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Musician on the crest of a wave

(Shanghai Daily)

10:33, April 16, 2013

Emily Snow is a bright and talented young singer from Toronto, Canada, who has been living in Suzhou for the past 18 months, working as both an English teacher and a musician.

For Snow, traveling to Suzhou became possible through links with a school where she previously taught in Canada. Now Suzhou has become much more than just a place to stay. She speaks fondly of the city, the warmth she felt when arriving as a stranger and the close community she was quickly welcomed into.

"Suzhou has the benefit of being a short train journey from the big city of Shanghai, but it also has the benefit of being small enough to be able to get to know the local community and to really feel like home," Snow says.

The Canadian-Korean developed a love of music from a young age as her parents always played records around the house. Eventually, she began learning the guitar and writing her own songs, which she finds hard to describe, although they are essentially influenced by folk music.

Snow says Suzhou has inspired her musically more than she could have ever dreamed. A friend had persuaded her to perform at an open mic night, a popular event in the Suzhou expatriate community at the Bookworm, a bookshop, library, restaurant and coffee shop, all in one.

That night she met Dave Matthews, a member of Suzhou-based band The Surging Waves. After a few sessions with the band, Snow joined as a full-time member in October 2011.

The band released its first album "In Greed and Lust We Trust" last June. Snow describes the experience as "very exciting," although she added that it was a very busy time during the production of the album.

Despite being a member of the The Surging Waves, Snow has continued to play music on her own. She says she is inspired to write songs about her life and experiences in Suzhou and often plays at the Bookworm.

Snow says her other favorite places in Suzhou include Pravda, a trendy night club in the Ligong Causeway bar area, and Neolithic, a South Korean restaurant that takes her back to her Korean roots.

As Snow speaks about the many diverse and unique places in Suzhou, it sinks in that the city really does have something to suit everyone's taste.

It's a place where you can be part of a community; but have your own identity; live in the real China; but be able to have somewhere familiar to go when China becomes a little overwhelming.

When asked about her future plans, Snow says she is really happy where she is in life at the moment.

"I love my job teaching children and I love writing and performing music, but I really couldn't pick one over the other, and at the moment, I don't have to," she says.

Her friends and fans have pushed her to record her own album. She says she will one day, but at the moment isn't sure she is ready for that.

In the meantime, she's still pretty busy as The Surging Waves have started working on their second album. Much of her spare time is now spent writing music and lyrics, as well as rehearsing with her bandmates.

Check the band's website,, for future gigs and listen to their songs, which are also available for download from iTunes.

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