Today we’d like to introduce you to Yu-Ting Wu.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Yu-Ting. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
For as long as I can remember, music was always there – crying while playing a tune for family friends, getting scolded for playing a wrong note, or being locked in the bathroom to practice (so I can’t peek over to watch Pokemon on TV) – providing very fond memories.
Still to this day, I am amazed at the amount of violin information I have retained despite never having consistent lessons. Maybe because I was surrounded by violin repertoire every day, or maybe my father worked some magic peeking his head into my room as I’m practicing just to frown and say something along the lines of, “F-sharp.”
My father is a “super-dad” – first-generation self-made master of violin pedagogy in Maryland while raising me single-handedly. His students conquered concertmaster seats in their school orchestras, All-State, All-County, and won competitions under his tutelage. Every summer, the students who didn’t practice were given permission by their parents to stay the whole day at our house; the students sometimes came over multiple days a week just to practice. Year after year, my father’s students would place better seats in orchestras – I can’t say I was really fazed by the results…the passion for violin just wasn’t there.
Then I saw a friend play piano for the first time at a birthday party. I immediately went home and asked for piano lessons. Soon, I was walking to my piano teacher’s house from school every week. Two years after, I would spend my time playing video game/anime theme music, or making up tunes of my own. Of course, I got in trouble for not practicing repertoire my piano teacher gave me. There was a one-sided discussion about my future college and career plans, to which I said, “I want to write songs and sing them.”
Did my father like my answer? He sure did not. So I continued aimlessly through high school. Every career choice seemed impossible – in just comparing the number of years I have spent on violin versus ..interior design, psychology, piano… violin always seemed to be the only and best route. I went through four years of bachelors in music with little ambition until I discovered jazz, free improvisation, and contemporary classical music. Continuing on to my master’s degree in California, I became a yes-man to every student recital and performance, hanging with the jazz cats, and dancing traditional Ghanain and balinese dances. I found my passion.
I was convinced I did. I achieved my goal of living in Los Angeles as a freelance and session musician – doing well enough to drink boba four times a week – but something still didn’t feel right; something is still missing. It wasn’t until two years ago, I traveled to Taiwan by myself for the first time and reconnected with my birth mother; simultaneously gaining a whole family I never knew existed. This experience turned my world upside down, and I was desperately trying to process and make sense of the information.
The following year and a half was spent rediscovering myself and what was important to me. My violin career was taking me out on tour internationally, I ended my long-term relationship, and picked up things I used to enjoy doing: reading, writing poetry, playing piano, and songwriting. The latter seemed the only way to work through my thoughts and feelings. Six months in when I decided to record an EP, I find out my mother used to be a singer and wrote music. Since then, I have realized there is nothing I want more than my inner fourteen-year-olds dream to “write songs and sing them,” subsequently fulfilling my mother’s dream.
To the lifelong musical journey to accurately reflect an entity of a soul that stays honest and true to the artist within – devoid of all ego.
Her name is reila.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Being a musician in itself provides many challenges in values of self-worth, stability, and judgement. It is difficult to stay out of my own head regarding singing and songwriting – the constant comparison to talented friends who are in the field, or the feeling that I am giving up my years of training/degree to some extent.
In addition, recording and releasing music requires a lot of funding which sometimes makes me feel financially inadequate (the closer I get to being thirty) compared to my peers who have the ability to create and build something stable in their lives. Even my father would ask me, “can you get a salaried job?” in response to me telling him I performed on stage with a great artist. The feeling of “I am not enough” constantly lurks in the back of my brain.
We’d love to hear more about your art.
My constant goal is to abandon my own ego when there is art –any kind of art – involved. I want to share the many depths of being an artist through my poems, lyrics, and music. Being an instrumentalist with classical training gives me access to complex compositions and skills that I can draw from when I’m writing – giving me more tools to use when I want to write a song that accurately reflects my own mood/emotion at the moment. I also save money recording vocals, piano, and violin myself!
What were you like growing up?
My father was always called in for a meeting because I couldn’t stop talking in school (after ESL). I was a tomboy; I had no fashion sense, never wore dresses, and hung with the boys in school. I was the annoying kid who would constantly show off my violin skills before orchestra started, and thought I was super cool. When my family moved and I went to a different middle school than all my friends, I started spending a lot of time in solitude – showing my face downstairs only at dinner time.
I wrote poems, drew manga, stayed up all night reading, painting elaborate designs on my nails, or completely rearranging the furniture in my room. Unlike my friends, I wasn’t caught up with pop culture and always felt out of place. I only listened to Japanese rock/pop, and liked to solo dance in front of the mirror.
- Website: yutingwu.com
- Instagram: tunawingding
- Other: spotify:artist:0VJQYUKLLH0dRvzZVQwIrH
Ben Talmi, Matt Ogilvie, Jessie Sun, Misra Iltus, Jordi Anez