With trip-hop back in the ether thanks to the success of LONDON GRAMMAR, one lady taking a fresh, more electronic based approach to the sub-genre is Beijing born singer and musician FIFI RONG.
She first came to prominence as a member of THE TENORIONS, an all female trio created to showcase Yamaha’s then new hand held box of sequencing tricks also used by LITTLE BOOTS and EMILIE SIMON; they made an appearance on The Paul O’Grady Show in 2008.
When THE TENORIONS disbanded, our heroine went solo and played a number of gigs including one with The Electricity Club’s sister site J-Pop Go in 2009.
With her moniker of FIFI RONG, she has been building her repertoire using a wide range of influences such as dubstep, trip hop and Chinese folk music while also name checking the likes of COCTEAU TWINS and MAZZY STAR. She collaborated with TRICKY on his 2013 album ‘False Idols’, with the tracks ‘If Only I Knew’ and ‘Chinese Interlude’ being the end results. Meanwhile she also released her debut single ‘Over You’, a laid back soulful number that acted as a sultry platform for her versatile talent.
Her first album ‘Wrong’ came not long after and songs such as ‘Addicted To Water’ harked back to the sound of PORTISHEAD’s ‘Dummy’ but minus its claustrophobia. Meanwhile there was her own rework of her TRICKY track retitled as ‘Only If I Knew’ which was by far a more beautiful interpretation and fully exploited the song’s potential.
Now resident in London, FIFI RONG has just released a 6 track EP ‘Next Pursuit’, her first new material since ‘Wrong’. The superbly breathy title track takes on a crisper passage combining the vocal mystery of KELLI ALI and the quirkiness of MOLOKO. There’s even a touch of LANA DEL REY about it too. Crucially, it also adds in rhythmical variation, something that many trip-hoppers were inherently adverse to in their quest for that stoner vibe.
By avoiding those clichés, FIFI RONG has manifested her own dream laden underground electronica template with her hypnotic vocals as a focal point. She says her new EP “is a reinforcement of who I am, and a platform for me to set out on a musical journey toward the future and grow with it, always thriving to retain the freedom of making something new, exciting and better in one way or another”.
‘Next Pursuit’ is released on 4th April 2014 by Ditto Music as a CD or download via the usual digital outlets. The album ‘Wrong’ is available now from Amazon and Bandcamp
The official launch gig for ‘Next Pursuit’ will be Upstairs At The Garage, 20-22 Highbury Crescent, Islington, London N5 1RD on Friday 4th April 2014 with special guests OP9 and GIULO ROMANO MALAISI
Text by Chi Ming Lai
Portrait Photo by Paris Seawell
31st March 2014