Having surprised listeners with the dynamic electropop of ‘The Same Road’ in 2017, Fifi Rong launches her latest EP Awake with a strong entry for 2018.
Originally hailing from Bejing, Fifi has crafted her own unique style as part of the London music scene (see our sister site J-Pop Go’s 2013 profile). Encompassing a broad range of influences, including electronica, dub and hip hop, the singer, songwriter and producer has already chalked up an impressive series of releases, from her 2013 debut single release ‘Over You, first album Wrong and a whole series of captivating EPs, including 2014’s Next Pursuit and 2016’s Forbidden Desire. Fifi also contributed to Tricky’s 2013 album False Idols and Skepta’s 2016 album Konnichiwa.
In 2016, Fifi also collaborated with Swiss electronic duo Yello on their last studio album Toy. More recently, she’s been out on tour with the pair. A venture which saw her performing to audiences across Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Awake follows on from a series of singles that Fifi has released, including the sultry delights of ‘Future Never Comes’; the electropop perfection of the aforementioned ‘The Same Road’ and the languid appeal of ‘The One’.
As ever, Fifi has built up a following via the successes of her various PledgeMusic campaigns. The crowdfunding initiative has delivered some of the musician’s finest moments over 5 previous campaigns – and it continues to be an essential weapon for a broad selection of contemporary music artists (Gary Numan, Erasure and OMD among them).
Describing the themes of the Awake EP, Fifi muses on the human condition: “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.”
The EP also sees Fifi working alongside past collaborator Max Dingel (who worked with Fifi on ‘The Same Road’). Dingel has chalked up an impressive CV in the past, working alongside the likes of Goldfrapp, The Killers, White Lies and Muse among others.
On her latest outing, the title track sees Fifi continuing to explore a more pop-orientated direction. The polished melodic heft of ‘Awake’ is given a punchy delivery care of the busy percussive elements. “Loneliness tastes good” intones Fifi, her breathy vocals lending a mesmerising attraction to the composition.
Awake continues to demonstrate the sensual musical talents of Fifi Rong and suggests her future will be paved with many more polished music moments.
If 2017 proved anything it was that the field of electronic music is a broad one. A lot of songs grabbed our attention across 12 months of intriguing, captivating and often challenging music. While many classic synthpop acts proved that they could still hold their own, the next generation of electronic artists also demonstrated that they could craft unique tunes that didn’t rely on the past.
Here are 25 songs that are not presented in any particular order, but as whole were the standout tunes for The Electricity Club in 2017.
GARY NUMAN – My Name Is Ruin
The release of Gary Numan’s 21st studio album Savage (Songs From A Broken World) marked the synthpop pioneer’s highest charting album since Telekon back in 1980. This latest body of work transmited a thoughtful concept, centred around the modern-day issues that would seemingly put into question the survival of the planet.
‘My Name Is Ruin’ was the first single to emerge from the album. It gives Numan himself something to be especially proud of, given his daughter, Persia, provides the unique backing vocals on the track. The results – an eclectic mix of the angelic-like choral tapestry set against robust dance-driven beats.
VITALIC (ft. David Shaw and The Beat) – Waiting for the Stars
There’s a robust quality about the electronic tunes contained on this latest release by Vitalic, which appeared to signal a strong start for electronic music in 2017.
Vitalic, aka Pascal Arbez, had been operating since the late 1990s as an underground artist, but achieved a larger profile with the release of his debut album OK Cowboy in 2005. New album Voyager draws from a wealth of influences, including nods to the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Cerrone. Certainly, standout track ‘Waiting For The Stars’ is an unabashed nod to Arbez’s favourite ’70s and ’80s songs, which in places is deliberately out of tune. Featuring vocals from David Shaw, there’s a Moroder-esque beat driving this squelchy and engaging electropop wonder.
Many of the releases of 2017 seemed to reflect a troubling period in contemporary culture, particularly with politics providing a turbulent backdrop. Austra were one of those outfits and the release of their album Future Politics offered up some thoughtful insight into troubled times.
The familiar bassy synth tones that Austra’s Katie Stelmanis has crafted as part of the classic Austra sound provided the foundations for ‘Utopia’. This rumination on the “collective depression”, that Stelmanis suggests is a result of city living, has strong hooks and melodies as some smart percussive frills keep the song moving along.
London-based duo Empathy Test took us by surprise this year with each successive song. On ‘Bare My Soul’, the soaring melodies and heartfelt lyrics have a particular power that manages to undo all those tired old tropes about synthpop being cold and unemotional in one song.
The lyrics offer up brief vignettes, each of which manage to elicit the idea of something being both “tragic and beautiful”. At the same time, there’s a subtle building up of layers of electronic elements that culminates in a powerful delivery that’s both mythical and melodious.
One of Canada’s electronic music gems re-emerged earlier this year with a new song and talk of a new album. ‘Bicep’ delivered the trademark sleazy synths and unsettling sounds that made TR/ST (aka Robert Alfons) such a captivating act over the course of 2 previous albums.
