On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry

Multidisciplinary DJ and creative Chissmiss Cherry spent the majority of 2023 delivering queer-friendly DJ events to the downtown Toronto area. Her two music projects, Traxx & Feels and Stir Fry, aim to create inclusive and absolutely ass-shaking music events in the Toronto nightlife scene.

Traxx & Feels is a femme-queer collective that hosts intimate queer nightlife events in the underground music scene. Their work celebrates 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, striving for safer spaces for people to connect. They focus on Amapiano, Hip Hop, RnB, DnB, and House. Stirfry is an open-format party curating BIPOC-friendly spaces and sonically focusing on edits, House, RnB, and Hip Hop.

Liminul got the chance to sit down with Chissmiss Cherry and talk with her about how she got her start in the Toronto music scene and what it looks like to curate inclusive spaces in her city. Cherry is an incredibly talented DJ and producer who takes the initiative in making safe spaces for those who don’t know where they fit in. She’s also a florist!

I want to start by just talking about you as a DJ and your sound. You kind of work with various global sounds like Amapiano and Jersey Club. Where do you pull that inspiration from? And how do you navigate working with these different cultural nuances in your sounds?

I think I curate music that has a global international influence because of where I grew up, who I surround myself with, whether it’s friends or family, and I genuinely pick music that makes me feel something. I don’t really care where it’s from, as long as it sounds good and has an element that no one has heard before. I try to be different because I feel like Toronto has such a distinct sound. I like to play with that and find bootlegs or remixes of songs that we all know and love. I honestly like choosing ass-shaking music because that’s what we all came here to do, especially during one of my sets.

You found inspiration to get into DJing from people like Bambi and Nino Brown, taking inspiration from different Toronto artists.

I think Bambi, Brown and Chippy Nonstop from Pep Rally. They are the Toronto trifecta. I first discovered them going out in my early 20s when they were in their early DJ careers, and that was just where you had to go and where you had to be during that time, because they would – and still do – these amazing parties. But back then, it was like a self-discovery moment of, “Oh my God, this is so much fun. I feel safe, I feel included.” You just feel seen at their events. I wanted to emulate that same feeling when I curated my events and when I play music for people.

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

Before you got into DJing, you were in a band called “RR Supervan.”

Haha, like you have to do this to me? Oh my God.

Working with live music versus kind of working with a deck, are such different experiences. How does that dynamic differ? How does the previous experience being in a band influence how you currently DJ?

Okay, being in the band was a quarantine challenge for all three of us. I was in a band with Bianca and nubluu, and I was a beginner bass player. Okay, I’m going to be dead honest. I didn’t know ****. But by the end of it, I probably knew 12 notes. But it really pushed us to be creative. I think working in that collaborative band really helped our drive to share ideas, write lyrics together, you know, it was like a very harmonious collaborative effort to make something that was honestly fun. We vlogged the whole journey essentially; it’s still on YouTube. How that differs from DJing? Yeah, DJing is so independent. Sometimes you’re literally just on your computer trying to find good music, trying to practice your sets. Like, of course, it can be collaborative with other DJs involved and practicing together, but I kind of like to find my own tracks and do it on my own.

You’ve created two – or one collective, one kind of open-party-format, “Traxx & Feels” which is a collective with the commitment to celebrating the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, and then “Stir Fry,” which is an open-party-format focused on global sounds and creating safe spaces. Both of those projects have really distinct goals and aims. In working in these two spaces, how do you kind of maintain their separate identities? What motivated you to start these DJ projects?

I genuinely started these collectives and spearheaded them because I wanted gigs, haha. No one was booking me. Period. So I was like, “I’m just gonna make my own party and event and curate to my communities.” What first started was Stir Fry with our first party on March 31st, 2023. That was focused more so on the BIPOC community and playing sounds that we enjoy and edits and remixes that we like and the future of hip hop and R&B, and Amapiano, and just like club remixes, Baile Funk. That experience, it was like the three of us, me, tdesu, and INTROSPKT. After doing a couple of these parties, I was like, “I’m missing something. I want my queer identity shown too.” So, that’s when I developed Traxx & Feels and collaborated with INTROSPKT from the same Stir Fry collective, Incognita, and Ace Dillinger. And Traxx & Feels has a special place in my heart because it is for the queer community. Parties are getting expensive in Toronto. We want to keep it affordable and we want to keep it fun., On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

Knowing that you started these collectives because you yourself can’t get gigs, what responsibility do you feel in terms of providing opportunities?

It’s always good to give back to your community and also uplift through these opportunities of mentorship. We did a little open decks workshop for anyone who has never touched decks or experienced DJs. It was really successful, I think. That’s the sort of thing where it’s like pay what you can, and you’re just trying to meet other people, meet other creatives, meet like-minded people. I definitely think it’s very important to foster the new up-and-coming talent because it’s hard out there; some people don’t even know where to start, so at least if we can give them a little stepping stone to find out where to start or make these connections, then I know I did my job.

Speaking of giving back to the community and all that, you got into DJing by working with the U for Change program, which I believe isn’t running anymore. It was a nonprofit organization that focused on investing in young and marginalized artists in Toronto. How important is that kind of programming?

