Electronic artist, multi-instrumentalist and experimental producer Kristian Wang, best known by his moniker of Didi + Ping, has recently released his debut single “Buffalo Jump”. Born in Canada to a musical and creative family, their addiction to music spread to him at a young age. The moniker itself, “Didi + Ping”, pays homage to Kristian’s rich Asian ancestry. “Didi” means “younger brother” in his family’s native Mandarin tongue, and doubles as a shoutout to his sibling, with whom he’s created homespun grooves throughout the years. “Ping” is Wang’s Chinese namesake, and a powerful reminder of his ancestors’ storied past. His grandparents fled the Chinese civil war and made their way to Canada to provide a better life to their future generations. His debut single “Buffalo Jump” is the first time Wang has released his music for the public to hear. The song fuses two of his most powerful loves-music and his natural surroundings. Heavily influenced by the Native American community where he lived, the song pays homage to them by featuring melodious flute trills, vigorous hand drums and fascinating samples of a Native American pow wow recorded by a group who still inhabit Alberta, Canada, not too far from where Wang grew up in Calgary. Although starting out as a Valentine’s gift for his girlfriend, “Buffalo Jump” morphed into a broader love letter to his nature and the historical bits of Americana that had always peaked his curiosity. “My excitement is through the roof imagining people dancing and enjoying my debut single but the release is also hard to believe,” he says. “Music is my first language, yet I’ve never ‘officially’ released for others to listen to. I’m not entirely sure why – maybe because music has always been a personal thing for me that I never even considered sharing. This has been a journey of self-discovery, and I’m thrilled to have people along for the ride.” With plans to release a new single each month through the end of the year and some livestreams on the horizon, Didi + Ping is definitely an artist to keep on your radar! You can connect with Didi + Ping via the following links. Photo credit: Jordan Bannister.
You’ve referred to music as your first language. What can you tell me about your childhood in Canada and what led to your love for music? Did you grow up in a creative household?
Yes to all of that! I grew up in a musical family. My mother was a classically trained opera singer, as well as a classically trained singer. My dad was a piano player, and they both are obsessed with music and that addiction pretty much spread to me instantly. I was also forced to play piano at a young age, starting at 5 and it wasn’t a very cool instrument back then, or at that age. Typically guitar or drums are the cooler ones, so I didn’t really have a lot of fun (laughs)! You kind of realize when you get older that it’s something that sticks with you, like riding a bike. I would say when I hit like my teenage years, like 15 or 16, I realized “Oh my god. This musical language, I speak it fluently and I love it.” I didn’t realize it. I’m addicted to it (laughs)! I listen to music all the time and am creating all the time. It’s funny how you can be blind to your own…I don’t know. Your own hobbies. I wasn’t aware of it until then. So yeah. That’s kind of what I grew up around.
You have said that as a child, you grew up in an inquisitive family and daydreamed of adventures and discovering wild beasts and climbing mountaintops, but that it’s been increasingly difficult for you to view the cosmos in such a way now. How have you gone about trying to fight against the illusion that the world is shrinking as you get older and re-capturing your childhood sensibilities?
That’s a great question! It’s been tough. I think when it comes down to it, with technology now and everything, we’ve pretty much hit a fully globalized economy and communication network. It can be really difficult to remember that the world around us is so much grander, bigger and mysterious. I feel like, a lot of the time, or at least I am, that I’m bombarded with this notion that we know everything about everything (laughs). We know everything about everything and it’s always just being shoved into our heads. And it’s like “Wait a minute. We’re literally babies and we’ve been thrown into this unknown reality” and it’s easy to forget that when you’re constantly surrounded by this modern era of communication. So that’s essentially what I’m trying to remember. When you are a kid the world is HUGE and you just don’t understand anything (laughs)! It’s so exciting (laughs)! You just don’t understand anything and are always curious and exploring. Thankfully, I was blessed to have parents who encouraged that. They were very encouraging. My grandpa too. He was a big influence and was also very encouraging. The other they were, were scientists. They loved to explore and question everything. That’s pretty much what I’m trying to capture. I love all of that curiosity and exploration and adventure. All of that is the same thing to me.
You grew up in an area of Canada that you have described as heavily influenced by the Native American community. What can you tell me about that community where you lived and how their culture and music influenced you?
Once again, you don’t realize it until you are older, but this was something I realized later. All of the street names, areas and terminologies we used were all Native American words. It’s crazy how language like that will carry through. It permeates everywhere. We are taught at a young age the history of a few different tribes that live in the area, and there are also summer camps that some of them run for kids, a few of which I attended growing up. And the University of Alberta holds and teaches one of the most acclaimed Native American history courses in North America. It’s incredible. And once again, I didn’t really realize how much it had influenced me until I got older and more self-aware. When you’re a kid, you’re just kind of in it. So I do my best to just share that and if people like it, that’s great.
What can you tell me about your moniker Didi + Ping? You’ve talked about playing music with your brother over the years and how it also pays homage to your rich Asian ancestry, as well.
Yeah. I really wanted to honor that. I think it really does tie in with adventure and curiosity and freedom and all of that, and I really wanted to pay homage to that history. I know how difficult it was for my grandparents to survive, let alone to get over here. It’s incredible what…I talk about a global economy and communication system, but at the same time, there are still a lot of areas that are very difficult to live in and they got that end of the stick. They worked their asses off to get out of there and essentially give their future generations a better life. I do my best to honor that. I think it’s really courageous and admirable and I hope it’s nothing that I’ll have to do, but so be it obviously if something like that does have to happen. To be more specific, my grandparents escaped the Chinese civil war and fought tooth and nail to come over to North America for a safer, better life. My Gong Gong…my grandpa, who I call Gong Gong…he worked his ass off to get to the top of his department in biochemistry. It was tough, but he loves what he does. I just love them for that and look up to them so much!
