Photo Credit: Callum Walker Hutchinson
By: Craig Claro
We were chatting with manager Dylan Newman and he casually dropped a gold nugget of a super new artist… PIAO, with a very first release and such a unique and interesting story of a long distance move, a collaboration with T-Pain and so much more. We were so excited that Cage Riot had access to get the full scoop on this artist!!!
Cage Riot: PIAO - thank you SOOO much for talking to us today. We want everyone to hear about your story.
Tell us first about your new release “SFL”. This is your first ever commercially released music, yes?
PIAO: Yes! SFL is my very first baby!
Cage Riot: What does it feel like to have your debut music out for the world to hear?
PIAO: It feels really nice to finally have my music out. It’s almost like when you finally turn 21…it’s not like you haven’t drank before, everything is still the same except now you can do it legally haha. So everything feels super official.
Cage Riot: OMG YOU DRANK UNDER 21!!!, - JK lol - I started when I was 13 wait, OMG I just realized that’s NOT GOOD!
Cage Riot: What was your frame of mind when writing “SFL”? Tell us about its meaning.
PIAO: SFL stands for Searching For Life. I wrote it after a pretty long period of feeling lost and confused. It was right after I graduated from Berklee College of Music and was experiencing crazy imposter syndrome - I think graduating straight into the
pandemic didn’t help but SFL is my personal anthem to kind of put all those negative thoughts aside, and to just live life as it comes to me!
We get so caught up in our “long term” goals we often forget to focus on our well-being in the short term. We’re so focused on the results we want to see but forget that the process is just as important. So… go ahead and make that impulse purchase! If it makes you happy then WHY NOT?
Cage Riot: Yes, I so agree, life needs to be lived!
Cage Riot: Tell us more about who was the producer and on the team, and how did this develop into the final result of this incredibly unique and beautiful song?
PIAO: The producers on this song were JP Donelan, and Jade Che - The Coachettes (what we call ourselves as the trio) We all met in Berklee and they’re easily people I would go to war for.
JP was playing around with what is now the iconic intro of SFL one day in the studio and I instantly fell in love with how it made me feel. I told him to reserve that beat for me, haha and on the road to Thanksgiving holiday (JP, Jade, and I were all going to JP’s family to celebrate because he’s the American in the group haha) I wrote the entire song via voice memo sitting in the passenger's seat.
We then had some issues with the bridge of the song not feeling right…like it was too spacey and not enough movement going on so we asked for Jade’s input. She came up with a line and literally brought the bridge of the song to life.
JP mixed and mastered, and here we are.
Cage Riot: We saw you on YouTube/ Twitch with “Nothing Left of You” and you were collaborating with T Pain?!?!?!
What’s the scoop on this??
PIAO: I would not be an artist today if it weren't for T Pain. During my time at Berklee, I worked as a wedding band singer over the summers. The summer before my senior year, my wedding agency had posted a cover video of me singing an acoustic version of “Buy you a drank” and somehow Pain saw it and had his management reach out. When they called me I wasn’t sure what to do with my life because: WHAT??? I remember on the call, his manager asked me about my plans after graduation and if I wrote my own music. I immediately told them “yes” - which was a complete lie at the time (fake it till you make it right?), hung up on the phone call, and that night I wrote my very first song ever. I told myself that if I had just lied to T Pain, I better make that lie a truth by the next time I talk with them.
Fast forward to 2020 graduation, I moved to Atlanta to work with him and his team. Stayed there for a little over a year and wrote maybe I don’t know like… 80 songs? I was able to witness and study with a musical genius, phenomenal person, and I am forever grateful.
Cage Riot: Side note, WE LOVE T-PAIN!!!!! We hope one day he will buy us a drank -ooo weee!! Seriously, we STAN T-Pain!!!!!!!!!!!
Cage Riot: We saw you are already hitting the road for live performances! That’s AMAZING. Tell us what bands you will be sharing the stage with and give us tour dates and tell us the whole deal!
PIAO: YES! I am opening for Moontower and Phangs!
