Band of the Day

2011.11.18

Bing Ji Ling

A high-spirited world of vintage-inspired soul and R&B
The only problem that I have with talking, is you've gotta have something to say.
lyrics from Dreamin'

Bing Ji Ling, the alias of musician Quinn Luke, is a psychedelic funk-inspired solo artist currently based out of New York, New York. Luke chose the name Bing Ji Ling, which means "ice cream" in Chinese, as an ode to his time spent in China and his infatuation with psychedelic and bubblegum pop culture. He began releasing solo records in 2003 with his debut LP entitled Doodle Loot Doot Doodle a Doo on Kreme Kul records. In 2005, Luke left his native city of San Francisco, California in favor of the bustling metropolis of New York, New York. Shortly thereafter he released his second LP Fire and Ice Cream, also on Kreme Kul Records. His most recent LP, Shadow to Shine, was released in early 2011 on Tummy Touch Records and was supported by a tour of the US and Europe. Aside from his solo work, he also plays in legendary pro skateboarder-turned-musician Tommy Guerrero's backing group.

Like Neapolitan ice cream, and its delicious trinity of flavors (strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate), Bing Ji Ling also encompasses a trifecta of anomalies: 1. He's a burly white American guy, 2. with a Chinese name, 3. who plays vintage-inspired soul and R&B music. Nothing about this should work but, oddly enough, it does. Singer and multi-instrumentalist Quinn Luke is the man behind the stage name. After spending a year in Shanghai, where he became fluent in Mandarin, Luke was given the nickname Bing Ji Ling (which translates as “ice cream”) by a local, and has been performing with that moniker since his 2003 debut album, Doodle Loot Doot Doodle A Doo. His latest release, 2011's Shadow To Shine, is the third full-length album under his belt—and it's packed to the brim with plenty of energy, positive vibes, and romance. Opening track “Move On” would make an excellent alarm clock, with Luke's falsetto voice singing, “Good morning, can you hear me? Are you feeling new?” amidst an uptempo beat, horns, and even some flutes thrown in for good measure. Equally as upbeat is “A Little Love,” which has a horn-heavy opening that comes in like a ray of sunlight. Bing Ji Ling also proves that he wouldn't be one of those annoyingly demanding lovers: “I ain't asking you to fall in love, baby just give me a little love,” he sings. Slowing things down to bedroom jam status is “Hypnotized.” Sensual horns intertwine with whimsical chimes and swooning flutes, and even more sensual lyrics like, “When I get you alone, here's what I'm gonna do: I'm gonna love all your outsides, and your insides too.” It may come across as cheesy, but it's delivered in such a good humor (man) fashion, that you'll find yourself embracing the song wholeheartedly. One of the best things about Bing Ji Ling's music is that it has this endorphin-inducing effect—you can't help but feel good after every listen. Perhaps the song that best epitomizes this is “Dreamin'.” At six minutes long (with half of it completely instrumental), it's like going on a mini-psychedelic trip. Through the music, he paints a colorful world where unicorns probably have flutes instead of horns, and fly through rainbows of synths and over fields of percussion. And just when you think that this might be a stoner song (“I wouldn't put it in a pot and smoke it” and “but if you cook it in a chocolate and choke it down”) he erases those suspicions by adding: “You'll find that dreaming is the coolest high around!” Summer might be long gone, but Bing Ji Ling's merry beats and warm croon prove that anytime's a good time for ice cream.