Playful yet melancholic, accessible yet intriguing, the Beijing–born starlet goes back to ‘Awake’ for her latest visual presentation. With gentle percussion on the threes conjuring a divine sound shimmering alongside her wonderful voice, ‘Sin City’ is classic FIFI RONG.
Strangely bleak and dark, with the neon backdrop of Hong Kong as a setting, the extraordinary sexy ‘n’ sinister self-directed video sees our heroine in a most deviant mood, acting out a story that is half true, half fictional….try and work out which is what!
FIFI RONG took time out to chat to The Electricity Club about ‘Sin City’ and where her future musical adventures may take her…
How was ‘Sin City’ inspired as a song?
Partially inspired by a real story, and partially inspired by serial killer documentaries and 90s Hong Kong cinema about some glamorised sicko murderers. I went through many obstacles and a lot of videographers that intended to collaborate with me on this video, but didn’t happen for one reason or another. It’s probably my favourite close-to-the-heart project and I just had to do it.
So I thought f*ck it, I’m gonna do it myself without knowing anything about film making. So I invested months and months over a year putting it together. It was the longest and hardest project to complete as I knew exactly how I want it to feel and look. In the end, I got it how I envisioned: ambiguous, humid, lusty and dark.
What does the visual presentation of ‘Sin City’ represent and explain about your current mindset?
The sweet spot between violence and tenderness. There is vulnerability, power play, lust and misunderstood love. It’s tragic, sensual, intimate, sinister, melancholic. My mindset changes all the time… I would say mood is more important than anything technical, both in sound and visuals. Sexy and sexual are two very different things. And anything worthwhile leaves the audience the freedom to make up their own mind.
2018 was a quite prolific year for you, do you feel artistically uninhibited at the moment?
I’m in a relatively good place as I’m creating on a massive scale. However it’s never smooth sailing, as the fear is always there when going into the unknown. I’m taking on a challenging workload at the moment, but diving into what seems impossible is exactly what is required to get better at what I do. I made music videos for each song of the last two EPs, so I can say I’ve got an appetite and I didn’t let challenges coming from being independent stop me.
I followed my impulse to set myself free. The 10 minute ambition was shaped in a matter of seconds while I was at it. Sometimes I just get a “hell yeah” idea that I don’t need to think twice or ask nobody about it. But into the fourth and fifth day, it got hard and stopped being fun due to the fatigue in post-production and mixing.
I finished it in the end, as always. I’m just a bit sick of the unspoken rule of modern tracks being 3 minutes long or so and have to kick into chorus ASAP due to people’s attention deficiency. When I first made music, I didn’t know what a chorus is or how long a song should be. So I made things on a loop for 5-6 minute at times.
Being bilingual is the fullness of me, and either English or Chinese is only the half of me. I always see myself as acting as the bridge between the two cultures, so I think having both original parts in one song sums it up and represents a fuller version of me.
Totally. Subconsciously I guess I used that to signal what’s coming next. I’m making a double album – basically two albums in one package. One album in Chinese and the other in English. Not the typical type of translation type of bilingual album from one language to another.
If anyone knows the two languages, they would find they are very very different from one another. It’s not fair to do two languages to the same music as almost always, one would win over the other. So the two albums are all individual songs interlinked in sounds, themes, vibes.
At the moment, I’m making it in love, in fear and any feeling in between so I’ll just have to die and be reborn a thousand more times before I see the light. I have a particular standard I hold for myself, but I’m far from being a perfectionist and I wear every imperfection proudly.
Text and Interview by Chi Ming Lai
Photos by Stefano Boski
21st February 2019