Beatport’s first run-in with Los Angeles-based producer Fei-Fei happened in July of 2011. She headed into our offices in Denver for a Beatport Live session that was unfortunately cut short due to internet connection issues that plagued us throughout the day. It wasn’t until more than a year later that we were able to lure her back in for a long-overdue make-up session, but a lot has happened since that first webcast. Aside from the former trance headliner snatching a top-10 slot in the dubstep genre earlier this year with “Love Drunk,” she’s also got a new release, “Torture,” starring Newham Generals MC Footsie just out on her own Feided Recordings—and it seemed like the perfect time to follow up. So read on and then grab her special Get Feided Live at Beatport Mix.
Can you tell us a little about your musical background? Where did you grow up
I’m kinda from all over: China, the midwest, and the west coast. I was born in Beijing and soon after, my family came to America—Ohio, Missouri, and Madison, WI, was where we ended up before I moved to Cali. My parents had me playing instruments when I was a kid. I started the violin when I was four, didn’t like it, and then picked up piano when I was six and played for over 13 years before moving to turntables.
How did you get started DJing and making music?
It all started with Richie Hawtin. I was at a friend’s house and there was this music playing that I’d never heard before. It was Richie Hawtin and John Acquaviva’s X-Mix-3. The whole Detroit techno sound opened the floodgates. I started going to all the underground parties going off in the midwest—barn parties, outdoor massives, dirty warehouse parties… You name it, I was there—the dirtier, the better. I would even drive four hours just to go to a party by myself. I pretty much decided my first party I went to that I wanted to be the person making the music.
How would you describe the music you make?
Fei-Step. Music with balls. A mindfuck. The Feided junkies have coined so many awesome ways to describe it. Big room bass. Dirty. Makes you want to break stuff. No rules, no genres—just sick-ass bass music.
When you perform, what’s your preferred set-up, and how would you describe your sets?
Right now I’m using SD cards on the Pioneer CDJ-2000s and DJM-900 Nexus. I play bass music! My sound in the studio and on the road are heavily routed in all things bass: a lot of dubstep, D&B, grime, trap, and moombahton. With that said, I’m heavily influenced by everything, whether it’s dubstep, electro, house, rave, future garage, kuduro, moombahton, D&B, hip-hop, grime, techno, or trance. The evolution of my sound has been developing over the past couple of years, and I’m super-happy to be in the musical space I’m in right now and how supportive my fans have been throughout. They know they’re in for a wild ride when they come see me.
The really exciting thing about music today is that it’s one big hot mess. Everything is influenced by everything and there’s so much new original stuff because of it. I love that artists are not afraid to express their creativity. Good music is good music. And it’s very inspiring.
Recently you did a broadcast and live performance for Armin van Buuren’s State of Trance at Insomniac’s Beyond Wonderland Festival in which you played a little bit of everything to a mainly trance-focused crowd. There was a lot of buzz (good and bad) on the internet about people’s response to that, and we heard you even got some death threats. Can you tell us more about what happened after the show, and what’s developed from that experience?
Yeah, that was nuts! I guess you could say I pissed some people off Death threats? Unreal! I was just doing my thing. I put my heart and soul into it and do what every artist should do: be true to themselves. I like to take people on a wild ride and my fans know to expect the unexpected. Apparently some of the listeners who tuned in weren’t quite ready to get FEIDED! My Twitter and Facebook literally blew up and became a trending topic on Twitter. The set I uploaded on my SoundCloud has like 16,000 hits on it all within a few days.
Basically, I got slammed for playing an all-dubstep set, which is funny because I actually played a whole bunch of stuff: dubstep, D&B, moombahton, UK rave, hip-hop, grime, techno, electro house, my own productions, and of course some trance. Although I think people were too busy huffing and puffing on the nets to notice. Then after my set, in a live interview with Armin, he said, “Describe your style,” and I said, “Good music is good music. I play whatever the fuck I wanna play,” and we both laughed! I don’t think he was surprised; he knows what music I produce and play. And I applaud Armin and his camp for embracing diversity.
Seriously, it was such a great honor to be a part of ASOT550 and Insomniac’s Beyond Wonderland. Everyone there was rockin’ out. I even caught Pasquale up on stage with me dancing during my set. But man oh man, did people lose their minds. But like the saying goes, haters gonna hate! And whether you love me or hate me, I went out and did my thing. Stay true to yourself and you’ll always win at the end of the day. I love my lovers and my haters!
Did you have any mentors when you were starting out? Is there anyone that helped you develop your sounds in other genres?
