© Lukas Städler: Lie Ning
Get to know the queer, black artist Lie Ning who enchants with their melancholic sounds and immerses the listener in another world.
Ahead of the release of ‘Utopia’, Berlin - based, artist, musician, model, dancer, and art-director Lie Ning spoke to INJECTION about their music, their life philosophies, and their ultimate aim to provide a beacon of hope. Fusing their smooth vocals with warm, soft melodies and electronic accents, Lie Ning achieves to make their listeners feel loved and at home. We don't know about you, but that seems exactly like what the world needs, even craves, right now.
© INJECTION: Lie Ning on love. Video, cut, and edit by Leonie Koehl
Their music is their vehicle to spread hope and social engagement. Besides being something to enjoy and cuddle up to, their music carries a specific message. Lie Ning recognised, from very early on in their career, the lack of representation of black and queer artists in the German music scene. They believe that everyone can make a contribution in their own way, and through their music they aim to do their part. Many of Lie Ning's songs are therefore written towards the queer and coloured community and have a distinctive political message and stance.
“…that's my background and in the society that we live in right now, these people, amongst others, are not being seen properly and they're not being made visible by our media, as well as our politics.”
© Anika Zachow: Lie Ning
Through their art, Lie Ning aspires to provide more than music, as they believe in community and strive to create blueprints for a possible utopian future for society with their work.
“I want to really bring people together and make them imagine the future we could live in, in a very romantic and philosophical way.”
Lie Ning also discussed what it feels like to perform. Witnessing every person in the audience understand and interpret their music in a different way and sharing that energy with them, is their favourite, most beautiful thing about being a musician. Connections of this nature enable Lie Ning to return to their roots - which are love.
“I see music as a tool to create love with.”
When asked about writing his songs, Lie Ning references that it is like therapy for them. Finding hopeful lyrics in bleak times has not always been easy, and their creative process varies with each song. While personal experiences play a role in their music, Lie Ning wants their music to remain a constant celebration of love and a voice of hope. For this reason, it is important for them to process their emotions in private and then incorporate them into their music from a more distant perspective. Harnessing the emotions they have felt in their private lives, they then seek to channel them into relatable and understandable narratives for their audiences. As a result, many of their songs sound as if they deal with relationships and people, whilst retaining the raw, primal emotions Lie Ning has felt through their private experiences.
© INJECTION: The symbol of hope - Lie Ning by Sofia Flores
Despite this, it is vital for Lie Ning to keep their private and stage personalities separate, albeit intertwined to a certain extent.
“People don't need to know what toothbrush I'm using. Instead, they should know what my theories and thoughts on life are. How I see, live, and how I think we can improve life.”
To Lie Ning, artists are meant to sell an illusion - something that can't necessarily be achieved. They want their work to tell the stories they want to tell; of being an illusion of a person that each listener can interpret in their own unique way. A persona that makes the listener crave for more, that makes them think about themselves and pushes them to broaden their own horizons. They draw a comparison to artists like David Bowie, Prince and Michael Jackson, who all had a performative essence in their work, which Lie Ning believes is necessary.
“I will tell you the stories that I want to tell you through my work and my art. I want you to be part of that world. And so I'm trying to create a world with meaning rather than just being like the other friend that you have. “
Their upcoming album and eponymous new single “Utopia” addresses these sentiments with a story that unfolds throughout the album. Amidst the sombre strains of Covid and Lockdowns, Lie Ning composed a fictional character as a means of humanising the abstract concept explored. A basically perfect, successful and socially embedded person who has made it in Hollywood, who then one day realises that he has lied to himself and is not happy at all. The story continues in a way that, in the course of the album, the person frees himself from societal ideals and expectations and discovers that life is about the freedom to realise oneself. Hence, their upcoming music not only touches on aspects that many of us struggle with on a daily basis, but also makes us feel seen by raising awareness that such feelings are normal, and that we are not alone in this.
“Utopia is an ode to freedom and it is an ode to stepping into yourself, whatever that means, which we don't know because it's ever changing. It's basically just saying that it is good to believe in something, whatever that is for you, but never get stuck in it and always be open to whatever comes your way because it will be for a reason. - Utopia is an ode to freedom, humanity and to possibility.”
Whether out for a stroll or enjoying a quick night to yourself, “Utopia” is sure to be the perfect company. Pop in your headphones and be ready to immerse yourself in a new world. Make sure to also keep an eye out for his upcoming album, set for release in October.