with mythology started the moment my memories began. I don't remember whether I chose dance or the dance instructor chose me, but I started dance lessons at the age of 3, and dancing brought me closer to living a life of fairytales.
Since age 4, I sang in choir whenever there was a choir attached to my school. I love choral music as much as I love dance music. Then came the piano. A double manual keyboard that was already in the house. I was 5, and we had already moved a few times. My toys didn't move with us, so, I played on the two rows of black and white keys, and my piano lessons lasted for another two decades and some.
When I wasn't playing the piano or dancing, I would play radio like some girls would play house. I set up in a corner by the window, and pretended to have my own show. I slept with the radio next to my pillow always. Whenever we moved to a new country, I thought I had broken the radio, because all the programming I knew would be gone.
I tumbled into the rabbit hole arts world wearing feathers on my head - that's what love looked like: feathers, frocks, and black and white keys on stage. And the pursuit of this love has taken me around the world several times. During a school break between Canada and Paris, I entered the IMTA talent competition in LA, and was offered a talent scholarship to study at the New York Film Academy. It was an offer that charted my trajectory for a decade, while still living life like it's mythology, still performing in feathers, frocks, and on black and white keys - sometimes, even on top of them.
Acting conservatory, more than anything else, expanded my emotional range and imagination. Music conservatory taught me how to express this palette in tones and sounds. Together, they taught me power beyond the books I read in political institutes. I found belonging and an obsession with transformation in story-land, on both sides of the camera, on stage, on screen, and on air.
La Jolla Int'l Fashion Film Festival
Performing as Best Music Nominee
Miss Chinese USA Pageant, Mohegan Sun Casino
New York City
Radio DJ & Producer - Host
Original choreography to original music
I'm not really from any particular place, but you could say that I'm from the piano. I'm Chinese-born-Canadian, a New Yorker, and I've split time rather evenly between Europe, North America, and Asia. I'm a native speaker of Mandarin and English, and I also speak French, Spanish, and Cantonese. But most importantly, I speak the language of music, dance, and human behavior, all inseparable when it comes to story --- all universal regardless of geography.
Music, more than anything, has been my anchor throughout all the uncertainties of youth and the arts world, which I have come to appreciate, as each uncertainty is a doorway to possibilities, perhaps of beauty, but certainly of expanse.
My Western classical training started with the piano at age 5, and then the flute at 12, clarinet at 13, and violin at 14. I also took cello lessons, all informative when it comes to composition, which I started to formally study in university, under Marjan Mozetich and John Burge at Queen's University in Canada, and then Jonathan Dawe and Conrad Cummings at the Juilliard School in New York.
My first three years in New York was split between acting studios, where I trained as an actor for theatre, TV and film, and music studios, where I continued to train as a pianist/soloist and composer. When the transition from conservatory to industry happened in 2012, the lines of music and acting blurred. One permutation was becoming Resident Composer for the Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America, where I composed and sound designed their major stage productions. Between scripts and stages, I began to see wonder in soundscaping and found sounds.
A pivotal moment came in 2014, when I was invited to play with and audition for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the S.I.R. studios in New York. My only direction was to "come dressed in rock and ready to play the keys."
It was an invitation that literally lifted me out of my seat --- I was to play standing up, with multiple pedals, pads, and synths, and my analog world lit up with electronica and lasers. The pyrotechnics weren't just spectacular, they fired up a wild curiosity inside me, and at the Scratch DJ academy, I found my answers through their electronic music production and DJ programs. My music journey since has been a continuous exploration and experimentation on this acoustic-electronic matrix.
Music for Whiteboxes & Nightboxes
The years I studied to become a concert pianist by day, I was also a cocktail pianist by night. "No classical music" was my only rule, one that essentially ruled out my entire repertoire until that moment. So, I learned to improvise. I learned to read the room and read the crowd. I learned to read settings and I played to those dynamics. In many ways, I was "scoring to picture" already --- being the pulse and atmosphere all at once, adjusting to what I see. In some ways, this was the prologue to DJ-ing.
My acute sensitivity to my surroundings becomes both antenna and compass when it comes to soundscaping and sound design. I love to be on set for projects I score and/or design, to collect authentic sounds, and to receive from the source, musical elements, motifs, and direction, so that the resulting sound, however effected, has a real, hand-made and human-touch quality to it.
Creating sounds for stage and screen have always been a spectacular journey. Equally, creating multi-sensory and interactive experiences within white-boxes is something I love to explore. I'm always testing out new sounds and combinations of controllers, video + light projections within and for new spaces.
Although my rudimentary knowledge of Chinese instruments started during the years I lived in China, I didn't have an opportunity to truly immerse myself with the music until New York. My years being resident composer for Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America pointed me towards the music of my heritage, and so from erhu, to guzheng, to xiao, to yangqin, to ruan, I became re-acquainted with the Chinese numeric notation and system of sounds.
Arranging work for Chinese orchestra allowed me to understand and make sense of where and when fusion music works, and where and when it doesn't. The East-West fusion is a hotbed and a hot mess, but it is relevant as it can be poignant, so it is a dance I continue to finesse, acoustically, and electronically.
My interest in ethnic instruments extends beyond my heritage. As music was always my anchor when I travelled, I always sought to explore what was local. Instrumentally, I am particularly affected by sevdah music in the Balkans; Gamelan music; and Egyptian raqs sharki and baladi music. Vocally, I am fascinated by Mongolian Humai as I am of beatboxing.
Chinese rap is another sky-rocketing territory. An ancient language of monosyllabic words is poetry amidst modern day attitudes. Imagine Tetris with all squares. Setting music to Chinese rap is a game of architecture and colour. Silence and breaks have more reign and play, and of course, is an area I love to explore.
Art imitates life, imitates art.
This is the loop of my world.
My comfort zone, where
acting and music cross-pollinate.
Where 10K hours + a whole lot of luck might convert to 1 minute of Primetime.
I'm grateful for all the minutes.
I believe that music, as a binding force, is the life-blood and soundtrack to the most significant moments in life.
Whether it's a good story, a stage, an event,
or an empty space, I can provide the sonic design and music to affect and match the emotions at play,
to sound-scape the experience so it becomes
compelling and unforgettable.