‘Destroyer’ shows a departure of sorts here for Alfons, with a much more restrained composition. It’s a more nocturnal affair peppered with reedy intermissions, although Alfons’ grimy vocals are present and correct. The video itself is produced by, and stars, choreographer Ryan Heffington (Sia, Lykke Li, Florence and the Machine, Arcade Fire). It charts a journey through a late night streetscape which is interspersed with oddly unsettling choreography.
Culled from their 2017 album The Punishment Of Luxury, ‘La Mitrailleuse’ takes its inspiration from a painting by the artist CRW Nevinson (regarded as one of the most famous war artists of World War I). Nevinson was deeply affected by what he saw in France during World War I, which had a profound effect on the paintings that he produced at the time. This included the 1915 work La Mitrailleuse, which translates from the French as “the machine gun”.
In the hands of OMD, ‘La Mitrailleuse’ is composed of a mesmerising droning intro which leads to a rhythm track designed to emulate explosions and, in particular, machine-gun fire. Meanwhile, Andy McCluskey intones “Bend your body to the will of the machine”. It’s the perfect companion to Nevinson’s work which sees the style of the soliders rendered in angular shapes, suggesting a merging of man and machine – a theme carried over in the video, which again features the distinctive style of Henning M. Lederer, who previously worked on videos for OMD’s English Electric album.
While the success of her 2015 album Ten Love Songs managed to raise the profile of Norwegian musician Susanne Sundfør, new album Music For People In Trouble took Sundfør back to her singer-songwriter roots. Although the album boasts some fine electronic flourishes, there’s also more nods to jazz and traditional instrumentation.
The album’s crowning achievement is clearly the epic ‘Mountaineers’ which starts with the basso profundo voice of John Grant. Here, Grant’s sonorous delivery echoes from the depths with its lines about “Jumbo jets spiralling down like vultures of the stars”. It’s suggestive of the type of composition that This Mortal Coil were noted for with the emphasis on the voice to provide an compelling hypnotic effect.
When Sundfør comes in, the song suggests a coming to the light from a great darkness, a sudden revelation (“What it means/Now I know”) and builds to a choral symphony that takes the breath away.
Released in March this year, Depeche Mode’s 14th studio album Spirit has proven to be one of the most divisive collections of new songs in their 37-year career. A sonically-challenging (and often unsettling) listen, the album has certainly divided fans; many of whom haven’t gotten over the fact that Alan Wilder left the band 22 years ago. By contrast, most music critics were united in their affection for the new album, praising the band for their aggressive and new approach, and also for Martin Gore’s politically-charged wordplay.
Like ‘Broken’ on Depeche Mode’s previous album Delta Machine, singer Dave Gahan once again provided the album’s best track in ‘Cover Me’, a slow-building, other-worldly electro-ballad with a Bowie-inspired lyric: “It’s about a person who travels to another planet only to find that, much to his dismay, it’s exactly the same as earth” Gahan explained to Rolling Stone magazine. Featuring some sinister electronics and a beautiful coda that recalled ‘Clean’ from 1990’s career peak Violator, this was space-aged synth rock at its finest.
As Lola Dutronic, the Toronto/Düsseldorf electronic duo of Richard Citroen and Stephanie B have carved out an impressive career of engaging pop tunes. They jumped back in earlier in the year with a sequel to one of their best known tunes ‘Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead, but it was their love letter to Berlin later in 2017 that stood out for us.
Continuing the duo’s talents for crafting accessible electronic pop with engaging melodies, ‘My Name Is Lola’ is a track that Richard Citroen describes as “a bit of a departure from our usual ‘Wall Of Sound’ approach, we’ve taken on some of Alle Farben & Robin Schulz’s colours”. It’s a quirky pop tune that’s a lot of fun and includes shout-outs to all of the duo’s favourite Berlin haunts.
Dicepeople, an electronic outfit from London, had a very busy year with several live performances and also a muscular cover version of Depeche Mode’s ‘Strangelove’. The group have an emphasis on strong visuals as part of their live shows and they draw inspiration from the likes of Depeche Mode, John Carpenter, Siouxsie Sioux, Front 242 and all points inbetween.
‘Synthetic’ is pretty much on-point with its brooding gothic synth melodies against a burbling electronic background. Atashi Tada’s vocal lead is tweaked and distorted and lends the whole affair a cyberpunk aesthetic.
Electro punk outfit LegPuppy have a knack for cultural commentary. Take ‘Selfie Stick’, which the 4-piece outfit released earlier this year. There’s a brooding quality to the song; a prowling tonal mood with cynical synths that provides the foundation for a lyrical dragging on Instagram culture (“Instagram that pic/Snapchat me a vid/I’ll show you my dick”). It’s a timely theme in a world where people are measured on the number of followers they have on Twitter or the belief that 17,000 ‘Likes’ can provide a fig-leaf of sorts for an empty, shallow soul.
