Before he moved to China, Laurence was studying both pop music and Chinese at the University of Auckland, experimenting with performing cover songs in Mandarin and posting them to Youku (China’s equivalent of Youtube).

A few of his videos began getting traction, and eventually got the attention of producers for a show called 中国好歌曲 “China's Sing My Song” which is the same group that run The Voice China but is an "originals" version of the show as opposed to cover songs. He ended up travelling to China to be on the show, in front of millions of viewers.

“[Writing songs in Chinese] was something that just sort of happened after I started learning Mandarin, as I found listening to and learning the songs really helped with my language skills. Then the more I listened the more I enjoyed them. It was only after I started releasing cover songs online and got such amazing feedback that it occurred to me that there was a real opportunity to pursue a music career in China.”

His appearances on several key reality TV shows were both exciting and daunting – they really threw him in the deep end when it came to his language skills, but also gave him a wonderful opportunity to find a way into the industry.

“My Mandarin has improved a lot but there are moments where I'm left a bit dumbstruck. One that will always stand out was the on first show called X-Singer, where I literally only understood about 30% of what was going on around me. There were so many cringe moments where I was asked something and just didn't reply or said the complete wrong word and was met by many confused faces. That moment of being completely terrified and and excited all at the same time is one hell of an adrenaline rush.”

In the last four years living in Beijing, Laurence has found opportunities to write his own songs as well as writing arrangements for TV dramas and movies and has also recently started collaborating with other artists.

While there are variety of challenges he faces working in the Chinese music industry (such as a lack of copyright control, and difficulty accessing music platforms like Spotify and Apple Music) it’s also been rewarding for Laurence as a songwriter to discover a new musical culture.

“China’s musical culture differs in the sense that melody and lyrics hold a much greater importance than they can in western music. This is due to the syllabic nature of the language and the richness of the language as well. Some things that might come across as cheesy in English can sound quite beautiful in Chinese.

“I think it's really forced me to improve my top line writing but also opens my mind up to a lot more melodic ideas and lyrical content in both languages. I love working with Chinese instruments and slightly more oriental sounds, but also trying to take a western sounds and work it into a Chinese pop songs can create some interesting fusions. I think the most important lesson I have learnt is collaboration is the best way to expand your skills and learn. Be humble, be friendly and keep your mind open to opportunities that can push your boundaries.”

You can check out Laurence performing on Chinese TV at the Youtube links below, and find his 2016 EP at the Spotify link.

2016 EP

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