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Sad Song Singer: Yang Kun

Pop singer and songwriter Yang Kun has arrived in Shenzhen to meet with fans.

Yang's unique, slightly hoarse voice and his talent made him a shining new star in 2002. About 400,000 copies of his disc, Whatever, were sold in what many believed was a slow musical market. He's frequently seen on TV and specializes in sad songs which invite listeners to wallow in the melancholy moods.

Here is a recent interview with audience at a Web site.

Question: How do you evaluate your first disc, Whatever?

Yang: Whatever is very popular. But I still have some regrets about it. It could have been more refined.

Q: What do you think made Whatever so popular?

Y: One reason is that my voice caters to the listener's feeling of aimlessness and sadness. Another reason is that the songs truthfully mirror the life of the young generation, and they've struck a chord in their hearts.

Q: You released your second disc, On that Day, last November. What do
you think of it?

Y: It's better in both music style and presentation. It's much more mature than the first one. There are no backup singers on it. All the songs were sung by myself.

Q: You've been in Beijing for many years. Who has been most helpful to you in making music?

Y: No one. I'd worked mostly on my own.

Q: Did you ever think of changing that or of leaving Beijing during your difficult times?

Y: I almost wanted to give up many times. In a state where you could see no hope, you felt strongly about setbacks. But my hesitance was often overthrown by occasional positive emotions. For example, a good concert or the music in the bars could all have an effect on me. They were the driving force for me not to give up my music. 

Q: It's said that you had experienced ups and downs before you recorded your first disc. You were a soldier, and then a singer in a bar. Do you think your experiences were helpful to you?

Yes. Many of my songs came from my feelings. It would have been difficult to make them if I hadn't had those experiences. Many years of experience were mixed in my songs. It's the essence that can talk to people's hearts.

Q: Many of your songs sound light-hearted on the surface. But deep inside them there's a feeling of despair. Did you have some complicated experiences in your spiritual and daily life?

Y: I'm not sure whether my experience was complicated or not. But I care a lot about what other people think of me, and of my music in particular. As a young man with dreams, I don't want to give up easily. I always try to find some hope for myself. So the psychology in my music appears paradoxical.

Q: Sanbao was one of the Chinese mainland's earliest songwriters for singers from Hong Kong and Taiwan. But he gave up. The reason, as he explained it, was that "the music from Hong Kong and Taiwan was too poor, and it's not real music." What do you think of his comment?

Y: I think his comment is reasonable. The mainland music is like wine, which becomes more fragrant as time passes by. It can give you a lot of aftertaste. Of course, not all music from the mainland is like that.

On the other hand, the Hong Kong and Taiwan music is like fast food. Certainly their market mechanism for pop music is more advanced than the mainland's. But a musician can easily lose his or her talent and inspiration under that system. To meet the market demand, a musician there could release quite a few discs within a single year that hardly have any characteristics. This is against the nature of pop music.

(Shenzhen Daily April 16, 2004)


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