Interview: Leah Dou

Leah Dou has firmly established herself as the face of China’s alt-pop scene with her work receiving nominations at China’s biggest annual Film Festival awards, 53rd Golden Horse Awards and the 36th Hong Kong Film Award. Having grown up under the musical guidance of her pop royalty parents, Leah exudes self-confidence within her genre-defying style which she showcased recently at The Great Escape Festival as part of her UK tour. We caught up with Leah ahead of her sell-out performance at Birthdays… 

How was playing the Great Escape over the weekend as an experience?
I don’t really have anything else to compare it to, I’ve never really played a festival that’s been on such a big scale! I’ve played festivals with a big crowd but with this covering a whole town – that’s really amazing. I don’t know how they (the festival organisers) do it as I hear there’s about a thousand bands playing there.

Do you find there’s much difference in the culture which surrounds the live music scene in the UK compared to China?
Oh yeah, definitely! The live scene in China is not as flourished as the one over here. I think it’s something in China which is still building, or it might just be the way people aren’t used to things.  There aren’t that many venues in China to be honest, so this is like heaven to me!

As a child, you travelled with your parents on tour. Did that help shape you as a musician?
I’m sure it did as I don’t know any differently.

Do you feel that as you were touring with them at such a young age that your career was written in the stars so to speak?
I felt like as a kid a lot of people were anticipating that I go on the same path. For a while I struggled with that. When I was a teenager, I was really starting to think through these things – I was wondering if I wanted to do that (follow in her parent’s footsteps) as it was the obvious choice. Then I came to the conclusion that I’m doing it because I love it. I’m not trying to impress or not do something because people are anticipating me to do it. Once I was able to figure out what mattered the most to me, and what I care about, then I was able to be more clear minded and pure about music.

Do you have any creature comforts or routines which help you deal with the pressures of tour life?
Not so much just when I’m touring, but in life in general, I find it important to have time to meditate. It helps you to slow down a little bit. Taking a break from technology as well – you’re online 24 / 7, that brings me a lot of anxiety.

Do you feel technology and social media is a platform for change for musicians or too consuming?
I think the whole thing with social media is that it really depends on you, how you treat it and what your take on it is. It’s a wonderful thing in a way it creates platforms for so many young artists. It’s really great, but if you go overboard than it consumes you.

Lastly, what can we expect from the songs you’ll be working on this year?
I think for the next project, it’s going to be very different from the previous record. A lot of different sounds and it’s spread across a pretty wide range of genres and styles. It’s certainly not going to be a singular sound.

Huge thanks to Leah for answering our questions! 

Nicky Lee-Delisle 

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