Aural Candy Vox

Sunday, October 1, 2006

Silver Ash / Sohu Online Interview Translation (Part 1/2)

I translated half of Silver Ash's Interview with Sohu Online in August of 2004. This is such a hugeass-ly long transcript that I have to take a break before tackling the second half. This interview gives us overseas people a very insightful view of the Chinese music industry. The struggles Silver Ash faced/faces in China really makes me realize how lucky the J-Rock bands are for being able to develop and expand in a much more receptive and accepting market.

Please do not reproduce this translation (or any part of it) anywhere in any form without getting explicit permission from me beforehand (see my e-mail at the end of the post). Translation is a lot of work. I won't appreciate people just taking things without asking first.


Silver Ash / Sohu Online Interview Transcript (August 21, 2004)
(Original text: http://gd.sohu.com/20040821/n221683583.shtml)

Translated by: http://auralcandy.vox.com


Part One

Guests: Visual rock band - Silver Ash
Online Host: Huanghe (Sohu Guangdong Entertainment Editor)


Host: Good afternoon, everyone! Because Silver Ash had to attend a promotion event today, this interview was delayed to 4:20pm. Thank you for your understanding!

Host: Silver Ash has just arrived. The interview will begin in ten minutes. Let's let them rest a little. Really sorry about the wait!

Host: Good afternoon, everyone! This weekend, we invited the four members of Silver Ash rock band to our Sohu Guangdong Chat Room. Hello! Everyone's been looking forward to your arrival. First, please greet your fans!

Silver Ash: Hello, everyone! Thank you for your support.


Visual rock is settling, not recessing


Host: First, welcome to Guangdong to promote your releases. You're known as "China's first visual kei rock band". How do you look at this concept?

Silver Ash: In addition to having a visual impact, we want to have an aural impact. Simply put, we strive to look good and sound good.

Internet Fan "Xiaomi": I really like Mr. Zhen on drums. I've also bought the third release, but now I live in Japan and can't purchase your CDs. Do you plan to expand to Japan?

Silver Ash: If an opportunity arises, we'll look into it. Please contact us when we visit Japan, since we also have people in Japan listening to our music.

Host: Japanese visual kei has reached the pinnacle. However, it's slowly getting lighter. The bands' costume and music style are gradually going downhill. What do you think of this phenomenon?

Silver Ash: I think this is simply a continual evolution. Your style can't be stagnant, just like you can't wear the same clothes for four years straight. Japanese visual kei is about ten-something-years-old from the early 90's to now. Listeners are receptive to all bands, but I also think it's like the ocean tide washing up against the sandy shore. The good bands will remain, but the ones that aren't will be washed away. It's better to say that visual kei is at a settling down stage. During this period, the bands without substance will be eliminated, while the ones with real talent will remain.

Internet Fan "Xiaomin": Mr. Ling's lyrics are so beautiful. They remind me of a band that I used to really love called Autumn Bug (note: Qiutian de Chongzi). Their band members also put on makeup, but they aren't really visual rock. And, the members aren't as aesthetic as Silver Ash, but their songs really are great. Yingzi's (note: Sakurako) voice was especially awesome. I wonder how they're doing now?

Silver Ash:
Haha, you've come to the right place! I'm really good friends with them. We had rented the same apartment together and shared living expenses. I heard that they're on hiatus. The vocalist and the guitarist are a couple. They're busy making ends meet right now.

Host: A lot of bands like Autumn Bug used to have lots of fans. But now they're merely trying to survive; their fansbase declined. Do you face similar problems?

Silver Ash: We mentioned that this is our last album on this trip. We do face the issue of making ends meet. We need to survive, meaning two meals a day and a bed to sleep in at night.

Silver Ash: Right now, I live at home. I use my dad's car and spend my dad's money. But I'm the only member who's a Beijing local. Everyone else isn't Pekingese (note: a resident of Beijing). We must deal with the issue of daily survival.


We've done our best; we also would like to be popular like Jay Chou


Host: Right now, you still don't have a big enough presence in the music scene. How do you plan to expland your influence?

