China Fox is a rising Urban Pop/R&B artist who shares a message of empowerment, strength, and self-love through her music. At 10 years old, Fox began singing in front of an audience at her local church, marking the beginning of her love affair with making music. Following the sparks of musical passion from her youth, Fox went on to teach herself how to play piano and guitar without any formal training and began to carve out her path as a recording artist.
The Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter recently hit it big when her music was featured in a CoverGirl commercial with Issa Rae. The A-List brand placement is a powerful testimony to China Fox’s music and her ability to inspire women through a winning combination of fierce vocals and contemplative lyrics. We spoke to China Fox to learn more about the woman behind the music and to find out where her career is headed next.
Introduction by Meredith Reed
Name: Candace Mabra
Artist Name: China Fox
Currently based in: Los Angeles, CA
Originally from: Many different places
Your superpower: Patience
Biggest pet peeve:
When people stand up immediately after an airplane lands as if they have anywhere to go.
What are some of your hobbies or interests outside of music?
I am an avid videographer and photographer. I love being able to take visual content and manipulate it to make it match exactly what I see in my mind.
If money wasn’t an issue, what would you love to splurge on?
A Tesla — it’s pretty practical in terms of not paying for gas!
What is a quote or piece of advice that you try to live by?
Don’t compare yourself to who you were last year; compare yourself to who you will be five years from now.
“That Girl” by Stevie Wonder
If you could live anywhere else in the world right now, where would it be?
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory?
I was 10 years old when discovered I could control my runs and riffs. Then I started singing in church and it was all set for me from there.
How would you describe the sound of China Fox?
Dark Urban Pop/R&B
What are the main themes or topics in your songs?
Self-empowerment, female strength, and self-love
As a whole, what is the message you hope to put forth with your music?
Be anything and everything you want to be. You have one life, so live it fully. Everyone can be alive, but not everyone gets to live. I want my listeners to feel empowered and confident in themselves through my message.
Who are some of your favorite artists/which artists are your greatest musical inspiration?
PartyNextDoor, Sevyn Streeter, Syd (and the Internet), D’Angelo, Carole King, the Bee Gees, Boyz II Men, Chris Brown and Usher.
Who would be the dream artist for China Fox to collaborate with in the future?
Chance the Rapper or PartyNextDoor.
How do you feel your music evolved since you first started as a solo artist?
It’s like night and day. At first, all the music I wrote or created was what I thought listeners wanted to hear. But now, I just write from what I’m experiencing in specific moments. Sometimes I’ll take a story from someone close to my life and make it into a story you can sing along to.
Do you play any instruments, and if so, which ones?
I’m self-taught. I started playing the piano when I was 10. I can play guitar and drums, but I wouldn’t charge someone to play those instruments for them.
Who writes your songs?
I write all of my own songs. Sometimes I have a little bit of help from close artist friends of mine.
What do you do or where do you go when you need to find inspiration for your music?
I prefer to be alone when I write. Co-writing can be fun, but sometimes I just need to listen to my own thoughts. To be honest, I like to smoke when I write because it helps get my mind off of the obvious and the realistic. It takes me to another creative place, free of inhibition or second-guessing. It’s much more fluid and helps my mind focus on the best ideas.
Where do you see yourself 30 years from now?
Asleep on a tropical island with no wifi and no one else around.
What is a project you’re currently working on that you are most excited about?
I‘m actually working on a bunch of different projects right now. Some are for me, some are for other artists that I’m writing or working on vocals for. Either way, you’ll hear more of me soon.
What was one of your favorite performances of all time?
I performed an arena show (8,000 people) in 2013 for a college graduation. I prefer smaller venues that are more intimate, but that one was so much fun because I got to experience what it felt like to perform for a huge crowd of people.
What stands out as one of your worst/most horrifying performances of all time?
I haven’t had a horrifying performance. I’ve only fallen off the stage twice, and the first time I was wearing six-inch heels. It was in the middle of a toast — not even when I was performing — so that felt great!
What is one thing that you have accomplished as China Fox that you’re most proud of?
I recently placed three songs in a CoverGirl commercial with a voiceover by Issa Rae. It’s my first big national placement and I’m pretty excited about raising the bar for myself over and over again like this.
Share a story of a time you screwed up in your musical career and how you recovered:
I sold some songs that I loved to a company because I needed quick cash. I don’t regret it, because everything is a lesson to learn, but I know better now. I do not sign or agree to sell any songs without proper terms being written out that I’m comfortable with. As an artist, we don’t owe anything to anyone, and that has to remain true in how you handle yourself in business.
What do you see as one of the greatest challenges facing your industry today?
Guerrilla and viral marketing are difficult to pull off, but they are some of the few ways to get people to pay attention anymore. There’s just way too much stimulation and oversaturation in the industry, and a lot of consumers can be overwhelmed by all the choices, so they stick with major label artists.
Are there any resources you have discovered that have been an asset to you as a musician that you’d like to share?
If you weren’t a musician, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
Honestly, no idea. Music is one of the few things I really understand. If I wasn’t visually or musically creative, I would probably be doing fitness instruction or Crossfit coaching.
Anything else we haven’t asked about that you’d like to add?
I want my listeners to know that they don’t have to conform to what we’re “supposed to be” in life. Learn to free your mind and live how you want to live!
For more China Fox —
This interview is part of the Steereo Featured Artist Series. Steereo promotes new music from up-and-coming artists in ride share vehicles, reaching new listeners and fans as they travel.