Photography Rob Kulisek

LIA LIA makes pop music and slays demons

Here are 10 fun facts about the samurai sword-wielding musician raised between China and Germany.

by Frankie Dunn
01 October 2020, 3:41pm

Photography Rob Kulisek

LIA LIA’s mum sang while giving birth to her. Following suit, rumour has it that instead of screaming her way through her first breath, baby LIA LIA sang. Raised between a small village in Germany and the metropolis of Chengdu, China, the musician never really felt at home growing up. “Chengdu was always evolving and rebirthing itself, while Brunswick was boring, old school and always stayed the same,” she says. “I felt alien in both places… but feeling like an outsider everywhere gave me the freedom to go anywhere.”

LIA LIA has since spent time living in Tokyo and Berlin before finding a permanent home in the world of genre-defying pop music. Having already supported Doja Cat on tour and recently signing to London’s b4 (the sister label of 4AD), just last week she released new single “Night Call”. The ethereal track is about “drowning in isolation, anxiety, depression and loneliness; while being at the mercy of external powers and wishing for something or someone to bring salvation.” It’s awesome.

Turns out, when LIA LIA writes music, a visual narrative plays out in her head almost simultaneously. “I think my music and visuals are deeply intertwined,” she says. “It’s all part of the same universe.” This time around, she dreamt up her own anime. The video for “Night Call” sees our protagonist — armed and fearless as her alter-ego Baby Punk — grow frustrated waiting for a text back and awakening Ryū, a water dragon spirit in human form who she then has to battle. Cue motorbike rides with her faithful katanas strapped to her back and a confrontation in a strobe-lit school corridor. Don’t leave her on read, basically.

Experience “Night Call” below and familiarise yourself with LIA LIA via these 10 facts…

1. LIA LIA grew up reading Chinese folklore and consuming Japanese anime
“My father always brought tons of movies and DVDs home from China, including a lot of anime. I could identify with the heroines much more than Hollywood actors, because they looked more similar to me than anyone on screen.”

2. And it definitely influenced her
“I think I've just consumed so much anime by now that it has deeply impacted my work. When I get depressed, I disappear and watch it for days and forget about myself.”

3. LIA LIA was not a fan of school
“I just wanted it to be over to be honest. I really hated the hierarchy, so I was skipping as many classes as I could and kept to myself most of the time.”

4. Her favourite look from the new video is “wet school girl”
“It was my unexpected favourite... very emo and broken but unfazed. It somehow felt very natural to me.”

5. Follow her on Instagram for some serious beauty looks
“I get inspiration from BJD dolls and video games.”

6. She knows exactly what TV series her music would be a good soundtrack for
Death Note, definitely.”

7. LIA LIA might look sweet but remember: don’t cross her
“I have 2 katanas and 1 kitchen knife.”

8. She identifies as Baby Punk
“I watched an Interview with Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols and once boyfriend of Vivienne Westwood and related with what he had to say about the early ideology of punk and the band. It was something about being fearless of failing; about changing culture, changing life itself by being a magnificent failure and the greatest amateur; and about war, banality, youth, death and immortality. I thought about death a lot during this time, but also felt kinda immortal and his words described something I was feeling but couldn’t put into words. I’m a slave to my emotions and act on impulse, so sometimes it can get pretty dark, because I dive into chaos and get very lost. But In contrast the rest of the time I’m very ‘baby’.”

9. And she has some very unusual animal companions, one of which guest-starred in her music video
“I have three pet snails named Tiggah, Spike and Killua.”

10. Balance is everything to LIA LIA
“My goals include world takeover and making new friends <3”

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