Or as LegPuppy themselves put it: “Welcome to the Age of Narcissism where our future leaders are more interested in how many likes their stupid selfie gets on social media. Where their heroes and inspirations are Reality TV stars.”
ELYXR (feat Naoko of Princess Problems) – Godspeed
Seattle-based electronic musician/producer Kasson Crooker put together a new project for 2017 which sought to include his particular take on electronic music with a diverse range of singers.
‘Godspeed’ marked one of these releases, with the vocals coming care of Naoko Takamoto (Princess Problems). There’s a raw energy at work on a busy composition that also seems to elicit a sense of unease. Despite this, there’s a kinetic quality to the electronic melodies threaded through the piece. Conceived before Trump’s US victory, ‘Godspeed’ was penned as a reverie on the concerns such a presidency would bring. Lyrics such as “gather up your belongings/’cause he’s coming” pretty much seals the deal.
When Curxes first made their presence known several years back, they brought with them a very different approach to electronic music that presented one of the more captivating acts on the scene. Pulling from a variety of influences, the Curxes unique sound of stark pop ran through songs such as ‘The Constructor’ and ’Creatures’.
Describing themselves as “a decorative set of bones, channeling the ghosts of Discothéques past”, Curxes were a perfect fit for the first Electricity Club event staged in 2011. But it was a journey that also saw them later remixing the likes of Chvrches on the Scottish trio’s 2013 Recover EP.
‘In Your Neighbourhood’ (taken from new album Gilded Cage) shows Roberta Fidora opting for a much more languid style of singing combined with a warm, engaging layer of electronics. Meanwhile, the video is a strange amalgamation of a lost children’s puppet show and a TV repair shop.
‘Beautiful Life’ marked the welcome return of Swedish synthpop outfit The Sound Of Arrows in 2017. It’s a composition that continues the electronic duo’s talent for cinematic pop, but there’s also a more organic element with big string arrangements prominent in the mix. “Turn up the music and bring down the rain” suggests the dreampop lyrics atop subtle synth rhythms. Meanwhile, the track is given plenty of epic sweeps courtesy of the strings section.
The band later released new album Stay Free, presenting a more grounded take on the classic Sound Of Arrows formula.
Taking her name from a nickname associated with her grandmother, Hannah Rodgers embarked on her musical career as Pixx in 2015. A former Brit School student (where the likes of Adele and Amy Winehouse had their roots), Rodgers signed to the 4AD label at the impossibly young age of 19.
Debut album The Age Of Anxiety, presented a collection of songs that offer up electronic music that’s both accessible, yet also has a sense of quirkiness and charm. ‘I Bow Down’, for instance, starts from simple foundations before building an insistent beat that works its magic. The video, with its strange visuals, also keeps things interesting.
The soulful, beguiling style of Fifi Rong has been winning over both the press and the public for many years via releases such as Next Pursuit and Future Never Comes. It’s an impressive catalogue that also suggested that the London-based musician had carved out her niche and was happy with heading in that particular musical direction.
However, her new release ‘The Same Road’ sees Fifi do a left turn with a tune that’s distinctly more electropop-orientated than previous outings. Here, the lush soundscapes are put to one side for a cleaner, sharper approach to song arrangement. Electronic melodies echo through the song, augmented by Fifi’s familiar mesmerising vocals. At the same time, this is a tune crafted in the form of contemporary electronic music, rather than as a pastiche of ‘80s synthpop, which is always a bonus.
By bringing onboard the mixing talents of Max Dingel, who previously worked with the likes of Goldfrapp (as well as White Lies and Muse), the dynamic qualities of ‘The Same Road’ presents an engaging number that’s likely to surprise long-term Fifi Rong enthusiasts.
With much of the attention this year centred around a-ha’s new acoustic project, Paul Waaktaar-Savoy’s collaborative album with singer Zoe Gnecco, World Of Trouble, passed by almost unnoticed earlier this year. Which was a shame because this was as good as – if not better than – a-ha’s last studio album Cast In Steel. In fact, one such track, ‘Open Face’, almost made it on to a-ha’s 2015 comeback album, but was overlooked in favour of inferior cuts such as ‘Door Ajar’.
Released as a single in April this year ‘Open Face’ is certainly the most electronic track on the New York-based duo’s album, and boasts some fine Kraftwerkian synth work from Kurt Uenela, who has also collaborated with Dave Gahan on some of Depeche Mode’s recent releases (including this year’s Spirit).
THE RUDE AWAKENING (feat Brooke Calder) – Let Nothing Take Your Pride
When he’s not promoting the likes of the Synth City event electronic music event, Johnny Normal also spends time on writing and composing under his own steam.
