Interview: Yang Zhang

by | Jun 25, 2016

Hollywood-based film composer and music producer Yang Zhang ( Also known as Zhang Yang, Chinese Character ” 张旸”) pursues a multi-faceted career in film scoring, music publishing, digital music startup, and other digital media related business endeavors. Classically-trained, she later jumped into the EDM train, inspired by those EDM’s heavy hitters in the late 90’s such as Richie Hawtin, Lamb, or Talvin Singh. With the release of her electronic music single and album “Road to Wutumeiren” endorsed by Universal Record in China, her cutting-edge style, and high-end creative production helped her to win widespread acclaim from the likes of UK-based producer Guy Sigsworth (half of “Frou Frou”, producer for Madonna, Björk, Britney Spears..) and New York-based music publisher Ed Steinberg (music director for Madonna’s first music video Everybody).

Consequently, in 2010, Yang Zhang officially signed an artist manager contract with Ed Steinberg and his New York-based music publishing company RockaMedia, and relocated to Los Angeles. During her time there, she scored an American indie feature “Love Magic” and a documentary about the 80’s Spring Break phenomenon in Daytona Beach and officially became a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Science (Emmy) music peer group. In 2012, her creative music production sparked the interest of franchise “Transformer” video game director Flint Dille, who invited her to join his creative team for the new upcoming transmedia franchise titled “Tiki Wiki Tiki”. She scored the theme track and featured ending track for this retro-inspired adventure franchise. Since then, she has been working closely with numerous top Hollywood music publishing companies, including but not limited to Megatrax Production Music, Ole Music Publishing and Fine Tune Music. After spending years of music production in the fields of film, TV major and Indie albums productions, she electrifies and re-defines film music genres by infusing her unique sound architecture designed for a variety of combined textures with electronic music elements and modern orchestral productions.

1inmusic: Hello Yang, many thanks for doing this interview for us. Tell us what is unique about you and your music?
Yang Zhang (YZ): I guess I would say, I developped and dug my own music voice along with my digital music enterprise after a decade of career practice in different sectors. It’s interesting to see how you develop your own musical voice not relying on a traditional system, but on an entirely new digital ecosystem where you interface production process, technical solution, promotion and distribution on an all-in-one platform. I have explored a variety of music genres to build a seamless concretion between different categories in an attempt to create a new genre. This has always been my passion and I guess, to some extent, a way to distinguish my music from others’. I have experimented with a series of electronic music combinations by touching on other categories or elements in an attempt to create some undefined genres, and this set of experiments are still going on.

1inMusic: What shaped your music and who supports you?
YZ: Funny enough, I was totally classically trained but jumped to the electronic music world after hearing those 90’s sounds that sparked the idea of creating my own voice. I have been pursuing a multi-faceted career in different sectors to allow me to build my music outlet from a business perspective. I certainly got enormous endorsements as well as a lot of support from parents, musician friends, mentors and other music fans along different periods in my life.

1inmusic: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?
YZ: Actually, you know what, around 18 or 19. You just literally realize your inner passion from the bottom of your heart which motivates you to do something you feel passionate about, which for me is music-related. Now I am involved in a situation where I create not only the music I wished for, but also the whole digital ecosystem in which I build this interface to connect production, technical solution, distribution, and fanbase together.

1inmusic: What type of music do you listen to?
YZ: I could make a long list here. Those types of music I listen to the most: EDM, Indie Pop, Soundtrack, Classic, Jazz, Indie Rock…

1inmusic: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?
YZ: That’s a tough question. Part of me wants to say “I can make a long list”, while another part of me wants to say “those truly talented musicians will make their names in history eventually”. Well, since you brought up this topic, I can mention a few bands or artists who, I think, deserve more attention. Jamiroquai is only known for “the video with the moving floor” and “that one part in Napoleon Dynamite”. Listen to simply the funkiest, smoothest, tightest dance group possibly ever, The Kids, and decide for yourselves. The band Stone Roses was the quintessential postmodern dance band of the late 1980s. Their 1989 show at the Empress Ballroom in Manchester was a landmark moment. Unfortunately, legal messes prevented them from playing for two years, ending their meteoric rise. Just go to Spotify and play Blister In The Sun. by Violent Femmes. Possibly one of the most creative, fresh, innovative and unique bands in the world, Violent Femmes never really got a fair shake.  The good news is that they’re still touring, so you have time.

1inmusic: How do you prepare for your performances?
YZ: Well, most times, I do behind-the-scene work, the whole package of production workflow, but definitely there will be some live projects in near the future. If I am involved in performance, it would be the full electronic gear up around me, and I definitely will focus on the part for which during the production, I don’t have a chance to detail those dynamic interaction parts between voice, instruments, electronic music productions.It will translate into another form of impromptu or a live version of illustrated production.

1inmusic: What ignites your (song) writing flow?
YZ: a variety of subjects in my life can sparkle my inspiration, either the evolution of my taste in music from time to time or other tiny details in my everyday lives, a meaningful poetry, a particular mood under a certain circumstance, a subtle fragrance, etc.

1inmusic: Success to you is….
YZ: … The capability to unleash your talent, to sustain the brand new system in which you create, maintain and update, to feel a passion and positive mood from the first moment in the morning until you fall asleep.

1inmusic: What do you do when you don’t do music and that you are passionate about?
YZ: A bit ironically, I wish that I could have more time to deeply dig my genre and produce more music with self-expression, but I have spent most of my time being involved in more business endeavors, which I think is crucial to creating my own digital ecosystem in the near the future. Overall, work for things I love the most and enjoy my life that I am passionate about when I don’t do music.

1inmusic: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?
YZ: To sustainably run your passion, talent while tackling various circumstances.

1inmusic: Thank you again for joining us on this interview. Last questions: any upcoming music projects? Where can we find more about them?
YZ: I am in the process of preparing my next electronic music album, a collection of various soundtracks. Details will be revealed in near the future at: