Hailing from Harbin, China, Vancouver-based singer-songwriter Wanting Qu’s first album Everything in the World went platinum in China within its first week on sale. In 2009, she became the first Chinese artist to be signed to the Nettwerk label, a recording company that has launched the careers of fun., Coldplay and Ladytron.
She has pretty much nabbed every music award she has ever been nominated for, including the Best New Comer and Outstanding Regional Artist Award at the Global Chinese Music Award. Now, back with a second album Say the Words, Wanting is ready to show case one of the many chapters of her life.
On a rainy evening, we sat down with Wanting while she was here in Kuala Lumpur, and we chatted about her album, her influences and her new role as the first ever tourism ambassador for Vancouver.
How long did it take for you to discover your own musical identity?
A really long time, actually. I think it took me about four years. In 2009, I realized my niche and what I was good at. I was in a band in 2005, but I was yelling a lot, not really singing. After I quit the band, I started writing music of my own. That’s actually when I discovered my voice, and then a few years later I made an EP. I think that’s when I realized it was going to be my niche.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
I love real, honest musicians that inspired me to be who I am, because they’re all very truthful to their own stories. Some of the people who inspired me to do music were Sarah McLachlan, Coldplay, Dido, Eminem, Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey too.
How would you describe your own personal sound?
My music is pop, but it definitely has a bit of soul in it. A pop-soul sort of sound. Not like Amy Winehouse, nor is it bubblegum pop.
What inspired the birth of Say the Words?
My first album was a collection of songs I had written over the span of four years. The second album is also a collection of songs that I had written in the past, and more recent from 2009 to 2012. The second album feels like chapters of my life.
What can your fans and new listeners expect from your new album Say the Words?
Expect good songs, more attitude, more humor. I feel like this record has more life to it. I’m very proud and excited with this new album, and if people liked my first album, they’ll definitely love this one. I am very attached to my second album because I had spent a lot of time on this album with the producer, and I’ve also produced some myself.
You were appointed as the first Tourism Ambassador for Vancouver. Was it a big stepping stone in your career?
I do feel like I’ve accomplished something that I’ve dreamed about as a kid. When I was young, I wanted to be the bridge that could connect two cultures. As an ambassador, I am able to do that. In Vancouver, they do see me as one of them. I became the musician that I am today in Vancouver and I’m very thankful for that, and Canada as a country. While they accept me for who I am, I still have my Chinese citizenship at the same time. I grew up in China, and I’m proud when I live there as a Chinese.
What song from Say the Words are you most attached to?
I’m attached to all my babies, but I have to say Say the Words. I mean, I picked that song as the album title, so it’s that. You will feel good after listening to the song. I also put Say the Words as the very last song on the album because it’s the perfect ending song. Even at shows, I play that song right at the end because I want my audience to go home feeling happy and loved.
Listen to some of Wanting Qu’s hits here: