Being in a country (or countries) that no longer seem to appreciate the beauty of Chinese music, I am constantly faced with this question from others: Why do you love Chinese music? And until recently, I really didn't have a real answer for them as to why I loved it so much. Because I didn't know myself! But now I think I do have a little inkling of why I have persevered in sharing it with others all these years. Part two of our <Digging Deep> series will instead feature my thoughts on why YOU should be following the Chinese music industry, so stay tuned for that too!
First of all, the reason why I love Chinese music is probably because I'm a pretty sentimental person and it does contain a lot of sentimental value for me. Each song I listen to and even the process of receiving each album documents a stage of my life, or just tiny little moments that I will treasure forever. And it can be the little things or huge events. For example, A-Lin's <Happiness then what> reminds me of one of the first times I was listening to the song and walking to the bus stop on my way to Uni. The air was crisp and cold, but the song instead warmed my heart, making that moment so much more memorable for me.
And another example would be how Freya Lin's <Obviously Love You> and her entire <Knife of time> album which accompanied me as I walked through the streets of Tianmu in Taipei for the first and last time, breathing in the sights and smells of a beautiful place surrounded by friends and also by one of my favourite artists. (This was the day I had lunch with Esther and Lara after winning the TAWKI competition!) It reminds me of a feeling of happiness and absolute exuberance that cannot be replicated in my daily life; however every time I listen to her songs, it reminds me of the fun times I had back then.
Of course in general Chinese music doesn't only document my life, as any kind of music could document your life if you wanted it to. But the fact is that Chinese music has been there for me through the good and the bad, in times of loneliness and sadness it was my only companion. In times of happiness it was by my side celebrating with me. It keeps my spirits up and has made me the optimistic person I am today. And that's why I'm such an 'obsessive fan' as some might say. To me, my favourite artists are not my favourite because they're pretty or handsome; it's because I feel like through their music I know them and am friends with them. I'm grateful to them for their music which has constantly accompanied me; more so than any friend ever could, and so in return I wish to share their music and how it has moved me with the rest of the world. In my opinion, Chinese music has one thing that I find is sometimes missing especially in the K-pop and Western industries. It has heart, and I want to share that big ol' heart with the entire world.
Some people assume that I love Chinese music because I love the Chinese language when in fact it was the music that led me to pursue the language so relentlessly. I want to understand the industry thoroughly, and in order to do that, it has given me the motivation to constantly want to learn more about this beautiful language, and also about how people write lyrics and to appreciate the beauty and flow of Chinese lyrics. I was always a wordy person from young, but never really a Chinese person. I was English-educated, and I spoke in English almost entirely. It was only when I came back to Singapore at age 12 and couldn't speak a word of Chinese that I knew I had to do something. Actually, come to think of it, I never really was a music person before the age of 12, but I had always thought music was the coolest thing in the world and wanted somehow to get my foot into it.
So my motivation to learn Chinese came from one simple idea: I'm Chinese, so why can't I speak it fluently? And indeed, the founding father of Singapore once said something along the lines of 'Chinese is not a language you will need to use in your daily lives, but if you don't learn it, you will regret it for an entire lifetime. Because those are your roots.' And true to his word, he learned Chinese until the day he passed away. I've always had this idea, and felt almost ashamed that I couldn't speak the language my aunties and grandparents spoke. Being Chinese yet not being able to speak the language means that in a way; you've lost your roots. Sure, you may create a new identity as an ABC but in order to truly understand yourself and where you've come from, I feel that languages was the key, and in that case, it meant learning Chinese.
So my passions for Chinese and music came together quite simultaneously, but I do think undoubtedly my passion for music has outshone that for Chinese. They are quite immiscible in my opinion though; in order to completely understand music, you must have a good grasp of the language no matter what music you're interested in.
So that's my story about why I love Chinese music so much! Want to know why YOU should love Chinese music? Stay tuned!
It's been my dream since I started getting to know more about Chinese music to be able to live in Taipei, and now I'm finally going to be able to! Starting from the 11th of February, I will be staying in Taipei for 139 days and hope to share parts of my experiences that may be helpful with readers everywhere! (Feb 2014)