Wang Shengnan likes exploring the feeling of a song.
“My musical inspiration, to tell you the truth, without fixed thinking, I came from life more than I did from music. It’s about expressing the desire, and then thinking about the music.”
Her latest, independent, release, 深海的鱼, relies on the imagery of solitary deep sea mammals. She uses these beasts to explore the hardship of being alone and searching for love in our modern world.
Wang Shengnan learned how to play the piano as a young girl. Although she continues to shred on the keyboard instrument, a lot of that early learning has fallen away with time. Replacing all of that are the hard, nuanced lessons of adult life.
In what feels like a total diversion from her previous album, Self-Titled. Shengnan has brought her piano and guitar to bear much more on 深海的鱼. She also gets by with a help from her friends, SNSOS’s guitarist Baosheng appeared on Second Lover, Shanghai producer and friend PS helped Shengnan on the production end of things, while Beijing based musician thruoutin gave advise on the music.
All of her musical relationships tend to feed more into her own particular sound. With her slow and considerate vocals, and her own particular style of lyricism, Shengnan is out on her own. She uses her words in the same way that a storywriter might.
Her lyrics have always felt this way, but there is something about her latest release, the fantastic 深海的鱼 that gives this idea more force. Perhaps it is the sparse nature of the production and the music that makes this album feel literary. The stories and the scenery of her songs sound more realised here.
“There are chemical reactions in words, as well as in popular compositions and arrangements. At the moment I have a feeling of great emotion about words. I like to be interested in sensitive text and sentence patterns.”
While the name of her album is reminiscent of young Irish folk musician SOAK’s song – Sea Creatures. It is interesting that Wang Shengnan chose to return to her folksy roots, after her impressive, electronic and funk infused previous effort.
One of her most endearing features throughout her career has been the power of her voice. Her vocals bristle with barely contained energy, best heard on tracks like MD and Summer.
Elsewhere she tackles the idea of a love between three people – a boy, a girl and a girl – on Second Lover. The video for this song was shot by Wang Shengnan herself. Her soft focus captures the two female characters in intimate moments, whilst this three-way relationship remains ambiguously hard to decipher.
“Actually this also is the part that I want to express, the affection between the girl, sometimes is fuzzy. Not all love is romantic.”
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While the dust settles following her fantastic third release, she has yet to reveal any plans for another China tour. She is currently busy finalising new songs and new music videos, with 3.30am just released.
Given her immense ability to channel emotions such as loneliness and love in the tone of her voice and her camera lens. Also her commitment to staying independent whilst also consistently knocking out fantastic pop albums, she remains as one of the very best independent folk artists around China today.
Wang Shengnan’s Social Links: