Shanghai-based singer-songwriter, DJ, and producer Gigi Lee dropped her latest track over the past weekend, ‘Mama’s Dumplings,’ a homage to her mother’s love metaphorically represented by North China’s most celebrated dish.
Released by Warner Music China on May 6, just before Mother’s Day, appropriately, she first recorded the upbeat pop song a couple of years back. Post-production was completed prior to the start of Shanghai’s seemingly never-ending lockdown.
“Obviously, this is a song about a mother’s love. I’ve always had a really difficult relationship with [my mom], since I was a kid. And because of that, I always felt quite a distance toward her and my dad, which affected my life choices in a way: going to boarding school, leaving home for college, going abroad, traveling, and [coming] back to China — but to Shanghai instead of my hometown,” Lee tells RADII. “All that I did was to be away from them and live [an] independent life.”
Parental estrangement seems to have been both empowering and trying for Lee, who originally hails from the city of Dalian in Northeast China. She notes that her independence allowed her to discover and explore her passion for music, but loneliness could also be an issue and “days could be dark.”
“I remember one time I was in my apartment, looking out through the window on my balcony. It was raining outside. I was down … I’d never felt so alone and sad. Dumplings were all I had, [and I was] crying while I was eating. It reminded me of those dumplings I had every time I went back to Dalian; it reminded me of my mom. As I wept, I started writing ‘Mama’s Dumplings,’” says Lee.
Later that same year, Lee traveled home to be with her family for Chinese New Year, and she recalls making dumplings with her mother — dumplings presumably filled with Chinese chives and eggs, Lee’s favorite.
“When she was making them, I was next to her. I glimpsed her [and] she had more wrinkles, more gray hair. Then she smiled at me. For the first time, I felt she does have love for me and the way she expresses her love is in these dumplings,” Lee says, speaking to the inspiration behind the song. “[Now], we have the song ‘Mama’s Dumplings.’”
Single cover for ‘Mama’s Dumplings’
While Lee, like most residents of Shanghai, is currently stuck in her apartment, she is doing her best to remain positive and productive, writing new music and making videos. She tells RADII, though, that she is eager to perform live again and share her latest single with audiences.
“Once all this is over, which I hope is soon, for all the shows I’m doing, I’ll be glad to perform this track either during my DJ set or just live performances, singing some songs of mine,” says Lee.
Music fans in China can listen to ‘Mama’s Dumplings’ on QQ Music. International listeners can check out the new track on Spotify and Apple Music.
All images via Gigi Lee
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