Under the banner of The Rude Awakening, which sees Johnny bringing onboard the talents of Brooke Calder (Lolly Pop, A*O*A, POP INC), new release ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ offers a reflection of our times in its themes. There’s a defiant tone to the track which deals with anyone who’s come under fire from life: “Struggling with your conscience I try to make you see/but all around your friends surround taking a piece of me”. Revolving around themes of resilience and fighting your corner, the song could be said to be a rallying call for those that have been beaten down.
The track (which also saw its live premiere at September’s Synth City event) draws from the classic synthpop template with an anthemic pop approach peppered with synthetic brass stabs. With some polished backing vocals by long-time friend and collaborator Brooke Calder, ‘Let Nothing Take Your Pride’ presents an electropop tune with some whack.
Johanna Gervin once again demonstrates that she’s one of the finest voices in the world of electropop with her vital vocals on ‘Electric Nights’.
It’s a euphoric floor-stomper crafted in the style that only Parralox can pull off. ‘Electric Nights’ also comes with a suitably dynamic video packed with visual delights. It’s an explosion of primary colours and effects that lends the whole affair a dayglo sheen. The composition actually dates back to 2002, back when Roxy was part of the Parralox line-up (she also co-wrote the song). The tune was submitted to the Australian Independent Music Awards – and apparently won Best Dance song in 2003, but plans to release it seemed to get delayed due to Parralox’s hectic schedule.
BRUCE WOOLLEY & POLLY SCATTERGOOD (with The Radio Science Orchestra) – Video Killed the Radio Star
When it comes to pop tunes, there’s a select few that manage to be immediately recognisable regardless of whatever decade they were recorded in. So the iconic opening bars of The Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’ have been so impressed on popular culture that it’s difficult to imagine that there’s anyone unfamiliar with the tune anywhere on the planet.
The song was reimagined earlier this year care of one of the tune’s original composers – Bruce Wooley – in collaboration with dark pop chanteuse Polly Scattergood. The new version (which carries the subtitle of ‘Dark Star’) opts for a radical deconstructed adaptation of the song in conjunction with the Radio Science Orchestra (a project established by Bruce Wooley). As a result, Polly Scattergood’s laconic vocals in tandem with the orchestral arrangement lend the song an intriguingly evocative sound that still manages to lose none of the original composition’s power.
The release of 2013’s Crystal World album demonstrated that Helen Marnie continued to display a talent for good electronic music, even while Ladytron were on an extended hiatus.
Drawing comparisons with the likes of Ladyhawke and Goldfrapp, Marnie’s latest album Strange Words And Weird Wars has opted for a much more electronic palette on this release, which also throws a nod or two to synthwave. ‘G.I.R.L.S’, with its cheerleading chants, offers up one of the strongest tracks on the album. It’s Pop with a capital ‘P’.
There’s an energy to Twist Helix that definitely leaves an impression. Hailing from Newcastle, Twist Helix consists of singer and synth player Bea, bassist Michael and drummer James.
New release ‘Little Buildings’ (taken from forthcoming album Ouseburn) has a solid sound to it which is helped by their willingness to embrace a variety of instrumentation, including guitar and live drums. The result is a robust tune which is topped off with Bea’s powerful vocals.
Simen Lyngroth is a Norwegian singer-songwriter with a distinctively soft and crystalline voice, who is currently enjoying a dual career; as both a member of folk-pop trio Ask and as a solo artist exhibiting more electronic influences.
Awash with snowcapped melancholia, debut solo album Take All The Land is strongly influenced by Radiohead and features a number of fine jazz-infused electro-ballads. Arguably, one of the album’s most immediate and commercial cuts was ‘The Waves’, and it was duly released as a single in October. Deviating from the formula slightly with its use of programmed electronics, this was a standout track from one of this year’s most exciting new releases.
Swedish electronic musician Alexander Sjödin caught everyone’s attention in 2017 under the moniker Sailor & I. Debut album The Invention Of Loneliness bounced between icy pop and beats-driven electronica…
Nestling among the tracks on the album, ‘Chameleon’ has a subtle power to it that can take a few spins to appreciate. There’s a dark piano melody over which Sjödin’s yearning vocal offers hints of change or transformation. Meanwhile, a gradually-building slab of stark electronics gives the track a dark pop appeal.
As one of the artists performing at last summer’s Silicon Dreams event, Voi Vang made an impression as someone to watch.
‘Mirror’ demonstrates her knack for dancepop with an electronic flavour. The track starts out with a plaintive piano melody before transforming into a much more dynamic outing. Bouncing between pop and EDM elements, there’s a captivating use of rhythms and melodies to produce a powerful dance floor filler. It’s also a track that reveals Voi Vang’s impressive vocal range, which has a punchy, direct power that sits in tandem with the driving electronic beats.
The hypnotic Fifi Rong returns with a distinctly electronic approach for her new release…
The soulful, beguiling style of Fifi Rong has been winning over both the press and the public for many years via releases such as a Next Pursuit and Future Never Comes. It’s an impressive catalogue that also suggested that the London-based musician had carved out her niche and was happy with heading in that particular musical direction.
