Indie / Alternative, Interviews — August 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Music Will Never Be My Priority – Interview with Xiao Pi 小皮


Xiao Pi 小皮 is a Chinese independent singer-songwriter from Shanghai. Born in 1979, he picked the guitar as his landmark instrument at the age of 15, then started his first rock band during his studies in 2001. Midnight Bus 夜班巴士 performed a lot on university campuses and soon became one of the most popular bands amongst students. Xiao Pi left Midnight Bus in 2008 to pursue a solo career and develop his own music style, described as “urban folk” by Time Out Beijing. The magazine featured Xiao Pi’s second album, Old Singer in the Best Chinese records of 2012: “Youth, memories and early fatherhood are all recurring topics, and it’s great for repeat listens.” You can stream the album in full with the player below. Music Weekly Asia had a chat with Xiao Pi at Zebra Music Festival in Shanghai, last month.

Xiao Pi


Music Weekly Asia: Hello Xiao Pi, the single “Lao San” 《老歌手》 (Third Child) taken from Old Singer seems to be very personal. Is it a picture of your life?

Xiao Pi: “Lao San” is my own songwriting and is totally about my life, about what I have seen and experienced. The track name has two meanings: I am the third child of my family; and I am almost 30 years old. This song is for myself, as a memory.


Do you think your friends and fans help you a lot in your life?

Friends and fans are very important to me, and they helped me so much from the very beginning of my music career. Also, in the doom days of my life, they gave me financial and spiritual support. They understand what I am focusing on, especially for my music. There are too many words to say about them, can’t name out piece by piece, anyway, I have kept everything in my mind.


You once said you prefer writing song than performing live shows. Then what’s the reason for you coming to Zebra Music Festival and what’s your mood?

I still love writing songs now and I agree that live performance is the very core and soul of music, where I can express and present more of my music. Both composing and live performing have their own charms. My throat is not in good condition, and that’s why I am not so into live shows. It is really my great honor to be at Zebra Music festival with the support of (a Chinese music site focusing on independent musician).

Looking at this blue sky, white clouds and blue sea, singing my songs for my fans, of course I do enjoy this feeling; it’s a hot Zebra day!


You have been quite active performing in Shanghai universities since 2004. Do you have any plan to do that again, in Shanghai or in other provinces?

Having shows in universities is always a fun thing. Of course I want to play more if have the chance to.


25-year-old Beijing folk singer-songwriter Song Dongye 宋冬野’s song “Miss Dong《董小姐》 recently became very popular in China thanks to the TV show Super Boy 快乐男声. You write and sing ballads as well, what do you think of Song Dongye’s song?

“Miss Dong” is a very cool song. I am not Song Dongye so I cannot fully understand his feelings about this track. But I believe he wrote it from the bottom of his heart. All the works created with pluck should be respected.


How would you define your music genre?

In fact, I have no idea what style could describe my music. I just sing it out and write tunes down. For me, defining a music genre for my music is really not important. I just sing what I want and what I like.


Have you ever tried to make some breakthroughs, like trying other music styles?

Breakthrough is not something I’m considering. What I think is like this: If my composition matches what I am thinking, it is absolutely a breakthrough. Because expressing the abstract feeling in my heart into a song is not an easy thing. The music style is no big difference for me. Composing is an ego thing. I can only release what I like.


Do you have or had any music idols?

Yes, I like many singers. I never gave up admiring some of them, such as Xiao Ke, Lao Lang, and Yu Dong. My whole music life is closely connected to them, including my school ballad songs and my broken guitar!


You know that more and more folk and rock singers are becoming famous in China these days, and some are now super stars. Do you think it is still possible not to be “corrupted” by fame; do these artists can still play “pure” music after getting such success?

I think they can. The word “pure” has different meaning for different people. As for me, at least I can say I love every song I wrote and I want to sing them out. Then I guess most of the musicians are singing out of passion and love.


Now that you are a father, how are you allocating music and family time, and will that change in the future? As time goes by, will you rearrange time allocation on music and life?

There is no exact time allocation. Music can go with life and life can merge into music. At present, I want to spend more time with my son and sing songs to him (laughs). Compared to family, music is always at the second place and family is always my priority.