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Ferocious dj Fei-Fei has been captivating audiences with her pounding mix of techno and trance. As a producer, she has crashed onto the scene with stunning tracks like Everglow, Never Forget, and Ender and been snapped up by Paul van Dyk’s Vandit label.
What started your interest in music and led to your development as a classical pianist?
Music was a huge part of my life from the day I was born. Both my parents were musicians. My Dad was a classical pianist and also played the clarinet and oboe, my Mom sang in the Chinese opera. The first thing I can remember experiencing was music. Either my Dad was listening to classical music, my Mother was singing, or they were teaching me how to play a new instrument. I started the violin when I was four years old and then piano when I was six. I ended up playing the piano for about 13 years.
What prompted your ‘graduation’ to the decks?
About ten years ago I was at a friend’s house and they were listening to Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva’s X-Mix-3 CD. Techno music was my first exposure to EDM and I had to hear more. I started going to the underground rave parties in the mid-west, everything from parties in a barn to the outdoor weekend massives to your typical run-down warehouse parties. Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, Madison, Minneapolis, anywhere I went it was exhilarating. I pretty much decided I had to be part of that. I wanted to make music and dj. It was love at first listen!
But you also have talent and interest elsewhere, don’t you? Is it true you have a Master Of Fine Arts degree from USC’s School Of Cinematic Arts?
Yes, I actually do have a Masters degree in Film. Film was always a passion of mine as well. It is amazing taking a vision that’s in your head and seeing it on screen. My speciality was writing and directing. I love working with people and seeing something through to the end. It’s very fulfilling, just the same as music is to me. It’s all the same really, whether it’s telling a story on film or through music.
How did you get your first regular gig at Club Red in LA?
I had just moved to Los Angeles and some friends dragged me out one evening and told me to bring my records. I guess it was some sort of open decks house party and they said I might get a chance to play. So I eagerly did so and waited and waited and waited until pretty late, so late that the police showed up and almost busted the party! I was dead tired at this point but luckily the party went on and I was up next. I played for about 30 minutes and afterwards one of the owners of Club Red came up and offered a gig right there and then. He said, “how would you like to come and play for us at Red?” You don’t often hear of getting a gig this way so I said, “hell, yeah!” Looking back I was incredibly lucky to have been in the right place at the right time.
You’ve shared a Godskitchen stage with Ferry Corsten and Judge Jules. What was it like?
Oh it was amazing of course! If I remember correct, I played after Ferry. Coming on stage I was incredibly nervous! It was definitely a night to remember. The crowd was insane and it was such a rush. The not so great part of the evening was having to be at school at 8am the next day to record some audio for my film!
How did you find your regular residency at Spundae?
Spundae is hands down the best club night in the US! Ok, I may be biased but certainly it is on the west coast. About 2 years after I moved to Los Angeles, I got my first gig in the back room and then quickly moved to the main room and then finally to residency. I am definitely fortunate to have made it that far, especially for being an LA transplant! As for this year, I’m excited to announce a new club night called NIKITA at Circus Disco. So expect lots of cool events, along with gigs, and the tunes!
When did you start producing your own tracks?
I’ve always been good at coming up with melodies. Playing the piano for so long and being surrounded by so much music you start to hear things in your head. But I guess I started formally producing a few years after I moved to California roughly four to five years ago. I started messing around with Reason, then Cubase, Logic, and now Ableton. I wasn’t sure that I would get this far but I grew up believing that anything was possible if you worked hard enough. I’m also incredibly lucky to have had some good friends show me things along the way and always encouraging me. Without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Who signed your first record?
Vandit. I sent them Everglow and two weeks later it was signed! Definitely a turning point for me as it was my second track. My first track, Hangar One, was included in the release a few weeks later after being turned down by another label. It’s great how things work like that!
Who influences your sound?
Debussy, Paul van Dyk, Garbage, Richie Hawtin, Joey Medina, John Askew, DJ Preach, John Acquaviva, Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Armin van Buuren, Eddie Halliwell, Bissen, John O’Callaghan and the list could go on! Seriously, too many to name!
Do you have any plans to play in the UK?
Not at the moment, but hopefully next year the UK will see more of me.
Interview by Daniel Slipper