Bass Drops and Tequila Shots with Fei-Fei, EDM's Wild Child
If you’re a friend of Fei-Fei’s and you’re coming out to her club night, you’re going to be doing a tequila shot.
“It’s paleo!” she says, explaining why it’s her intoxicant of choice. “It’s the only alcohol that’s not a depressant. It’s actually an upper, because it’s made from the agave plant.”
When trying to keep pace with the pint-sized DJ/producer, depressants of any kind are a bad idea. At the opening of her new monthly night, Feided, she’s a whirlwind in Chuck Taylors and a gray Jurassic 5 hoodie, greeting friends, posing for pics, buying shots and handing out watermelon slices soaked in (you guessed it) tequila. The slices are leftovers from a tacos-and-tequila pre-party at her apartment just a few blocks from The Lash, the downtown bar that’s hosting Feided in its intimate back room.
“On a scale of one to ten, how drunk are you?” she asks a recent arrival. When he replies “Six,” she turns to one of The Lash’s busy bartenders: “Two more shots!”
By the time she takes the decks at a quarter to midnight, The Lash is crammed with an enthusiastic, well-lubricated crowd — many of them personally liquored up by Fei-Fei.
She herself has consumed a bewildering amount of tequila, but seems to be walking proof of its stimulating qualities. Wearing a backwards tribal-print baseball cap and a huge grin, she lunges eagerly into an eclectic set of trap, dubstep and hard house. Her mixing is fluid and on-point — no small feat for such a genre-hopping set. She’s got the crowd moving.
It seems inconceivable that this one-woman party could be the subject of online death threats, but that’s what happened two years ago at Beyond Wonderland. Fei-Fei, who got her start as a trance DJ and was at one time signed to Armin Van Buuren’s Armada label, was booked to play Van Buuren’s trance party at the annual EDM festival. But the self-described “wild child” had the temerity to drop some dubstep into her set. Van Buuren’s fans, watching a webcast of the event, let the haterade flow.
She shrugs off the incident now. “I took it all in stride,” she says, sipping some strong, organic coffee a few days after last month's Feided. “Coming up in this career, I’ve had to put up with a lot of shit-talking. I have a really thick skin now.”
Fei-Fei’s relationship with EDM has always been a very personal one. Growing up in Madison, Wisconsin, the only child of “strict, overachieving” Chinese parents, she discovered Detroit techno and began attending raves and underground parties while still in high school.
“I would go by myself, not drink, not do any drugs, and just lose myself in the music,” she says. Every chance she could, she would watch the DJs at work and think to herself, “I have to figure out how to do that.”
Turntables and vinyl in tow, she moved to L.A. to attend USC film school, but quickly found herself immersed in the L.A. electronic music scene. Her first residency, at the long-running trance club Red, led to steady gigs with Spundae and Insomniac. She also made a splash as a producer, releasing her very first track on Paul Van Dyk’s Bandit Records.
But she never intended to limit her career to just trance. “I have so many different influences,” she says. “It’s kinda like, if you’re a chef, you wouldn’t want to cook the same thing every day. So I just started experimenting, and that’s when I started getting more into the bass scene.”
After exploring trap and electro-house earlier this year on her All Day I Dream EP, released on dubstep producer Datsik’s Firepower label, she’s returning this fall with her debut artist album on her own Feided label. Lead single “Little White Lies,” a dramatic mix of dreamy synths, filtered vocal samples and rolling snare hits, hints at her new, moodier direction.
“A lot of the stuff on the album isn’t even necessarily stuff I would play out,” she says, downing the last of her coffee. “It’s more introspective; I was just going with how I was feeling. I'd much rather take a risk and fail miserably then play it safe and sound just like everyone else.”
But until the album drops, her focus is on the next installment of her new monthly club night, and the pre-party at her place. On Tuesday, she tweeted out a picture of watermelon slices — soaked, presumably, in tequila.
“If you know what this is,” she wrote, “round two is happening this Friday.”
Feided happens Fri., Sept. 19 at The Lash in Downtown L.A. No cover.
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