However, her new release ‘The Same Road’ sees Fifi do a left turn with a tune that’s distinctly more electropop-orientated than previous outings. Here, the lush soundscapes are put to one side for a cleaner, sharper approach to song arrangement.
Electronic melodies echo through the song, augmented by Fifi’s familiar mesmerising vocals. At the same time, this is a tune crafted in the form of contemporary electronic music, rather than as a pastiche of ‘80s synthpop, which is always a bonus.
By bringing onboard the mixing talents of Max Dingel, who previously worked with the likes of Goldfrapp (as well as White Lies and Muse), the dynamic qualities of ‘The Same Road’ presents an engaging number that’s likely to surprise long-term Fifi Rong enthusiasts.
“There is a world inside my solitude, which has been a blessing and a curse” comments Fifi on the new song, ‘The Same Road’ falls into one of my recurring themes of such inherent paradox and emotional cocktail of vulnerability and strengths. There is a stark contrast between musically driven, upbeat energy and heavier lyrical content, reflecting my inner resistance of moving 3 steps forward and 2 steps back, and the determination to break through negative cycles.”
Fifi’s musical adventures have seen her recently performing at SXSW as well as being a staunch advocate for the rewards the crowdfunding outlet PledgeMusic have brought her.
‘The Same Road’ demonstrates that Fifi Rong is capable of adding plenty more colours to her musical palette. With a bold new electronic sound, it seems fairly likely that she’s going to win over a whole new fanbase.
‘The Same Road’ will be released on 16th June 2017 via AWAL and will be available in all major online stores and streaming platforms.
Fifi Rong will be staging a single launch show at The Waiting Room, Stoke Newington on 13th June 2017.
Fifi is also schedule to perform at the following shows:
19.05.17 : The Great Escape – The Arch
05.07.17 : Wilderness Festival – Love Hotel Stage
On International Women’s Day, a showcase for those women who work in the world of electronic music…
International Women’s Day, which falls on 8th March each year, has become an opportunity to not only recognise the achievement of women throughout history, but to also raise awareness of issues such as gender equality, violence, women in science & technology and to promote the aspirations of girls and women worldwide.
On the basis that women have made a significant impact on the world of electronic music across decades, with people such as Delia Derbyshire, Daphne Oram, Bebe Barron, Wendy Carlos and Laurie Anderson being pioneers in their own distinct ways, we thought that we’d celebrate in our way with an International Women In Electronic Music Day.
It’s not always been an easy time for women in music and even today there are challenges and problems that have made the path difficult for some musicians. Lauren Maybery of Chvrches has spoken at length about the rise in misogyny, particularly in online commentary. Equally, Claire Boucher of Grimes fame has had to address issues within the world of music production (which ironically led to some misinformed writers to conclude that Boucher was flying a flag for militancy). It’s also something that Katie Stelmanis of Austra has addressed more recently.
To celebrate the contributions that women have made to electronic music, we thought it made sense to flag up some of the musicians, composers and singers that TEC has championed in the past. This selection is by no means definite and certainly isn’t designed to present a complete picture of women in electronic music, but is purely a sampling of the broad range of electronic music that women are active in.
If there’s one particular star on the electronic music scene that’s been on the ascendant in recent years, it’s New Zealand’s Princess Chelsea. Scoring a cult hit with the indie charms of ‘The Cigarette Duet’, her 2011 album Lil’ Golden Book also demonstrated a fine talent for wistful electronica and tales of growing up in Auckland.
Her 2015 album The Great Cybernetic Depression cranked the electronic elements up to ’11’ and showcased songs that had a much more raw and personal edge. There was also a concept album approach which La Chelsea herself described as: “it represents a personal and societal depression due to social change triggered by technology.”
The varied musical career of Hannah Peel has presented a musician and composer with a particular ability to craft evocative melodies and compelling lyrics. Her most recent release Awake But Always Dreaming was assembled from the singer’s own encounter with the debilitating effects of dementia in her own family.
‘All That Matters’ combined fine electronic pop elements with a sweeping, uplifting quality to it. Released as a single, the track employs a combination of synth hooks and strings measured against Peel’s haunting vocal.
Hailing from Greece, Marsheaux combine the ethereal vocal style of Sophie Sarigiannidou and Marianthi Melitsi with distinctive percussive rhythms and unashamedly electronic melodies. Their 2003 debut album E-Bay Queen and 2006 release Peekaboo demonstrated both an ability for original synthpop married with a smart choice of cover versions (such as The Lightning Seeds’ ‘Pure’ and New Order’s ‘Regret’).
Their most recent release was Ath.Lon although, arguably, it was their phenomenal 2009 album Lumineux Noir that set the bar. That album demonstrated a clear linear progression from their early material through to the bold, impulsive electronic masterpiece that few contemporaryacts have managed to emulate.
