This article has been edited and updated for web. To read the full interview, order your copy of WUSSY Volume 5.
Le Fil, loosely translated as “the thread” in French, serves both an appropriate title to the alter ego and a poetic twist on the artist’s name, Philip, a Chinese-born London-resident who creates androgynous art-pop both sonically and visually. Woven together in lush multitudes, Le Fil’s work is abstract, art world refined, though his childhood was decorated with loud femme pop culture. “I’m such a big pop music fan and have quite an encyclopedic knowledge of performances, outfits, lyrics, odd trivia,” Le Fil prides. “I was always made to feel like pop music is a guilty pleasure and that I should do something more refined, fine arts. It took me a while to say ‘fuck that’, I’ll do whatever makes me happy! And I’m such a big consumer of music that it was always inevitable that I was going to try contribute to it.”
Spending all free time in art class and choir, the young Philip took to nightly theatre groups joyfully despite family expectation: “Being arty isn’t really what traditional Chinese cultures want their sons to do, so it did take a lot of courage to reject a vocation that was expected of me - law, finance, sciences - in order to be creative and to actually succeed with it.” It was his move to art school in London that conjured constructive possibilities for his own ideas to flourish - along with the sound, visuals, narrative, fashion and, of course, queer art communities. London appealed strongly compared to Le Fil’s connections China, especially regarding the public protests and the daily harassment those who wear queerness on their sleeve suffer. “I wish Hong Kong’s LGBTQ scene was bigger. Being gay is taboo enough, so you wouldn’t queer it up too much with gender-anarchic behaviour or looks,” Le Fil explains. “Most of the cis gay guys are quite clean cut or conservative, or closeted. In fact, I see more cis girls chopping their hair off and holding hands with other girls than I see guys embracing each other. When I’m in Hong Kong, people have quite an extreme reaction to my long hair. They either think I’m homeless or a freak.”
Le Fil’s flamboyance has thrived amidst the fashion and drag scenes of London, a la “I love being a freak, I’m a very elegant one”. Inspired by Margiela, Grace Jones, Alexander McQueen, Matthew Barney, Gareth Pugh and Marcel Duchamp, Le Fil’s personal journey in blending artistic boundaries and breaking rules is an integral aspect of pop composition, explaining “I love the fluidity between genres, disciplines and ideas and that’s how I approach my work, my life, my identity.” His music is reminiscent of ‘80s new wave with post-Gaga bodysuit inspiration and Le Fil began to reach wide audiences through performing at Brighton Pride, the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, with the Sink the Pink collective, bumping up his pop opera 24/7 LIVE to explore the intensity of romances with straight men in comedic camp.
Le Fil’s performances, sculptures, recordings and dance expresses a resolve for interactive connectivity, saying “I love looking to the future, transhumanism, shiny things and transforming things into new forms. My philosophy is that every moment is a work of art, a creation - a chance for you to control and make a creative decision. If something isn’t right, then it’s up to you to re-shape it, re-construct it into something new and beautiful.
Le Fil was invited by Sporty Spice Melanie C to tour the US and Europe after she worked with Sink the Pink for Mighty Hoopla pop festival in 2018. Le Fil’s obsession with the Spice Girls was a massive influence growing up and has imprinted his undercurrent of pop incorporation throughout the decades. “I covered my school books in their posters and even formed a Spice Boys to perform in assembly. I remember having to draw cover pages for our science topics - for the topic of ‘blood’, I drew the Spice Girls surfing down an artery on a massive red blood cell. Ridiculous!” Le Fil laughs. “Their fun, positivity and colourful personalities really captivated me and inspired me to sing and dance. Being a little geeky Chinese boy growing up in a small town, I only ever dreamed of going on tour with a Spice Girl, but now its happening I think we’re all still in honeymoon period!”
Catch Melanie C x Sink The Pink at the dates above for super fun, fabulous surprises. Originally printed in WUSSY Vol. 5 with additional updates for web.
Sunni Johnson is the Arts Editor of WUSSY and a writer, zinester, and musician based in Atlanta, GA.