by Nadirah Simmons
Boston Chery stands out from the crowds for many reasons. For one, her aesthetic is that of a 90’s fan, but not the kind that simply reposts pictures of our favorite artists of the time. Instead, Chery has a deep respect for the artistry and the culture that manifests in her DJ sets and her personality, through which she shares her love for nostalgia and appreciation for the cultural pioneers before her-Mary J. Blige, Busta Rhymes, Brandy and Diddy to name a few. That was where we bonded.
But what struck me during our conversation was when she revealed that she rarely drinks or smokes. “Maybe four times a year,” she said over the phone. Instead, she prefers to let music heal her and get her through tough times, the same way a glass of wine or weed would for someone else. It’s not a knock, it’s just how she maneuvers. Music is her vice.
We talked to her about her introduction to DJing, the healing nature of music and the freeing environment that exists within queer party spaces.
Where did you get the name Boston Chery?
I came to New York from Massachusetts and I back then I had a super heavy Boston accent. There was this girl would call me “Boston” all the time and my last name was Chery, so that’s how I put my name together.
When did you start DJing?
I started about eight years ago, when I was 19. Music was always with me, I actually linked up with a friend from elementary school out in Crown Heights and his mom told me I had a really good ear and that I should get into DJing. So I did.
I was going through your social media pages and I saw a large 90’s influence.
One, I’m a 90’s baby. Two, nostalgia heals. We’re in a time where people are talking about their feelings and their mental state, and with music I’ve always wanted to heal. I’ve always wanted to bring that vibe where people make that stank face that reminds you of a song you haven’t heard in a while…Good feelings, that’s all that I’m about. Bringing good feelings to the dance floor.
I find music to be therapeutic and healing. How has it done that for you personally?
I was going back and forth between Boston and New York a lot as a child, just to different family members. Music was my escape, it made me feel good, it gave me a foundation and hope. A sense of security and a sense of belonging. Music is very spiritual to me.
How does your music taste shine through in your sets, because you have such an eclectic palate.
I just go with I’m feeling at the moment or what the crowd is feeling, and then I make sure I play a little something for everyone. I don’t believe in bad music, I believe in something being relatable or not relatable. And then I put a little nostalgia and culture in it, and I’m a West Indian girl so I have to throw that in.
I want to switch gears a little bit, tell me your best DJ experience?
I have a lot! Could I give a top 3? The Joy, Brooklyn Boyhood and Remarkable, they have a party during the summertime for the queer crowd. I was the first person to open up during Pride weekend and it was crazy! I also did a collab party that weekend too…can I do two more? And I did another queer party in Oakland, the vibes were like Brooklyn vibes. And DJing with KAYTRANADA in Montreal.
Wait! How you gonna put that one last [laughs]. How did that come together?
Ha! It was a few years ago, I was going in order! But I was signed to this agency and they put me on the Osheaga Festival.
I want to go back to what you said about the different types of party spaces. Whenever I go to parties that are predominantly queer they’re always a tad better than cis and straight spaces [laughs].
I think what it is, too many people are trying to maintain a persona. And I feel like [for some] queer people they’ve been upholding a person their entire lives. To be queer is to be free and finally free. To be finally free is just not giving a f*ck. I have a lot of straight friends that come to my queer events and they always say how no one dances at these other events. It’s about dancing and turning up and meeting good people.
One thing I saw on your Instagram page is that you spun at Museum of Sex for an event supporting sex workers. I was inspired by that because conversations around sex work need to happen. How did you end up DJing there?
I was actually reached out to by one of the curators who works there. I had spun at a party before and there were a few sex workers there, and it had opened my eyes. I was inspiring by their stories and I wanted to show love and support to sex workers and have the information to be able to educate people and also tell people that they have to respect everyone.
What does making it look like for you?
Being free and creating with whoever, whenever. Not having to worry about bills and traveling the world without worrying about finances. And healing people with music. I also want to inspire more women to produce and more women to DJ.
Is your family supportive of your career path?
I’m West Indian, I’m Haitian. So you already know I was supposed to be a nurse a long time ago. In the beginning [my mom] didn’t understand it, but my fourth year of DJing I was walking in SoHo from work and she said “I don’t know what it is, but I feel like deep down you’re going to make it big and I want to let you know I support you and love you.”