While I was in China for my holiday I went to Shanghai Comic Con, while we were sitting outside deciding to leave or not and go somewhere else we kept hearing music but had no idea where it came from. Once we finally found the source the festival Simple Life was rehearsing on Century Avenue but it was completely sold out and we couldn’t figure out where the entrance was anyway. But there was a huge mall/restaurant complex close to it and the Mercedes Benz Arena so we walked around there for some sightseeing and sneaking an earful of Chinese music. As we sat down at a coffee shop for some drinks and chips, multiple people came rushing and finding seats when a certain artist was announced. I really enjoyed the sound of his voice and music even though I couldn’t see him actually perform but we dared to ask someone who was playing and they told us in very excited voices “Zhao Lei”!
Who is he?
Zhao Lei ( 赵雷 ) was born on July 20th, 1986 in born in Beijing. He learned playing guitar in high school. In 2003 he started playing in pubs and in the Chinese ‘underground scene’ for a little sum of money a day. In 2007 he went on a long journey through China and wrote multiple songs about his travels. for example ‘开往北京的火车”（Train for Beijing) and “咬春” (Biting Spring) ‘
His style of music is called ‘Folk’ music but I think it’s also a little bit of the country type. He makes mostly slow ballads, sung in Chinese, guided by an acoustic guitar.
Folk music was always not popular in China. Chinese folk music is different from the Chinese character which is implicit and restrained, it shows powerful characteristics. Because of the overall lack of Chinese folk music artists, there’s a minority of people listening to their music. Though Zhao Lei’s music have been received with respect and slowly more people are starting to notice folk music/singers and it’s becoming more and more popular in China. Zhao’s music give people a natural feeling. His music was liked by young people living in big cities because they feel like he takes a lot of the fast paced stressed feelings away with the slow ballads.
Up to now he’s recorded three albums and four singles.
2011 – 赵小雷 (Zhao xiaolei)
2014 – 吉姆餐厅 (Jim’s Restaurant)
2016 – 无法长大 (To Grow Up)
Of these three albums 南方姑娘(Southern girl) is one of the most well known.
My thoughts about his music
When I was sitting there, listening to his music and watching everyone slowly sway and sing along I felt very warm and relaxed. I absolutely loved his voice and what he did to everyone around me. It could have been much better of course if I could have seen him and the fans watching him that could also see him. But for me, his music are something I’ll listen to more and more every time.