By EmmoLei Sankofa
Located in Los Angeles, CA, China Fox is a unique R&B/Pop songwriter on the rise. She's had commercial success with massive collaborations with LUURK, AKA Block, campaigns with Covergirl, Red Bull, & many others to name a few.
Describe the playlist you created for us in 3 words.
Bold, brave, fresh.
Who’s one artist on your playlist we need to start following immediately, and why?
Kyle Dion. He’s been around for a bit, but I love his sense of musicality. He’s got a strong sense of vocal production, melodies and lyrics. I also appreciate the R&B and rock influences he brings into his music. It’s modern, but it also stands out considering he uses background vocal arrangements, which I personally appreciate and don’t hear it much anymore.
You were a military kid and moved around a lot. How did that impact what you were influenced by artistically and culturally?
Culturally, I find beauty in just about every person and place. Moving around a lot teaches you to develop a good sense of adaptation, and quickly. Because of this, I’m able to really value the right things and have learned not to use people but love them first. From a young age, I never found it difficult to make friends with people, regardless of age, gender, race, etc.
Artistically, I’m learning how much a variety of things influence me on a daily basis. R&B is my bread and butter as a genre, but I lived in places where Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Mariachi, Spanish and Rock music all found places in my heart.
What pieces of that part of your life show up in your music the most?
Everywhere, honestly. My parents always had music playing in almost every room of the house and it was always different stuff. I grew up mostly on Pop, Soul, Motown, 90s R&B, Christian rap, and Hip Hop. I’ve been heavily steeped in the history, culture and sonic quality of those genres. It’s pretty evident with almost everything that I write. R&B and music of that style and class can’t be insincere or you can tell right away. It’s something I always try to pay homage to when working on something new while trying not to just rip it off.
Briefly tell us about your background as an engineer/producer and how it contributed to your workflow during the creative process for your album “Chocolate”.
I went to school for audio engineering and music production. Engineering wasn’t really something I wanted to do as a career, but I knew I’d need to understand it in order to be taken more seriously, to be fluent in a recording studio as well as not have to rely on someone to keep the workflow moving. People have called me a perfectionist in the past, and while that might be true, I like to think I have a specific vision for myself and the sonic quality of my artistry. Thanks to my education and curiosity for that area of creating music, I understand so much more and, most importantly, can communicate what it is that I’m hearing or need in the studio with fellow engineers, producers and musicians.
“Chocolate” was written and recorded within the same night last August (2018). It took us about an hour or so for AKA Block and Richard Craker to create the track and another 3 to write the lyrics/melody and record the vocals. I actually recorded the vocals for that single around 2 am and finished around 4 with the help of Alex Sypsomos, one of the single’s producers. I’ve been recording myself for the past few years almost on a daily basis, which was major in cutting down the time it took to get some good takes. There’s nothing more humbling than hearing yourself singing back. I’ve had a lot of practice at this point and can get through a lot of takes efficiently.
You mentioned in a recent video that you were ready to stop being afraid of success. What do you feel was holding you back and what prompted the mind shift?
I was 100% holding myself back. Fear is a great motivator to doing nothing. The fear of success can sometimes be greater than the need to win or progress. That’s really where I was in the last couple of years. I would write songs (still do) and not release them.
What I realized is that if you’re working on something creative, there will always be a “yes” response and a “no” response. It doesn’t really matter what I personally think of something I create, because that part will always be getting better. I don’t create for myself; I create because it’s a gift that was given to me and meant to be shared. Otherwise, it’s self-indulgent.
If you could compare the narrative woven into your album, “Chocolate”, to a film or TV series, what would it be and why?
That’s a great question. I think I could compare it to the Barry Jenkins movie “Moonlight.” That’s a “coming of age” movie that has a lot of depth, sadness, as well as inner dialogue that you see but not hear. “Chocolate” is really about my adoration and love of the strong black women I’ve experienced in my life. On the surface, it’s a cute song with trap drums and a catchy guitar line, but to me, it’s about taking those chances to stay “up all night” for a person, even if that person might not be good for you.
If you had to pick one painting that described who China Fox is, which painting would you choose and why?
I would pick “Starry Night” by Van Gogh. I love the mystery and the depth of the bottom half, evoking feelings of melancholy and sadness. But the actual focal point (for me and many others) are the stars and the brightness of the cypress and moon. It’s a collection of thoughts, emotions, and overall hope to the viewer. My artistry is a big blend of old and new, mystery and clarity in waves. It could be a major bias, considering my favorite color is blue, but this piece gives me a sense of peace and hope.