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Rock of ages

Updated: 2019-01-14 07:45:48

( China Daily )

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Singer-songwriter Qiu Ye, who founded the rock band Zi Yue, or It Says, in 1994, had withdrawn from the limelight after releasing two albums in 1996 and 2002. He is now preparing for a new live show. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Reclusive Chinese musician Qiu Ye is ready to return to the stage with a younger, new-look band, Chen Nan reports. 

When Chinese rock band, Zi Yue-or It Says in English-released their first album called The First Volume in 1996, the band's founder, singer-songwriter and bassist, Qiu Ye, could not have imagined the lasting influence his music would have on China's rock scene.

By 2002, when they released their sophomore opus, The Second Volume, Zi Yue had won themselves an ardent fan base throughout China that would remain loyal for the next two decades.

Qiu's music, which combines techniques from Western rock with Chinese cultural elements, such as poetry, dialects and folk tunes, as well as more than a little of his unique humor, clearly resonated with the nation's rock fans.

Songs such as Xiang Dui (Gaze), which was used as the theme track for popular Chinese TV series, Struggle, in 2004, and Guai Guai De (Be Good) in which Qiu blends Tianjin dialect, reggae and rap, to portray a dialogue between a father and a son, have distinguished the band from their peers.

So, fans will be thrilled to hear that, after a long hiatus, Qiu will return with a live show in Beijing on March 2. He says he has been waiting for an opportunity to return since his last concert in the capital in 2014, noting that the music might be a little different from what the audience remembers. The concert will also have a theme centered around Beijing, which is Qiu's hometown.

The singer-songwriter has recruited younger members in his band to join him onstage and to help him breathe new life into, and deliver updated renditions of, his old hits.

In his studio located in Songzhuang, an art zone in the city's Tongzhou district, a small stage has been set up in the basement and rehearsals will start within a week.

"I ask the young band members to play beyond the original scores. I want them to show me something more than just technique," says the 52-year-old singer-songwriter. "Each song is like a drama, and everyone in the band should be its director. That would be fun."

But Qiu says it is not easy to recruit new band members, "some people soon quit, because I ask for too much", he laughs.

"They have less experience of playing onstage, but what I value most is their imagination, their ideas about music and their courage to display them," Qiu adds.

Asked about the reason for his absence from the music scene, the singer-songwriter recalls he used to tour around the country but during one live show about 10 years ago, he forgot the lyrics in the middle of a song and had to ask the band to play it again.

"I wrote the song myself and I had performed it many times before that. It was a warning to me. I felt empty then," says Qiu. "I feel blessed because I wrote those songs, which I still feel proud of today-but I knew it was time to slow down."

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