The first time I heard Fifi Rong‘s voice was on Tricky’s 2013 album False Idols. Her unique vocals and melodies caught my attention, and when I tracked down more of her music, I discovered she is a prolific vocalist, songwriter, producer, and performer.
Not confined to any one genre, Fifi Rong pushes the boundaries of the music she creates. Her signature sound is a fusion of traditional Chinese influences, avant-pop, and alternative electronica. Fifi works her magic by layering her soulful voice over an eclectic range of rhythms.
In her own words: “I like to challenge people’s musical taste buds and boggle the conventional minds that tend to pigeonhole things.”
Fifi Rong has received strong support from various publications, including The 405, The Fader, and Clash. In addition to her collaboration with Tricky, she has appeared on Skepta’s 2016 album Konnichiwa, and rounded out 2017 by joining Swiss electronic duo Yello on their European tour.
Fifi recently released a music video for her dub-inspired track The One. Now she is preparing to launch her Awake EP, which she crowdfunded through PledgeMusic and will be released on 23 February 2018.
I caught up with Fifi to chat about music, her new EP, crowdfunding, and her collaboration with Yello.
“Awake is about waking up to the truth after you have hypnotised yourself and deconstructing the paradoxes of human nature: subordination and rebellion, pain and joy, self-limitation and liberation.”
What’s your most important non-musical source of inspiration?
Bad feelings for data collection. Good feelings for letting it out.
Negative feelings are powerful, if used in positive ways.
Inspiration is everywhere, but am I in a frame of mind to get access to it?
Your latest PledgeMusic campaign is for your upcoming EP, Awake. Can you tell me more about this project?
It’s my 6th campaign, and so far all of them have been successful. Releasing music independently at a professional standard requires funding. PledgeMusic is a fund raising project that allows supporters to pre-order a range of exclusive goods or experiences and become a part of the community! It’s a great opportunity for me to connect with my supporters, especially when I can create something special for them. It’s a very pleasing and heart warming experience.
What is the most important thing you have learned about crowdfunding?
The essence of crowdfunding is the exchange of values and energy. It brings the artists and their supporters closer, connecting the two by shining a light on the groundwork / behind the scene life of the artists.
What is your relationship like with your fans?
We are equal. I’m very close to my fans and super loyal supporters. We have a laugh I reckon, and we have a lot of love for each other. 🙂 They are dotted around the world. It’s a bit like a ‘soul family’.
What do you think music will sound like 10 years from now?
We have very old brains and emotional systems. I think a good song will stay a good song if it was made 200 years ago, or 200 years in the future. In terms of music production, I’d like to see future artists embrace more of their individuality, freedom and bravery in their experimentations, whilst remember the ways in which our emotions are triggered will remain.
What does 2018 have in store for you?
The Awake EP release, including its PledgeMusic campaign, has been keeping me very busy, creatively and logistically for a while. The release will continue for much longer than my previous ones, as I’m aiming to do more videos for the EP songs. I’d like to focus on my creative energy this year, working towards my new album. Follow what excites me the most, and watch things unfold.
How did your collaboration with Yello come about?
Boris emailed me one day telling me he liked my voice and would like me to feature on his production. I wasn’t aware he was such a humble legend and I asked him for his SoundCloud link… and the rest is history.
What was it like to be on tour with them?
Amazing! They are true gentlemen and mentors. I have learnt a lot and enjoyed all those fantastic stages! I’m extremely thankful for everything working with Yello has brought forth. I had lots of funny stories too. For those who have been a part of my PledgeMusic Campaign, I have shared the whole journey and updated my pledgers every step of the way.
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