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FLETCHER and Hayley Kiyoko Break Down Their “Cherry” Music Video

FLETCHER and Hayley Kiyoko’s collab “Cherry” is just as sweet as its title suggests. Released last month, the bop is luscious, flirtatious, but fun—if not a little mischievous too—so of course the music video had to keep up that same energy.

Directed by Kristen Jan Wong, the newly released visuals place the pop star pair in a love triangle: They’re both hanging out, baking, cuddling, and fooling around with the same girl, but they don’t realize it… until they show up at her doorstep at the same time. But, instead of fighting over their lover, they shrug it off and both head inside with her anyway.

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To emphasize the playfulness, the video is oozing with retro inspiration and bubblegum pop aesthetics. FLETCHER and Kiyoko pose on a vintage convertible, talk on flip phones, and rotate through colorful outfits that could be easily plucked from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and aughts. (There are a lot of red pieces, given the title.) “We looked good together and it was sort of vintage, rom-com-inspired. So it had this cool retro energy,” Cari Fletcher says on a Zoom call with Kiyoko and ELLE.com. Even the home they filmed in has an old-fashioned feel.

The artists’s intention with both the song and the video was to bring joy to listeners and help alleviate their social anxiety, especially for queer single people looking to make connections during the pandemic. It’s “a way of introducing yourself to people and breaking the ice,” Kiyoko says of the sing-songy chorus. (“Cherry / Hello, nice to meet you, my name’s Hayley,” her part goes.)

Both Fletcher and Kiyoko have more up their sleeves, with both preparing to drop new albums and new music in 2022. But in the meantime, we’ve got “Cherry” to satisfy our appetites. Here, the duo talks to ELLE about how their match-made-in-heaven collaboration and cheeky music video came to be.

I want to rewind a little. Who approached who? How did this collab happen?

Cari Fletcher: We’ve been on quite a journey, I think. We’ve been trying to do something together for a bit. And Hayley, you texted me in May of this year and you were like, “Hi…”

Hayley Kiyoko: Yeah, randomly.

CF: Just out of the blue. I was picking up sushi and I get a text and I look down, it’s Hayley Kiyoko. And then she’s like, “Hi, should we do a song together?” And I was like, “We absolutely should. And then we should screenshot this text and this should be the promo for when we can finally do a song together.” We got in the studio and we wrote something, and I don’t really think we loved it. And we’re like, “Okay, we’ll try something else.”

And then “Cherry” came about—I was working on the song and as I was originally writing it, I was envisioning Hayley being on it for some reason. And I couldn’t get that out of my head. And then I texted it to her and I was like, “What do you think about this?” And then we went into the studio and we just made it 10 times better. We wrote a verse and Hayley had a bridge idea and it just all came to life. But yeah, it’s so exciting that we finally have something together. I feel like it’s been a long time coming.

Hayley, what was your first impression when you got the recording that Cari sent you?

HK: I was like, “How did I not realize that Cari and Hayley basically kind of rhyme?” I was like, “This is a far-removed rhyme.” [Laughs.]

It’s a heavy slant rhyme.

HK: And so, I went to the studio, wrote my verse, and then we finagled it ’til we loved it. I just think it’s such a fun, cute, super bop-type song. And hopefully our fans love it. I feel like they do. When it’s right, it’s right. And it just made sense… it was really a match made in heaven.

It really was. I like the playful feel of the melody, too. And in the verses, you were talking from your perspectives and introducing yourselves. What were you picturing when you were writing it?

CF: I think it was funny because initially the idea came from—there was somebody that I was really curious about and nothing had happened with them yet. And I was like, “Oh, I wonder what it would be like to be with them, to kiss this person, in an intimate setting.” That’s what the initial inspiration was. And then I think when we went into the studio and Hayley was writing her verse, we were also trying to figure out, “What’s our intention here?”

