Source: China State Council Information Office 3
A lone musician is blazing his own trail in Chinese cyberspace, attracting millions of fans to his original music.
Before entering the Shanghai studio of musician Feng Shuo, exciting music can be heard blaring even beyond the door. This studio is of a decent size, certainly enough for someone who likes to concentrate on making music in his own world.
In the studio, there’s a tank with various types of fish, as well as gifts from fans, mostly Chinese living all over the world, on display. Further inside, is a recording studio and a work desk with computers and mixing consoles.
Every day before noon, Feng Shuo meets with his fans in the online music livebroad cast scheduled on WeSing, a popular mobile karaoke application operated by the Chinese internet giant Tencent.
He doesn’t talk to fans during the live broadcast awkwardly — instead he just sings, no matter whether people are there.
Feng Shuo celebrated his 40th birthday on Nov. 4. For him, fame and wealth are all vanity. It is better to settle down and make good music, find listeners who resonate with his works, so he can live freely. On Nov. 19, he will release his new song “The Light of Love” on various music platforms, and he played the song for China.org.cn reporter in advance: His clear and steady voice demonstrated a touching texture in the beautiful melody.
Feng has a famous internet alias “Tutu.” He explains this alias came from the university profession he gave up: civil engineering, as in Chinese language, it’s called Tu Mu (soil and wood) engineering. At the age of 20, he came to Shanghai to study in the College of Civil Engineering at Tongji University, but he said he did not intend for this.
Ever since his childhood, in Hebi City, Henan province, Feng has always loved singing, which has never changed. It was just because of the wishes of his parents from a traditional worker family, that he chose civil engineering against his own wishes. Later, he resolutely embarked on the journey of a singing career.
During the four years of university life, he participated in many singing competitions while completing his studies, and represented the university to perform in many shows. After graduating, he started from scratch, taught himself recording, mixing and post-production techniques, and covered about 170 pop hits. His voice attracted many internet music lovers. Some people even say that his voice is very similar to Hong Kong superstar Jacky Cheung. He then became a host on WeSing followed by millions of fans.
“I have to thank the internet and technology for giving me the opportunity to realize my value, my lifestyle, and find my audience”, Feng Shuo said, but he cares more about being low-key and retaining his freedom.
“I am willing to split 70% of my time doing behind-the-scenes work and 30% as a singing host. But in fact, I may not be suitable for the host at all, because I have a bad temper. But sometimes, I need to sing to relieve the pressure in my heart and adjust my emotions.”
Feng Shuo looks at himself as a “lone wolf”, which makes it difficult for him to cooperate with others — he wanted to control and manage every detail himself.
After singing enough covered songs, Feng Shuo felt that he should start to create original songs. Then he composed a series of these, such as “Unknown Self”, “Cry and Laugh Together”, “Drowning Fish” and “At the Edge of Numbness”.
In this way, he believes that, as a singer, he will evolve more, and he can really leave something to his family and the world. “I don’t want to make brainless pop songs in order to catch up with the trend. I hope I can make works that can settle down and have timeless value. I don’t want my child’s memories of me to be just a bunch of covered songs. There must be more other stories to tell, something more meaningful.”
In the face of pursuing artistic ideals and realistically making a living, Feng Shuo chose the former. In order not to allow issues of personal life to interfere with the quality of his creation, Feng has done a lot of behind-the-scenes work for other music projects to support his creative freedom.
His creations are always born at the moment of inspiration. He will take out his mobile phone and hum the melodies and ideas that emerge in his mind to record later. Then, he will be like a one-man band, assigning these materials to professional music arrangers to finalize music tracks, and match instruments for him. Then he adds his own vocal, the harmony track, and finally synthesizes all these tracks, undertake post-production, mixing and remixing. Wanting to do everything, he has learned many skills by himself.
At this point in his life and career, Feng Shuo said his parents have already understood his work choice, and they fully support him. His wife and child are also very supportive of him. He doesn’t care about the spotlight, and wants to spend more time with his family, without showbiz noise.
Feng is also very pleased that in this era of increasing emphasis on copyright protection, original musicians can get a reasonable share on various music platforms. “In the past, many musicians spent big money and efforts in making their songs, and then they were put online and suffered from pirate downloads. Now, it is finally an era with a virtuous circle.”
The lone singer felt that it was more comfortable to broadcast live on the screen of his mobile phone, instead of going to a certain venue for a concert that was time-consuming and laborious. “During the pandemic now, don’t many singers also hold concerts online? They are quite good.”
Actually, he had thought of holding a real live concert. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this plan was cancelled. He still retains this possibility for next year. On Nov. 15, a famous Shanghai radio host invited him to the show to record a special version of “The Light of Love” with children as background vocals for a local charity; however, this plan was postponed due to the newly discovered coronavirus case in Shanghai.
“I have been doing charity activities with the radio DJ for 10 years. Every year, I help the orphanage to bring together children to record songs of love, as well as do other charity sales and activities,” Feng said.
In fact, his new song “The Light of Love” is a charity song. The song calls on everyone to take practical actions to help children with intellectual disabilities: “Because love can empower people and be passed on infinitely to the world.”