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Visudy is the Soulful Shanghai Producer You Need to Know

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Visudy is on his way up. A longtime collaborator of Xinjiang R&B artist Akin, Visudy is the mastermind behind Akin’s crawling soulful grooves. Now he’s got his sights set on expanding his craft, and releasing solo material as well.

Visudy might be best identified by his subtle electric piano arrangements. But when we watched his set at PlugFest in Shanghai, he didn’t hesitate to bang out live finger drumming rhythms, or pick up a guitar to lay down juicy licks over his loops. Visudy approaches music as a true musician — something that can’t be said for all producers, and certainly not for all up-and-coming post-‘90s producers in China.

We sat down with Visudy to get a quick peek into his origins in music, his work today, and what’s next.

RADII: Let’s start at the beginning. When and how did you first get into music?

I started piano when I was young. Later, I studied it professionally in music school up until I went to university. Eventually I graduated high school and got accepted into the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, where I studied music composition. That’s when I first met Akin and we did some collaborations.

Unlike a lot of kids, my parents didn’t make me start learning piano. My house had an old, worn-out piano in it from a long, long time ago. When I was a kid I used to play some notes on it — I didn’t really know how to play, so I would just press the keys. My parents thought I might like music, so they got me started with it.

How did that transition from taking lessons as a kid to becoming a music producer with your own signature sound?

I was in a band for a while, and got to work with a lot of other musicians through that. I would have a lot of ideas and opinions, but they also had their own. So I wanted to create my own music, something that was just mine alone.

When I was in the band — keyboard, guitar, drums — I played them all. I didn’t want to be limited to just playing an instrument, so I started studying to become a producer.

How did studying at Shanghai Conservatory of Music help you become the musician you are today?

Not at all [laughs]. I just made music everyday, I barely went to class. I made most of my music at home and invited my friends to come over and listen. Sometimes I’d go out and DJ, and just spin whatever songs I wanted to that day.

Who are some of your musical influences?

Really, the big influence was early on in middle school. I was listening to some Chinese songs and some foreign songs, mostly older ones. So there’s not really a singular artist who influenced me, more like the combination of those styles. A lot of R&B, neo-soul…the combination there influenced me, I would say.

I want the music I make to be something you can listen to anytime and anywhere. It’s not too noisy or quiet. You can listen to it on the way to work, at school, while driving…what I want to say is that my music’s more chilled out. You can listen to it whenever you want.

What do you think about young artists in China today? Do they have a different outlook, or certain advantages and disadvantages?

In China right now, the number of young artists is growing, because there’s a larger audience and more fans — this is really good for China. There are more places to perform, more shows, DJ sets, etc. that all provide plenty of opportunities for up and coming artists.

If more people overseas could stop for a sec and listen to our music, they’d understand what we’re doing, and what we’re talking about. So just listen.

What are your plans for the future?

Well as a producer, I’m going to be making more music. But that music might not even have vocals, just instrumentals and beats. I want to put out my own EP and start performing it.

Half a year ago, I was focusing on learning new things and building my skills. This year I’m focusing on bringing real instruments and electronic elements together into one cohesive product.

Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a Shanghai-based writer, producer, and multimedia artist, and the Associate Editor at RADII. His work has been featured in publications such as Maxim and the Chinese-language StreetVoice, and he’s an active member of the hip-hop and DIY music scenes in Shanghai, NYC, and Dallas. He learned Mandarin in high school so he could train at the Shaolin Temple, but now just uses it to interview rappers.

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