Los Angeles Aug 3 @ The Echo
Phoenix Aug 4 @ The Nile Theatre
I will be performing a brand new set that will feature SFL and more that’s on the upcoming “project” hehehehe
Cage Riot: You are also a multi-instrumentalist and went to Berklee on a full-ride scholarship, WOW!! What was Berklee like? Also, tell us what instruments you play.
PIAO: I play flute, guitar, was classically trained on the piano since the age of 3, and didn’t really pick up singing until I watched Hannah Montana …yes, this is a true story.
I applied for Berklee “for fun” and I say that because when I applied, I had already accepted an offer to what I thought was my dream school - Queens Commerce in Canada. I went to a very STEM focused school so the arts were always seen as some sort of hobby, and never taken seriously as a professional career. I felt ashamed a lot of times and downplayed how much I enjoyed music. I was a very creative person and enjoyed entrepreneurship so I poured all my focus into trying to get into the best business school in the country.
I also never entertained the idea of leaving the country because my mom is a single mom and I never wanted to put her under any sort of financial pressure.
During a lunch hour one day, I had remembered that one of my family friends mentioned something about a school in the states called Berklee, and so I looked it up and saw that they didn’t require SAT scores - so I signed up for an audition. I did the audition, forgot about it - because I never intended to go, and even proceeded to select my dorm for Queens. Two months later, I got interrupted in the shower by a call. I picked up the phone with water dripping everywhere and the shower head running in the back - It was the head of scholarships and told me that someone had nominated me and I had received the Slaight Scholarship (presidential scholarship that includes tuition, room+board, food, laptop).
I read that as a sign. At that moment, I truly believed that the universe was trying to smack me in the face to get me to wake up and do music.
Cage Riot: Side not WE LOVE MILEY! Maybe one day she will shout us out back!!!!
Cage Riot: You also have a personal life story we wanted to know more about. We saw that you were born in Shanghai and moved to Toronto when you were a young girl. I read somewhere that travel is the “Wealth of the World”. What about this event in your life has impacted your career and your life?
PIAO: My mom and I moved to Canada when I was very young. I can speak Mandarin fluently, but can’t really read or write. However, when I count in my head, it’s always in Chinese and that makes me feel comfort for some reason. I think being born in a different country than you were raised in gives you a hyper sense of awareness of belonging and space. To put it simply, I am able to sing and write pop/r&b music because I was raised by the western environment, but my artist name is PIAO because my roots will forever be my roots.
Cage Riot: We heard you have more music coming but haven’t announced it yet. Can you give us a sneak peek of what's to come?
PIAO: A collection of how I’ve been feeling. A reflection of what I’ve witnessed.
We want to say thank you to PIAO for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to talk to us. We are keeping an eye on you and we want the fans to check you out and see what your music is all about.
Here is what T-Pain's Nappy Boy Radio has to say about PIAO:
Piao Huang is the next Pop/R&B superstar to take the world by storm. Originally born in the city of Shanghai, she then moved to Toronto as a child. Growing up in a musical family, her mom who is also a singer would put earbuds on her stomach so Piao could listen in. After moving to Canada, Piao was accepted into the prestigious Young Artist Performance Academy of The Royal Conservatory of Music, where she studied classical piano performance. In the space of 4 years, she received first place standings in seven provincial competitions under the ARCT Conservatory division. She then went on to attend and graduated from the Berklee College of Music with a full presidential scholarship. Listen to her journey with a few belly laughs as Piao joins T-Pain's Nappy Boy Radio Podcast!
As far as the newest release “SFL” you MUST hear this now. It is a super unique sound, and the combination of popping and sultry yet upbeat and pointed vocals is captivating and relaxing, while it simultaneously lifts your mood. It was on repeat for us all day!
Watch & Subscribe - PIAO - on YouTube
Listen & Follow - PIAO- on Spotify
Do you Like the sound of PIAO? Click the link below to follow.
Second photo of PIAO with snake credit: Photo Credit: Josue Blanco