What can you tell me about playing music with your brother growing up?
My brother has a voice like Justin Beiber (laughs)! He’s pretty shy about it and doesn’t always like to share. Growing up, we would make music together and record. He obviously sang and I’d play piano. Sadly, we’ve grown our separate ways a bit now. He’s in business, but we’re actually working on a collaboration for September. So, his singing debut will be this September. But yeah, we loved music and did music together all the time!
You recently released your debut single “Buffalo Jump”. You have said that it started out as a Valentines gift to your girlfriend and then expanded as a love letter to the wide open spaces and historic fragments of Americana. What can you tell me about the track and the inspiration behind it?
Yeah. I want to music about all kinds of things, like outer space and other regions of the planet and stuff like that. But it was my first song, so I wanted to start a bit closer to home. I did my best to capture that feeling of where I grew up, which is that wide open space in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by all of that Native American influence. I tried to do my best to share that. But yeah, I wrote it first for my girlfriend, who I had met in Los Angeles and wanted to share with her and give her a glimpse of where I came from. Eventually, I thought “This is pretty awesome. Maybe I should just release it for everybody.”
You have said that this is the first time you have released you music for others to listen to. What has that been like for you, to release your music to the public for the first time and why do you feel like this was the right time to do so?
That is a good question. I don’t know. It’s like a yin yang. It’s exciting, obviously, because nothing touches my heart more than when you let out that art and let someone else digest it and develop a relationship with it. It’s so incredible and so surreal. At the same time, it’s very stressful (laughs)! I can be a bit of a perfectionist sometimes too, like “Oh! I should have made those drums louder there.” So it’s a funny dichotomy. But obviously, at the end of the day I am over the moon at having it out there for everybody. And regarding releasing it now, I tried my best to not think about when the right time was. I kind of just figured, now is now, so get it out now. The sooner it’s released, the more people get to hear it. I guess you could say, with Covid and everything, that it’s a good time because people need that positive energy and the need to dance and forget their worries every now and then. I guess you could say that, but to be quite honest, I’d probably be releasing it right away even before or after Covid. When a song is done, it’s out.
You’ve talked about how the process of making and releasing music has been a journey of self discovery for you. What do you feel that you have learned throughout the process about yourself and the process in general?
That I am a perfectionist (laughs)! It can be very humbling, especially when I have to just let go, like “Ok. That’s it. The song is the best it can be. That’s enough and it is what it is.” That is probably one of the most humbling things I have experienced during this whole thing. I’ve discovered little stylistic things that I seem to be gravitating towards. If we want to get a bit more technical and musical, I really like to push the grit sometimes. I like to add a bit of fuzz to things. I like to push things through the hardware a bit harder than usual. I think recently, I’ve been really, and it could be the environment that I’m in right now, obviously, but recently I’ve been really into ethic and uplifting sort of themes. That’s interesting because I would call that some self-discovery. I think that in my teenage years, although this is pretty common for a lot of teenagers, but in my teenage years I was into a lot of the darker, more angsty and cynical moods (laughs). There’s a time and place, of course, and I’ll most likely explore that again, even under this project. But right now, it seems that I’m really enjoying the epic, fun, uplifting, adventurous sort of vibe. It’s refreshing honestly and it’s kind of new to me.
You did a collaboration with Caverns, your girlfriend’s musical project, last year for the song “Moonlight”. What inspired that collaboration and do you have any other collaborations in the works?
Oh man. I wish she was here because she could give better details! The idea was of a bunch of people wearing animal masks and running into the woods and dancing at night! That was the inspiration (laughs)! We just made a song around that image. I would like to, at some point, do an extended version of it and re-release it and hopefully accompany a music video. That was the idea and I have to give her credit. That was all her.
Do you like the collaboration process or do you prefer making music on your own?
I love them both. They are just different. When you are on your own, you get to be fully selfish, I guess. It’s really cool. And when you collaborate, it’s a negotiation and a marriage and all of those things. Honestly, I think I like both. I’ll obviously be in the mood for one or the other, depending on the day. Ultimately, they are both a lot of fun!
You have plans to release a new single each moth through the end of the year. What can you tell me about your next release that’s coming up?
The next song is going to be themed around flight and will be coming out next month. It will be a very free-flowing, open-air sort of song. It’s very uplifting and exploring. I think with “Buffalo Jump”, it’s definitely adventurous but there’s also a bit of trepidation. You’re in this unknown, wild land. With this upcoming song, it’s like a sigh of relief and just completely lets go. I’d like to think of it as like when you’re stuck in traffic and are thinking “If I had a helicopter, I could just go up!”. It’s like, I’m stuck here for hours and all I have to do is go up and I can’t do it because I don’t have wings (laughs)! That’s what I think that mood is, that kind of freedom that a lot of animals have that we just unfortunately didn’t get.
What’s next for you, aside from your next single?
So I’m still working on the song per month, which I’m really excited about. It will be almost like a journey around the world, or around the universe honestly. I’m excited for people to join me on it. It’s going to be incredible. I’m also looking into some exciting streams, some DJ streams, from some exciting locations. Most likely from my home country. So we’re looking into that. I can’t go into too much detail, because we are still in the early stages, but it will be beautiful and exciting. There will be some beautiful views and footage that I feel that people will really enjoy just to get out of quarantine!