Cherub doesn’t create stereotypical music from Nashville. These days, the pop-funk-dance duo is among the many examples of non-country music made in Music City.
Featuring Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber, Cherub sees Prince, for instance, as a primary influence, not Garth Brooks. The duo’s debt to Prince is obvious in its breakthrough song, “Doses and Mimosas.”
“Prince is definitely the man,” Kelley said during a joint interview with Huber. “And, like us, he doesn’t stick to one genre.”
The best description Kelley has ever heard of Cherub’s music is Prince meets Ween, that daffy pop-rock duo.
Kelley and Huber met when they were studying music production at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. Kelley is from Lincoln, Nebraska. Huber’s from Durham, North Carolina.
In October 2010, Kelley sent Huber the first batch of songs they’d collaborate on.
“It was music that Jordan had written on his own during the previous year,” Huber recalled. “We talked about it. We were both going to school for music production, so we both knew how to put it together.”
Those first few songs would become the duo’s “Man of the Hour” EP. And then they decided to perform together as a duo. The economic advantage of being only two guys allowed Cherub to travel the world and play many shows.
Five years on, Cherub, principally and creatively, remains a duo. Its career, however, has progressed enough for it to afford two more musicians for the road.
Cherub played its first show as a foursome Sept. 5 at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The duo’s longtime friend Jordan Bartlett, a guitarist, and Nick Curtis, the pair’s producer, joined Huber and Kelley on stage.
“It still is the quintessential country venue and a historic place,” Kelley said. “But the fact that they’re allowing other genres into the Ryman is a testament to how Nashville is expanding. It’s cool that we were part of that.”
Following the lineup’s debut at the Ryman, it played a two-night stand at Georgia Theatre in Athens. Kelley and Huber expected to be terrified when they played their first few shows as a quartet.
“But it couldn’t have been more opposite of that,” Huber said. “Stepping on stage with these guys felt so comfortable. And having more musicians on stage makes it twice as fun for us. I’m excited to see how we all grow together over the course of this tour.”