Jingzhi Hu, better known as Jinzy, has been blossoming in the music scene. The Shanghai native is an independent artist and started her music journey in New York City with her debut single “I Left The City That Night,” and has since done some big things. Now in Los Angeles for graduate school, she is still taking on music as her lead in her life. Sitting in her old room back in Shanghai, Jinzy got vulnerable with EnVi about her journey through music thus far.

Launching Into Music

2019 marks the year when Jinzy started to take music seriously. Before, she would write little songs on her guitar inspired by Taylor Swift, but she doesn’t consider those as her true beginnings. A multitude of things weave together to catalyze her music career. She drew a lot of inspiration from Chinese rap group Straight Fire Gang who, like her, were international students from Shanghai. They were not the typical rap group and used their music to highlight important discussions in their community, Jinzy explained. That was something she also aimed to do. 

It wasn’t until the pandemic when she started to take music to the next level. “I remember the first day they [university] told us we were working online, I bought a mini keyboard,” Jinzy recalled. “I thought, ‘now that I have all this free time I could study music production on my own.’” Learning through YouTube, she was able to learn how to make her own beats in no time. She also recalled a moment where she saw people “doing hip-hop stuff on the street,” which really moved her into doing the genre.

“It opened up a window for me to speak up for myself, to interact with other people from all over the world just through the work I was posting online,” she said, grinning. “And then the music thing helped me gain a little bit of order during this chaotic time.” If it weren’t for music, she would be sleeping all day, she joked.

By becoming a contestant of the Chinese survival show Girls Like Us in 2021, Jinzy truly launched herself into the music world. For the first time, she learned about the music industry and experienced the harsh hip-hop scene herself. It was an awkward period for her, as she felt less authentic to herself. She felt like she had to prove she was serious about music, Jinzy explained. 

“After the show I started to think, what else can I do?” Jinzy said.

Image courtesy of @agen0371 on Instagram.

Artificial Intelligence and Experimentation

Jinzy doesn’t deter herself from trying new things. In fact, she has been able to combine all of her interests to create a unique voice and artistry for herself. As an undergraduate at New York University, she majored in interactive media arts. Within her classes, she first started learning about artificial intelligence (AI), which sparked a new interest in her. 

“I just found it fascinating how coding and engineering are on the opposite side of art, but you can still use it to create art,” Jinzy said as she talked about her experience taking a class called Machine Learning for the Arts. By the end of the class, she wrote a song called “Turing’s Secret,” which discusses the possibility of AI having a brain and a soul. She has continued to explore the roles between human and artificial intelligence through other songs she has written such as “Joi – Beyond Farewell,” which is part of her EP called AI LAB.

When it comes to her sound, she was first drawn to R&B and sci-fi, known as filk. Her friends like to call it “driving music,” Jinzy said. She does not limit herself as she likes to dabble in other genres as well. “I released a lot of singles of different styles,” she said. “I released melodic rap, indie, something mixed with EDM and pop… and funk!” 

Through trying new things and figuring out different modes of self-expression, Jinzy pioneers a unique ability to be as flexible as she needs to be. As long as the story she is trying to tell comes across the way she wants, that’s all that matters to her.

“My focus is the narrative — the story I want to tell.” Jinzy said. “[…] There’s no restraint for me, I can do anything that I want.”

Overcoming Challenges and Mental Health Issues

This journey has not been an easy one for Jinzy. Her time on Girls Like Us had been especially challenging for her, especially as someone who was fresh into the industry. To EnVi, Jinzy revealed having a lot of mental health struggles during the show. She was constantly plagued by overthinking and feelings of having to be someone she’s not. While sharing her experiences, she recalled valuable advice from another contestant who had been in the music scene far longer than her.

“She said to me, ‘Jinzy, your mind can’t take it because you’re learning a lot of new things,’” she said. “‘Everything is new to you and there are a lot of lessons.’ She said it took her 10 years to learn but I’m learning all that in weeks.” Despite the hardships she had faced, Jinzy said she was glad to be able to learn a lot of things at a fast rate.

In a candid moment, Jinzy also revealed that mental health has been an important part of her journey. She can trace having mental health struggles back to the beginning of her musical career and the start of the pandemic. Additionally, Jinzy has been transparent about having borderline personality disorder (BPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since officially diagnosed in November of 2023. “The thing that helped me a lot was to embrace that I had […] those mental health issues,” she said.

Slowly but surely, Jinzy has been implementing better ways to manage her mental health. One of them is writing music as a form of therapy. “I’ll write songs that make myself happy,” Jinzy expressed. “And every time I sing it, I myself get happy.” She referred to a song she wrote for Rap of China called “Don’t You Worry,” when talking about songs that help her feel happy. This upbeat and colorful song proved its positive message as she got the crowd to groove with her. 

“Being Myself Is So Cool”

Authenticity is a big part of Jinzy’s life. Though she emanates confidence through her stage performances, she has always struggled to find her way to her authentic self. She has since prioritized self-care and also has turned to her go-to self-help book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Jinzy talked about how reading the book helped her stop thinking about how others thought about her and how she should act. This self-realization was a catalyst and an imperative moment to her in becoming comfortable with the person she is. Instead of trying to fit herself into a box for success, she has now been embracing herself.

As a Top Six contestant for the Rap of China overseas auditions, Jinzy felt she had a second chance for expressing herself authentically with a new audience in a new environment. By holding true to advice from a fellow Rap of China contestant — “I know you’re scared but just do you and then people are gonna remember you just because of who you are,”— she makes it through until the end.  

“I tried for the first time and it really worked, then I kept trying and it kept working,” Jinzy said with surprise. “I also lost the New York division final round, but I felt like I didn’t really care because I was being me.”

Jinzy performing on stage.
Image courtesy of Yiwen Qian (@yiwenq530).

After all she has experienced, Jinzy realized being herself pays off in the end as she’ll find the right audience that way. Her ultimate goal is being comfortable with who she is and her artistry. “I’ve had past experiences where I wasn’t comfortable, where I made a fool out of myself, where I was leading a misleading impression on others,” Jinzy admitted. Learning and growing from these experiences have led her to making peace with who she is.

Exciting Year Ahead

Jinzy has a lot planned for the rest of the year. From college shows, music festivals in China, to new music, the work keeps flooding in for her. Jinzy emphasizes the importance of keeping track of things to focus on. She’ll continue to carry on her magnetic charm with her as she continues to hit the stage.

“Now that I think of everything as a journey, it relieves a lot of pressure on me,” Jinzy expressed. “But I’m still very curious about where I’m gonna take myself.”

Make sure to follow Jinzy and her journey through her Instagram, Spotify, Apple Music, and Douyin!

Want more inspiration from artists navigating authenticity? Read our interview with Sion Jung here!