The Nanfang / Blog


Shenzhen singer-songwriter talks about her new album and experience of performing

Posted: 01/29/2013 7:00 am

A picture of Liang Ying from her Douban page

The owner of a local expat bar recently told this author that he would love to host live original music to encourage grassroots artists, but the market demand simply isn’t there. But some grassroots musicians persevere anyway. One of them is locally born post-80s girl Liang Ying.

Liang Ying kindly took the time to talk to The Nanfang last week about the new album she recorded with fellow alternative musician, Xiao Du, as well as talk about the experience of playing her esoteric music in front of Shenzhen audiences. The title of the album, which roughly translates as “It Is Unbearable to Meet As Well As to Part,” comes from a Tang Dynasty poem by Li Shangyin.

This poem forms the lyric of the album’s opening track, “Untitled.” Lasting almost six minutes and involving harmonies and intricate acoustic guitar playing, it is unlikely to be heard blasting out of any KTV rooms in the near future.

But after performing their songs at small venues around the country, the duo have built up a small following of devoted fans.

Although she has collaborated with foreigners, Liang insists that she got interested in alternative music at a very early age without their influence.

Although many of her lyrics come from ancient poems and 20th century “misty” poets such as Gu Cheng, some are more accessible and even conventional, such as those of “Come,” the third song on the album.

Liang and several fellow local grassroots musicians did briefly enjoy a mainstream audience in 2011 when they were invited to perform at Shenzhen Concert Hall tracks from their collaborative album “The Sound of Shenzhen.”

Although the artists enjoyed playing for an audience that was more attentive than what they are used to getting in bars, in order to get the gig, they had to remove the hard edges from their material. Songs that got the nod included “Life” by Wu Qiang, an ode to the singer’s toddler son.

Liang’s collaborator, Xiao Du, from Inner Mongolia.

When asked by The Nanfang whether Shenzhen would one day have an alternative music scene to rival that of Beijing, Liang said she thinks in 20 years Shenzhen will have more than it does now, but there are too many obstacles to achieving the goal of equalling Beijing.

Liang Ying and Xiao Du sell copies of their album for 50 yuan whenever they perform. Locations at which they frequently perform include C Union and Old Heaven Book Store in Nanshan District, and Brown Sugar Jar in Futian District.

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