HK: And I think, too, unfortunately in this pandemic, I feel like I have way more social anxiety. I feel like I forgot how to speak to people or introduce myself, and especially as queer people being single, [the song is] just a nice introduction and a way of introducing yourself to people and breaking the ice. That’s what I loved about the playfulness of the lyrics of the chorus. But yeah, Cari and I were like, “Are we singing it to each other? Are we both dating the same person?” And so as you’ll see in the video, we made this artistic approach of: we’re both going after the same girl, but not knowing that we’re going after the same girl, and her name is Cherry.

Did the idea of the love triangle in the video come directly from the lyrics, or did you construct that when you were working on the visuals later on?

HK: I don’t think we had that idea when we were working on the song.

CF: It was before we shot the video and Hayley called me and was like, “What if Cherry was a girl? And we both were going after her and we both didn’t realize it.” And I was like, “That’s a genius idea.” And then we made that come to life. We’re friends in the video, as we are in real life. And we both don’t realize that we’re texting the same girl. I’m like, this is tea. This is very tea-full. [Both laugh.]


CF: But it was really cool and really fun. I don’t think I’ve ever been a part of a visual that was so light and so fun. This song really does feel like such a celebration. And I also have developed a really good amount of social anxiety over the last year as well. So, I don’t know, it felt like a reintroduction of: This is who I am and this is what I’ve been up to and, “Hi, it’s good to see you guys again.”

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What was it like on set? The video seems like it was really fun to shoot.

HK: I had a great time with Cari. We both obviously are friends and we get along so well, so it was a super fast shoot. I mean, most video shoots were super quick. So you were just running around chaotically in a timely manner, but I had so much fun.

CF: We had cherry candy and there were cupcakes and cookies. I think the worst part about that, though, was that I am gluten-free, so I didn’t eat any of the things that were on set, which I was bummed about. I just kept licking icing. I’m like, “I’m going to throw up after this video.” But it was really fun, but it was quick. We know what we are there to do.

Obviously, the fan reaction over the song itself has been very supportive; what do you hope people get out of the video?

CF: I think, honestly, the intention behind making this song was just to bring joy. I think it’s been a really, really rough year and a bit for people and to be able to have a song that just feels like serotonin, to even be able to just make that for myself, was really important for me. And I think we wanted to make a visual that represented that energy of just celebration. And even though things have been quite dark and times have been really difficult, there’s still a lot of light and beauty and joy to be had. I think that’s something that’s important for both Hayley and I, and always has been. And to also make people feel like they’re able to be themselves and to celebrate themselves.

I think one of the really cool things is just even seeing people make videos to it on TikTok, or they’ve been using it to personalize it and introduce themselves in their own way and be like, “This is a little bit about me.” And I think that’s one of the coolest things, too, as an artist is once you put something out, it’s not just yours anymore. So that became somebody else’s and a way to say, “Hi, my name is this and these are some things about me.” I’m learning things about some of our fans.

HK: What she said. I think, too, it’s all about women supporting women and I love that we were able to collaborate and unite and support one another and do a song together and have that be a moment. It’s fun, it’s flirty, it’s catchy. And I hope it puts a smile on a listener’s face or, if they’re going through something, they can escape and… be careful of the girls named Cherry, apparently, after watching the video.

fletcher and hayley kiyoko

Kristen Jan Wong

You said that you’ve both been friends for a while. Do you remember the first time you met?

HK: When was the first time we met? I feel like we met at probably a house party or something, right? A couple years ago.

CF: I remember I came to your set at Coachella as a fan, I was in the audience.

HK: Oh really? Oh, wow. It was in 2018?

CF: In 2018. And I literally was standing side-stage. I was like, “We’re going to have a song together one day.” I said it out loud. Because everyone was freaking out and it was such a good show. But when we met in person, I think it might have been just at a mutual friend’s thing. And I was like, “Hi, I love your music. We should be friends.”

HK: Same, yeah. I love that story. Coachella was the highlight. That was one of the best days of my life, so I’m glad we got to share that together.

CF: Oh yeah. I posted like, eight stories of you. And here we are.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

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