Musician of the Week: Northwestern student Joy Fu creates lofi-inspired music


Photo courtesy of Joy Fu

“Impromptu Sailing” from Weinberg junior Joy Fu’s new album incorporates the sounds of water.

Laura Simmons, Reporter

Weinberg junior Joy Fu began experimenting with lofi music, a popular subgenre of electronic music, when teaching herself production skills in high school. 

A few years and many YouTube tutorials later, Fu released her first album “Impromptu Sailing” on Aug. 11, sharing experimental and lofi-inspired songs following her music-related summer internship experience in Shanghai. 

One of her songs, “Pétanque,” reached more than 20,000 listens on Spotify after it was added to a popular lofi playlist. Fu said none of her later pieces became as popular at “Pétanque,” even though she submitted them to multiple Spotify playlists. 

“Initially, doing lofi was to make money,” Fu said. “But now it also makes me happy, regardless of the money side.” 

Fu’s journey began with playing classical piano, but she said she didn’t enjoy learning the instrument and quit after 10 years of lessons.

Though she still doesn’t prefer listening to or playing classical music, Fu said knowing how to play the piano has been beneficial when producing. 

“I always thought that the popular music I listened to on the radio was a completely different thing than classical music,” Fu said. “And then I found out that it’s the same. It’s all music.”

In high school, Fu said she and her friends created primarily lyrics and melodies, but this led her to wonder if she could also produce. 

Along with online tutorials, Fu said she’s drawn inspiration from professional musicians. “Impromptu Sailing,” was influenced by Lana Del Rey and Waa Wei, a Taiwanese musician who specializes in pop with elements of jazz, Fu said.

Fu said she wrote “Impromptu Sailing” using a program that allows the user to combine various music tracks and adjust frequency, or pitch. The program can also add the impression of sound emanating from various directions and distances. 

“You can place different instruments (in the program),” Fu said. “It’s like a concert hall. You can put the piano in the middle and the people on the outside.” 

Communication senior Rosalie Liu said she was inspired by Fu’s music when she directed the film “Upon The Sea.” Fu’s songs “anchor,” “12:28,” “沉没 Silenced,” “re-sail” and “Pétanque” were especially influential as she designed her storyboard, Liu said. 

Both from Shanghai, Liu and Fu met before Fu’s freshman year at a student orientation in Shanghai hosted by the Chinese International Student Association, Liu said. 

“She’s sort of my inspiration,” Liu said. “I really like her as a friend and artist.” 

Fu grew up speaking Mandarin and learned English in school, which she said influences what language she decides to use in her music. Fu said she uses Mandarin to sing about emotional topics. 

“Taiwanese music and American music, they often touch on different themes,” Fu said. “When I’m writing more ballad, slow-paced music, I tend to gravitate toward the Taiwanese side, which is in Mandarin, but then if I want to write something like a Taylor Swift-style track, I might use English.” 

During Fu’s summer internship, she met New York University senior Haotian Wang, who helped Fu with her album. The song “Coffee Cage” required various instrumentalists, so Haotian played the Chinese flute. He said he felt lucky to be part of the song.

“Impromptu Sailing” reminds Wang of an audiovisual journey, which he described as a movie creating an immersive experience. 

Wang said this aspect of Fu’s music is similar to his album “The Bridge in The Mountain’s Hands (A Travelog),” which he also released this summer. 

“It’s a really interesting experience to actually listen to (“Impromptu Sailing”) at night, because I feel like this is an album … for evening,” Wang said. “It’s really good (to) slow down and meditate.” 

As someone not pursuing music for money or fame, Fu said she feels less constrained to following the guidelines of popular music, which follows a more constrictive framework. 

Her summer internship helped her appreciate making more experimental music, Fu added.

“(My internship) was very fun, but that was when I realized the industry part of music-making — that not everyone has the privilege to do whatever they want freely in music,” Fu said. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @LauraS237

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