Traveling last summer, Shirley Zhu found two international connects to her songwriting as Fuvk. A visit to Bratislava, Slovakia, marked her first IRL meeting with Z Tapes founder Filip Zemčík, who distributes Zhu's lo-fi bedroom pop. The label's reach includes all-cassette hideout Waltz in Tokyo.
"The store was tucked away in a little residential neighborhood, and I was like, 'Hey, there's my tape,'" recalls Zhu of her Japan stop. "This little old man at the cash register showed me a picture of my cassette on his bookshelf at home."
The intimate encounter embodies Zhu's niche reach, quite impressive considering Fuvk's first live sets occurred a year ago. The name sourced from a friend's typo in 2016 long stood as the recent UT master's grad's only musical identifier. The 23-year-old says half her reason for namelessness was "not wanting to be pretentious like, 'Music, lyrics, and composition written by Shirley Zhu.'
"The other half was insecurity," she continues. "I didn't want what I look like or my personality to reflect poorly on the music. [Anonymity] allows you to be vulnerable to strangers, but not to people you know."
Chatting after a workday in data analysis for gaming giant Electronic Arts, and a Sofar Sounds set the night before, Zhu says release from two back-to-back long-term relationships prompted the project's recent spike in live activity. New EP Golden Girl emerged Feb. 28, and now the singer/guitarist endeavors her first SXSW with Brandon Torio on keys and Thomas Neupert on electronic drums.
"My last relationship was that scenario where you just shut in and waste away together or something," says Zhu. "When that ended, I really needed to do some shit and be productive. Getting out there and playing shows was the logical next step."
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