China has a deep, rich and rooted history. From myths and legends, imperialism, to being the centre-piece for Eastern Asia. With the modern-age, China is fast becoming a superpower, with a strong economic structure and captivating culture. It has the highest populous in the world, so can you imagine wanting to be a musician in the West? For most, it would be a dream but for a very talented young woman, it’s a reality.
Born in Beijing, now based in London, Fifi Rong is chasing her dream by carefully cultivating her career. She’s already worked with Tricky among others, and has released two EPs and one album, titled Wrong. Fifi labels her music as ‘hybrid electronic’, and she couldn’t be more accurate.
Fifi’s sound is like a void surrounded by colour, it evokes darkness and doom while also creating a sense of inner peace and tranquility. Her music is idiosyncratic, using her heritage as the musical roots, and the music she grew up with as influences. In the celestial soundscapes she creates, you’ll find a vast amount of personality and musical influence; from Chinese folk, to moody, modern-day R&B. However, her musical blueprint is very much her own.
Not only is her music influenced by her roots, her image is too. Her whole aesthetic is reminiscent of a Geisha. The photos of her are powerful, eliciting mystique and beauty. The level of creativity from the music to her visuals is striking. They come together, fitting with the gloomy, mysterious and free-spirited direction of Rong, as an artist, creative and person.
Throughout her musical journey so far, there are already signs of growth and musical development, with each release she seems to discover more of her talents, and more of herself. The level of progression from track to track is noticeable and her sound is clearly evolving. Where she’ll end up is yet to be seen, it’ll be an interesting career to see blossom.
Her limitless attitude, and lack of musical definition allows her to take the music wherever she sees fit. Fifi Rong has placed herself in a good position in terms of creativity, she hasn’t allowed herself to be chained by conformity or a genre, her hybrid nature expresses her vision and that’s admirable.
The track we’re premiering today is the title track from her upcoming Forbidden Desire EP. “Forbidden Desire” is a haunting, melodic and alluring experience to say the least. Fifi effortlessly sings over a smooth, R&B influenced instrumental, backboned by a rumbling bass line. The intricacies of the music comes to fruition during the powerful yet simple chorus. The synths come together to create an electronic concoction that’s organic and vibrant, while Rong’s vocals soar in an airy manner, akin to Lana Del Rey.
Vocally, Rong shares similarities to Del Rey, and that isn’t a criticism. Lana’s success is evidence of the impact that her vocals and artistry has had on the industry. Rong possesses a similar spirit within her vocals; a ravishing, mournful longing and it’s captivating. Her melodies and mezzo soprano-esque vocal range sits nicely among the darker shades of Pop music that’s been flourishing the last couple of years. Instrumentally, Rong also links up nicely with the new breed of electronic-centric ‘Art’ Pop, a la Grimes.
Overall, the vibe of the track carries an accurate depiction of desire, it encapsulates the feeling of longing after something or someone. It’s strengthened by the lyrics, while they’re minimalistic, they get the point across without sounding melodramatic. It all comes together to create a well-rounded, deep song. “Forbidden Desire” has both style and substance, it’s a great indicator of where Rong is heading and if she continues to hone in on her sound, and overall aesthetic, she’s bound for success. Fifi Rong’s “Forbidden Desire” is a must-hear track.
After hearing her back catalogue, and her most recent offering, I’m certain Fifi Rong is a bright prospect in an over-saturated electronic/pop scene. She offers a uniqueness like no other, she’s both soul-stirring and seductive, while also sounding heartfelt. If delving into a world of electronic fuelled quirkiness with spacey, smooth vocals appeals to you then Rong is for you. Here’s hoping that with this release, it’ll firmly place her in the limelight which she deserves.
So, with that being said, what’s next for Fifi Rong? Well, at the end of this month her brand new EP, Forbidden Desire is scheduled for release on April 29. Although she’ll be up against Drake, she has Grime MC, Skepta, on her side. She’s featured on his upcoming album Konnichiwa, which comes out May 6. You can buy tickets to Fifi’s EP launch show on April 28 at the O2 Academy Islingtion here and pre-order Forbidden Desire here.
Words by Jake Gould