Convo with Nono Chen

Nono Chen is a talented Chinese singer-songwriter, producer, media composer, arranger, and pianist based in New York City.
Dropping her new single called, School of Losers, which is is a Latin flavoured track embracing the human imperfection. It’s got a great message of self-acceptance which hosts the groovy rhythm with a catchy melody.

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Nono started her musical journey studying classical composition at Shanghai Music Middle School at the age of eleven. She went to Berklee College of Music in 2017 and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Writing and Production in 2019. Now she is undertaking a Songwriting Master as a student at New York University.

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Nono is influenced by the like of Jacob Collier, Bruno Mars, and Dua Lipa, her husky voice tells her personal stories over a remarkable variety of genres and styles combined with innovative and unpredictable moves leading her audience to an exciting and unique journey.

Catch below our wonderful chat with Nono Chen!

Who inspired you to pursue a music career?

The person that gave me the music gene — my mom. She is a kindergarten teacher and she plays piano and sings very well (much better than I do). Music is her dream as well as mine and that’s why she has been so dedicated to developing my talent ever since the very first day she saw the “musician” inside of me. I never have to worry about not having an audience because she is always there.

What challenges did you face as a youth in pursuit of your music dream?

I spent six years of my middle school in a classical music institution majoring in composition. It was during that time that I realized how much I love songwriting. In order to comply with the department’s requirement, I had to write instrumental pieces in classical styles even if I did not enjoy it. There were so many songs I wrote and kept to myself. Because the school’s whole curriculum was based on classical music, I could hardly find resources and spare time to learn more about songwriting and contemporary music when I first started.

Why did you leave China to live in New York?

I knew I HAD to study in contemporary music after middle school and the U.S. was the place where I could get the education I wanted and have an immersive experience in the prosperous music industry here. I first went to Boston to study at Berklee College of Music. After I got my bachelor’s degree in Contemporary Writing and Production, I still wanted a student life with campus experience. I came across New York University during my research for the master’s program. Its Songwriting program and physical location looked perfect to me. I feel extremely lucky nowadays to live and work in a city surrounded by talented people while still having the “luxury” to explore under the safety net of a university.

Which are the best venues you had performed so far, and why?

I enjoyed playing at Pianos. It was close to the NYU campus and a lot of my friends also performed there. The performance space is very intimate and the environment really suits my musical style.

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Describe your feelings when you’re recording music in the studio?

I don’t have a lot of experience recording in the studio since I always produce my music in the box and record myself at home. But I do remember the few times I recorded in the studio at Berklee College of Music. It was hilarious because I was both super ambitious and confused. I had no idea how to run a console but I wanted to record live musicians. I was playing multiple roles as the producer, the engineer, and sometimes the artist. I was also feeling nervous every time I recorded in the studio because there was a two-hour time limit for using the space and I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish on time.

What is the message behind your music?

The message behind “School of Losers” is really speaking to me personally. I’m a workaholic + perfectionist. I definitely need a bigger heart when it comes to mistakes and failures. I want this song to be fun to listen to and at the same time to deliver an important message to my listeners. No one master life, we all suck to some degree. You can either give yourself a hard time every day over trivial things or laugh at them, put a positive spin on them, and really learn to accept and love your imperfections. I wrote this song to keep reminding myself of that.

What do you fear the most in this business?

People go after quantity over quality.

If you weren’t a musician, what would be your occupation?

After I was born, my grandparents went to ask a monk to predict my future. He said I would either be a teacher or a doctor, so I guess that would be it haha.

What is next to your career.

I want to navigate both as a self-produced artist/songwriter and as a media composer. The current COVID-19 pandemic definitely brought a lot of uncertainties to my future planning. I’m now carefully examining and observing both the U.S. and Chinese music industry to see where has more opportunities for me and my music.

Nono Chen · School Of Losers

 

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