Fader: Get To Know Fifi Rong, The First Voice You Hear On Skepta’s Konnichiwa (Interview)
In the peaceful opening moments of Skepta‘s new studio album Konnichiwa—the calm before the storm of sirens and bass—an anonymous, intriguing female vocal drifts by. Over a sound bed of clinking swords and lapping water, her brief yet powerful performance lays the scene for not only the title track, but the whole LP:Looking for me, Konnichiwa. The voice belongs to Fifi Rong, a 26-year-old singer and producer based in London. Though her floating yet sharp-edged vocals have been featured on tracks for trip-hop pioneer Tricky and Swiss electronic duo Yelloas well as Skepta, Rong is a fiercely independent artist in her own right.
Having been brought up in China, Rong’s parents sent her to boarding school in Bristol, in the south west of the U.K., at the age of 16. She later moved to London in 2008. Though she had trained in piano, violin, guitar, and classical singing as a child, Rong never viewed music as her path until she found herself immersed in the city’s underground subcultures. Inspired by the dubstep she discovered at beloved club Plastic People, and the U.K. garage producers she’d met, she started making her own beats. In 2013, she self-released a debut album of trippy electronic pop that reveals a clear influence from the dark basements of the U.K. capital. In April 2016, she shared her latest project, the Forbidden Desire EP.
The FADER had a chat with Rong over the phone from her studio in leafy north London about how she linked up with Skepta, and discovered that the two artists, despite making wildly different music, have a firmly DIY mindset in common.