about you two artistically between the releases’ of the two songs?

Rebecca: You go first.

Cheryll: (laughs) Personally, I feel I have grown within myself over the years, even vocally. Rebecca’s vocals have strengthened as well. Five years is a very long time. I feel that my confidence has grown; my artistry has grown. As a whole, I have been able to focus on growing

Rebecca: I feel exactly the same. Five years ago, me and Cheryll were at the beginning of our friendship. Me and Cheryll were very new friends then, I can’t remember how long it was. (We were) growing as artists, as well as growing as friends. I feel like you just become comfortable with someone. You find peace in your friend first, more than anything. That is why it didn’t feel forced. We have both grown as women behind the music in our own lives in terms of confidence; our vocal ability; our creativity has grown; our sound has been more perfected.

There has been a whole level of growth, even the look. We both look better. We always look great, but I feel that I look better than I did five years ago.

Cheryll: I agree. Not about yourself, but about you. (laughs) I agree about myself, I look better. Even when I go back and look at the way we both used to dress and do our make-up. It was good for back then, but now…

Rebecca: Now, it makes more sense.

Would you say because you’ve been friends for so long, when you went into the studio this time you knew how to get the best out of one another?

Cheryll and Rebecca: Yeah!

Rebecca: A lot of artists know it, but it’s like they forget when they work with another artist that you’re so sensitive with your craft. I feel that being friends allows you to understand how someone might take something or what is the best way to criticise them in this way or what is the best way to help them in that way. It’s almost like if you take away the music, if you’re going to give your friend advice you’ll know how to go about it. It’s not much different when it comes to music. What do you think Cheryll?

Cheryll: I agree. We both know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. In terms of music, If I have something I feel is missing I will hit Rebecca up and vice versa. In terms of our strengths, we know how to get the best out of each other and also give the best constructive criticism in terms of getting the best result, without anyone being offended. We’re friends first, so you’re going to be conscious of (the fact) you want to get the best result, but also you know your friends. This makes it easier to work with each other and you know the best intention is there.

It’s a big moment for you Rebecca with your first headline show and Cheryll will be supporting, as well. What are your plans for the show and how are you both feeling about it?

Rebecca: My plan for the show is to take everyone on a journey. I feel that because I have been in music for a while, it’s bringing it all together. (It’s) who I was at the beginning of my music journey to who I am now and who I want to be. I’ve never really brought together all my supporters from the past, the present, and hopefully the future. It’s an opportunity for people to understand my art in person because that is my strongest point. I love performing; I love dancing; I love singing live. It’s just an opportunity for people to take in the best side of my artistry.

I’m nervous, I am not going to lie! I am so nervous because when you are preparing for something great, stuff always happens. I put all my trust and faith in God because I believe God is going to make that night everything and more for me, and open so many doors. Like I said, I’m mid-practicing. I have the dancers literally stood to the right of me. I’m sitting here in Waterloo on the phone doing this interview. It’s all systems go, honestly. I hope and pray it is everything and more.

As you are supporting Cheryll, are you more nervous than normal as you’re supporting someone you are friends with?

Cheryll: I can’t lie to you, I am. I’ve just been getting nervous and nerves are not always a bad thing. I feel that the greats always get nervous. In this case, I am going on right before her as well and you want to do the best for someone who is one of your closest friends. I want to do her proud and there are going to be a lot of people in the crowd that know me beforehand, so that adds pressure, as well. It’s good pressure at the end of the day. I know I can sing, I can do my thing when it comes to performing but there is just that added pressure.

Rebecca: I ain’t nervous for you. (laughs)

That’s interesting as in a way it is a practice for your own headline show as there are people there you know, friends there you know.

Cheryll: I feel that for Rebecca, she’s on edge, (ok maybe not edge as that’s the wrong word) because she has so much going on. She is a perfectionist, as well. She’s covering so many things in terms of this show. I’m so excited to see the outcome because I know she is a Beyoncé at heart, so I know right now she is thinking everything in terms of the show. But, I know she is going to do amazing.

Keeping on the topic of live performances, what artists have impacted your own performance styles?

Rebecca: For me, the big B first of all (Beyoncé). I feel that I have a personal attachment to that woman. From young, before I even could walk properly, I was putting on my mom’s heels and I was trying to dance like her in the mirror. Beyoncé has been a huge, huge inspiration for me and part of my journey.

Tiwa Savage is one of the pillars of afrobeats and a powerful woman in the afrobeats industry. She is more so a role model to show me that you can do it too. Then, a lot of nostalgic artists. Obviously, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child. I would say those are my biggest influences.

