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… And Breathe: An Interview with Reeta Cherie

The Dublin-based DJ talks to Cíara Byrne about Irish club culture, the power of wellness, and the vitality of community and collaboration in the scene

Photo by Kate Lawlor

Reeta Cherie has spent the last decade playing in clubs, festivals and bars around Dublin and Ireland, bringing her passion and joy to the dancefloor and sharing it with anyone who turns up looking to embrace the same. From hauling vinyl across muddy festival grounds to embracing a switch to DJing with USBs for the sake of preservation, she embraces the flow of her career with passion and feeling.

A qualified yoga teacher, Cherie explores the connection that she feels between her music and her yoga practice. “I find release and relief in both yoga and DJ’ing,” she says. “There’s nothing like DJing where you’re playing and having a boogie, and there’s nothing like yoga where you’re breathing and thinking and taking it all in.” Though the two pose a juxtaposition in their energy, there’s a unique connection between them. For Cherie, the release that comes from both yoga and being in a club are two versions of the same thing, harnessing energy and putting it back out into the world in a positive way.

Cherie refuses to be defined by any one genre and takes great inspiration from collaborating with artists and DJs across the board. Growing up in Chicago, her parents set a precedent by playing everything from rock and pop to jazz and disco. Their influence impacted the early years of Cherie’s music education, but she remembers how as a teenager “electronic music just grabbed me”. She quickly found a love for pumping beats and from here a passion for finding joy and release through dance and music was formed. 

Eight years ago, a collective called Sim Simma began, consisting of collaborators Tadhg Byrne, Johnny Carroll, Tim Nairn, Damien Allen, Frankie Grimes, Ben Bix, Josh Burdon and Cherie. A combination of styles, Sim Simma was the beginning of an eight-year exploration into the power of working together to form something both unique and influential. The collective also taught Cherie how to mix on vinyl. “I first learned to DJ on vinyl,” she says. “I actually only play vinyl now when I’m playing at The Big Romance in Dublin because USBs are so convenient. I remember being at the festivals and carrying all of the records in the mud. Maybe three years ago, I was like, right, somebody teach me how to DJ with USBs. I can’t handle the stress of DJing with records anymore, especially going to festivals.”

Speaking on the Dublin music and creative scene, Cherie says: “Ireland is such a beautiful place. Whether it’s electronic, trad, rock or funk, Ireland is thriving. You hear music all the time.” Though there’s a world-beating scene, she reflects on the sadness that comes with so many creatives feeling forced out of the country in order to succeed in the music industry. Though more and more clubs and venues are closing, she emphasises the importance of staying, playing and sharing the music of other Irish talent, whatever the genre. “I think that the producers here are phenomenal,” Cherie emphasises. 

On the power of collaboration, Cherie discusses her joint venture ReetaBix with producer Ben Bix. She takes on the spoken word aspect while Bix contributes his own flavour of sound to support. It speaks the life of an artist in constant collaboration, sharing tunes and words with friends and other producers as a way to create music that transcends genre and delves into a world of unique and innovative sound. “It’s just not me to stick with one genre,” she adds.

After recently receiving life-changing surgery to remove a fibroid, Cherie has had to take a step back from late nights to focus on recovery. Speaking on the power of community, she says: “We’re social beings. When I was deep in my recovery, so many people stopped by to visit. My best friend Clíona made a GoFundMe for me to recover and rest. I’m so touched by the amount of people that donated money on my behalf so that I can be well.”

Giving back to the community by means of sharing someone’s music or their night is a thing of huge importance to Cherie. Community forms the pillars of our life, our success and ultimately our joy, and it’s a power that Cherie values deeply. Running the Queen Beatz show on Dublin Digital Radio, she uses this platform to champion new Irish talent, combining everything from jazz and post-punk to R&B and old-school hip-hop and everything in between. From festival sets to her radio show and her late-night DJ sets, Reeta Cherie embraces joy in its purest form. She uplifts those who listen and encourages momentary release through the power of music and movement. Ciara Byrne

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