THE WU-FORCE featuring Abigail Washburn, Kai Welch and Wu Fei
The Wu-Force is a Kungfu-Appalachian-Indie-Folk-Rock trio inspired by the vast contrast and unexpected similarities of the two countries that the group calls home: the US and China.
The trio is composed of Nashville-based claw hammer banjo player and TED Fellow Abigail Washburn, AM-pop maestro and multi-instrumentalist Kai Welch, and Beijing-based guzheng virtuoso and Tzadik recording artist Wu Fei.
The Wu-Force formed when Washburn, Wu and Welch sat together in a Beijing apartment passionately sparring about the frenetic and overwhelming feeling of life in China. Following that conversation, a deeply creative three-day demo recording session ensued. The banjo-guzheng-keys trio began to create music inspired by classical composition, Chinese opera, 80s electronica, Uyghur desert folk music, Appalachian hymns, and Pixies-style punk aesthetic coupled with field recordings and ambient sounds. Lyrically, the heart of each Wu-Force song addresses social issues, current events, and personal experience based on life in the US and China. As an example, the song “Muckrakers” addresses the reality of losing Old China to development, massive pollution, and corruption and translates that experience into song with its choral chant in Chinese 这是我的，不是你的! (This is mine, not yours!). The result is an anthem of self-expression, the desperate desire to find one’s own voice in the midst of madness.
Abigail, Kai and Fei are headed to the studio in 2014 to work on the first Wu-Force record.
Abigail Washburn is a singing-songwriting, Chinese-speaking claw hammer banjo player from Nashville, TN. In addition to touring extensively in the US and Europe, Washburn is one of the few foreign artists currently touring China independently and regularly. She completed a month-long tour (Nov-Dec 2011) of China’s Silk Road supported by grants from the US Embassy, Beijing. Abigail, along with 24 other innovative and creative thinkers worldwide, was named a TED fellow and gave a talk at the 2012 TED Convention in Long Beach about building US-China relations through music. In March of 2013, she was commissioned by New York Voices and the NY Public Theater to write and debut a theatrical work, Post-American Girl, which draws from her 17-year relationship with China and addresses themes of expanding identity, cultural relativism, and the universal appeal of music. Her most recent record, City of Refuge “mingles Appalachia and folk-pop, with tinges of Asia and Bruce Springsteen.” (The New York Times)
Born and raised in Beijing, Wu Fei is a composer, vocalist and guzheng (Chinese zither) performer. She spent her formative years at the China Conservatory of Music before coming to the US in 2000 where she began to diversify her sound and experiment widely, working with musicians like John Zorn, Fred Frith, Carla Kilhstedt, Evan Parker, Pauline Oliveros, and many others. Wu Fei composes for choir, string quartet, chamber ensemble, Balinese gamelan, and orchestra; her commissions include a composition for Percussions Claviers de Lyon that premiered in the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. Wu has also appeared as a guest on Fred Frith’s Eye to Ear II (2004, Tzadik) and The Happy End Problem (2006, ReR).
Kai Welch was born into a tribe of semi-nomadic, back-to-the-land hippy homesteaders in Eastern Oregon in 1980. He remembers his early years as existing “in some middle ground between utopia and squalor.” A lifelong musician, he was an accomplished classical pianist before taking up songwriting, world-traveling, and the inspired-vagabond’s lifestyle after college. He now writes, composes, produces, and tours worldwide from his home base in Nashville. He has worked and recorded with a long list of artists, including The Greencards, Carl Broemel (of My Morning Jacket), Alejandro Escovedo, Laura Veirs, Bobby Bare Jr., Sarah Jarosz, and Phoebe Hunt. Kai co-created Abigail Washburn’s most recent record, “City of Refuge”, has a solo record entitled “Send It Down”, and has just released a 4-song digital E.P. called “The Wolf Who Cried Boy”.
THE WU FORCE is coming! Stay tuned for more information….