WeiWei's "They Don't Know" Is A Trip Down A Dark Pop Rabbit Hole
New York-based pop artist WeiWei takes cues from the pop queens that came before her, but she draws a hard line between her work and the sounds of K-pop or J-pop—the type of music typically associated with Asian women. Born in Changsha, China, WeiWei spent her childhood in Massachusetts before moving to New York five years ago to pursue her artistic dreams.
WeiWei’s new single, “They Don’t Know”, chronicles a clandestine relationship that the other people in her life don’t necessarily understand or support. Over a driving, bass-heavy and disco-inflected beat, WeiWei pledges devotion to a lover before concluding, “In the end, it’s me and you.”
We asked WeiWei to answer a few questions for us about “They Don’t Know”, as well as her artistic process and where she draws inspiration. Listen to the track below.
When did you start writing music? Who were some of your favorite artists growing up?
I wrote my first song when I was 14. I started writing again four years ago but oddly enough, I didn’t write in between. I remember Taylor Swift saying during an interview that she would have ideas in her head and record them on her phone. I never thought of that and often get ideas in my head, so I started recording them and figured out my creative process. Oftentimes my songs develop from little iPhone snippets.
My first CD was Destiny's Child. I was a pretty sheltered child (tiger mom situation) and really discovered my taste in music as I approached my teens. I’ve always loved pop and listened to Usher, JoJo, Taylor Swift, Cheyenne Kimball and Peaches. I also listened to my dad's music, which included oldies like The BeeGees, Enya and Aqua.
How long have you been living in New York?
Five years. I was born in Changsha, China and later moved to New York from Massachusetts after graduating college to start my career in tech consulting. When I was interviewing, I would only take a job in NYC so one day when I’d be brave enough to pursue my dreams, I would already be “in it”. I originally thought I’d be a banker, work for two years, and save up and pursue music. It ended up turning out that I would work in tech for three years, then leave for the music route.
What inspires you when you write music, and what inspired "They Don't Know" in particular?
My music is about my life. I had a boyfriend at the time that all my friends hated. We were in a deeply committed partnership, and my friends were naturally living out the NYC single life. I just felt that they didn’t understand what it’s like to work through problems and stick it out during tough times. In reality, I just didn’t want to believe what they saw in him, but that’s another story for another song.
“I had a boyfriend at the time that all my friends hated.”
What are some of your favorite parts of New York and your favorite things to do?
I love Chinatown (cliché since I’m Asian), but really it’s such a hidden gem. There are some amazing spots for delicious cheap eats, and it still has a lot of character. I get my Chinese veggies and snacks there that I can’t get anywhere else—like bok choy, durian and jackfruit.
My favorite things to do are anything food related. A hobby of mine is finding hidden food gems and hole-in-the wall joints around the city—Super Taste and Mei Li Wah, to name a couple.
Conversely, I also love that the city has such a huge variety of workout classes. I like to go to studios with new and fun fitness concepts that ultimately kick my ass. A recent fave is Switch Playground.