Discover Artists That Joined The 11th IMAs: Wu Fei

Discover Artists That Joined The 11th IMAs: Wu Fei

HOMEBASE: Beijing / Brooklyn, NY

DESCRIBE YOUR GENRE: World, Jazz, Contemporary Classical

CATEGORY ENTERED: World/Traditional


LABEL Name OR Self-Released: Forest Hill Records, Tzadik Records

PLEASE LIST THE ARTISTS FEATURED ON THIS RELEASE: Wu Fei, Fred Frith, Carla Kihlstedt, Helge A. Norbakken

WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND YOUR BAND NAME? N/A Wu Fei is my real legal name.

DESCRIBE YOUR LATEST RELEASE: Title: YUAN, Label: Tzadik, Classical chamber compositions of mine. By the time you read this, my next album Pluck will have been released. It’s by the duo Pluck formed by me and guitarist Gyan Riley.

DID YOU USE ANY UNUSUAL INSTRUMENTS OR EFFECTS? My main instrument, the “guzheng”, is a traditional Chinese instrument with a history dating back 2500 years. I’ve been playing it since age of 6.

WERE THERE ANY ‘HAPPY ACCIDENTS’ IN THE STUDIO OR DID YOU RECORD IT AS PLANNED? The “studio” wasn’t a studio in the traditional sense. The recoding took places in a duke’s palace in Italy, a chapel near Parma, on the top of the Alps , and lastly in Oakland, CA back in the states when the overdubs and a lot of improvisations happened. The memorable “happy accident” for me would be after we hiked up to a meadow in the Alps in northern Italy, I was inspired by the stunning scenery: the forests, the mountains, cows eating grass and horses in the distance. As soon as I started to play – sitting in nature facing the forest – about 50 cows started to walk towards me. They seemed to be interested in the sound of my music. They were huge and peaceful. However, I had never seen so many cows and all walking towards me. I freaked out and jumped out of my seat screaming. Finally, the production team communicated with the cowboy. He got the cows back in order and they went to another place for lunch. Whew!


WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SUBMIT TO THE 11TH IMAS? An A&R representative contacted me about entering this award.

WHO IS SITTING IN YOUR AUDIENCE? WHAT MAKES YOUR FANS UNIQUE? My fans are people from all over the world and of all ages.

HAVE YOU EVER HUNG OUT WITH ONE OF YOUR MUSICAL HEROES? WHAT’S THE STORY? Yes. I have hung out and played with banjo master Bela Fleck. The first time we met was in Colorado. His back then girlfriend Abigail Washburn (now wife) invited me to play with their Sparrow Quartet. During the rehearsal, Bela and I traded our finger picks to try them on our own instruments. (I wear finger picks as well for playing the guzheng.) Guzheng plucking techniques are quite similar to banjo plucking. My fingers were too small for Bela’s banjo picks.

WHAT’S YOUR MOST MEMORABLE ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE? It was in 2007 when I went to Beijing to premiere my chamber work that was commissioned by the Percussion Claviers de Lyon from France. They commissioned me to write a new composition that included them and a few other Chinese instruments. It was premiered in the Forbidden City Concert Hall. It was a large ensemble piece. I was not only the composer, but also one of the players on stage. It was my first big concert presenting own my composition in my hometown after 7 years living in the US.

WHAT’S YOUR BEST/CRAZIEST TOUR STORY? The best was in 2006 when I was recording my first album in Italy. The production team went all over northern Italy for recording and filming. We hiked 4 hours to reach the top of the Alps. I was amazed by the beauty of the region and the hospitality of the Italian people.

ARE THERE ANY SONGS YOU WISH YOU WROTE? No. just songs I am going to write.

WHAT ARTISTS ARE YOU LISTENING TO THAT WOULD SURPRISE YOUR FANS? I started my training as a classical composer, and then my albums caught the attention of Jazz and world music festivals. Currently, I am working on a new release that has Chinese folk and pop elements. So, most my fans know me as a musician who is multi-genre and has done many crossover collaborations. Nothing I listen to would surprise my fans because I listen to everything except bad music.

NAME SOME ARTISTS YOU ARE CHAMPIONING. Carla Kihlstedt. Fred Frith. Gyan Riley (Gyan and I formed a duet project in NYC in summer 2011, called Pluck.), John Zorn, Morgan Agron, Bela Fleck, Billy Martin (of Medeski-Martin-Wood), David Longstreth, Trey Spruance.

Prince, Fred Frith, Erik Friedlander, Victor Wooden, Billy Martin, Carla Kihlstedt, Gyan Riley and myself!


WHAT DO YOU HAVE IN THE WORKS FOR THE UPCOMING YEAR? I have two upcoming albums: one is my new duet project Pluck with Gyan Riley. It will be released in NYC around the holiday season this year. Another one is A Distant Youth (my solo) Japan release in Feb 2012. I am also working on the music for another project with Abigail Washburn and Kai Welch, we are called Wu Force. We plan to record Wu Force’s first album next year in Nashville. Meanwhile, I’ve been writing solo pieces again to prepare for another solo release.

HOW CAN FANS FOLLOW YOU? WHERE IS YOUR MUSIC AVAILABLE? has my concert updates and other information. is good for fans to have closer communication with me, as well as . My music is available on iTunes, Amazon, Emusic, my own website, or just google Wu Fei, you will find many sites.