Photo: Press (Laughing Ears)
Li Jingping says that her Laughing Ears project is all about thinking outside the box and it shows. Her recent releases on labels like Ran Music, Chinabot and Infinite Machine, through which she put out her album Blood, are deeply futuristic, complex and impossible to categorise. There’s traces of rhythmically more adventurous US and UK genres like footwork or IDM, lush ambient sounds and textures, all arranged in ways that make her music sound unlike anything else. Als Laughing Ears’ mix for our Groove podcast is a challenging one, featuring mostly productions by herself, but also tunes by the likes of Untold, on whose Hemlock label she will release her new EP Losing Track in late June.
You have received classical musical training. What was your upbringing like in regards to music, and what drew you to electronic music?
That’s a misunderstanding! I’ve received vocal training before and although I also listened to a lot of classical music, I have not really been trained. I started vocal training at a young age and did it for several years, which made me more interested in music. Growing up I listened to a lot of Jay Chow, and then got into electronic music through Stones Throw hip-hop to Warp records and started digging deeper and deeper. I discovered multiple genre before making my own music. For me, electronic music is the direct way to represent myself.
Your debut EP, Illusory Time, took its cues from Andrey Tarkovsky’s movie Solaris while you have also cited Kon Satoshi’s animes as an influence. Where does your interest in science fiction stem from and which impact exactly do these films have on your music?
From their sound aesthetic to their sentimental way of storytelling, I feel these movies have something in common with my releases, so I think this is a good way to convey the message.
Other releases thematically focus on emotion and human psychology. What makes music a fitting vessel to explore these topics for you?
Music is always linked to emotion, memories, mental energy… So I record the things I saw, that are fluctuating inside of me, the impact after the trauma…
Your album Blood, released on Infinite Machines in February, picks up on the story of Fenrir from Norse mythology to explore “family ties and the melancholic beauty that can be found in the darkness of loss.” How did you come across this myth and what made it seem to you like the perfect lens through which you could explore these topics?
The concept of this release is blood ties and that relates to Fenrir’s story, his being bound and the dangers of family bonds. Long story short, my uncle has been an alcoholic for decades, ever since I can remember. He committed suicide in the alcohol rehabilitation hospital. I love him even though he was not perfect. I have known this myth story long ago, and it reminds me of my uncle. People always describe demonic things as ugly and dangerous but I actually think they’re kinda genuine.
Your next release will be an EP for Untold’s Hemlock Recordings, Losing Track. How did that release come together and which topics informed it?
This EP contains three tracks that evoke the spirit of 1990s IDM and breakbeat, another type of music I love.
Apart from your work as a producer, you are also a video game sound designer. What does this job entail and would say that there is a connection between it and what you do under the Laughing Ears moniker?
As a game sound designer, we produce sounds for different types of games, sometimes we do some field recordings and foley recordings to make them sound unique. I have also dealt with middleware like Wwise to link the sounds to the game engine. I prefer to keep my job and my own production separated because if I’m working on a specific game, that means that I have to consider a lot of factors from the game ‘s original concept and not only my own preferences. So basically they are separated. When it comes to Laughing Ears, I usually try to think out of the box.
What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?
It’s a trip built on sounds that I resonate with.
Last but not least: What are your plans for the future?
Listening to music and exploring more sounds. Trying to do more stuff with vocals. Be true to myself.
Stream: Laughing Ears- Groove Podcast 296
Quelle Chris, Chris Keys – Fred Visits the Crowns Church
Untold – Tear Up the Club
Mani Festo – Concorde II
Laughing Ears – Breakaway
Other originals from Laughing Ears