“2020 was a year for everyone to ride the tides,” ADuo tells Apple Music. The artist first found fame in the 2000s as an actor and pop singer, but withdrew from the public eye between 2012 and 2020. She reemerged on the talent show Sisters Who Make Waves to introduce her new sound—one that blends indigenous Chinese aesthetics, instruments, and rhythms with contemporary production. “Everyone coaxed me into joining the show,” she says. “My sole purpose was to promote my ‘new ethnic’ music.” As her rapidly growing fanbase proves, it worked. “Even [Gen Z] came to realize how cool ethnic music can be,” she says. ADuo, who is of Tujia descent, spent five years in the mountains learning traditional music and founding Land of Music, a label focused on a hybrid of electronic production and tribal sounds. These influences can be found in her New Year playlist, in songs such as Long Xian Er’s “嫁女词” (“Daughter Moving Away”), inspired by traditional Miao music.
“It’s been an extraordinary year,” ADuo says. “People experienced the bitterness of battling against a pandemic.” To allow for healing in the new year, she added tracks such as “世间” (“This World”) and “Highs & Lows,” songs which “alleviated my anxiety. They’re very powerful.” Looking ahead, she hopes to release more music and to focus her energy on what matters: “Striving for perfection doesn’t mean we have to accomplish everything. Instead, we should complete one single goal.”