Wang Feng's road to rock

08:47, April 06, 2010      

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Rock musician Wang Feng.

"How many roads must a man walk down before they call him a man?" Bob Dylan once asked in his song Blowin' in the Wind. For Chinese rocker Wang Feng, who takes Dylan as his spiritual mentor, the answer is one long one - his 15-year journey taking him from garage band No. 43 in Baojiajie Street, where he started as a rock musician, to Beijing's Capital Gymnasium, in which he will stage his large scale solo concert Saturday.

Wang was recently crowned the Most Popular Male Singer on the Chinese mainland at Channel V's 14th Chinese Music Awards.

"The award shows the affirmation for the creative mind of rock music in China," Wang said, acknowl-edging his long journey on the road to success.

His latest single In the Spring was also named one of the Top 10 Great Hits of 2009 by Shanghai-based Dragon TV.

Wang's upcoming concert, titled Belief 2010, will incorporate classical music and live rock, with the National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra joining his band on stage. It's the first of its kind in a Chinese rock concert.

To distinguish the gig with cool visual effects, Wang has teamed up with leading Japanese designing company ESS to help with the lighting and choreography.

"I want to present a different show," Wang told the Global Times. "This concert is going to cost three or four times more than an ordinary Chinese concert."

"Whether it makes money or not is not my concern," the 39-year-old singer added. "I want to bring the audience an utterly refreshing and mind-blowing musical experience that I have to offer in terms of sound and visual effects."

As for the music, 26 classic hits spanning Wang's 15-year career will feature in the repertoire, with tracks from his time in Baojiajie, such as Good Night, Beijing and Birdies, to his latest hit In the Spring.

Born into a musical family in Beijing in 1971, Wang started his music training in violin at age 5. In 1986, the "Godfather of Chinese rock," Cui Jian, performed Nothing to My Name at the World Peace Concert in Beijing. Like many youngsters at that time, Wang was blown away by the power of rock music and became inspired by the likes of The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Taiwanese ballad singer Luo Dayou.

With the zeal and rebellion of adolescence, 17-year-old Wang started his own band, No.43 in Baojiajie Street, named after the address of the Central Conservatory of Music where he majored in violin and viola.

In his early albums, such as No. 43 in Baojiajie Street (1997) and Beijing Bicycle (the soundtrack of the Silver Bear-winning film of the same name by director Wang Xiaoshuai, 2001), Wang made his mark with attention to melody and musicality, focusing on more easy-rock sounds.

Featuring versatile music genres including psychedelic rock, ballads, rap and jazz, Wang said that he has always used his music as an expression of social reality.
"Unlike pop music, rock bears social responsibilities. It's an expression of what I see and what I reflect," Wang said. "There are three principals that I stick to when it comes to rock music: never reconcile; be truthful and be revolutionary."

"For example, in my latest album Belief Flies in the Wind, there are several songs such as Broken Ballad and Was it Fun raising questions like materialism and vanity that is prevalent in our lives. These are the issues that concern me," Wang explained.

After several years of obscurity and hard financial times, Wang was forced to leave his band and signed with Warner in 2000. He then launched a series of successful albums and songs, including Flower in Flame, Love is a Happy Bullet and Crying with Smile.

"I especially like Flower in Flame," Wang added. "It marks a beautiful full stop to the chapter of my life as a young boy."

The following years saw Wang rise to fame with tracks such as Flying Higher (2004) that topped Music Radio's billboard for eight weeks. Blooming Life (2005) and Belief Flies in the Wind (2009) also produced several chart-topping singles.
"The past 10 years saw a peak of severe competition in Chinese rock music and only the fittest can survive," Wang said.

"I think I'm being rewarded for my perseverance and dedication to music," he added.

"I'd rather focus on the quality of my music instead of stressing the poor living environment of rock in China. I believe in the future of rock music and it will get even more popular as far as I can see."

Source: Global Times


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