18 Aug 2022

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Ersha Island - Ersha Island Newsletter Interview

30 Mar 2022 // An interview by Shade

How did you become involved in music?

Both of us started learning classical music at very young ages and picked up piano at three and five, respectively. We both also played the violin, and practised both instruments intensively until we reached ages nine and twelve. From there, Dani branched off to song-writing with a focus on piano, and Tee focused on violin so as to prepare for admission to a Chinese Conservatory of Music in Beijing.

Recently, we’ve rediscovered our passion for our Chinese heritage and have been trying to intertwine culture with music in a way that empowers us. And we grew up listening, practising, learning and living in music together, we thought it was only natural that we should form a duo to share our music with the world.

What can we expect to see from you in the next year?

We’re planning a lot of new and exciting projects, one of which we’re particularly passionate about; an EP named Back to Our Roots. This EP will be 4–6 songs that feature a blend of modern pop, classical and Chinese traditional music, instruments, and sounds. The goal is to feature different Chinese traditional/folk musicians and instrumentalists on each track. We’ll also be working on a mini-documentary during this process, which will feature the individual stories of every other NZ-Asian artist working in this project.

What NZ bands and musicians would you like to see more of, and why?

There are soo many talented Kiwi musicians! Of note, some amazing bands we absolutely recommend checking out are the up-and-coming band Marmalade, and hip-hop/R&B group Y$O (Young & $lept On). Some Asian musician friends that are killing it are Geoff Ong, ASHY and Reshma Martin- definitely want to see a LOT more of them in our industry.

Have you got any tips for dealing with nerves before a gig?

We both deal with our nerves differently, to be honest. Danielle would say that “nerves usually happen when I’m standing on stage, literally about to perform! Funnily, I’ve always only felt nervous when I’m in the spotlight, and I try to deal with this by calming down my thoughts, breathing, and taking my mind to a happy place. I find that when I start overthinking the situation, that’s when I mess up… so I try instead to be present and focus on my senses rather than the words I’m singing.”

Tee says that “honestly I think I feel the nerves a lot more than Dani, as I have less experience performing in a non-classical setting. It’s just this feeling of butterflies; or actually, more than snakes in your stomach, that no matter how much you try and rationalise, you can’t get rid of. Personally, I find taking a step outside of the gig venue before the performance helps a lot. To be by yourself, maybe drink some water, and just breathe.”

How do you balance your music with other obligations; family, job etc?

Dani: I’m not very good at it hehe.

Tee: Honestly, it’s hard. As a student, I have to balance it with study, lectures, social life, physical health, as well as family and eventually a part-time job, which I had stopped but will need to continue to fund myself and the beginnings of our music career. The ideal would be a perfect schedule that can fit everything, but the reality is that a lot of the time, there is the question of priority, and which obligation you feel would benefit you and the people around you most.

Where do you get your inspiration to create music from?

Might be cheesy to say, but we get our inspiration from, well, everywhere. We believe music can stem from the simplest of things, from observations of people going about their daily lives to the mundane but beautiful shifts of clouds in the sky. We’re particularly fond of metaphors, and tend to always have an “underlying meaning” to our songs, which we like to leave to the listener’s imagination.

What is the one thing you want NZ to know about Ersha Island?

Y’know, just that… we’re here. We’re here to create and share music you can hopefully relate to, or identify with in some way. We’re here to create music you can relax to, dance to, sing along to, take your mind off other things, and make you feel emotions you might not have felt before. No matter how you feel about our music, as long as it touches you in some way, then we’ve accomplished our goal.

What can you never leave home without?

Dani: Water bottle. HYDRATE! Yeah you, drink some water.

Tee: Phone, and that’s about it. I just don’t like to bring too much with me when I go out, as it minimises the risk of me losing or forgetting items… again.

How did you come up with the name Ersha Island?

We began our music journey in GuangZhou, China, on “Ersha Island” (for which the Chinese characters in our name translate to); hence our duo name. We actually thought about what to name ourselves for a long time, and finally came to the conclusion that Ersha Island best represented our artist image as third culture identities wanting to share our music with the world.

Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians?

Don’t neglect your health. Physically, or mentally. It can be tempting to throw your all into music and push aside your other responsibilities, and equally tempting to squeeze everything into a tightly-packed schedule so as to “never waste time”. But it’s not a waste of time to slow down and breathe; it’s not a waste of time to read a good book, go for a walk, watch a show, journal, or anything you may deem as necessary. Your health is so, so important; and you should place just as much emphasis on your mental health as your physical health.

Check out Ersha Island on Muzic.net.nz


About Ersha Island

Auckland-based duo Ersha Island is the musical amalgamation of two Chinese-Kiwi singer-songwriters inspired by their biracial upbringing.

Having chalked up early achievements in Classical Performance at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, sisters Dani and Tee now create mesmerising and memorable soul-pop compositions featuring their piano and violin pedigree.

Ersha Island performed at Grrrl Fest (Hamilton, 2021), and have been writing new music in both English and Mandarin; they will release their debut singles Gut Feeling and Good Day on 22-2-22 on both Western and Asian/Chinese platforms.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ersha Island


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