Put down your screens: Interview with Liang Yi from Stolen

Ever find yourself wasting time by mindlessly scrolling through an endless stream of images ? 

Disillusioned by the modern obsession with digital documentation, Chengdu post-punk/cold-wave band Stolen 秘密行动 are touring their new EP Stealing Our Lenses我们遗失的视角》, which might make you think twice about updating your Instagram in the middle of a gig.

Kiwese caught up with frontman Liang Yi 梁艺 earlier this week for a mash-up English/Chinese interview.

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While the world’s attention were focussed on Beijing for the 2008 Olympics, the first incarnation of Stolen was forming at Sichuan Conservatory of Music High School 四川音乐学院附中 in Chengdu.

The current line up of Liang Yi 梁艺 (lead vocals), Duan Xuan 段轩 (guitar, keyboard, samples, vocals), Fang De 方德 (guitar, vocals) Xiao Wu 小伍 (bass), Yuan Yufeng (drums) are now on their second national tour, promoting their new EP in eight cities around the country. The intensity of Liang Yi’s cathartic performance style combined with visuals by Herve, a French film maker, makes Stolen’s live show a powerful force not to be missed.

KIWESE: Hey Liang Yi. Ming Ming (The Hormones) says you guys used to go to school together in Leshan. What was it like growing up in Leshan?

Actually, three of us are from Leshan. Duan Xuan is from Xinjiang.

我们乐队有三个人是从乐山来的。我们的吉他手段轩是新疆的。

Leshan is a beautiful city – a travel city – many people around the world know the Big Buddha. It has beautiful mountains and rivers. Yeah, it’s a cool city!

Is there much of music scene in Leshan? 

Small cities in China don’t really have good music scenes. People don’t really encounter rock music, electronic  music, or whatever. They just know pop music.

在中国小的城市都不会有特别好的音乐气氛。 小的城市几乎没有人去接触摇滚乐,很少的人知道摇滚音乐,或者电子音乐,各种音乐,很少。他们知道pop music.

In China, pop music and internet music is very big. Internet music is fucking shit. Like Phoenix Legend 凤凰传奇

I’ve never heard of them.

They suck. A lot of pop music from Hong Kong and Taiwan gets really big here. The only thing they sing about is love.

When did you start listening to rock music?

I started to learn guitar in middle school and my guitar teacher gave me a lot of CDs like PortisheadRed Hot Chili Peppers, Radiohead, as well as old rock and blues. I really liked them. When I got to high school, I loved this Chinese band called Muma 木马. Amazing band. That led me to discovering Joy Division and The Cure.

What is like being a musician in Chengdu?

People in Chengdu are generally open to a wide range of music. The music community is very peaceful – everybody is friends and there is good communication. I feel like Chengdu is onto something good right now, it has become another centre for music.

“There is a lot of pressure from the Government in Beijing – while things in Chengdu have a lot more freedom.”

I hear you used to share a practice space with Hiperson

We were classmates with Hiperson at university. They are an awesome post-punk band.

Passengers on the Beijing Metro, 2013.
Passengers on the Beijing Metro, 2013.

“It used to be that bands would all flock to Beijing to try make a name for themselves, regardless of where they were from… but now it’s different – it is the Internet era.”

What does ‘Stealing Our Lenses’ mean to you?

Everyday, we are confronted with so much news. Good and bad. I think sometimes we lose our sense of perspective, we can only see our iPhones, iPads, screens. We forget to see the real world. When some people go to shows, they are just watching through their screens…  I feel like recording audio or video should just be left to the professionals. The audience should just try to feel the show – the music and the atmosphere.

“有很多人他们现在看演出的时候,他们都在屏幕上看。”

“More people should focus on the music, not just the stuff they can post on WeChat…”

English version副本

Can you talk a bit about your connection with the support bands on this tour? A great line-up!

The Fuzz are really good friends of ours from Xi’an. They have been around longer than us. The first time we played in Xi’an, they were really welcoming and took us round. We have the same kind of brains, the same musical views and the same desire to create good indie music.

The Fuzz 是我们非常好的朋友。他们是西安人。他们是比我们早的乐队。 但是我们第次来到西安,他们对我们非常热情,过来跟我们说带我们一起玩儿,我们有一样的脑子,我们对音乐的想法,我们都要做好的indie music。

Snapline are a band who I absolutely love. When we first started, we didn’t know them. But on the last tour, we were at School seeing Soviet Pop, which is Li Qing and Li Weisi’s experimental-noise band. We met them at the door of School, had a really good chat and stayed in touch afterwards.

Snapline 是我自己非常喜欢的乐队,太喜欢。刚刚开始我们不认识他们,但上一次的巡演的时候我们就在北京的 School Bar with Soviet Pop,李青和李維斯做的这个实验的噪音的一个乐队。然后我们就在School 的门口跟他们遇到,聊得特别高兴,聊的特别多。然后回来之后,我们就一直保持联系.

We met Residence A at the Yu Gong Yi Shan show in Beijing that John Yingling (The World Underground) was doing for his movie. John followed P.K 14 on tour last year and Hiperson opened for them in Chengdu. The night before we did a show with EF (Sweden) and John came to the show to see us. This year he was back and called us and asked if we wanted to come to Beijing to do a show with Residence A, SUBS, the Diders and Chui Wan. Of course we said yes!

The Maples are a young band from Chongqing. They are influenced a lot by Sonic Youth and noise rock. I think they are a really good band. They also played at the World Underground show with us and Hiperson this year.

So… have you ever stolen anything before?

[laughs] No! Stolen has many meanings. One meaning is to steal something, while another is to quietly do something. (Stolen 有很多不同的意思。有偷的意思,还有一个意思是悄悄的去做一个事情:秘密行动.)

When I was young, I saw a Japanese painting with the word ‘Stolen’ painted into it. It was beautiful. In middle school, when my English was even worse [laughs], I searched the word ‘stolen,’ and found these two meanings. That’s when I had a dream to make a band called Stolen.

Cheers, Liang Yi! Good luck for the tour!

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STOLEN ‘Stealing Our Lenses’ National Tour 2014:

Fri 7 Nov          Lanzhou 兰州 葵  with A公馆

Sat 8 Nov         Beijing 北京 XP  with Snapline

Fri 14 Nov       Xi’an 西安 光圈  w/ The Fuzz

Sat 15 Nov      Zhengzhou 郑州 7LIVEHOUSE

Fri 21 Nov       Chongqing 重庆 坚果Livehouse  with The Maples

Fri 28 Nov       Shenzhen 深圳 红糖罐

Sun 30 Nov    Guangzhou 广州 SD LIVEHOUSE (无解音乐周末)

Sat 6 Dec         Chengdu 成都 小酒馆

Buy tickets and CDs on Zaomengshe!

Stolen feature in the latest episode of The Sound Stage!

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