Interview: UK’s Lui Peng

Habitual | 24 October 2018

Lui Peng is a British-Chinese singer who arrived from China to the UK at nine years old. He is an artist caught between two worlds; not just acoustic and produced, Asia and Western Europe, but also the hard, real world of payoff through pain, and the imaginary landscapes that his mind wanders off to. It is in this dream landscape that Lui’s music lives, and unlike many pop artists today, Lui is not afraid to take you to these places in his songs.

Habitual speaks to Lui who visited Singapore for the 2018 edition of Music Matters.

How did you get into music?

It’s a bit of a funny one. My mum actually put me in the church choir when I was about 10 years old — but what kid wants to sing in the choir? And I couldn’t speak English much at that time so I was learning and singing in the background and absorbing what was around me. Then around 13 or 14, that was when I picked up the guitar and then songwriting which became second nature to me.

How would you describe your sound?

I would say it’s alternative hip-hop/R&B.

Do you identify with the EDM genre?

I guess so. A lot of the tracks I’ve released are produced by EDM producers and I’ve been the featured artist. So in the past when I’ve worked with these producers, I like to have their creative influences heavily on the track because I just believe in, you know, if I vibe with the sound, and the vibe with me, then we should come together and it shouldn’t be a one-way street where it’s like “this is my sound and this is how you need to produce it” — I never really believe that.

For the longest time in the music industry, producers have kind of been seen as someone who works FOR the artist, but I think it’s so much more now that producers work WITH the artist. So when they throw ideas at me, and I vibe with it, I try to come up with something to compliment it rather than coming up with something that’s only me and not them.

How long have you been doing music professionally?

Since 2015, so coming up to about 3 years now. I was doing a lot of YouTube covers back in the day — it’s a great way to show your versatility and helps you to develop your own style as well as your own confidence.

Are you signed on to a label?

I am, just a few months ago actually — to an independent label, ferryhouse, in Hamburg. They are a great label and they’ve been very supportive and good to me, and they’ve shown a lot of love and passion towards music. I think it’s very rare for an independent label to show an artist that kind of love.

Who are some of your music biggest influences?

Drake, Paramore, Ben Howard, Justin Bieber — as much as people love to hate Justin, there’s a lot to love; he’s very talented at what he does. And I’m not really a massive fan of modern hip-hop though. I’m not into like all this auto-tune business and talking about drinking and popping Xanax — that’s not really me. I just don’t relate to that kind of lifestyle. I’m a kid shamelessly talking about liking girls, that’s the majority of my songs.

I personally believe that real music isn’t about sounding cool or good on stage, real music is about portraying your actual essence and your soul across and touching people in an emotional kind of way and not just something that sounds sonically good.

Which artist would you like to collaborate with most?

I want to say one of the big ones, but one of my favourites has been Mack Miller who just passed away at age 26, and if I could go back in time, I would collaborate with him.

How has Music Matters been for you?

Loved it. It’s been such a great experience, met loads of awesome people, Singapore has been a dream to live in — apart from the expensive beers, everything’s been amazing.

Check out Lui’s single ‘No Rush’ below:

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