The strum of a guitar bursts with shades of country pop on a blank canvas. Playful rhythms embody the blazing orange layers of sunset as the voice of Yuping Zhu ’21 delivers the calm melody of her newest composition.
On September 6, Zhu released her new single “If Only I Had an Airstream” on numerous music streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. With her central wish to travel the country in an Airstream trailer, Zhu explores the idea of freedom throughout the song.
“I have always been fascinated by this large physical object that takes up massive space. Metaphorically, it has a meaning of not being tied down. In this song, I strived to just wander and explore the freedom that the trailer holds,” said Zhu.
Exhibiting musical talent and receiving classical training in piano and viola from a young age, Zhu has played in orchestras and toured Spain. According to Zhu, she began to explore songwriting after realizing her knack for storytelling.
“It was a magical moment when I shifted into creating music and lyrics based on my own stories. I wrote down my stories and they turned into things that others could relate to. My songs say the words that my heart never had the nerve to say, and letting out all these things that I used to have bottled up felt so cathartic,” said Zhu.
Composed over the course of several months in 2019, “If Only I had an Airstream” was recorded and produced in Nashville, Tennessee. Zhu coordinated an acoustic accompaniment with musicians using the “Nashville Number System,” a method for producers to chart music to be interpreted by the band.
“I was lucky enough to have some of the most talented musicians play on my record. It is a very natural process, and we gauge the progress and direction of the song usually by how it feels,” said Zhu.
As a songwriter, Zhu seeks inspiration from her surroundings, such as her relationships with family and friends, topics in English class, travel destinations, and current events. Zhu reflected on the ways her music has both evolved and remained the same at Andover.
“I always write raw and honest music … things that are true to myself, which is something that hasn’t changed about me during my time at Andover. But as I grew older and [experienced] more, I felt more comfortable with writing about things that are [in] uncharted territory,” said Zhu.
According to Kedai Wei ’21, Zhu distinguishes herself by her elaborate themes and storytelling abilities.
“The lyrics of her song tell a very vivid story. She has this way with words that always elicits a deep meaning in her songs. I’m so down to earth and worried about things in the present that I forget what my passions in life actually are. Listening to her songs allows me to fall into a fantasy of a world I wish were mine,” said Wei.
Zhu is immensely grateful to her parents and friends for accompanying her on her journey. With several new pieces in the works, Zhu looks to continue sharing her stories through song.
“The best way to fuel music is through experiences, and I like the beauty of the unknown. We’re just here for the ride and the journey. I’m excited to see wherever things take me, because I know there is definitely going to be music involved,” said Zhu.