For some, nightclubs are more than they appear.
They’re not just places for drunken ragers or finding one-night stands—they’re sanctuaries where our loneliness and insecurities are forced to take a backseat as we dance into the late hours of the night. Electronic music producers are more attuned to this side of dance culture than many may give them credit for. Shanghai-based music producer Laughing Ears, whose given name is Li Jingping, is one such artist. With a penchant for avant-garde sounds, she creates riveting music based on her dreams, sadness, anger, and powerlessness. These emotions, framed by pounding rhythms and crisp melodies, whisk listeners off into sonic terrains far outside the bounds of reality. “People aren’t two-dimensional,” she says. “We’re the amalgamation of our emotions, and we’re all in search of an outlet to express them. My outlet of choice is music.”
梦幻、哀伤、愤怒、无力，是 Laughing Ears 希望在音乐中表达的内容，这些个人情感被前卫的舞曲框架编织起来，在激动人心的律动中带听众窥破她的内心，去遥想到现实之外的世界，她说：“人不是平面的，各种情感交织在一起，需要窗口来进行表达，我选择的方式是音乐。”
Though Li was born in northern China and previously released several records under Beijing-based label RAN and Hangzhou-based label FunctionLab, setting up base in Shanghai was an obvious choice. Shanghai’s electronic music scene has developed a breakneck pace in the past decade and received global accolades following the rise of labels such as Genome 6.66 Mbp and SVBKVLT. Today, the city has become a thriving nucleus of Chinese electronic music. “Shanghai is an inclusive city, and the music scene here is diverse,” she says. “It’s influenced my music quite a lot.”
Listen to Laughing Ears’s Metamorphosis EP below:
点击即可试听 Laughing Ears 的 EP《形变》:
This influence has resulted in a musical output that’s difficult to define. Li’s soundscapes are everchanging, containing traces of IDM, Bass, Tribal, Footwork, Ambient, and more. Her open-minded mentality towards music is what’s helped her craft her distinctive sound, ones that unabashedly rearranges a myriad of influences to create music fitting for today’s globalized world. “A sense of ‘fusion’ was my original intent,” she says. “My music feels unique because it doesn’t follow any particular style. I want my music to demonstrate the diverse possibilities of what ‘club music’ can sound like.”
Laughing Ears 的音乐并不会让你一下子反应上来属于哪种特定的风格，IDM、Bass、Tribal、Footwork、Ambient 等各种各样的舞曲元素被揉捏在一起，反倒让音乐富有极强的流动性。这种前卫的创作方式，让音乐人在庞大的电子音乐体系中组合属于自己的声音。其大量融合的特点也让这类音乐人在全球化背景下显得十分切题。Laughing Ears 说：“融合是我的初衷之一，没有特定的风格所以才显得独特。从听觉角度出发，我更希望在音乐中体现俱乐部音乐的多元与对抗。”
Listen to Laughing Ears’s Blue Dusk EP below:
点击即可试听 Laughing Ears 的 EP《Blue Dusk》:
Outside of her Laughing Ears persona, Li works full time as a video-game sound designer. Though she doesn’t believe her career bears an influence on her music, there is an obvious connection, in that both lines of work are facilitators of escapism. Her approach to music-making can often feel like a game in itself, she says, one in which she’s the all-powerful protagonist, and her quest is to collect an inventory of rare, disparate sounds. Despite this intimidating arsenal of sounds, it’s important to note that they’re only the foundation on which she can pile atop deeper concepts and raw emotions. She believes that these are essential ingredients making music sound more human.
平日里，Laughing Ears 还是一名游戏声音设计师，虽然她并不认为游戏与音乐有过多的联系，但两者都是通过幻想搭建脱离现实的路径。在这场由声音组成的 “游戏” 中，她扮演的玩家是一位狠角色，收集着黑暗、神秘、诡谲的 “装备”。而即便收集齐这些声音的 “武器” 库，Laughing Ears 也并不认为能组成一首完整的歌曲。她认为音乐需要具备主题和情绪，才会听上去 “有血有肉”。
Her two recent EPs, Metamorphosis and Blue Dusk, released on Chinabot and DECISIONS respectively, ambitiously interweave different emotions and themes. The former, across its six tracks, capture different states of interpersonal relationships; it’s also a demonstration of her instincts-led approach to songwriting, in which sounds organically collide and combine with one another in surprising ways. One of the best examples of this can be seen in the opening track “Unstable,” where bright saxophones spill out over the menacing synths.
Blue Dusk, on the other hand, is more cinematic than emotions-driven, designed to conjure imagery of a sprawling sci-fi universe. Across the four short tracks, her pulsating rhythms and futuristic textures infuse the EP with an undercurrent of mystery and danger. One of the most transfixing tracks is “The Smiling Mask,” which features woodwind flutters that pop out amidst the erratic arrangement of instruments.
2020 年，她先后在 Chinabot 和 DECISIONS 发行的两张 EP《Metamorphosis 形变》和《Blue Dusk》，皆由不同的主题和情绪贯穿始终。前者通过怪异的氛围音乐和节奏型，用六首歌曲营造人际关系中六种不同的状态，颇具东方神秘色彩；后者相对情绪而言，则更侧重画面感，突出声音设计所构建的科幻空间，四首歌曲以异域凶猛的节拍作为肌理，同时未来感的采样元素在其上点缀，冥冥中一股危险与神秘的气息冉冉升起。而前段时间不久，英国当代电子音乐先驱 Objekt 将《Blue Dusk》收录在自己的 DJ Set 中。
在音乐的制作过程中，Laughing Ears 习惯一切听从脑海中的想象行进，让元素的融合与 “对抗” 显得恰到好处，例如歌曲《Unstable》中轻盈的萨克斯风与阴暗的合成器旋律一涌而出；另一首《The Smiling Mask》中簧管器乐与深不可测的律动并驾齐驱。
Whether it’s her musings on interpersonal relationships or her barren visions of a cold dystopia, Li’s music thrusts viewers into the deep recesses of her imagination, a place where fantasies and emotions co-exist in an audible form. She believes being in touch with our emotions and indulging daydreams are crucial in modern times, and being overly stuck on life’s routines can strip away individuality and throttle the imagination. For today’s youth, dance music can be a much-welcomed escape from reality, and nightclubs may just be one of the last remaining places where people can be themselves and exist in the present moment. “Our disease is called reality,” she says. “Clubs may just be the panacea.”
You can catch Laughing Ears live at the upcoming Jungle Beach Festival in Tianjin, hosted by Zhaodai. The festival will kick off on August 28th and run until the 30th. Click here for details.
在她的音乐里，人际关系是多变的，而未来也带着神秘与冰冷的气息，唯独幻想和情绪显得纯粹且直观。当社会中的人们渐渐被现实磨去了自我，而这或许正是夜晚的俱乐部里年轻人们趋之若鹜的原因，去蹦迪，去留住自己的情绪。Laughing Ears 说：“现实就是我们的疾病，俱乐部则带给我们逃离现实的机会。”
马上的 8 月 28 至 30 日，Laughing Ears 将登临由北京招待所俱乐部举办的 “招待会” 丛林沙滩音乐节。届时，她的演出将会以一场罕见的氛围音乐展开，点击这里查看音乐节详情！