T.H.E Interview – Vivi Hu
Having featured in All About Jazz, Sino Vision, Sino TV and BronxNet TV, Vivi Hu now brings us a gentle tale and heartfelt reminder about the importance of staying true to oneself. This song paints a picture of how she found the confidence to be herself and make a difference, despite what others think. The lyrics are inspired by Vivi’s Chinese first name “雪薇（Xuewei), meaning “snow” and ”rose.”
We caught up with Vivi Hu to learn more about the song came about, how she began writing songs and more.
Aditya – Hello, we’re glad to have you for this interview. We’re almost towards the end of this year, how was this year for you?
Vivi – Thanks for having me! It’s been fun and eventful. Had a few performances, released a single, and developed a few super yummy recipes!
Aditya – Your latest release ‘Vivi, hu?’ sounds smooth and warm to the ears, what’s the ideation of this track?
Vivi – It’s a long process and it’s a group effort. Shout out to my team!!!
The melody and lyric of the chorus came to me first, then from there I developed the verses. After coming up the chord progressions for it, I sent the demo to my producer Winston Bell and he sent me back a track that I really like. While I was recording the vocals, more ideas came to me and I wrote the Chinese dizi and C flute parts, saxophonist/flutist Alex Cummings helped me make it fuller and added those cool sound effects. After that I sent it to my other producer Zi Meng(who produced my last single “Oolong Tea”) and he also added some final touches.
Aditya – Since it’s written and sung in Mandarin, could you explain the meaning of the track to our readers?
Vivi – Like the title says, “Vivi, Hu?”, this song is about who the real Vivi Hu is. Not the Vivi others perceive me to be. It talks about how I found the confidence to be myself, despite what others think. The lyrics are inspired by my Chinese first name “雪薇（Xuewei), meaning “snow” and ”rose.” Usually, roses aren’t able to blossom in the snow. But this is the beautiful desire my parents had when they named me: to blossom wherever I am, even in the snow, even when people doubted me. So I’d like to share this with whoever are being told that they can’t do something/can’t be a certain way. I want to send this message to them through this song: You are beautifully and wonderfully made, you are gifted, follow the deepest calling in your heart and not other people’s opinions!
Aditya – The track has a really cool animated video, what’s the ideation behind that?
Vivi – You can see the roses blossoming in the snow, which is my name and what inspired the song.
Many people came to the city to chase their dreams, so I wanted to have a road leading towards the city so my listeners can relate. And I want to encourage them that we are all in this together, and I want to invite them to join this walk and blossom together!
Aditya – You’ve been featured on All About Jazz, Sino TV, and more. How do you feel about that?
Vivi – I’m honored and humbled to have these opportunities to share my stories and music with people through these wonderful platforms. In this process I get to know many people that are very good at asking questions. They often inspire me and even help me discover more things about my music and parts of myself that I never realized.
Aditya – Could you tell us about your roots and foundation?
Vivi – It’s a mix of mandopop, Chinese folk, R&B/soul and jazz, my music is a reflection of that.
I was born and raised in China. I grew up listening to Mandopop/Chinese folk music and some R&B/soul/Gospel. When I was 25, I came to the states to study jazz for grad school. After graduation, there were a good 3-4 years I was very confused about who I am as an artist, but I’ll say since my last single Oolong Tea, I knew that I found myself.
Aditya – How do you begin writing songs?
Vivi – Unofficially I think I started when I was 7 ish, just love making up songs and sing random things out when I play with other kids, like “there is a cute ladybug, let’s give it a big big hug, lalalalalalala”
Officially I started around when I was 21, I found that I communicate best when I sing so I put my thoughts in the songs. I’m introverted and was afraid of talking to people lol. These days I’ve gotten better at talking to people but singing is still a lot easier!
Aditya – Who are your influences and why?
Vivi – I love Sade, she’s my all time favorite. Whenever I listen to her music, I feel I’m loved and embraced. That’s what I hope my music can bring people. I also grew up listening to Jay Chou, his creativity and how he connects eastern and western culture is really inspiring.
Aditya – What would be your ensemble setup like?
Vivi – I do different combos, duo with a pianist/guitarist, adding a guzheng or pipa (Chinese traditional instruments) as a trio, adding backing vocals, bass, drums, guitar and saxophone as a full band or anything in between. Depends on the venue, mood, event, theme etc.
Aditya – Lastly, which is your favorite stage to perform at and why?
Vivi – I love performing at Chinatown, on the street. Because I get to communicate with the audience a lot, many of them also can relate with me in a deep level. Sometimes in the audience someone will come up to me and chatting about how my music mixed in a particular folk song. It’s amazing.