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Chinese American Bear – “Feelin’ Fuzzy (毛绒绒的感觉)”

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Chinese American Bear Eleanor Petry
Chinese American Bear – “Feelin’ Fuzzy (毛绒绒的感觉)”

Seattle’s Chinese American Bear (Anne Tong and Bryce Barsten) has always done things their own way, and their musical style is no exception. Their debut self-titled album brought new meaning to the hybrid genre of indie-Mandopop style back in 2022, combining breezy indie pop sprinkled with Tong’s catchy elementary-school Mandarin choruses to ground it. The music they make is quite tongue-in-cheek, and it seems that they’re fully aware of it (songs on that album include singing about how much they want boba milk tea (“珍珠奶茶 (Boba Tea)” and a cutesy song about how they’re… bears (“小熊 (Little Bear)”). At SXSW and some of their recent wacky live shows, the duo even brings out a dancing dumpling to accompany them onstage (the dumpling, who I actually met at SXSW, is quite the lovely person).

Continuing with their indie-Mandopop tradition, the duo’s newest song “Feelin’ Fuzzy (毛绒绒的感觉)” doesn’t stray too far from their easy-to-sing along Mandarin/English songwriting, but it seems they’ve traded some of their indie-pop tendencies for acid. “Feelin’ Fuzzy” ventures into psych-rock territory, blending fuzzed out guitars and a head-bopping beat with Tong’s somewhat disconnected lyrics to create a fever dream of a track.

Here’s what Tong had to say about the track:

“When I was writing the lyrics for this song I wanted to lean more into my experiences growing up in a Chinese immigrant household. I had a stereotypical tiger mom who had very high academic expectations and set very strict household rules. When I was a teenager I was never allowed to go to friend’s homes after school, never allowed to go to parties or school dances on weekends, and definitely not allowed to date. My days were strictly focused on studying, practicing piano, and preparing for exams. This song is about what I longed to do during my teenage years instead of the upbringing I actually had. I have very vivid memories of my mom reminding me to study and practice over and over again, and I wanted to capture that repetitiveness in this song. I’m hoping other kids of immigrants can relate!” 

It’s wild to hear so many Mandarin phrases my own parents told me growing up in a funky song like this… and honestly, I’m surprised that my mom didn’t get a co-writing credit on “Feelin’ Fuzzy” for the chorus (“做作业 (Do homework) / 弹钢琴 (Play piano) / 不要玩 (Don’t play) / 要学习 (Study)”). If psych-rock by way of Saturday Chinese School is your thing, maybe you’ll start to feel fuzzy too.

“Feelin’ Fuzzy” is out now via Moshi Moshi Records.

Artist pages: Instagram | Spotify | Website

Header photo by Eleanor Petry.

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