Qishan Huang Talks ‘Xiao Xia’ Album Trilogy & Why There Won’t Be a ‘4.0’

As twilight adorns the sky with its ethereal canvas, the horizon’s resplendent clouds mirror the trilogy of Xiao Xia albums reflecting upon Huang Qishan’s midlife journey. Literary aficionados have long employed the expression “the sunset’s lingering glow weaves a tapestry of magnificence” to metaphorically depict the enduring allure that graces the conclusion of a literary masterpiece. In the wake of experiencing Xiao Xia 3.0, listeners are left in awe, echoing a sentiment of profound appreciation akin to that sublime celestial phenomenon: The Sunset Radiance Transformed Into Exquisite Grandeur.

Spanning the better part of a decade, Qishan Huang, born as Huang Xiaoxia, has serenely completed her Xiao Xia musical saga. As if charting the cartography of her soul from her vivacious 20s through the profound 30s to the contemplative 40s, each iteration of Xiao Xia encapsulates the multifaceted essence of a woman’s pilgrimage through life.

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The limited-edition vinyl version of Xiao Xia 3.0 swiftly sold out after its online release. The vinyl format, with its rich warmth and pristine clarity, seems destined to align seamlessly with the very essence of Xiao Xia, fully embodying its serene beauty and introspective tranquility.

Unlike CDs, vinyl records were once a less popular medium for music consumption, much like the initially underestimated Xiao Xia album. With the resurgence of vinyl records in recent years, Xiao Xia, like vinyl, has once again emerged as a coveted trend, a development that seems utterly unexpected to Qishan a decade ago.

Upon closer examination of the album cover of Xiao Xia 3.0, one discerns a tearful Xiao Xia bidding farewell to her youth. Intriguingly, at the very moment when tears fall, Qishan also smiles and playfully sticks out her tongue, serendipitously catching the tear that glides down from her eye. This subtle yet powerful touch silently and eloquently conveys the album’s central theme.

Commencing with 1.0, each cover of Xiao Xia has consistently incorporated the image of a headscarf. “I have experienced marriage before, but I have never had a formal wedding ceremony. The headscarf worn by Xiao Xia means that even if women choose not to pursue marriage, it does not necessarily imply a disinterest in wedding dresses. Ultimately, women retain their belief in love, but is marriage an indispensable requirement? Not necessarily. This represents a form of acceptance; each individual possesses the autonomy to determine how they wish to navigate their life.”

In Time, We Laugh With Tears

From the Xiao Xia 3.0 album, the song that most profoundly moved listeners to tears is undoubtedly the title track “Xiao Xia.” Huang Qishan candidly admits that when it comes to shedding tears, she possesses no semblance of personal boundaries: “I am completely uninhibited when it comes to crying; I readily share my entire spectrum of emotions with others, whether they be joyous or sorrowful. This is because the song ‘Xiao Xia’ is profoundly worthy of our tears. It transcends the realm of a mere musical composition; it embodies something that appears simultaneously simple and insignificant, yet also grand and magnificent.”

Spanning the journey from the southbound train in the 1990s to the transoceanic taxi ride, the intricate interweaving of time and space in “Xiao Xia” possesses an enchanting quality. A substantial segment of a woman’s life is encapsulated within the song’s stream-of-consciousness lyrics. Life follows a predictable trajectory—beginning with unwavering certainty, it gradually transitions into uncertainty. Xiao Xia’s perception of herself and the world around her underwent profound and transformative changes. Having reached the age of self-awareness, Qishan can finally affirm with unwavering conviction: “This version of you is valiant.”

The lyrics of “Xiao Xia” include the line: “Swiping through social media, everyone is discussing my appearance.” From her vibrant pink hair and provocative miniskirts to her energetic dance moves, Qishan’s fearlessly transformative appearances in recent years have undoubtedly subverted everyone’s preconception of her “After joining the dance troupe at the age of fifteen, I never danced again. Rediscovering the joy of dance at the age of 50 feels simply marvelous. Life should be an engaging experience; continuously learning new skills is essential. Maintaining a zest for life enables you to grasp the fleeting essence of youth”

Qishan Huang, Billboard China January cover
Qishan Huang for Billboard China

Let Us Move On Together

Another emotionally resonant moment in “Xiao Xia” occurs towards the end of the song, when a chorus of backing vocals gradually joins in, transforming the initial soft solo into a powerful collective voice. This transition amplifies the emotional impact of the line, “Oh, so many people love me.” These backing vocals symbolically represent the music colleagues and loyal audiences who have steadfastly accompanied Qishan throughout her career. It is because of the unwavering love and support from countless individuals that Qishan has garnered the strength and courage to declare, “Let’s move on together.”

While many yearn for another album of Xiao Xia, Huang Qishan asserted during this interview that 3.0 will serve as the definitive conclusion. Although a prequel, Xiao Xia -1.0, may emerge in the future, recounting her childhood experiences from before the age of 20 to her teenage years, there will not be a Xiao Xia 4.0. “There won’t be a 4.0; in life, it is sometimes necessary to conclude at an appropriate juncture. I am uncertain when this childhood Xiao Xia album will materialize; perhaps I will create it when inspiration strikes.”

Nevertheless, the Xiao Xia that Huang Qishan has bestowed upon the world and herself is already deeply embedded in the hearts of every attentive listener. As a heartfelt gesture, the behind-the-scenes team of Xiao Xia prepared a unique surprise for her — each member inscribed their signatures on the covers of the three Xiao Xia albums. Qishan was overwhelmed with emotions, “there has been an empty wall in my house for several years, and now suddenly there is something to adorn it. It feels as though this wall has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of these precious gifts.”

–Written by Jifan Wang for Billboard China

Qishan Huang, Billboard China January cover
Qishan Huang for Billboard China

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