Xu Fengxia grew up in Shanghai and studied at the Shanghai Music Conservatory. She specialised in traditional Chinese folk instruments such as the 'pipa' (a Chinese lute) and the 'sSanxian', a type of stringed instrument.
This was followed by the 'guzheng' and the 'liuqin'. Inspired by the new cultural influences coming into China in the 1980s, she started to experiment with the electric bass and joined several rock groups. In the 1990s she moved to Germany and joined the Gufeng Ensemble, probably the most important ensemble for traditional Chinese music in Europe. In Germany she came into contact with the local jazz and improvisation scene and increasingly started to experiment with free forms of music.
This way she came into contact with a monument of the German improv scene - bassist Peter Kowald – with whom she toured the world.