Akini Jing is a Chinese singer-songwriter from Yunnan Province. Her fifth album “VILLAIN” surprises with a combination of traditional music and modern techniques.

The creative all-rounder previously operated under the name Jingxi Zhu, writing massive chart hits for multiple artists. 2019 saw a re-brand, and a clean slate – introducing her artist alias Akini Jing, she built a cyborg identity that blended future-facing technology with her Chinese ancestry.

The martial art of Wuxia as part of the creative process

All the songs on VILLAIN album are heavily inspired by the Chinese genre of Wuxia. The aesthetic influence is obvious, but what really drew to Wuxia is the nature of the characters – they are people who are devoted to, and live by, very high ideals. But at the same time, they are constantly limited by their own humanness.

For one reason or another, both heroes and villains find themselves falling short or getting distracted from their goals. Aren’t we the same? Our spirit may be high but our lives can be low. This is the essence of ‘jianghu’, which is a Chinese word that describes people on the fringe of society, who live by their own code. 

Tradition versus modernity

Known for her psychedelic voice, unique music production approach that some have compared to Grimes and Bjork. She was fascinated by this tension between ideals and reality, and wanted to find a way to express this centuries-old genre in a new way. The result is an interesting combination of traditional Chinese instruments with electronic sub genres such as techno, two-step and deconstructed club, which I think represents the Chinese underground scene as it is today.

“My genre is called Oriental Cyberpunk, which includes electronic music, avant-garde dance, interactive installations, Chinese poetry, machine learning, martial arts, video art, performance”, said aKINI.

Music documentary

Incorporating aspects of Wuxia martial arts culture into her creative process, Akini Jing makes truly lawless 21st century pop music. Out now, new album ‘VILLAIN’ is a titanic document, boasting the electronic infused “Call Me Shadow” and the deeply physical, kung fu referencing “Black Widow”.

There’s emotional resonance, too – the downbeat, cinematic ballad ‘Hurt You Again’ or the twisted title track, with its feature from UK drill hero TeeZandos.

If you are interested in getting to know Akini Jing’s music in more detail, you can also do so via our radio broadcast on the  Mixcloud platform during the “Album of the Week” section.

NMR (photo: press Akini Jing)