Originally from Greece, but now resident in LA, Kid Moxie is the musical moniker of Elena Charbila. Kid Moxie’s music is a blend of powerful beats, pop sweetness and haunting melodies. She’s collaborated with the likes of Twin Peaks composer Angelo Badalamenti and Clint Mansell and more recently released the excellent Perfect Shadow EP.
Susanne Sundfør’s musical career set a particularly high standard with the release of her 2015 album Ten Love Songs. The Norwegian musician’s glacial landscapes of electronic melancholy had a very particular personal touch and it’s small wonder that the album received critical acclaim.
Katie Stelmanis was another Canadian musician who made an impact in the world of electronic music on the back of several releases by Austra. From 2011’s Feel It Break through to the most recent album Future Politics, Stelmanis has brought to bear not only a stellar talent for tunes, but on the latest release a more pronounced commentary on politics.
The familiar bassy synth tones that Stelmanis has crafted as part of the classic Austra sound provide the foundations for ‘Utopia’. This rumination on the “collective depression”, that Stelmanis suggests is a result of city living, has strong hooks and melodies as some smart percussive frills keep the song moving along.
The phenomenal success of her previous album Visions clearly caused something of a dilemma for Claire Boucher. The album had, in many ways, been a gear change from her earlier work in opening up the often cryptic soundscapes that had been the trademark sound of Grimes previous.
But Art Angels delivered a much more commercial vehicle for Grimes that could have swayed fans had it not been for the quality of the material on the album. Grimes goes electropop for ‘Kill V. Maim’ with its harsh percussion and insistent bass beat, sounding as if Hooky had dropped by the studio for a session. Again, it’s a fine example of the natural evolution of the Grimes sound. “I’m only a man/do what I can” intones Boucher on one of the more memorable tracks on the album.
Marina And The Diamonds
Marina Diamandis has consistently produced top tunes under the guise of Marina And The Diamonds, but also manages to switch gear on every subsequent release. The intimate Froot was an example of the talent that the Welsh musician can bring to bear.
‘Forget’ was one of Froot’s hidden gems with catchy hooks and a euphoric chorus. It’s lyrical themes of regret and moving forward utilise Marina’s smart wordplay as she regrets the times spent chasing rabbits when “I was born to be the tortoise/I was born to walk alone”.
There’s a good combo of the ethereal with the more intense part of the electropop spectrum in dark pop chanteuse Polly Scattergood’s material. Her 2013 album Arrows received critical acclaim and Scattergood describes herself as a storyteller: “I write about emotions and moments, not all are biographical”.
French outfit Christine And The Queens managed to make an impact in 2016 via the subtle electropop touches of album Chaleur Humaine. Founder Héloïse Letissier, who has described Christine And The Queens’ sound as “freakpop”, managed to bring a Gallic charm to electronic music alongside visually arresting choreography for live shows. Huge in France, Christine And The Queens gained a broader audience through a 2015 US tour with Marina And The Diamonds.
2016 brought us the UK release of ‘Tilted’ whose oddly effective ‘reversed’ melodies and engaging beats helped pave the way for Chaleur Humaine. ‘Tilted’ represents an approach that slips easily into accessible commercial pop, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing for a catalogue of work that features an intriguing talent at work.
Occasionally on percussion duties for Austra (and formerly part of TR/ST), Maya Postepski has also carved out her own singular electronic music path under the guise of Princess Century.
Dipping into “minimalist cosmic disco psychedelia” as well as the “weird Krauty EDM vibe” of recent material, there’s something oddly compelling about Postepski’s unique electronic explorations.
The trans-global duo of Lola Dutronic have been pushing out quality electronic music since 2004. From adaptations of 60s French pop through to musings on modern pop culture, the outfit’s finest moment to date is arguably their 2015 album Lost In Translation album.
One of the strongest components of Lola Dutronic is the sultry vocals of Germany-based singer Stephanie B – here working wonders on a sequel to one of their best songs.
The collaborative duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory have charted an intriguing career arc following on from debut release Felt Mountain in 2000. It included dips into ‘folktronica’ evidenced on 2008’s Seventh Tree and the synth optimism of Head First in 2010. Meanwhile, 2013’s Tales of Us was considered by some outlets as a return to form (as the phrase goes).
Forthcoming album Silver Eye has been in development for some time and appears to be cast firmly in an electronic mold.
Better known as being part of electropop outfit Ladytron, Helen Marnie has been keen to pursue a solo path in recent years, which led to 2013’s Crystal World album.
Marnie’s distinctive vocal style leaps out from any tune that she puts her hand to. With the reveal of new song ‘Alphabet Block’, she also announced details of a follow-up to Crystal World in the shape of the forthcoming Strange Words And Weird Wars. The official stance on the album is “soul crushing synths are wonderfully accented by hook-laden choruses as Marnie boldly explores up-tempo electro dream-pop”. Which we certainly can’t argue with.
