Soul singer Baiyu moved to the United States from China when she was just 8 years old. Not able to speak any English, Baiyu began listening to Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige and that’s when she fell in love with R&B music. Baiyu is a soulful singer who isn’t another giddy pop sensation, her sound is robust, soulful and sweet. She’s definitely the next big R&B star to hit the music industry.
GlobalGrind had the lovely opportunity to sit down with the rising starlet and talk to her about some of her favorite things and the inspiration behind her music. Take a listen to Baiyu’s new single “Together” and check out the exclusive interview below.
GLOBALGRIND: How was your transition moving from China to Maryland?
BAIYU: It wasn’t what I expected because in China the only concept I had of the U.S. was from television and my parents telling me about it and the only thing I really knew about it was Disneyland and James Bond. So I wasn’t greeted by Mickey Mouse when I got off the airplane, nor was I going to a glass house with tons of gadgets. But it was great coming over here just because my parents came over here a little bit prior to me coming over and I missed them a lot so it was just great to reunite with them.
GG: What’s the most surprising thing about the U.S.
BAIYU: It was subtle but just the school system forcing you to be more imaginative and creative. In China everything is about drilling, math and literature. Everything is about just getting it right and not really using your imagination to create a story or play with ideas and over here the teachers really encourage you to do, that which is something I was really surprised about and really enjoyed.
GG: What inspires you to make music?
BAIYU: Great musicians inspire me to make music and just New York City [with] the different cultures and sounds that I hear all over the place. You walk into a restaurant, you walk into a store, you walk into a bodega you see and hear and smell and sense all these different sights and sounds and I think that that creates that energy for me to want to create. And at the same time I think just having lived through the 27 years that I’ve lived through and all the experiences that I’ve had… I think music is my way of expressing myself and really putting that all together.
GG: Who are your favorite musicians?
BAIYU: Lady Gaga because she’s so different and out there and willing to experiment with her look and her sound. I’m a huge fan of India Arie and I love Ne-Yo, Jill Scott and Musiq Soulchild.
GG: What are the biggest cultural similarities and differences between the U.S. and China?
BAIYU: Differences – in China there’s more family unity in my opinion. There’s a huge level of respect for elders. You never call them by their first name, when a parent gets old you never send them to a nursing home, they stay home. And everybody takes care of each other. Whereas over here it’s great that there’s individualism and entrepreneurship and everybody’s gung ho about making it to the top, but sometimes family and friends get left behind just because they’re so busy all the time.
The love of music is a huge similarity [between the US and China]. People in China love music, they love American music actually and I think that if we Americans really opened our minds to music in China and Asia they would love it just the same.
FIND OUT BAIYU’S CELEBRITY CRUSH ON THE NEXT PAGE!
GG: What’s Your Favorite Food?
BAIYU: My favorite food is… food. I eat anything and everything but I really do like sweets. Cookies and cupcakes!
GG: Who Is Your Celebrity Crush?
BAIYU: Ryan Phillippe
GG: What’s your favorite movie?
BAIYU: I really like “Jerry Maguire.” I just like the idea of up and leaving and saying “who’s coming with me?” and making a big splash.
GG: So are you into fashion?
BAIYU: I do like fashion. Growing up I didn’t have that much money so my parents would instill this idea of being creative not only with my sound but also with the way that I dress. So my mom taught me how to sew and I would always go to thrift stores and take a t-shirt and reconstruct it into a dress or whatever. So it’s not always about name brands with me in terms of fashion, it’s sort of creating something from something old and making it something new.
GG: Do you have any guilty pleasures?
BAIYU: Anything involving the Kardashians. I hate to admit (laughter).
GG: Do you keep in touch with your fans through social networking sites?
BAIYU: Oh yeah! I’m on my Blackberry all the time which is really bad but it’s great for my fans because I’m always tweeting. If you write me I’ll always try to respond, if you ask me a question I’ll always try to email you back. Even though it’s time consuming, I really like to answer every single message myself and get back to my fans.
GG: For those who don’t know, how would you describe your music?
BAIYU: When I came to the states my friend was like “Oh my god you’ve been listening to Chinese music all your life! You’ve got to listen to some Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, TLC!” So I really started getting into R&B and so I have a very soulful core to my sound but at the same time I really like experimenting with international sounds and a little bit of rock. I would say it’s like eclectic r&b pop.
BAIYU ATE 47 PIECES OF FOOD DURING AN EATING CONTEST, FIND OUT IF SHE WON ON THE NEXT PAGE!
GG: What is something that a lot of people don’t know about you?
BAIYU: I was in a [chicken nugget eating] contest and I ate 47 chicken nuggets in 10 minutes.
GG: Were they like McDonalds chicken nuggets?
GG: Did you use dipping sauce?
BAIYU: I did. I’m giving away my secret but at first I was doing the Kobayashi method, chicken-water-chicken-water, but it was still a little bit dry so then I started doing the chicken-sauce-chicken-sauce and it went down really fast so I think I could’ve done more.
GG: What kind of sauce did you use?
BAIYU: Honey mustard.
GG: You recently read Chelsea Handler’s book… what was your favorite part about it?
BAIYU: She’s out of control. There was not one favorite part, it’s just how blunt she is. She has no shame and she doesn’t hold anything back and she talks about every single bodily fluid and function as if it were like super duper normal. There are no barriers to her language. I’ve actually read three of her books and there are so many great nuggets in there. I guess one really great part is that I didn’t know she went to jail and had a girlfriend in jail. That was a big surprise to me.
GG: Since you’re on Twitter do you have a favorite celebrity you like to follow? You’re probably following the Kardashians right?
BAIYU: Yeah, you got it.
GG: So is there anything else that you want to share with us?
BAIYU: I’m really thankful that you guys are willing to premiere the single “Together” on April 7th. “Together” is actually part of a larger EP called “Fanfair” and the whole idea behind “Fanfair” is that I wanted to give a big hug and “Thank you!” to my fans for supporting me through the years. And as a “Thank you” it’s actually a free download for them on music.baiyuonline.com and at the same time there’s an option to donate any amount that they want once they sign on and download the album and 100% of the proceeds from that, anything that comes in, is going towards the earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan.
R&B singer Baiyu.
R&B singer Baiyu.
R&B singer Baiyu.
R&B singer Baiyu.