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Yuxuan Li Discusses Latest Master Piece, ‘Magnetic Field’

Welcome to BuzzMusic, Yuxuan. Your portrayal of ancient Chinese sounds and modern production on the EP Magnetic Field is remarkable. What inspired you to create a project like this?

I have been studying traditional guzheng repertoires for a long time and have developed a deep connection with this ancient sound. My studies in the US, focusing on Western and modern music, have provided me with a broad, electronic musical vocabulary. My inspiration for this project stems from a deep desire to reinterpret historical sounds in a contemporary context. This unique combination of influences fuels my passion for pushing creative boundaries and making something truly innovative and unique to myself.

The guzheng plays a significant role in your EP, Magnetic Field. On a more personal note, what does this instrument mean to you? How does it influence your overall sound?

In pre-K in China, I saw a beautiful woman playing the guzheng in a restaurant. The sound of this instrument attracted me. My mother told me I was begging for a guzheng after that day. I finally got one not too long after. It became a precious toy for my childhood. My mother devoted the most time to taking me to lessons, performances, and competitions. The journey of learning music created many cherished memories with my family. The guzheng is my cultural root and a part of me now. The traditional guzheng uses pentatonic scales a lot, which I incorporated into some of the songs. The guzheng also offers a wide range of acoustic sound possibilities.

Each track on Magnetic Field tells its own story. How did you approach the arrangement of these tracks to express different emotions and stories through instrumentals and without lyrics?

The guzheng is a highly lyrical instrument; many traditional repertoires tell stories through music. That's where I learned to express emotions without lyrics. I tried different dynamics, textures, tempos, and keys to match my mood during writing. It all depends on how I feel at that moment. I always start with improvisation, allowing the music and my surroundings to guide me.

Do you have a favorite song from Magnetic Field? What makes that song so special to you?

Red Strings means a lot to me personally. As a woman who grew up in different cultures, sometimes I feel disconnected from both sides. A listener once told me she felt the struggle through this song and is facing the same difficulties. It was the moment when I truly understood how music can express and heal.

How has living in China, New York, and Los Angeles shaped you as an artist? Have these experiences impacted your approach to music creation?

I lived in China until I was 15, attending traditional K-12 schools and a music high school in Hefei and Beijing. Later, I had the opportunity to come to the States for high school in California. The culture shock was exhilarating; I experienced a different lifestyle and listened to different music. This experience encouraged me to be daring in the musical world. At 23, I moved to New York, a magical city brimming with inspiration. There, I met numerous musician friends and mentors and achieved many milestones in my career. The city's diversity broadened my horizons and fueled my creativity in music.

New York's vibrant streets, eclectic neighborhoods, and the ever-present hum of creativity pushed me to experiment and blend genres I never thought would come together. The stories I heard, the rhythms of the city, and the fusion of cultures found in every corner became the bedrock of my compositions. Living there, I realized that music isn't just a universal language; it's a powerful tool for connection and understanding, capable of bridging gaps between the most disparate worlds.



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