I’m super-grateful to be surrounded by amazing family, friends, and an awesome team on this mad journey. I owe a lot to Joey Medina, who, if not for him, I would not be here today doing what I’m doing. But most importantly, I want to stress to all the aspiring artists out there that passion, determination, and a hardcore work ethic are things you just cannot teach someone—you have to have that in you. You have to want it so bad it kills you.
When did you first feel that you had finally discovered your own individual style?
When I launched Feided. It was a bit scary to do it without any major label support, but it was definitely the best decision ever. It gave me total creative freedom to put out what I wanted when I wanted and really give the fans what they wanted. No rules, no boundaries, anything goes. Feided is all about putting out cutting-edge stuff and music that doesn’t fit into any mold. But honestly, I’m still evolving. The day you stop growing is the day you stop being an artist.
How do you explain your music to your family members?
My parents are on it. They will call me and be like, “Your song moved up to #4 today!” before I even know. They also play my music at their restaurant and tell all the customers to go check me out. It’s pretty awesome. I love them.
Are you the type of musician who knows what kind of track you want to write before you sit down to make it, or do you create music more from a process of experimentation?
I never know what’s going to happen! That’s the beauty of it. Sometimes you sit down to make the greatest hit ever and it’s crap. Other times you’re just messing around with sounds and it turns out to be bad-ass. It’s all about experimentation and finding your sound, no matter what’s inspiring you.
When you sit down to make a track, what’s the first thing you typically do? How long does a track typically take you to make?
I always start with the percussions. Incidentally, I feel like the snare is the most important part of a bass track. As for how long: a week to a month. Sometimes it’s really organic and other times the track goes through a lot of butchering to get it right.
Where do you record?
Home studio. I live in a loft downtown Los Angeles in the fashion district so it’s super-inspiring. It’s a big open space, concrete floors, and huge windows. Nothing beats rolling out of bed and working all day in your PJs!
Do you currently have a favorite piece of gear/software?
Massive and Ozone 5. Ozone 5 particularly, for single-channel processing.
Are you a morning person or night owl?
Definitely a night owl. The creative juices just flow better at night. Although I do wake up at ungodly hours in the morning.
Which record do you wish you had made?
Not really any. Those records are special because those artists made them.
If you only had time to save one of your own musical relics or pieces of vinyl from eminent danger, which would it be?
Screw the records, I’d go straight to my Mac Pro, Macbook Pro, and all the hard drives.
When you’re not listening to electronic music, what do you listen to?
All sorts of stuff. A lot of hip-hop, indie pop, indie rock, classical, death metal, dancehall, and country. It’s important to listen to a variety of music. You never know what’s going to inspire you.
When you’re not making or playing music, what’s your preferred pastime?
Movies, long walks on the beach (no joke), biking, hiking, swimming, and eating! I’m a huge foodie.
Speaking of food, your family owns a dumpling restaurant in Wisconsin.
Yes. Dumpling Haus. The best homemade dumplings and baos you will ever have in your life. Ever. My mom’s food is amazing. You’re making me want to go back for a visit like now… haha. My mom is my hero and my biggest inspiration in life.
If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing with your life?
Tell us about your upcoming gigs and releases, and some highlights this year.
“Torture”! Just dropped on my own label, Feided. It’s a mad, mad ting! Big collab with my homie Footsie, one half of UK grime masters Newham Generals. Super-excited for this one as it’s something a bit more on the darker, nastier, grimier side of FF. Also have a project with both Footsie and D Double E. But still too early to talk about that one! I also just had the pleasure of remixing house legends The Squatters featuring Steve Edwards’ new tune. That one’s a bit more of a summery trap-step vibe out later this fall on New State Music.
Gig-wise, I got to play some pretty wicked parties this summer. Denver, Atlantic City, Honolulu, NYC, Washington, DC, Houston, and the UK! Got to rock the UKF stage at the Relentless Nass Festival, which was absolutely mental. Also played at the mega-renowned club Proud2 in London. Europe was hella tight! I love the energy. And, of course, playing for Armin at ASOT 550 was next-level. Shout out to all my lovers and haters out there; you know who you are. Earlier this year I also played Heat, a massive sold-out college show of 20,000 peeps with Mac Miller, Major Lazer, and Chiddy Bang. I did the Play Me Records showcase at SXSW and I was overwhelmed that “Love Drunk” hit #4 during WMC! I’m super-proud to be a part of the Play Me Records fam. Reid [Speed]’s been a good friend of mine for many years, so I’m thrilled to be working with her. I’m absolutely floored and grateful for all the support from all my Feided junkies out there.
Coming up, I have loads of wicked tunes on the way. Been super-busy in the studio so I’m really excited to unleash it all on you guys. All the deets will be up on feided.com!