I’ve written about this young artist and musician before in the post ‘This is Fifi Rong’. From Beijing, now living in London, she is definitely one to watch in the emerging new musicians domain. Music, sound, experience is becoming more and more part of me, part of my research and (trans)cultural practice…and you’re going to hear a lot more about it in the coming future.
Fifi recently invited me and a plus one (manaXi obviously had to come and experience her and the feeling that her music bleeds) to a private Sunday evening gig for friends, family and supporters for a sneak preview of her new EP ‘Next Pursuit’. The event took place at the basement bar and club The Alibi on Kingsland High Street in Dalston. As you walked down the stairs into the venue you were hit by a strong smell of incense whilst negotiating its low ceilings and small enclosed booth-type rooms that were perfect for her performance, giving a heightened sense of intimacy between the 30 plus people there…and the soundsystem was simply incredible (that’s putting it mildly) and makes a world of difference to a performative experience. ManaXi was particularly obsessed with them.
Fifi was dressed all in black…perfect silhouetted simplicity given definition by dramatically structured hair and killer eye make-up that made her gaze pierce the crowd. I’ve noticed this is becoming a defining feature for Fifi as a musician as you can see on her EP cover art below.
She came on stage a little late…a little nervous…very impactful and completely honest. That’s part of her nature to just be, well…be her. No bravado, just Fifi in all her beauty. She spoke through the reasoning, history and background of each track that she sang, all from personal experience…they are part of her, her life, from heartache and heartbreak, to her journey and vision ahead. You could see that everyone there at the gig was important to her and had a place in her life. I got to know Fifi purely through the realm of social media and now she is someone who will be in my life for a long, long time…as a soundtrack and hopefully as a friend.
Her music retains a certain experimental freedom, in a word raw, with an edge of the transcultural, the instinct that comes from being in between cultures, and reflective of her Chinese roots and experiences, particularly the track ‘Cold in You’, which integrates itself as another thread through the slow consuming beats, ambient drowning and all-consuming tones, that plays beneath her poetic lyricism that lures you, melts you away into another place…the track ‘Intimacy’ I seemed to zone out…zone in(to). It was silencing, captivating live and brings such a particular memory into my mind, lost staring at…into manaXi. In my head, she is comparable (though I hate making comparisons when an artist is this individual) to Grimes, FKA Twigs with a pinch of Björk with undertones, as manaXi said, to Elizabeth Fraser (Vocalist on Massive attack’s Teardrop) and Lou Rhodes (from Lamb) – enchanting, encapsulating, intoxicating.
Her EP ‘Next Pursuit’ is launched tonight, Friday 4 April in London at The Garage in Islington. If you can make it…go, and you’ll never forget her, her sounds, her tones, her ability to make you melt into an aural and cerebral domain like no other. As I said in the last blog post, I believe this could be Fifi’s year and I can’t wait to watch it unfold.