14 Aug Cindy Zhang
I got my start in music through 15+ years of training in classical violin. In college, I started singing when I became a part of the a cappella community. Later on, I developed my love for jazz after taking a jazz theory class with producer Kamau Kenyatta.
My musical inspirations come from a variety of different places. On the jazz side, I take a lot of inspiration from the smooth voices and melodies of Chet Baker and Billie Holiday, as well as Bossa Nova tunes from Antonio Carlos Jobim. For my more contemporary influences, I look to a lot of R&B/Neo-soul artists from the UK and South Korea. Some of my favorite musicians these days are Tom Misch, Lianne La Havas, Mac Ayres, IU, and Sam Kim. In terms of goals, I really want people to relate to my songwriting and the message I bring across in my music. I want to be a singer who is proud of embracing her own voice rather than a singer who’s trying to sound like someone else. In the future, I’d love to become a skilled producer and guitar player and hopefully collaborate with my favorite artists.
What’s been your biggest accomplishment in your career so far?
I’m most proud of producing and mixing “Moon River” by myself and then getting it selected for an editorial playlist on Spotify. I had no idea that was going to happen with a bedroom project I did solely with Logic stock plugins!
What have been some of the toughest things you’ve had to overcome as a musician/artist?
I think some of the hardest parts about music come after you make the music—when you’re putting it out in the world. In the past, I’ve had a lot of people come out and blatantly tell me that I wasn’t good enough and make fun of my guitar playing/singing. I think those memories still haunt me today and their voices are still in the back of my head when I release something. But I have to remind myself that music is very subjective—it will resonate with some people and not with others. That’s something I can’t change and will have to learn to accept.
Can you describe your process of making music? Do you start with lyrics? melody? a sample?
It’s different for every single song, but it usually starts with something simple on guitar and a vocal melody. If something happened in my life recently that I felt traumatized by, then I’ll try to write something about that. But usually I just see what mood the melody creates and try to base the lyrics off of that. These days I rarely write anything down, and just record everything using the voice memos app on my phone.
What are you working on now? Do you have a specific project you’ve just released that you’d like us to share?
I’m currently working on my album! I just finished mixing the final track last night 🙂 I also just released my first single off the album called “Finish Line.”
How has your participation in the Indie Artists’ Studio classes or working with Jessica helped in your journey?
Jessica has helped me a lot in finding my mixed voice and in creating a more dynamic vocal performance. She’s helped me a lot to not think so much about sounding “perfect” but trying to sound more expressive with my singing by tapping into different voices. Her knowledge on promoting music and vocal production has also helped in the release/recording process as well.
What is a piece of advice you’d give to other Independent Artists like yourself?
I’d tell them not to focus too much on how their music performs based on numbers. It’s so easy for us to judge the quality of something based on its popularity from numbers nowadays, because that’s what computers are great at—reporting numbers. They can’t tell you how someone feels when they’re listening to your song or how much they relate to it. Many different factors might contribute to how “well” you do based on followers and streams, and a lot of it is based on luck. I’m also still struggling to not be too focused on stats, but a friend recently told me that numbers are only a small slice in a giant pie that is your art and your music. There’s so much more to your art and you shouldn’t let a tiny piece of the pie discourage you or influence what kind of music you want to make.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Tom Misch, Lianne La Havas, Mac Ayres, Marie Dahlstrom, or Sam Kim! Can’t just pick one!