Yang Li on Why He Wants More Chinese Talent Like Leah Dou

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Self-portrait by Yang Li

Speaking in AnOther Magazine Spring/Summer 2021, Yang Li explains the importance of the singer-songwriter

This article is taken from the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine. To celebrate our 20th anniversary, we are making the issue free and available digitally for a limited time only to all our readers wherever you are in the world. Sign up here.

“I have been yearning for a Chinese talent like Leah Dou. I’m yearning for a hundred more of them, because I think it is naive to say that young Chinese people are not creative, it’s just that they haven’t enjoyed the environment their western counterparts have. I first saw Leah at The Alibi in Dalston. It was very surreal. When I was young, we listened to [her mother] Faye Wong’s music and Black Panther, the band of [her father] Dou Wei. Being a Chinese-born person who works in the creative field, I have always been looking for that long-lost brother or sister in terms of a Chinese talent with an international perspective. Her work is a work in progress, but she’s setting a great example – not just for musicians, but artists – daring people to dream. It’s completely different to anything else happening in China. With leaders like Leah, hopefully there will be a real Chinese style – people not just copying the west, but really creating their own thing. It takes a whole band to play for a movement to happen.”

Yang Li’s first love is music. Live music, in particular, is the lifeblood of the Beijing-born, London-based designer’s devotion – shared “religious experiences” that inform his creative commandment that, “Recorded is smooth, live is rough. In the future, luxury must be rough.” Outlined from the outset, this obsession vibrates through his eponymous label: his breakthrough Autumn/Winter 2013 collection was soundtracked by the DJ Pandora’s Jukebox; but it also carries the fanatic energy behind his line of merchandise for fictional noise band Samizdat. Li has carved out his own dedicated fan base with every collection, show soundtrack (which have included live performances from post-punk icon Michael Gira, industrial-sound pioneer Justin Broadrick and alt-rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain) and artist collaboration (with the likes of Psychic TV) since, music being the prism through which he and his disciples perceive the world and their place in it. He explores community in subculture – the clothes, our price of admission.

This article originally featured in the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of AnOther Magazine which will be on sale from 8 April, 2021. Pre-order a copy here and sign up for free access to the issue here.