Maud Lindholms interview with Wei Wei, one of the most famous artists in China.

In 1986 Wei Wei had her first breakthrough winning one of the largest music challenges in China. The year after she represented China in the Poland Sopot International Music Festival, and won once again. Since then she has had a successful career and right now the singer is commuting between big shows in China and a quiet life in Sweden.

I’ve taken my first vacation in 14 years!

What is your personal singing style?
I like to sing in a low and sensual voice – but also hard and rocky.

You have been singing for a long time, taking lessons regularly in China. Yet still you turned to Song Academy. Why?
I’ve been lucky, my voice is still good but it’s hard to sing correctly in English. You have to make the producer happy. In Chinese it sounds different. And I’ve wanted to develop my voice for a long time. Because of all the traveling, I didn’t have the time to visit my vocal coach (tenor Cén Bing), and I was tired. I simply wanted to become a student again. So whenever I am in Sweden I make sure to take lessons. And also, in China I don’t have the opportunity to discuss pop singing with any one. There you only get educated to sing either folk music or opera. Once you’ve chosen a style it’s hard to change technique. The people I would talk to don’t have any education.

Have you gotten anything out of the lessons here?
I feel that my English is much better now. Both pronunciation and because of the tongue exercises.

In which way is the English way of singing different from the Chinese way? Except for the obvious difference in language?
You place your voice in different ways. Singing in English you use your facial muscles, tongue and open jaw. Singing in Chinese you hold your face still. Keep your jaws steady.
Isn’t it hard to keep your face still while singing?
No, it’s a habit. It’s absolutely comfortable to sing in Chinese.

Have your voice and personal style changed since you started singing in English?
I can feel that I’m stronger now. Zannah has her tricks. In the beginning I was modest and careful, but now I’ve opened up. And she doesn’t give up. Now I’ve been singing one of my older songs a lot slower than I used to, and it sounds better. I sing better now than I did when I was 18. Both with more energy and more voice quality.

You are a veteran in this business; can you sing under any circumstances?
No, I have to be rested and feel excited about the show. I can’t just get up and start singing. I practice 2-4 hours a day, especially when I have new songs to rehearse. But no more than that.

How does it feel to be a part of a concert seen by hundreds of thousands people?
I’m always nervous before a concert. I stand and talk to my friends and maybe it seems like I’m having a good time just hanging out but actually I’m trying to relax.

Do you have a certain insight you’ve learned from your career to share with us?
That what you hear yourself and how it really sounds are two very different things. There fore you have to trust your vocal coach. And be sensitive about what it takes to achieve. Vocalists are good at being self-conscious but it is important to see and hear yourself through somebody else’s eyes and ears. It’s not only good for your voice, but for you as a person.

Interview by Maud Lindholm

Visit Wei Wei at her official website: www.weiweiint.com