Some people have names that virtually call them onto the stages of the world – like for example Venice Qin, and yes, that’s the talented Auckland musician’s real name! Originally written as part of her application to music school,her single Let Me Down has turned enough heads outside academia to be featured on NZ On Air Music‘s NewTracks compilation this July.

What’s your name, where are you from and what instruments do you play?

My full name is Venice Qin. I’m from Auckland, and I play piano, guitar and bassoon!

Was any high school or other music training especially important to you?

Absolutely! I think that I am incredibly lucky to have always been taught by the best of the best, (thanks Mum) and all of my teachers and friends have made me who I am today. My music training in high school in particular, really shaped who I am as a musician. I started singing jazz there, and started playing bassoon so that I could play in all the groups.

By the time that I left, I was the lead singer in the jazz combo and big band, and I had been featured in a bassoon concerto with the orchestra. That still blows my mind! It was also there that I realised I wanted to pursue pop music, and not classical or musical theatre. 

Any other previous (or current) projects might we know you from?

Probably not, unless you have heard my other single Found Myself which I released two years ago. I was 16 and didn’t really know what I was doing… the song has done pretty well despite this though!

What’s the background story of how Venice Qin came to be as a music project? 

Well, High School Musical changed my life. Not even joking. I’ve always loved music, I used to sing along to all of the Disney princess songs in the car, but I never thought I was any good at it. This was until my mum forced me to enter my primary school’s singing competition, where I sang When There Was Me And You from High School Musical, and ended up winning the whole thing! After that I entered a few more singing competitions, ended up doing pretty well, and I think that was when it clicked for me that I could do this for a career. 

How has your music evolved from your songwriting beginnings to now?

I think that my writing has changed as I’ve experienced different things, and as I’ve been exposed to different styles of music. For example, there was a period in my life (perhaps when I was 15 or 16) where I thought that I was going to be a musical theatre performer, so my songs were incredibly influenced by that genre. While I’m constantly now trying to stray away from that, I know that everything happens for a reason, and it definitely has lent something to my writing and storytelling.

Aside from this release, what’s been the big music highlight to date? 

It has probably been the response to my song Found Myself. I literally did no promotion, or anything like that for the song. I didn’t even have a Facebook page back then, so I only posted it on my Instagram, and sent it to my friends. So it’s insane to me that the song has been played all over the world, and I’ve had so many people from New York, London and Berlin message me and tell me how much the song means to them!

What made Let Me Down stand out for you as a single?

I think Let Me Down is a song that… if you played it to me two years ago I would not have believed you if you told me I would go on to write this. I love that it has such power behind it, because while it tells the story of someone feeling let down and upset, which implies weakness, in this song there is a strength behind it too. This play of strength and weakness is really shown in the production too.

What is the story behind Let Me Down?

Funnily enough, Let Me Down actually started out as a 24 bar submission that I wrote for an application for a music school! I remember sitting down at my piano and planning to get it done, and I played around a bit, seeing what would come out. What ended up pouring out of me that day was this story of a toxic relationship. It felt really important to me for other people to understand why it’s not so easy to leave these sort of relationships, and how even the smallest moments of joy, and moments of dependance can keep you in those awful places.

At that point I had the verses and the chorus, and that made up my 24 bars. Originally, I wasn’t planning to do anything more with it! But then I played it to a few of my friends, and they really liked it. The more I listened to it, the more I also liked it. From there, I decided to give Let Me Down a real shot. 

What’s your favourite moment, musical or lyrical, of the single?

I can’t help but love the ending chorus, even singing those high vocals in the studio made me feel super powerful, so hearing them back makes me feel like I’m Wonder Woman. I’m also really proud of the lyrics in the second verse, such as, ‘When we’re in the mood, can’t say that we’re through’. I tend to find that in nearly all of my songs, my second verse has the best lyrics. It’s probably because by that point I have stopped overthinking everything, and I just write.

Who did you write/record/produce the single with and where? 

I was lucky enough to have been able to record the song at Roundhead with Simon Gooding. Massive thank you to Simon for the production! He really understood my vision from the start, and we had fun playing around with lots of different sounds.

What would you like listeners to take away from the song?

I want listeners to feel connected and understood if they are in these toxic relationships, but I also want them to feel empowered to leave them. They are more than capable, they deserve so much more! For those that aren’t in toxic relationships, I want them to perhaps understand what it’s like to be in these situations. It’s easy to look at these things from an outside perspective and tell them to just leave, when in reality it’s not that simple.

How do you work out what song would make a good single?

Generally I look at the story of the song, and I usually can tell if the story is strong enough to stand on its own, without the support of any other material. I also tend to find that a good single makes a statement with the story, so I make sure that all of mine do just that. 

Who else is in your team?

I’m super lucky to be working with a few different groups of people at the moment on potential endeavours, but in terms of management, so far it’s mainly just me and my mum! I’m very grateful for my mumager.

Are there any other musical endeavours you’re working on that we should keep an eye out for?

I’m always writing new music, so you should definitely keep an eye out for more tunes! I’m also looking forward to playing some gigs soon.

Can you please name three other local tunes that would fit well on a playlist alongside your song.

Have any previous NZOA applications not gained funding or been included on NewTracks? Got any advice for others out there? 

This is actually my first ever application for NZOA, and I didn’t even know I was applying for it when I did… But my advice would be to make music that is truthful to your sound, and not to try sound like somebody else. At the end of the day, music is so subjective, they may like one song and not like another, and it doesn’t mean that one song is necessarily better than the other. There will be people out there that will connect more with the song that they didn’t like. 

Are there any musical blogs, Youtube channels or podcasts you’re super into?

I’m actually obsessed with alexrainbirdmusic! I found his studying compilation during my high school years, and it really made me feel better about life when I thought that I sucked at physics. I’ve found some of my favourite songs on there, so I would highly recommend his YouTube channel! Especially if you’re a high school student, some of his compilations are so nice and calming.

Any last words?

I’m honestly super honoured to be featured, doesn’t really seem real to me! Thank you so much NZ Musician! I can’t wait to see what else is in store 🙂

New Tracks is a compilation of new music from New Zealand artists which is distributed to broadcast and online platforms on the first of each month. Previously the Kiwi Hit Disc, New Tracks is one of the ways that New Zealand on Air promotes kiwi music to the industry, radio, streaming services, and media. To apply for New Tracks you must have a completed, airplay-ready song and a promotional plan.