Fallon and Felisha found huge success early in their careers as part of the R&B group Cherish with hits such as “Do It To It and “Unappreciated”, but what’s been more impressive is their climb back to the top through their work for other artists. Since the end of Cherish, Fallon and Felisha have transformed into R&B hitmakers as they’ve penned big records such as Justin Bieber’s “Peaches”, Sevyn Streeter’s “Before I Do” and DaniLeigh’s “Easy”. YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to talk to the twins about their early beginnings in the industry as part of Cherish, their journey as songwriters as well as their plans for new music in the future. We also touch on BET’s “The Encore” show that they’re a part of and their experience being on reality TV.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Take me back to the early beginnings of your career when you guys first got signed and also being on The Powerpuff Girls soundtrack.
Felisha: I think you hit the nail on the head. Those all had its moments. The Powerpuff Girls soundtrack was before “Unappreciated” and we were really young. We were like 15 when that came out. That was super cool. The Cartoon Network hit us up about doing the movie and having the theme song. Fallon and I loved The Powerpuff Girls so we were like “We have to write this”. We wrote a song called “Chemical X” and it was a great experience. After that, it was “Unappreciated” and that was our debut album on Capitol records. It was such a huge moment in time. No pun intended. *Laughs*
Fallon: We wrote “Do It To It” before we even had a record deal. Felisha and I along with our sister Farrah had this track and we wrote to it. At the time, our family friends Chris Luva Luva, who everyone now knows as Ludacris, and Poon Daddy were spinning the record and that’s when we started getting recognition from different labels. They were like “We have to sign these girls” and the rest is history.
YouKnowIGotSoul: During that time, did you even know what success and failure meant?
Felisha: No, for us it was all fun. We just had a passion for music and we loved what we did. We didn’t even consider that we would fail. That never crossed our mind.
Fallon: That was a devastating blow.
Felisha: I don’t think there’s ever failure though, just lessons.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Cherish found success early on with “Do It To It” along with “Unappreciated”. That song didn’t take off right away, but it gradually kept getting bigger and bigger.
Fallon: That was the one that I didn’t know would be as big. We knew “Unappreciated” was a great song, but we didn’t know that it would be just as big as “Do It To It”. Nobody knew about our vocal ability until “Unappreciated” and they were like “Wow they have a bop and they can sing”.
Felisha: When the label first said they wanted to release “Unappreciated”, I was like “Really? We should put out another uptempo”. The label went with “Unappreciated” and they were right. The song was huge. The song had that Mary J. Blige soulful feel to it and it was a great record.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Cherish’s second album “The Truth” was amazing from top to bottom. Take me back to that album.
Fallon: The experience of it was that it was our baby. We wanted to be a part of it in every possible way that we could. We wrote all of the records on the album along with Adonis and other writers. Ultimately we wrote every song on the album. That was important to us because it’s the authenticity of our group. Your sound is your sound. If we’re working with the greats, obviously who doesn’t want to do that? At the same time, we didn’t want to sound like other groups. We wanted to have our own sound and in order to do that, we had to have more creative control than usual. Writing both albums really was a lesson learned for us when it came to what we felt we could bring to the table as Cherish and also the fact that we could have this music and create this sound without heavy hitters. That was something that was important to me.
YouKnowIGotSoul: The music industry started to change after the release of Cherish’s second album. How tough was it to adapt to the internet taking over the industry?
Felisha: It was very tough. It was such a weird time in music because it was right when social media had just started to pop up. It was right between Facebook and Instagram. We didn’t have the same exposure that artists have now. Even if labels don’t push their music, you can still push it because your fans can find it.
Fallon: It was a weird time in the music industry at that time as well because labels didn’t know how they were going to make money off music anymore. At that time, everyone was downloading music off Limewire and there was no iTunes or Spotify. Labels were running crazy at this point trying to figure out what they were going to do with those artists. We were some of those artists.
Felisha: You also have to understand that with groups, you have to take a Motown approach. They wanted the instant numbers and that’s who they pushed. When “The Truth” came out, it was such a weird time because a lot of our fans didn’t even know how to find us after that happened. It was all about the labels, but now it’s the opposite. You don’t really need a label to push your music and have success.
YouKnowIGotSoul: After that second album, it got confusing for some fans because it seemed like you guys were jumping back and forth between the Cherish brand as well as the new name F+F. How tough was that time?
Fallon: I think at that point, that’s the reason why we tried everything. We didn’t know where it was gong to go. One thing Felisha and I knew was that we wanted to keep it moving with the music even if our sisters were at a different transition at the time. We wanted to make sure we stayed in the industry and we kept trying to give content to Cherish fans even if we weren’t together.
Felisha: We always wanted to find new ways to re-invent ourselves and re-introduce ourselves to the world. We eventually settled in writing because it was fulfilling and it was our passion. We knew that we could do the same things behind the scenes.
YouKnowIGotSoul: We always felt like the F+F brand had so much potential with the “Infected” record as well as the YouTube covers. It would have been interesting to see how big the brand could have gotten if you kept pushing it.
Fallon: We’re still doing that. Fallon and Felisha are definitely doing an album and we’re going there. I really appreciate you saying that because it was something that was near and dear to us at that moment, but as life goes on, you recognize that you still have to make money and work towards other things to be able to find the Fallon and Felisha brand.
Felisha: It’s the Fallon and Felisha era right now though!
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your two older sisters have fully transitioned into marriage and kids. Is it tough knowing that there’s still a market for Cherish out there?
Fallon: The thing about Cherish is that we are sisters. If that’s something we decided to do tomorrow, we could make it happen. Like Felisha said, I don’t want to take the Cherish brand and make it Fallon and Felisha because Cherish is Cherish. That’s always going to be near and dear to us. I definitely don’t think Cherish is done.
Felisha: When my sisters are ready, we’ll have no problem doing it. In any group, you’re going to have those moments in life to where you have to respect what people want at that time. Everything is about timing. In the beginning, it was that we were all younger and we were like “We want to do this”. Then our sisters had kids and they had different things they wanted to explore. You really have to take those feelings into consideration in a group.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You guys have been transitioned into being successful songwriters. What is it like being behind the scenes as opposed to being at the front?
Felisha: We loved it. We still love artistry and performing, but it was amazing for us to give all of this music away that we had. Now other people are able to hear it even if it’s not through us anymore. They’re still able to see the art and feel our music. That made us feel great.
Fallon: Separating the art from the artist is something we love to hone in on. Even if it’s not coming from us, we want people to hear our gift and what we bring to the table. It’s a full circle thing because when people start hearing the music, they start hearing about Fallon and Felisha. Eventually we’ll release our own music and everything will come back around.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What do you admire about each other’s songwriting?
Fallon: One thing about Felisha is that she has this innate ability to come up with these melodies that are just incredible. The way she rides a song and makes it beautiful, it doesn’t sound like anything else. How can you sound this beautiful on something this wacky? It’s a delicate balance. It’s the same thing with her production. She can write the whole song in 15 minutes and it’s ridiculous.
Felisha: It’s the swag for me. Fallon has the ability to make an instant hit record. I don’t know how she can make a midtempo feel like an uptempo in the club. You’re vibing to it like it’s 135 BPM, but it’s 98 BPM. I think that’s a genius way to write a song. It’s her tone as well. She sells the song. When I hear her voice on a track, artists are like “I want to sing it just like her”. Of course we’re sisters and we’re going to brag about each other, but it’s just unique and it’s amazing.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Where did the songwriting come from?
Fallon: Felisha and I were very young when we got into songwriting. We would always stay in our rooms and do a bunch of creative things. My mom and dad thought we were building a rocket. *Laughs* When we were 12 years old, that’s when we started taking songwriting seriously and that’s when we wanted to write all of our songs. We were signed to Manuel Seal at the time and he was an incredible songwriter. We really wanted to learn from him and he really helped us. We would sit with him in the studio and we would record with him. After awhile, we would go home and write songs in our journals and we would exchange ideas.
Felisha: Before we started producing, we would write songs to zero music. We wrote this entire song in Spanish and it was lit. We were 11 years old and we used Google to find words. *Laughs*
YouKnowIGotSoul: The industry knew you as Cherish, but then you had to prove to people that you were serious about songwriting. Was that journey tough?
Fallon: It was a difficult process. After Cherish went their separate ways, we had a lot of self reflection. Obviously the music is not a 9-5. It was very hard. We took this approach that we were going do anything that we had to do to get to where we needed to be.
Felisha: Morally. *Laughs*
Fallon: We started taking jobs being vocal producers. We had to start thinking about money and we had to figure out how we were going to make money doing what we loved. We decided we were going to write 100 songs in one year and we did that. By the 50th song, we were approached for a publishing deal. Just doing all those records in one year and being in the studio all the time, the recognition that we were getting was “Not only are they talented, they work and they don’t stop working”. That’s what people recognized and here we are now.
Felisha: There was no backup plan. It was just plan A.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Your song “Self Destruction” was in our year end best R&B songs of 2017. Talk about that song because it was amazing.
Felisha: Fallon did “Self Destruction” and that song is so beautiful. I cried everytime I heard it. I remember she wrote it and I hopped on it. We wanted to release it because we didn’t want it to not be used.
Fallon: It’s such a relatable record. Who hasn’t been there? When you’re talking about your relationship and you guys are toxic as hell together. It’s going to be an endless cycle of this. It’s something everyone can relate to.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know there were more songs to come from that project. Is that still happening?
Fallon: Not from necessarily that project, but Felisha and I have been working. We’ve been working with so many different artists, but you will hear new music from Felisha and I in 2021 and 2022.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You guys are currently part of BET Presents: The Encore and have received a lot of criticism on social media. However, I appreciate the fact that you actually care about putting in the work and taking the music seriously.
Felisha: My dad used to always tell us, it starts and ends with the song. There’s so many people putting out content, but for us it’s about making it about the song. Let’s not move onto the next song before we get this one right. We take that approach with every song. For us on The Encore, it wasn’t something that we wanted to do overnight. We’re professionals so we can write a song in 20 minutes, but we wanted to have a body of work. When people see all these people in a group together, they want to hear some stuff that they haven’t heard before. That’s curated and it takes time. You have to sit in a studio and make it happen. Our attitudes were there.
Fallon: Especially in the 30 days that they wanted to us to do it in. It added to so much more pressure and when you think about 8 women being on one song and counting lines, it just got out of control.
Felisha: I feel we took it more seriously than some of the other girls did.
Fallon: I agree. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but I would have came in and did the same thing if I had another chance.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Being passionate about the music is important.
Felisha: I’m glad you see it that way because a lot of people are like “They’re bitches!”. You’ll see eventually how we are and not everyone is going to get it immediately.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What was the goal when you decided to be part of the TV show?
Felisha: Our fans. There’s so many of them out there that have no idea where we’ve been. Fallon and I had a talk before we did the show. We were like “This would be amazing for our fans” because they would be able to find us and follow us. Also just the idea of working with other women that have been through what we’ve been through or have similar stories. We didn’t all cross paths in the industry before, but now we’re coming together today. I thought that was dope.
Fallon: We came in very optimistic. I promise you that! *Laughs*