Why the COVID-19 pandemic was a “blessing in disguise” for Asian rapper Chu Chu

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the livelihood of everybody on Earth, a new normal is emerging. Musical artists like Chu Chu have managed to adapt to work from the confines of their home. Thanks to the borderless Internet and streaming services, being a digital creator during a pandemic has helped reignite her creativity. She provided Cold Tea Collective her personal experience regarding how she has been dealing with the pandemic as a musical artist living overseas in Denmark.

See also: How COVID affected my pregnancy

Chu Chu in the studio with @preslygram
Photo credit: Caroline Bjørner

Moving back to Denmark

My whole life was rooted in Vancouver. Unbeknownst to me, Canada would soon no longer be my permanent home. Like many others struggling amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have to face a new reality. 

Denmark is a country I hadn’t imagined myself returning to—at least not for several years. After growing up in the country, I found myself in Vancouver to pursue the many opportunities available in the populated and bustling city. I always told myself that there was a reason I left in the first place. Because of this, I felt conflicted and frustrated about whether or not it was a good idea to go back during the pandemic.

In the Spring of 2020, I arrived in Denmark without a plan and with no knowledge of how long I might stay in this country. I was struggling with how to be fulfilled under the circumstances of being in a different place than where I wanted to be. But on top of that, I would need to readjust myself to Danish culture, a culture that used to be part of my main identity.

Adapting to a new environment

After suffering from writer’s block since the summer of 2019, this new environment gave me the opportunity to create again. Unfortunately, having zero network in Denmark made the task a bit hard to carry out on an industry scale. At first, I relied on long distance communication with producers in Vancouver. I would text them with the idea of my quarantine mixtape, which at the time was a lo-fi project, and they would send me back lo-fi or old school type beats in my email. I would listen to it and then boil it down to the ones that matched the sound I was going for. As the creative juices started to flow, my project could finally really begin, and I started writing again.

Photo credit: Caroline Bjørner

Although I hated it at first, being in Denmark turned out to be a blessing in disguise—perhaps it was a blessing all along. As COVID-19 cases began to slow down, the little Scandinavian kingdom started opening up for business and public activities. Experiencing the country all over, after many years away, rekindled a connection between myself and a country that I used to call home. 

See also: How embracing identity helped Jason Ve land jobs at Google, Disney, and 88rising

Benefits of the borderless Internet

The internet ended up playing a huge role in the creation of my mixtape. Thanks to personal connections, I managed to find a cozy, dome-shaped recording studio situated in a former WWII bunker in Copenhagen. I began recording for my new mixtape with involved themes mirroring the challenges and emotions that come along with existing in cyberspace on social media.

I ended up completely ditching my lo-fi vision in favour of trap, punk rap, and rage. The creation of the mixtape itself was based on technology and the Internet. I had been sending beats, vocals, and notes back and forth with producers in Canada and the US during the production phase of the mixtape.

I was a girl, texting into cyberspace, receiving electronic sounds in return, to then record my vocals digitally and distort them.

Photo credit: Caroline Bjørner

Shifting to the digital realm

Ever since COVID-19 shifted the lives of people all over the globe, musicians have been hit in a very special way, since for one, the majority of our income derives from live concerts. But with the inability to perform live, some of my artist friends in Vancouver are convinced that streaming will be the way of the future.

Chu Chu featured at Joy Ruckus Club

One exciting event for Asian American artists is Joy Ruckus Club. The two-day, virtual hip hop and R&B festival is hosted online. The first edition of the festival already had 670,000 viewers and focuses on Asian talent outside of Asia. The festival is taking place again on October 17-18 and includes notable Asian artists like Eric Nam, Agnez Mo, and DJ Camgirl.

I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to perform at this online event along with tons of other Asian talents. I feel honoured by this opportunity, and in a lot of ways, it’s always been important to me to represent Asian culture to the world. This festival provides the perfect platform for doing just so. I strive to deliver an unforgettable live streaming experience.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCZhsL0Hx6H/

If you want to learn more about me, and follow my journey as a (currently exiled) artist, you can find me on Instagram and Facebook. And if you want to hear some of my latest projects, my new project CYBER GRL by CXCX Chu Chu is out now! You can check it out on all streaming platforms.

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People chatting at the Making It documentary screening.

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