How TOMGIRL's Cherie Ko Boosts Her Creativity And Stays Afloat In The Music Scene

Seeing the world with a fresh pair of eyes.

BY Wayne Cheong | Apr 17, 2017 | Feature

Photograph by Chng Dju Lian, Styling by Lim Siu Fang

Nine months ago, Cherie Ko started going for floats—or immersing herself in sensory deprivation tanks. There are benefits to be reaped from a float session like boosting her creativity (“[It] does not inspire my music directly, but it does help to ‘put’ my brain together and place me in a relaxed state”), which is helpful since the mild-mannered musician is also one-fifths of the Obedient Wives Club and half of TOMGIRL, a band that she shares with Ted Doré. “TOMGIRL came about when Ted and I met in 2014 at Laneway Fest,” Ko reminisces. “We started hanging out, and then the night before he left for Melbourne, we jammed in my basement and those [bits and pieces] were the beginning of ‘Darker Now’.” Ko heard the final rendition of the track and knew TOMGIRL had to happen. There was a vibe and it had such a strong identity that it was easy to break out of their shell to form something new. They soon delivered an EP, and after that, a self-titled album. The music is slick, noir-ish; the jangly guitar riffs wash over like a predator on the hunt.

“I did a tarot reading and found out that my spirit animal this year is a black panther,” Ko says. “It’s apt since I’m assuming this character on stage.” She is a different person when performing; the way she prowls across the stage, bathed in red and blue light, she’s a world away from the person you’d normally see who blends easily into the crowd. But it’s always the ones you don’t expect who set the world aflame in their wake.

This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, April 2017.