Vivi Hu is an Asian American pop singer-songwriter based in New York. She creates a unique sound by using traditional Chinese instruments with a blend of influences from jazz, R&B, soul, and Mandarin pop. In her lyrics, she tells relatable, hopeful stories of her experience of immigrating to the US from China, struggling with identity, and her path as an artist.
Vivi Hu returns with the track ‘Vivi, Hu ?’. More than a review, Sidekick Music‘s team had the chance to have a chat with her for the occasion !
Thanks for joining us today! We’d love to get more insight into this song and your emotion behind it.
This song was inspired by my Chinese name ??(Xuewei) that means Snow and Rose. Roses usually don’t blossom in the snow, it doesn’t seem to make much sense. But I feel like it’s an accurate reflection of who I am: tough and doing things that people think are difficult or impossible. Just like a rose that can blossom in the snow.
Growing up there were so many people(including people that I looked up to) told me that I won’t be able to become a professional singer because I don’t have a certain voice/good look etc. I might not be a “successful singer” according to some standards, but look what I’m doing and how far I’ve gone! I can’t imagine if I had listened to them, how many experiences and precious moments I would’ve missed.
And today living in America as an Asian immigrant, the expectations and opinions about who I should/should not be become even more complicated. I was very confused for a good few years, I can’t say that I totally figured it out, but I’d say I’m on the right track.
So I wanted to encourage my listeners, don’t listen to other people about who you should be, what you can or can not do. No matter who they are, they are only human just like everyone, at the end of the day we write our own stories.
What was your writing process when it came to Vivi, Hu?, did it come all at once or was it a long process?
It was a relevantly long process. I usually use my iPhone voice memo to record some ideas whenever they come to me. I just looked through the memos, the first idea I recorded in the memo was December 2020 during Covid lock down(NYC). And it sounded very different from what it is today, I didn’t even remember how it originally sounded like lol!
I made my first demo of this song in December 2021 on my computer, and then I sent the demo to my producer Poogie and Winston Bell, they sent back the beats to me in a few days and I loved it. I think they really took this song to the next level compared to where it was.
I recorded the vocals myself around Feb/March 2022, in my homemade closet vocal booth! haha. I was living in Elmhurst, NY at that time. I made the vocal booth with Home Depot moving mats. I didn’t realize how heavy the mats are, I still remember when I picked them up and there’s a 10 min walk to the subway station(it’s pretty painful to move things around in NYC at that time of the year), I had to rest a couple of times and a gentleman actually helped me to carry them to the subway station.
While I was recording my vocals, some flute melodies just came to me in my head. So I wrote both a regular C flute line and Chinese flute lines, and then I recorded them over the beats. I felt that my flute skill was limited so I reached out to flutist Alex Cummings, he recorded more flute parts and I LOVE them! Really felt that was the cherry on the cake.
And then I finally sent it to my buddy Zi Meng, who I’ve known for more than 10 years for some final touches and post production. Then finally it was done!
How was the creation process of this song? Did you record it in the US or back home?
oops, I think i answered them in the last answer haha.
You speak about finding yourself and your journey, did this stem from leaving home and moving to the US? How was this process adjusting to Western culture?
Part of it, yes. I’ve always known that I need to find an answer, what’s the purpose of life and things like that(I’m in my head a lot haha), that’s why I came to the US from China to study jazz. When I was still in China, or growing up, I’ve always been thinking about who I want to be and how to get there. I didn’t commit to singing till I was 20, there was a long journey of finding what I truly care about and what I really want to do. I gave up so many times but only to find myself coming back to it.
After moving here I think it pushed me over the edge, I either get lost in this city or find myself, so I had to figure it out.
I think what I love about Western culture is that if you want something, say something. It’s very different back home especially when other people that have better status/older than you have different opinions. I’m still learning but I love expressing myself this way, it’s so liberating!
You live in New York now, correct? How do you like living in such a lively city?
Right. What I love the most is that I get to meet all kinds of people and experience all kinds of culture. Great musicians that I can work with and great food everywhere!!
Downside probably is it’s quite intense, and my hometome Xiamen is an island city(very similar to Miami), so it’s quite an adjustment and every winter I can’t stop complaining about the weather lol.
Do you have any more songs planned or an upcoming EP for the future?
I usually write songs during winter. So I’m planning on going through my voice memo and making another single next year!
What do you see for yourself in the future as an artist?
I want to learn so many things! making beats, playing Guzheng(chinese traditional instrument that I often write for), live looping, dancing etc. In general I want to be an artist that knows who I am, have enough tools to express it, and give my listeners strength and joy through music.
Finally, if you could eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be? Thanks so much for interviewing with us! We’ve really enjoyed getting to know you.
I love it that you ask a food question!!! It’s hard because I LOVE so many many food. If I had to choose one and don’t consider it healthy or not, I’d choose my mom’s braised pork belly with rice. It’s epic! Thanks for having me and I appreciate it!