Bae Tokyo Feature: Fishdoll

By Gaeun Chu on Saturday, May 19th, 2018

FISHDOLL INTERVIEW: on making / on being

by Jes Kalled

Color Bae

Yuyu, aka Fishdoll, is against the genre. Born and raised in Beijing, China, she is heavily influenced by the music in her childhood. In particular, Chinese Rock, and Michael Jackson.

“It’s definitely something in my whole blood—it grows in my blood because it’s my childhood memory. I guess that’s why I love soul music so much, because of that.”

Fishdoll’s journey with music continued in 2008 when started taking an interest in jazz / soul / hip-hop. “It just blew my mind. What is this? I thought. Why is it hitting me so deeply? I want to make sounds like that.” Struck with a sudden desire to make her own sounds, the young artist began playing around with a humble production software that required using a mouse in place of a keyboard. “I had to click every note.” She said. However, production really began for her in 2014 when she first traveled to NYC to attend a music program.

How did your trip to NYC jumpstart your career?

Before that, I didn’t know anything about making music. I studied classical violin when I was young. You know, a lot of  asian parents ask their kids to either play the piano or the violin, but I didn’t really get into that. Before I went to America, everything was just so…Well, there was nothing going on here in China. It’s like everyone was still struggling with life.

Everything is blocked here so nobody has a chance to explore diversity or interesting things that are going on in the outside world. There are some amazing parts of New York. …Support, for example. Everyone is just doing their best to achieve their goal. [Artists] just have so much passion with what they’re doing, and they inspire me so much. 

Can you describe your creative process?

From the beginning I’ve never really thought about the rules or the discipline of making these sounds. For me making music is all about just getting the sound out of my head, because it’s already there, I just need to record it, need to do a documentation of my imagination I guess.

And because of that I don’t do music that sounds like something. I can’t define it, actually.

When I make music I don’t really think that much. Kind of like meditating. I just do whatever the sounds lead me to do. It’s like drawing. Like a paint brush that’s leading me to draw lines and patterns. I just let it flow, and I don’t judge it. There are also times when I just don’t feel like making music, so I stop and leave it for a couple days or a month, and return to it later.

Do you feel like you’re creating your own genre? Do you feel like that’s something that’s happening unintentionally?

I don’t really think about that, that much. After I released my music, somebody told me that they couldn’t really tell what it was. But the truth is, I can’t even tell what genre it is either. They asked me if I did it on purpose, and I said no I just do whatever I feel.

I think it’s because I’m kind of against the genre. The genre. It’s this idea. Everything is all just music. Nothing is different. It’s all music.

What is something that challenges you?

I’ve never thought about that. I feel like being on a stage is always a challenge for me. It’s not a problem that I’ve solved yet. It’s like always, always there. I don’t like performing that much, honestly. But  I have to do it. I have to myself out there and let people know about my music. Nobody is required to perform, but I feel like I must. Being on the stage makes me so…well, every second I feel like I’m … Well, I’m a very shy person. On stage I can feel all the people looking at me. I always feel like I need to find a place to hide.

What has a very strong influence in your making process?

I guess painting. I like colors a lot. Every sound has a color to me. I can see it. And I can feel it. Sometimes I scroll through pictures on Pinterest or Buamai for hours. I like to find patterns and pictures and colors that inspire me a lot. I guess that’s like the main part for me in order to create sound. Life experience too. Sometimes I experience something, or meet some people, or someone says something that makes me think which will later transfer to the sound I want to make.

I think definitely being in strange environments where nobody knows me influences me a lot. This is something that inspires me so much. I want to go somewhere that I have no idea what it could be like, or no idea how to survive. Sometimes in NYC I felt like I was the only person that knew myself in that whole place. Like, I was an alien.

Have you had any specific challenges as a woman in the music industry?

Yes. Oh yes. Once a male boss said to me (in front of everyone) “They are not hiring you because of your music, or because you’re doing production, it’s because you’re a girl.” I was like are you kidding me. He was like, “Relax, chill out. You know you’re not the best, there are so many other people that are better than you. You’re the only girl here, you’re pretty, that’s the reason, so face it.” I was furious.

Later I talked to the company representatives, and they apologized. I told them that I couldn’t be on the team anymore. They said, “We want you not because you are a girl, but first because you are awesome. We really like you.You are the exact person that we need, not because you’re female. We will have them apologize to you. And you will be working directly for us.” In the end I was glad that I “overreacted.” Being a girl here you have to really try your best, and work really hard. Then people will understand that you’re good. Instead of saying “it’s because you’re pretty.”

What artists have you been connecting with this week?

Jan Jelinek

Moody Men (Definitely the whole album).

Jack Stauber – (Found him the day before this interview).

Milton Nascimento

Finally, who’s your Bae Feature suggestion?

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (Hands down).

This interview has been condensed and edited.