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'Queen of Beijing Rock' back to dazzle fans

Updated: 2012-12-14 13:50
By Chen Nan (China Daily)

'Queen of Beijing Rock' back to dazzle fans

Feng Haining will perform with Nova Heart at the Midi Award concert on Dec 16 at M Space of the Mastercard Center in Beijing. Provided to China Daily

Music has always been in Feng Haining's life. She enrolled in piano lessons at age 4 and soon after wrote her first song about a little tiger and a white rabbit.

But the Beijing-born singer, who was raised in the United States, never thought she would one day form a rock band.

Today, she's hailed by some as the "Queen of Beijing Rock" and her band, Nova Heart, has performed in Australia, Canada and Europe.

Her foray into the music scene began 10 years ago, when she was 18. She was in China and was inspired after watching a rock concert.

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"I realized then that there was so much energy in this scene and I wanted to belong to it," Feng says. "I felt anything was possible."

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She decided to stay for a year in Beijing and got a job as the host of The Rock Show, a bilingual radio program by China Radio International. As the host, she got to pick songs that excite young listeners.

By a twist of fate, she formed her first indie band, Ziyo: She was taking guitar lessons as a hobby and her teacher asked her if she could sing. He played, she sang, and he asked if she wanted start a band with a couple of other men.

"We just wanted to be in a band," she recalls, adding that her teacher wrote the songs.

Ziyo's very first show was also "by accident", Feng says. The group was at an open mic night at a bar in Beijing, and she convinced the bar owner to let the band do three songs.

The bar owner liked their performances so much that he offered to introduce Ziyo to other people.

After Ziyo, she fronted electro-pop band Pet Conspiracy and in mid-2010, founded Nova Heart.

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Since its formation, Nova Heart has performed at many prestigious events in China and in 2012, it has spread its wings overseas.

Feng says for bands to succeed, they must know what they want to express, and not what they will get out of it at the end of the day.

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"If you are just aiming to be trendy, to make money, to be fashionable, you end up sounding either generic or confused. Sometimes both," she says.

She won the title of Best Female Rock Vocal Performance at the 2009 and 2010 Midi Awards, the one and only rock music awards in China, which started four years ago.

At this year's Midi Awards, Feng was nominated for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance and Nova Heart was nominated for Best Live Performance of the Year.

Zhang Fan, director of Midi Music School and founder of China's oldest outdoor music festival, Midi Music Festival, says he has been impressed by Feng's live performance ever since her 2003 debut, Free the Birds.

'Queen of Beijing Rock' back to dazzle fans

"Her live show is so powerful and expressive," Zhang says. "Chinese bands are not really as far from the international standard as we think we are. It's just a matter of time before a Chinese band really breaks out."

Feng will perform with Nova Heart at Midi Award concert on Dec 16 at M Space of the Mastercard Center, formerly known as Wukesong Arena. Other nominated rock singers and bands, such as Brain Failure and DJ Zhang Youdai, will share the stage.