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Ai Weiwei Recording a Metal Album

Chinese political dissident found interest in music during detention

Ai Weiwei
Mark Ralston/AFP/GettyImages
March 11, 2013 4:55 PM ET

The controversial Chinese artist and outspoken political dissident Ai Weiwei is planning to release his first heavy metal album – a decision that stemmed from boredom during his governmental detainment in 2011.

The sculptor and installation artist, who protests the Chinese government's human rights and democratic actions in his elaborate works, collaborated on the nine-song album with rock musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou. A friend, Zuzhou was questioned during Weiwei's detention by the Chinese government in 2011, reports the Guardian.

Elton John Dedicates Beijing Concert to Chinese Dissident

"To tell you the truth, I never listened to music. Then, during my detention, the guards were so bored they kept saying to me, 'Can you sing a song?'" Weiwei tells the Guardian. "After I came out, I realized I had never really listened to music or sung, so I decided to make an album. I know so many artists and musicians and they were really supportive."

Weiwei is working on his own cover art for the record, as well as a "softer" second album of love songs, though he admits he is unclear on how to release his music to the public. For advice on that, he says, he will turn to a high-profile supporter: Elton John, who dedicated a show in Beijing to the artist in November 2012.

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