Emmy the Great, singer performing

Emmy the Great with Dfu

Part of China Changing Festival

Singer-songwriter Emmy the Great shares the story of a life-changing trip to China, through music and performance. She is joined by her friend, and one of Xiamen’s finest musicians and sound artists, Dfu.

In 2017, Emmy visited China for the first time as part of a residency run by the British Council and the PRS Foundation.

As a half-Chinese woman, she assumed an instinct for the country her grandparents came from. Arriving in Xiamen, Fujian Province, she discovered that she was wrong, as each day revealed an unexpected new facet of modern China.

Living on a small pedestrian-only island called Gulangyu, she began interviewing local people, trying to build a picture of Xiamen, one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

She met matchmakers, music-makers and the goddess Guan Yin. She discovered the world of Chinese dating, surrounded by the hundreds of brides who travel to Gulangyu every day to take their wedding photos in front of the island’s crumbling colonial-era architecture.

As she worked, she was followed by a strange force. This was yuan fen, the karmic destiny that brings people together. Eventually, yuan fen would change the course of her life.

Xiamen-based DJ Dfu has an extensive collection of spiritual and meditative folk and jazz on vinyl. He is a practicing Buddhist and his bar, Thank You Cafe, is the centre of the music scene in Xiamen.

Dfu joins Emmy to talk about their time together in Xiamen, his childhood discovery of American pop through discarded vinyl retrieved from Guangzhou garbage plants, and how he sees spiritual practice as essential to the Chinese way of life.

Supported by British Council UK-China Connections Through Culture.

Dates & times

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Purcell Room


Booking fee: £3.00 (Members £0.00)


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Age recommendation
For ages 14+