I profiled Hualun for issue 450 of The Wire,‘the world’s greatest print and online music magazine‘.
I spoke to the band about their journey from leading China’s early post-rock scene to exploring ambient soundscapes, via soundtrack work for the likes of An Elephant Sitting Still.
They also told me about the significance of creating the music for Wuhan Wuhan, a documentary on the early outbreak of Covid-19, after the pandemic locked down the city where they formed and trapped them in their nearby hometown of Yichang.
The K/DA idol and influential pop singer talks about her new direction, making music for the gaming world, and exploring Gregorian chants
It’s been two and half years since RADII first interviewed Lexie Liu. Back then she was a 19-year-old contestant on The Rap of China. Today, she’s an established star. And while her new EP is entitled Gone Gold for other reasons (more on those below), it’s a name that fits well with her ascent to the upper echelons of Mandopop.
Rap of China, where she made the final four, may have helped propel her towards stardom, but she’s never really been a rapper. Even backstage at the show she told us, “Rap is not my main thing to do. I’m more focused on the R&B side,” before listing Rihanna, Michael Jackson, Black Eyed Peas and Lady Gaga as her main stylistic references.
After a stream of sleek R&B tracks, Liu’s latest single — “ALGTR,” which dropped on January 11 — saw another change of direction. Gone was the sultry, slow-burn swagger of her 2019 album Meta Ego. In its place was high-energy electro-pop.
“When it came to making this EP, I was already dissatisfied with what I’d done before,” she says. “I was tired of singing those songs. With ‘ALGTR,’ I gave myself really high requirements and was in the studio for four days; I switched up my timbre and broke out of my own vocal range.”
Having controversially split from their Japanese founding partners, the Chinese management of SNH48, BEJ48, GNZ48, SHY48 – and soon CKG48 – seem set on creating a lucrative idol universe of epic proportions
A key election took place in Shanghai last weekend – at least as far as Mandopop fans are concerned.
SNH48, mainland China’s first “idol group”, and its three sister units held their fourth annual election to decide the top-ranking idols. The process saw nearly 300 girls from across the country perform for baying fans at Shanghai’s Mercedes-Benz Arena as part of a marathon six-hour event on July 29.
In the end, the top three positions in the massive popularity contest went to the same three girls who finished top of the pile last year. But there was still plenty of melodrama along the way, while the concert confirms the growing confidence of the Star48 Group, which manages all four idol units, since a controversial split from its Japanese founders.