By Jeremy D. Larson
This week we celebrate the release of Cherlene, the debut album from the mononymous Cherlene (aka railroad heiress Cheryl [or Carol] Tunt). If you’re unfamiliar with Cherlene, you can follow her career toward country stardom on Season 5 of the FX TV show Archer.
With plenty of help from Jessy Lynn Martens, Cherlene plays out over 12 tracks like a woman reconciling a certain mysterious past — a striking debut from a country artist. From the opening duet with “Danger Zone” artist Kenny Loggins, down to the twisted “Burn It Down,” there’s plenty to unpack from the album, more so than a song title like “Cherlene’s Broken Hearts & Auto Parts” would seem to imply. Who is “Cherlene”? Where does she come from? And what is her true “danger zone”?
Radio.com was lucky to be able to speak with Cherlene in this exclusive interview about her music, her past and her ongoing struggles to understand some of the finer subtitles of the English language. Excerpts from Part 1 of the interview are below; the second part is also now live on Radio.com.
Radio.com: A lot of people are dubious of country singers, whether they’re actually from America’s heartland. Where were you born and raised and how is your upbringing reflected in your music?
Cherlene: Well fine, if you wanna be dubious, be dubious, but I most certainly was born in America’s heartland, which from what I understand is just America without Alaska and Hawaii, so I don’t know why I’m getting dubied [sic] on. Just because I live in New York doesn’t mean I can’t sing about Georgia clay. Which is exactly what I do in my song “Forty Miles,” because for real, I’m all about some Play-Doh.
Can you open up about your romantic life? There’s some songs on here that allude to someone special who may not have played too nice with your heart.
Well this is actually kinda hard for me to talk about because I just put waaaay too many gummy bears in my mouth, but when I was in college, there was this guy named Richard Sledge, and he was the quarterback, so I figured okay at some point we’ll move in together. But the night I moved in, he totally freaked and was like, “How did you get in?” Which maybe his family was poor and didn’t have manners, but you should at least offer a tour the first time someone comes to your house. And I mean if you’re poor then it shouldn’t take long anyway. So yeah, he was kind of a heartbreaker, but I dodged a bullet not having to move into that tiny house. And also when the cops showed up. And it’s those kind of moments in life that my song “Burn it Down” is about.
Are you a feminist?
Oh right, people keep asking me that, because they say like, in my song “It’s All About Me” there’s a line that goes, “Darling ain’t my name,” and they say I’m making like this awesome feminist statement, but actually what that was was this one time, some dumb stage manager idiot called me Darlene. Darlene. Yeah, ‘cause that’s my name. Only not. I mean, come on — Darlene? More like DUH-lene. But that’s also inaccurate. It’s Cherlene. So then yeah, I ended up putting “Darlene ain’t my name” in the song. Because that guy was an idiot. I mean seriously, who manages a stage?
As a newcomer on the scene, are you prepared for the trappings of fame and celebrity? How will you handle the celebrity machine, should success find you after your first album?
Oh please, I did all the copying and shredding at my old job. I’m like really good with machines.