In our ongoing series, we check in with some of the artists performing at the East Coast Music Awards Breakout Stage at the Seahorse Tavern on May 5. Featuring some of “the most promising emerging and developing artists from around Atlantic Canada,” this is the perfect opportunity to discover your next favourite artist.
In this edition, we learn more about guzheng artist and ethnomusicologist Jing Xia.
This interview has been edited.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am a professional guzheng artist and ethnomusicologist based in Newfoundland. Born and raised in Hunan, China, I started to study the guzheng at six years old and hold degrees in Music Performance (B.A.), Arts Management (M.A.), and Ethnomusicology (Ph.D.).
As a performer of all styles, my musical journey on the guzheng has encompassed a wide range of musical genres, from Chinese traditional and folk music to intercultural ensembles, fusion bands, improvisational music, and beyond.
.My debut album, The Numinous Journey, ..has earned me the 2022 MusicNL Rising Star of the Year award and two nominations for the 2023 ECMA awards, including Global Recording of the Year and Roots/Traditional Recording of the Year.
How do you describe your music?
“A musician and ethnomusicologist with an adventurous heart,” that’s how I look at myself. Such self-positioning reflects in my open, diverse, and audacious music. If you listen to my debut album, The Numinous Journey, you will find yourself wandering across different musical worlds: folk, traditional, classical, experimental, avant-garde, etc. For the ECMAs, I am bringing in my post-rock band, XIA-3, which presents my music in a dynamic fusion way.
How did you get into making music?
I embarked on a musical journey at a young age, partially due to my family’s influence. I grew up with music, and many of my relatives work in the music field in China. Canada’s multicultural environment is a paradise for musicians who are into experimental and fusion music. I started to explore new possibilities for my playing right after I landed in this beautiful country.
What or who inspires you as a musician?
In addition to being a musician, I am also an ethnomusicologist. I have studied many musical groups for my research, which significantly inspired my music-making. For example, I have been constantly learning from guzheng virtuosos whom I interviewed for my Ph.D. dissertation, such as Mei Han, Wu Fei, and Beibei He.
What are you working on musically right now?
I am recording a new album with my band, XIA-3, which will be released this fall. As a group, we try to challenge stereotypical impressions of my instrument and genres, and we hope this album will help us achieve the goal.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I will continue to build my music career in Canada and try to gain more international opportunities. I hope to keep my passion and create more high-quality musical works.
What was the best advice someone gave you when starting as a musician?
Stay true to your passion.
What advice do you have for other aspiring musicians?
Everything takes time, and you must believe in yourself.
What can fans expect from your live show?
This time I will showcase my fusion band, XIA-3, and we will play some of our newest music and covers of professional guzheng compositions.