We had the good fortune of connecting with Jiexi Zhao and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jiexi, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Hello, my name is Jesse and I am originally from Beijing, China. My upbringing had a significant impact on who I am today. Both of my grandparents were renowned traditional/classical singers in China. My grandparents taught me a great deal about music, including piano playing, music theory, and ear training. I recall that they would frequently warm up their voices and rehearse together, and that my grandmother could instantly identify the song my grandfather was singing, ranging from Chinese traditional tunes to classical music repertoire. She would immediately determine the key in which he was singing and begin to accompany him.
They would instruct me on how to practice music and the mentality involved. For instance, the first rule of practicing music is that you should never practice music without understanding what you are practicing. Life is the source of music, and one must comprehend life in order to comprehend music. To tell you the truth, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I was able to comprehend what they meant when they said that. Growing up, I watched them perform; I vividly recall the first time I saw them from below; it was one of the most memorable moments of my childhood, and all I wanted to do was join them on stage.
I was also greatly influenced by my father’s musical preferences. He was a huge fan of music from the 1990s and 2000s. My early childhood consisted of only two CDs, a compilation CD with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, and Elton John, and an Elton John CD. I recall that “Candle in the wind” was once my father’s favorite song. I would frequently listen to these two CDs consecutively on road trips. This explains why R&B is such a significant influence on my work.
The most important reason I am where I am today is because of my parents’ open-mindedness regarding my education. Focusing not only on my grades and academics, but also on my art, has allowed me to discover my true passion. Therefore, my EP “nkè” represents the knowledge and comprehension I’ve gained through years of work and practice. It is a collision between both musical worlds.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an artist who not only sings and performs, but also oversees the creative process of my work. From writing the lyrics and melody to arranging the music and post-production, I’ve been a part of the process and collaborated with others to ensure that the final product is in the best possible condition.
This journey has been challenging in terms of learning how to effectively collaborate with others and have your vision carried out. I had a steep learning curve. But most importantly, I learned that the vision is the most essential element in the creation of a work; it is the thread that binds all the parts together. Before beginning projects, I have devoted a great deal of time to determining a clear vision and objective. This involves considerable self-reflection and perspective-seeking. I realized that when I comprehend the message I intend to convey to my audience, everything else falls into place automatically.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to shout out to my friends in Boston, who kind of keep me grounded and helped me along with the creation of my work. Zhiyao Zhang, a local painter, and artist who helped me create the album artwork. Zhiyao’s work is currently exhibited in the Alpha Art Gallery located in NJ. William Kao who is a designer in Boston also helped me with photography and visual concepts for my EP.
William Kao @w105_k Rebeca Zhu @songlinzi_film