Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.
Where are you based?
St. John’s, NL.
How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do something else?
When I was six years old, I started to learn the guzheng and several other instruments in China. My family used to own a music school, and basically, that’s where I started my musical journey. I am primarily a musician rather than a producer, and I am also an ethnomusicologist. I formed the band XIA-3 in 2022 when I was doing an artist residency at Lawnya Vawnya in St. John’s. At that time, I wanted to do some intercultural musical experiments, and the audience loved the music at the final concert. So, I decided to make the music group serious.
Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?
I listen to all kinds of music, and I have been inspired or influenced by many fantastic artists. Luna Lee is one of my favourite cool artists playing instruments of the zither family. Mei Han is an amazing guzheng virtuoso and a good mentor to me. Moyun and Beibei are other two fantastic guzheng artists whom I greatly admire.
Explain your creative process. Do you have a routine?
I believe that a tranquil mind is where great inspiration originates. So I never like to set a particular rule or pattern for music-making. I don’t have any “routine” for the creative process. On certain days, I feel incredibly inspired and can stay in the studio all day, continuously creating. But at times when I don’t feel it, I try to avoid the studio as much as possible.
What is your “studio” setup?
I have a home studio with a simple set-up, but I also go to the studio at Terra Bruce for my band recordings.
What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely?
I collaborate with different musicians under various circumstances, so the collaborative process varies depending on the plan of certain projects. When I co-write with my band, we always like to send music back and forth and then work together on details in the studio. I always enjoy in-person collaborations, but remote work gives me flexibility which I value a lot.
At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?
I am very open to sharing my work at any stage.
Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?
I share mostly my unfinished work on social media.
How do you know when a track/album is finished?
I feel a track is only finished when you make it formally released. You may find different things to modify whenever you come back to it, but as long as you feel comfortable listening to it, it should be good to go.
How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?
Normally, we would listen to the recordings in the studio together. Then, the engineer sends edited drafts to me for review.
How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?
Honestly, I don’t think I have done well on that part. But it’s vital to learn how to protect your work.
Who on your team gets to hear the final versions first and why, what formats do they each need?
For my solo projects with guest musicians, I would be the person making the final call. But for band music, I always work together with my bandmates.
Outside of your inner circle who are the people that will need to hear the new tracks next?
My partners and friends. You can always get surprising ideas or opinions from people with different backgrounds and standpoints.
Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?
I am currently working on a new album for XIA-3, which is planned to be released in Spring 2024. Stay up to date on my website here!