Originally hailing from Bejing, Fifi Rong’s beguiling music encompasses a broad range of influences, including electronica, dub and hip hop. It’s a sound that’s continued to captivate both the music press and fans alike since her 2013 debut ‘Over You’. Or as Fifi herself once put it: “It’s a very individual and intimate language that I speak, with unfiltered and naked feelings of my own, for those who want to join me and listen to something real.”
‘Future Never Comes’ gives her sultry vocals a cinematic soundscape. “’Future Never Comes’ is by far the most epic-sounding track I’ve made” says Fifi, “with a lyrical theme going back to my initial breakthrough of the fear for pursuing my dream and answering my calling. Making this track as a collaboration feels like taking a glorious vacation away from being immersed building my own island.”
The hypnotic voice of Fifi Rong is back with a scintillating new release….
It’s been a busy year for soulful songstress Fifi Rong. Following on from her successful Forbidden Desire EP, Fifi has since collaborated with Mercury Prize-winning musician Skepta on his latest album Konnichiwa.
Meanwhile, Fifi has also joined forces with classic Swiss electropop outfit Yello with contributions to their new album Toy. Fifi sealed the deal as a guest singer at live Yello performances in Berlin earlier this year.
Fifi’s beguiling music has a style that’s distinctly unique and it’s a sound that’s continued to captivate both the music press and fans alike since her 2013 debut ‘Over You’. Or as Fifi herself once put it: “It’s a very individual and intimate language that I speak, with unfiltered and naked feelings of my own, for those who want to join me and listen to something real.”
Her new song ‘Future Never Comes’ continues her tradition for sultry vocals matched here with a cinematic soundscape. The shimmering tones of this new tune are part of a collaboration – Fifi co-wrote and produced the track with composer/producer Mark Rose – with the result being an immersive backdrop for Fifi’s mesmerising vocals.
“’Future Never Comes’ is by far the most epic-sounding track I’ve made” says Fifi, “with a lyrical theme going back to my initial breakthrough of the fear for pursuing my dream and answering my calling. Making this track as a collaboration feels like taking a glorious vacation away from being immersed building my own island.”
The new release is an extension of Fifi’s interest in crowdfunding initiative PledgeMusic which she’s used extensively in the past. Her Forbidden Desire EP was launched this way – and she’s revisited the venture for the vinyl album compilation Alone.
Fifi is also staging a special launch performance for ‘Future Never Comes’ in London tomorrow evening. A perfect opportunity to see this captivating singer in action.
Future Never Comes is released today 4th November.
FIFI RONG returns with her own particular brand of beguiling tunes on her new EP release…
If there’s one artist that appears to have a strong work ethic in the current music scene, it’s Fifi Rong. It appears the talented artist and producer barely has one EP out the door before another one is just behind it.
It’s precisely this commitment to crafting her music that’s led to high profile coverage from the likes of Radio 1, Clash and Fader. Fifi’s own particular intimate take on electronica continues to exude a charm and attraction that never appears to overstay its welcome.
So then to Forbidden Desire, Fifi’s latest offering which offers up a selection of mesmerising tunes. Or as Fifi herself puts it: “It’s a very individual and intimate language that I speak, with unfiltered and naked feelings of my own, for those who want to join me and listen to something real.”
Title track ‘Forbidden Desire’ features the mixing talents of Emmy Award nominated engineer Robert L Smith (who’s previously chalked up an impressive resume that includes the likes of Lady Gaga and David Bowie). It’s got the trademark captivating vocals from Fifi front and centre, but also has a more immediate, icy presence to it lending Fifi’s material more clarity than the languid dreamscapes of her usual outings.
‘You Hurt Me’ treads similar ground with an opening segment featuring an isolated melodica tune drifting across arctic landscapes. Fifi intones the song title as the composition merges into a dream-like collage of sound.
Elsewhere, the reflective tones of ‘Holy’ offer up more of the classic Fifi sound with an evocative, layered soundscape.
Forbidden Desire is released on 29th April.
Fifi Rong’s Forbidden Desire official EP launch performance is on Thursday 28th April 2016:
O2 Academy2 Islington
N1 Centre, 16 Parkfield Street
N1 0PS London
FIFI RONG brings her own brand of lush tunes care of new release Violently Silently…
One of the more surprising music acts to emerge in recent years comes in the form of FIFI RONG, whose sultry vocals have invited listeners into her unique world of ethereal soundscapes and dark dreams.
Originally hailing from Bejing, Fifi has crafted her own unique style as part of the London music scene. Encompassing a broad range of influences, including electronica, dub and hip hop, the singer, songwriter and producer has already chalked up an impressive series of releases, including the 2014 EP Next Pursuit. She also contributed to Tricky’s 2013 False Idols album.