Yeah, honestly, it was the start of the pandemic. I got my CERB money, I used my CERB money to buy my first controller that was like $400. After that, I was like, where, how do I start? How do I learn? I heard from nubluu, who was a part of the band RR Supervan, they were like, “Check out U for Change.” It was free, and it was like a creative space where they did a whole different bunch of programs, not just DJing. They did graphic design, web design, fashion photography, they had all the creative mentorship. I got a lot of my early DJ opportunities from U for Change because they knew how committed I was to my craft and how I wanted to grow and continue to do this. Going through that experience was life-changing; at the moment, I probably didn’t know, but it really got me to learn all the necessary DJ skills from the get-go and that I still know today. It led me to meet a lot of different people and new friends and people I wouldn’t have met otherwise if I didn’t do the program. There are programs out there for youth; for example, the Remix Project is still up and running. There’s Unity Charity.

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul MagazineYour DJ name is Chissmiss Cherry, a playful kind of nod to the Filipino word, “chismis”. How else does being a Filipino woman impact your artistry?

It plays a big part, like that’s why I’m Chissmiss Cherry. Everyone says “Christmas,” whatever. I grew up with a name that was so hard to pronounce for some people, Cherileigh. People would call me Shirley, so I’m kind of used to that. It’s fine. But yeah, Chissmiss, it means like to gossip or talk ****. And I just took a play on words with that because I was like, “Oh, this is fun. I like cherries.” I’m also inspired by my Aunt Cherry. She’s like one of the most hardworking people I know. So that’s why everything’s cherry, because it’s dedicated to her. Part of my name [Cherileigh] is actually named after her. Being a Filipina, it’s hard, you know, like we have so many stereotypes. There’s always going to be a stereotype of being so hospitable and nice and, you know, feminine. There are a lot of barriers, but like I think there’s a lot of people trying to overcome those barriers and break those generational curses. The Philippines’ biggest export is people; it’s all these nurses because of colonization and proxy colonization from the states and I’m glad I didn’t become a nurse – but like shout out to all the nurse, haha. I’m going to be the next Peggy Gou of the Filipinas. I think [Filipinas] have a lot to offer. I want to change the game in what Filipino music sounds like. So that’s why I want to take the next step and produce music and just have fun with it. And with that, hopefully, new opportunities come and grow and I get to travel and just show what an Asian woman can do. We’re not just silent and meek people, you know, submissive type of archetypes like that is not us.

You actually had the opportunity to perform in Manila. How was that exchange of energy like being in a space that?

Yeah. So I went to the Philippines in November 2022 and just through mutual friends, I found a booking agent, like a promoter of a venue called INT.bar / EXT.cafe. It’s in Cubao Expo in Quezon City, and so playing for it was like a small lounge-type vibe, and I played in front of my family. Like, this was the first time I played in front of my family. Playing for a Filipino crowd was like the biggest homecoming I could ever ask for, and I hope the next time I’m there, it’s bigger and better.

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

Beyond being a DJ, you’re also a florist, which I love. There’s such a contrast between the gritty nightlife scene and then this blissful, bright morning feeling of flowers. How do both those forms of creativity coexist within Chissmiss Cherry?

Yeah, so floral design is just another way of, like, a stream of creativity, and I hope one day I can fuse these two passions of mine, flowers and DJing, into one space. I kind of just stumbled upon [floral design]. I had a little side gig being a delivery driver, and then that kind of just blew up into becoming a full-on floral designer gradually at May Flowers Toronto. When I first started doing it, I was using dried florals; that was like the gateway drug to florals for me. I love fresh flowers; it’s just that dried flowers are what I’m drawn to. It’s my medium.  I want to do larger installations. I’ve had opportunities to do that with Fleur de Villes, which happens every year in Yorkville. Also for IDS, recently working with Promise Supply – shoutout to Promise Supply – their plant shop. I’m really thankful that I found a great friend and collaborator Tlisa (@bbtea__). Tlisa and I work so well together. 

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine

You’re a Sag, Cap rising, and a Pisces moon. How does it affect the music? How does it affect the flowers?

I think being a Pisces is very sensual, and it really gets into your emotions. I really think a lot about how people feel and how people think of me or of the situation a lot more than I should, but it helps with flowers because you’re kind of like going with the flow of things and seeing what looks best aesthetically. In terms of Sag, like, my Sag keeps me alive and going and doing. Maybe I should probably keep my mouth shut before I speak at times. But yeah, and my Capricorn rising needs to chill; I’ve been working too much.


What’s next for Chissmiss Cherry?

Stir Fry’s one-year anniversary is happening at Paradise Grotto, on April 4th.  Tickets will be available soon on their IG, @stirfryto. Follow for updates! Follow Traxx & Feels (@traxxandfeels) for upcoming queer-friendly events including their biggest events of the year during Pride and Halloween.  Follow Chissmiss Cherry (@chissmiss.cherry) on IG to stay updated on all her upcoming projects and @cherrystudio.xx for more on her flower work.


, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul Magazine


Photography: Hannah Verina White (@colourmyheart)

Creative Direction: Hannah Verina White (@colourmyheart)

, On the Decks: Chissmiss Cherry, Liminul MagazineHannah Verina White is a Montreal and Toronto based writer. She has a deep love for the melodramatic and nostalgic, both of which influence the way she writes and the subjects she chooses to write about.