Silver Ash: Sohu is a major web site (note: it's like Yahoo!). If you enter "Silver Ash" as keywords into the news search, you'll get 52 pages of hits. So in reality, we do have a pretty good presence. But the issue of making ends meet is affecting our music. We're quite influencial in a lot of areas, but this popularity hasn't helped our goals, because there are too many communication problems.

Silver Ash: We're already working so hard, including at every tour. We produce materials and inform fans of band news ourselves. In terms of media promotion, we're doing okay. Our vocalist takes care of the band's makeup all by himself. We do a lot of things ourselves.

Host: I think you should focus on communication with the overall market, not just the niche. In the current music scene, every Jay Chou release triggers a massive pre-ordering wave. How can you achieve this?

Silver Ash (Ling): How we wish that we can be that popular, too! But in the end, it can't be helped. We aren't that well-known right now. A fan had said something that really hurt. People scoff at visual kei. They really have no idea how much we dedicated ourselves. I make the trip to stores to purchase makeup personally. That fan really doesn't know what it's like for us. They have no right to criticize us. Even if I stop doing this some day, no one has the right to say that we've abandoned visual kei. At least, we're working really hard. They don't know this, but I have grievances, too. Having to do the makeup for all four band members by myself is exhausting.

Silver Ash: We still have more lives. I'm so tired. My arms hurt after putting on makeup for the band. No one has the right to criticize that we've abandoned visual kei. We've done our best, including investing money. Now our main goal is to make music. We want to continue producing music. Zhen wants to drum, Yue and Yu want to play their guitar and bass. It comes down to wanting to continue our music. I wish the critics can be more forward thinking. They should at least know that in order to achieve commercial success, you must "look deeper" and not be deceived by the surface.

Silver Ash: These years we went from the dilemma of choosing the music or the visual, to being deceived by surface issues and losing our head to success, to many other challenges, but at least, we still know what we're doing.

Silver Ash: Our promotion schedule isn't like that of the other artists. Promotion begins after the album is released. This method results in less communication with fans and listeners. At this promotion, we'd like to tell people that whether you're a Chinese music consumer or watcher, you should communicate with the creators and the artists more.

Silver Ash: The media is the most important, whether it's web, TV, radio, or print. Consumers, creators, and the media should cooperate and work on changing the current state of the industry, instead of criticizing and blaming each other. Artists blame fans for not buying CDs, fans then criticize the artists, while the media just worsens the issue by egging everyone on. I understand that foreign music industries have more specialization.

Silver Ash (a different member from above): I'm no expert in this, so I won't criticize. If you like metal, you needn't say bad things about other bands. You have a right to your personal preference. That's what I think.

Host: Your words make me heavy hearted. What you said is very frank and direct; it's the market's current state. At Sohu, we have always tried to support original music and local music. We hope to promote real music. The main thing is for you guys to presevere. We at Sohu will support you and promote you.

Internet Fan "Wanou":
After you guys signed with Scream, you are glam rock to the outside, while remaining visual kei to the inside. Do you think you can have a breakthrough in your style?

Silver Ash: I haven't listened to too much 60's rock. I've never done glam rock. We really don't have a strategy for the "outside". Outside is overseas, inside is mainstream. Once your CDs sell over a certain number, no matter what kind of music it is, it become mainstream if it's successful.

Host: Will you continue preservering with quality music, or will you turn to mechanically manufacturing "canned music"?

Silver Ash: I don't understand what you mean by "canned music".

Silver Ash: I'd like to release CDs in a can. Hope he can help us. (note: whichever member said this was joking, I think)

Internet Fan "Wuyan": Do you use other bands as reference? What are your future goals for development?

Silver Ash: We use Silver Ash as reference, and our own band is used to plan future goals, though some say we're influenced by Japanese bands.


Part two will be posted once I translate it. Again, do not reproduce this translation anywhere else in any form without my explicit permission (e-mail me at: nagetou [at] gmail.com).

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