At the moment, one of my biggest influences is someone called Friday. He is amazing! He’s not new, but he is someone who has taken off and is so unique. I just love his emotional connection with his music. What about you Cheryll?

Cheryll: Destiny’s Child was a big one for me, as well as the likes of Brandy, Aaliyah, and Mary J. (Blige). I always feel there is something about my bops and I watch so much Mary J. She’s kinda scary as her dances are so unique. I wouldn’t say I am really like her, but I get a lot of my inspiration from her, as well. Just R’n’B in general, from that late 90s to early 2000s era. That is where a lot of my inspiration comes from and naturally, when I write music, it’s in that style, even when I am not trying.

We’ve touched on it a bit, but how important is it to have a friendship like you two have in the music industry?

Cheryll: So important! I can’t stress it.

Rebecca: The key is not having a friend, it’s having a good friend. There are some friends that aren’t good friends (laughs) that people have that will drag them down, instead of lift them up. Having quality is important. You need quality, you can’t create quality. It’s so important.

Cheryll: We have a normal friendship like any sisterly friends have. We get on through the tough times; we’re there through the great times; we argue; we make up. Genuinely, we support each other through the tough times. It is more than just a friendship, we are like sisters.

I know there is no judgement there, but sometimes we get in our heads. I know I can go to her and be like, ‘This is how I’m feeling, but on a normal day, I wouldn’t express this to anybody else, but do you ever feel like this?’, especially when it’s to do with music. She will be like, ‘I get where you’re coming from. I don’t feel like that, but I get where you’re coming from or yeah, I have felt like this before.’. Sometimes, it can get you out of your own head. It allows you to get advice and be able to share your thoughts with someone who is on the same path as you.

Rebecca: I feel because our music is so sensitive, you do have human thoughts but you might think you’re overdoing it. But, you are not. You don’t want to ask someone on your Instagram because their not always going to be honest and have your best interests at heart.

We’re coming towards the end of 2023, what are some of the highlights or the lessons you’ve learnt from this year?

Cheryll: I feel like this has been a really reflective year for me. I’ve had a lot of great moments and been able to go on holiday with my friends. Even with the release with Rebecca, having a watch party, was a highlight. That was such a great night, filled with so much support and love. Being able to share that with one of your closest friends, you don’t get that every day.

This year has been tough. There are so many things people are dealing with outside of music in terms of day-to-day life. You are growing up, getting older, and adulting. Having to deal with all that, let alone trying to pursue a music career on top of that where if you’re going through something, you can’t just shy away. You have a responsibility to keep up with supporters and the people around you.

You can’t go off the grid even if that is what you want to do. So, it is having to balance that and understanding even though you don’t want to be gone for too long, it’s okay to put your mental health first and take some time for yourself. We’re performers and artists, and so used to doing things for others, but this year has taught me to slow down and take care of myself.

Rebecca: This year has reminded me God first. Without God, I can’t do it because life throws you so much behind the music. I find it impossible to navigate without feeling like I have purpose. Also, just believing in myself. God’s given you this talent and you get one shot at it, you get one life on Earth. So, it is just making sure that you’re going all gas, no breaks and that is what every creative owes to themself to try their best. If it doesn’t work out, you will feel ok as you gave it your best

It’s just trusting the process and allowing things to fall into place and like what Cheryll said, making sure you’re good behind the music. Knowing who you are behind the music is so important. If you look at some of the greats they are not so great right now because their mental health is suffering. It’s important to know what type of life you are trying to live and just put yourself first.

Going forward, what are your plans for the future?

Cheryll: I’m just going to continue working on personal development, as well as musical artistry, and continue to make meaningful music. I’m getting older, so I feel that I am at the next stage of my musical career. So, to focus on that and move forward in that sense.

Rebecca: I don’t feel like they change.

Cheryll: The journey towards your plans and goals changes; the way you navigate changes.

Rebecca: My plans are to build on this year. This year has been the foundation for me: having my first headline show; next year the plan is to have a bigger one. If it’s dropping a project, it is dropping a better project. I’m in it for the long run, but I feel as an artist, supporters latching onto that growth is what I’m interested in. Also, just enjoy the journey because music is a choice and I feel that I forget that sometimes. (I’m) really enjoying the journey and feel this is where I am meant to be.

Rebecca Winter and Cheryll are on Instagram. Make sure to watch the ‘Come Thru’ visuals below and read more interviews here.

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