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Folk Artist Xiao He Releases a New Album via WeChat

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Already a platform for chatting with your friends, paying for goods and services, ordering a taxi, renting a bike, buying train tickets, and oh-so-many other things, WeChat is now hosting album releases. Hebei-born folk artist Xiao He’s latest musical project – 回响 (“Echo”) – was released over streaming platforms yesterday, but its original release came in February as a series of videos only available through Tencent’s social media app.

Published by Flying Blind – who describe themselves as “a diversified and experimental art organization” as well as a multicultural concept space – the multimedia album is accessed over WeChat once you’ve paid 35RMB. You can then cycle through an animated home screen that offers up a video for each of the 10 songs.

The first video, for the song ‘Le Ge’, was created in collaboration with the Beijing Special Education Center; the others feature works from professional Chinese artists, and include animation and psychedelic graphics.

xiao he video

Xiao He has never been one for convention. The silver-haired singer-songwriter spent three years in the army before moving to Beijing to pursue an avant-garde musical career, forming seminal Chinese folk band Glamorous Pharmacy in 1999, and releasing his debut solo record A High-Flying Bird Won’t Land on the Back of a Slow-Moving Cow in 2002.

He’s since toured Europe and been to SXSW with his peculiar brand of experimental folk, all while building a cult following back home. His live performances have swung from the use of loops to build a “one man orchestra”, to low-key acoustic shows, to collaborations with artists such as guqin-player Wu Na over the years.

And he’s no stranger to sharing his music in unusual ways: his previous album – 2011’s Silly’s Ballad – was released as a hard-bound book featuring his illustrations of falling foliage and a physically embedded MP3 player with headphones.

If you’re one of the 1 billion plus active users of WeChat and are curious about the new album, scan the QR code that you find here for more information (and the chance to order Xiao He merchandise such as specially-designed socks, if you’re so inclined).

If you’re not on WeChat, you can find the teaser video here and the full album available to stream over QQ Music here.

Jake Newby
Jake Newby is a Shanghai-based writer and editor with more than a decade's experience living and working in China. Previously managing editor of Time Out Shanghai, he's also written for publications such as South China Morning Post and the Financial Times.