Finding her own sound
Music influences people in a myriad of unique ways and even has the power to change lives. Freshman Pamela Wang has been inspired by the influence of music and takes her passion a step further by producing and writing original songs in Chinese and uploading them onto a platform called NetEase Music.
Wang was originally inspired when listening to lo-fi music while working on homework. As she scrolled through comments on YouTube, she stumbled upon people writing lyrics that followed the beat of the music. She recited the lyrics aloud, singing and rapping along to the tunes using the lyrics from commenters. Eventually, she began attempting to write her own lyrics.
“The first sentence is always hard to come up with [since] the other sentences depend on the first sentence,” Wang said. “[When I have trouble writing lyrics], I will usually look at the chat histories between me and my friend [to find] sad and happy memories.”
After purchasing a sound card, a card that controls input and output of audio signals from a computer, microphone and the software FL Studio, an audio workstation, Wang had a set-up for the full production process. Although she initially used other artists’ beats, Wang started to experiment with creating her own sounds. Usually, she begins by finding a flow with her lyrics by recording a rough demo on her phone. She then uses her microphone to record the music through her computer and to the sound card, which helps control the input and output of sound. Next, she adds post-production edits using effects and instruments from FL Studio and sends the song to a producer who adds more edits and helps with uploading the songs.
“[When I’m producing], it’s really loud and clear, and I can hear my voice going into the sound card,” Wang said. “I feel comfortable. I can’t think of anything else except music.”
Music production has also allowed Wang to acquire more knowledge of music production in her interactions in group chats with friends and even some Chinese celebrities who share her hobby. She’s also met people who perform at shows and at live houses, letting her see how it is for them to perform in front of others.
“Making music let me know more people who are thinking of music as their career. They are really serious about music, so we talk a lot and they will tell me what’s my next step,” Wang said.
Many of Wang’s lyrics connect with her emotionally. She also often writes about her personal experiences, as well as her observations of the world and the people around her. For one of her beats, she drew from experiences with a person who helped her get through a difficult time.
“I just uploaded a beat that was inspired by a person I know. I remember one night, I was just staring at the sky, and I [felt] the breeze. It was really comfortable, but there [weren’t] any stars,” Wang said. “I used to compare that person with the stars. Then, he just disappeared [out of] my life. The beat is saying goodbye to a person that I know. He disappeared, but I will keep the memories.”
Despite not planning to follow music production as a career, Wang has signed to a label to gain more experience and assistance. Wang has posted one of her songs on the platform NetEase Music while currently keeping the rest to herself for the time being. Most of her songs are pop and rap including titles such as 星星怎么就死掉了(How Did the Stars Die), 三年了(Three Years) and 还是不能忘记 (I Still Can’t Forget).
“I feel excited [about posting my music online], but at the same time, I am a little bit scared of people judging me,” Wang said. “I [receive] feedback from a group chat [with other] producers and I’m happy [when I get compliments].”
Wang uses music and writing lyrics as an outlet for her emotions but also considers a broader picture when conveying her overall messages. Through her lyrics, she connects not only with herself, but also with her listeners.
“[My music] is about how I think this world is and how I think people’s relationships are, [but] I also need to write something that resonates with people,” Wang said. “I don’t really make [myself] the subject. It’s more what other people think about their lives.”
By Natalie Cheng, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Pamela Wang