Asian American artist Baiyu has been making quite a stir in the music industry. The talented singer, songwriter, model and actress has already quite a few accomplishments under her belt. Now you have the chance to find out what’s really on her mind! Check out our interview with the beautiful Baiyu!
UA: Before your career took a musical turn, you modeled in Seventeen Magazine, acted in some independent films and even hosted MTVu’s “The Freshman” for three years! Music, modeling or acting? Which do you prefer to do the most?
Baiyu: Music is my favorite for sure! It’s what I feel the most confident in doing, it’s where I can get the most creative, and it’s also what I am truly passionate about. If you follow me on twitter (@BaiyuMusic), you’ll see that probably the only thing that comes close to my love of music is my love of food. I’m a total foodie!
UA: In 2008 you graduated from Princeton University! That is quite the accomplishment! Your education has not suffered because of your hectic career and that is truly commendable especially when many young artists leave school for that big break. What advice would you give to a young artist on the rise faced with this situation?
Baiyu: Feeling like having to choose between school and University was really really tough. I think what I didn’t realize at that time that I do after having received my degree is that it’s absolutely possible to do both. Princeton’s quite close to New York City, so I was able to VJ for mtvU, while at the same time record in my dorm room, be a part of 3 dance companies, do all the social media I needed to do between classes, and still hit the books.
My advice to young artists on the rise being faced with this situation is to realize that you don’t have to compromise. My University years were some of the best years of my life, not only because of the friends that I made and the classes that I took, but because of the fact that this particular life experience actually helped me to grow as an artist. It made me a better lyricist, it helped me to get a better grasp of the human situation through my major (Sociology), and it also helped me grow as an individual and become more confident in my craft.
UA: With so many accomplishments, we’re sure it’s hard to choose one but which accomplishment means the most to you and why?
Baiyu: My proudest achievements are actually all the ways that I’ve been able to translate my work to helping various charities and non-profits. The most noteworthy of which is probably my choice to donate all proceeds from my latest EP “FanFair” to the Japanese Red Cross for their Tsunami Relief Efforts.
I also put on a lot of performances to support various other causes as well, and am currently partnered with DonorsChoose to help enrich music education in impoverished parts of the United States. From now until May 15th, all donations entered with the match code “Baiyu” will be matched dollar for dollar up to $100 thanks to the DonorsChoose Board of Directors (http://www.donorschoose.org/donors/viewChallenge.html?id=234095&updates=true&max=50)
I think these things touch me the most, and make me the proudest because I’m lending my voice not only to my own project, but to others who deserve to be heard and helped. It feels good to be supporting something positive, and something bigger than yourself.
UA: Who are your role models in life?
Baiyu: My biggest role model is probably my mom. She is the sweetest, most sincere person that I know, and she taught me 90% of what I understand about being a good person. She’s also an amazing vocalist, and it’s her voice that was the initial catalyst for how I fell in love with music. She’s my Mona Lisa.
UA: Which artist do you aspire to emulate?
Baiyu: I try to be uniquely myself, and in that spirit I also try not to emulate others; at least not too much! There are, however, a lot of artists whose careers and talents that I greatly admire. Since I act as well, I’m really impressed with artists who can do both, and do it well. Lenny Kravitz, Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson are among the select few that blow me away in that aspect. In terms of vocally, I’m heavily influenced by the likes of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men and Mary J. Blige because when I came to the States in the 90’s, it was these incredible artists that inspired and helped me build up to the sound that I have today!
UA: How would you describe your sound? What’s different about your music that listeners won’t hear from other artists?
Baiyu: I think that my eclectic interests are also somewhat reflected in my eclectic tastes in music. I would describe my sound primarily as Soulful Pop/R&B, but at the same time it has hints of dance, world, rock and even a little bit of folk. I’m a singer songwriter, and so I personally touch every word that I sing. I think that’s what makes my music different from anyone else you’ll ever hear, because I think of myself as a storyteller as much as I do a singer, and so the experience you have with my songs will be uniquely a reflection of my personal history. At the end of the day, good music is good music, and all I’m trying to do is make music that I enjoy.
UA: You’ve done quite a few collaborations with some amazing artists, which one has been your favorite thus far AND who are you absolutely DYING to collaborate with in the future?
Baiyu: You can’t ask me to pick amongst my brothers and sisters!!! That’s what my collaborations feel like to me. Everyone that I’ve ever done a song with, I also feel like is a part of my family. Each of them add such a unique twist to my sound that I can’t possibly choose a favorite. In terms of who I would absolutely die to collaborate with in the future, I would love to do a song with John Mayer. There’s just something very genuine about his music, and it usually feels incredibly good as well. He’s such an inspiration.
UA: What type of message do you want to send to your fans through your music?
Baiyu: When it comes to my music, I’m not always trying to send a message. Sure, with a song like “Together”, as well as a couple more tracks from my upcoming release, I’m definitely trying to send out a message of love and empowerment, but sometimes I like to just make songs that are fun to listen to, or are what they are.
UA: Coming from an Asian background, how do your parents and family feel about your career?
Baiyu: Initially, my decision to become a musician was really hard for my parents. I think they brought me over to this country with a very distinct idea of what my life trajectory should look like, so when I didn’t choose to become a doctor, lawyer or banker, this threw them for a spin. My parents are both musicians so I’m lucky in that they understand the passion for music. In fact, my dad is currently a flute teacher. Ultimately, I think that they’ve finally come to the realization that my chosen career really truly makes me happy and that I’ve redefined success in a way that they’re not 100% accustomed to. They’re happy that I’m happy.
UA: Let’s find out some Baiyu favorites! What’s your favorite…
Baiyu: The Four Agreements
Baiyu: Breaking Bad
Baiyu: Kauai, Hawaii
City to perform in?
Baiyu: New York
Baiyu: Retro Pepsi-Cola T-Shirt
Baiyu: NARS Turkish Delight
UA: Lastly, your latest EP, ”Fan Fair,” has had over 200,000 downloads! Congrats! How does that make you feel? What can fans expect from you next?
Baiyu: Thank you!! It makes me feel like doing a triple pirouette in mid air and has been amazing confirmation of my hard work. This all makes me feel like I need to keep pushing on, and pushing even further than before.
In terms of what my fans can expect from me next, I’m releasing a full length LP in mid-June entitled “Hunter”. My fans are always asking me about new music, so this release will be really big for them! There’s also a book of poetry/lyrics that I will be putting out along with the LP, and it’s going to be by that same name. I’m going to be sharing some of my deepest thoughts and experiences through this book, along with little pieces of my personal story, in the hopes that it will inspire others to chase their dreams!