Her latest release comes in the form of a crowdfunded EP titled Violently Silently which was funded by PledgeMusic. A relatively new crowdfunding resource, PledgeMusic specialises in focusing on music (previous notable artists include OMD, Echo & The Bunnymen and IAMX). Fifi drummed up a surge of support for her initiative with some enticing rewards and goodies for early pledgers and easily smashed her crowdfunding goal.
The result of this effort is another fine collection of hypnotic tunes that showcase Fifi’s soulful vocals and offers reflective moods as well as brighter pop moments.
Opening track ‘Intro’ weaves in elements of the other tracks on the release, offering up a captivating overture for the EP as a whole. ‘Once’ adds brighter, poppier colours to Fifi’s musical palette with its insistent rhythms and subtle synths.
There’s a tighter feel to the stylish percussive trills of ‘Slow Poison’ with its marimba touches and playful piano. Meanwhile, the languid strings of ‘Since When’ opens up an immersive world of lush soundscapes – offering up the perfect foundations for Fifi’s mesmerising vocals.
The suitably named ‘Outro’ closes proceedings, an electronic dub collage of mood with sparse percussive effects.
The whole affair has a warm and smooth production care of Fifi herself along with mixing by Lee Slater (who has previously worked with artists as diverse as MIA, Tynchy Strider, Pixie Lott and Lana Del Rey).
Fifi also has a Violently Silently launch gig planned for next week offering the perfect opportunity to catch her in live performance.
Violently Silently is released on 4th December.
Fifi Rong’s Violently Silently official EP launch performance is on Tuesday 24th November 2015 (7:00pm – 11:00pm) with special guests Geeta + Aria.
Upstairs at The Garage
20-22 Highbury Crescent
FIFI RONG has been keeping a high profile of late with the 2013 release of her debut single ‘Over You’ and debut album Wrong, a guest appearance on Tricky’s album False Idols, a special secret gig and now the release of the new EP titled Next Pursuit.
The soulful tones of 2013’s ‘Over You’ were impressive enough, so the question is whether or not Miss Rong can match that standard on the tracks included on Next Pursuit.
Happily, the EP presents a fine selection of stylish tunes that shows Fifi playing to her strengths (and also collaborating with the likes of Sadisc and OP9). “I found myself musically and personally through the making of my first album Wrong“, comments Fifi, “Next Pursuit 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.”
As we noted previously, there’s a delicate dream-like vibe to Fifi’s work, which also encompasses a broad range of genres including jazz, soul, dubstep and trip hop. It offers up a dreamy world of captivating beats over which her hypnotic vocals provide a point of focus.
The title track ‘Next Pursuit’ has a breathy, bassy charm to it which entices the listener into Fifi’s dreamlike world. Meanwhile, ‘Intimacy’ provides a more reflective soundscape of mesmerising beats and percussive rhythms.
‘Breathless’ is a more restrained number, a bass-driven slice of dark beauty with stark dub-inspired interludes. ‘Wishes Fault’ is an engaging tune that makes good use of electronic rhythms. It also features a nod towards more traditional Chinese melodies.
The acoustic guitar-led melody of ‘Cold In You’ utilises a simpler framework for Fifi’s voice. It’s a change of gear that eschews the heavier production for a more stripped down approach, but also demonstrates how effortlessly her sultry voice can adapt to a broad range of styles.
Finally, there’s some subtle strings on the burbling electronica that underpins ‘Equality’ – a track that weaves in some effective harmonic touches on the vocals.
The journey that she’s embarked upon has taken Fifi Rong to some interesting destinations. We recommend joining the journey to see where it takes you.
Songwriter and singer Fifi Rong has been carefully building up her own musical profile over recent years, an effort which has resulted in the captivating debut single ‘Over You’.
Originating from from China, Fifi has weaved in Chinese Folk elements into her sound. There’s a delicate dream-like vibe to her work which also encompasses a broad range of genres including Jazz, Soul, Dubstep and Trip Hop. Fifi also lists the likes of Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star as influences.
Her vocals have a hypnotic quality to them that draws the listener in. Or as her bio describes it: “Her lyrics boldly expose the shadows and ghosts that we all feel around us, but ignore or fail to understand. It is strangely primal and intrinsic music that leads to introspection and self-discovery by way of the heart, an intense yet calm analysis of deep feelings and emotions”.
Songs such as the evocative ‘56 Weeks’ paint a deep sensuous world which is further echoed on ‘I Need The World To End’ with its airy vocals and warm rhythms. Meanwhile ‘Over You’ is a smooth, soulful tune that oozes style and sophistication. As a debut single it’s also a perfect showcase for FiFi’s sultry vocals.
Outside of her solo work, Fifi has also found time for production work and collaborative efforts, including working alongside noted trip hop artist Tricky, contributing to his 2013 album release False Idols with the tracks ‘If Only I Knew’ and ‘Chinese Interlude’ (a further collaboration titled ‘Forget’ is available on Fifi’s Soundcloud page).