Friday, February 09, 2007

ka kui's rock and roll

another old article post from me. please excuse the 'i stuck it through a translator' grammar. i still remember being in my parents' study churning this out. haha.

- - - - - - -

Ka Kui's Rock and Roll
Beyond's Words Before Returning from Japan

Time: 10th May 1993
Place: Beyond's Band Room
People: Beyond's Members: Wong Ka Kui, Wong Ka Keung, Yip Sai Wing, Wong Koon Chung

Q: Why did the four of you play together in a band?

Ka Kui: Till today we don't know the answer, we believe it is fate. Character is the most important, everyone needs to unconditionally respect each other, be willing to sacrifice, wholeheartedly for the band play for the band, cannot calculate that the band can bring about what benefits for yourself. Actually before playing together each of us had our own band, at that time each was playing in several bands. Ka Keung and I joined with Tai Chi's Joey, Gary and Ricky to form Laser Band, usually practiced little, there was somebody who gave us money and said we were talented. At that time at Mark I Studio, we practiced till perfect, but recieved little money. Playing 30 songs we only got a thousand dollars, and that wasn't enough for the rent. Paul's band Stone was even more pitiful, at the municipal council party played on the truck, initially it was to be four hundred dollars, afterwards somebody pushed down the price, recieved three hundred and fifty dollars.

Beyond formed in 83, in 84 Wing joined, Paul was the latest, joining in 85. At that time they did not know Paul could play guitar, only knew he had long hair, and liked to listen to music. He designed the concert poster for us. Before the concert one member decided to go overseas to study. At that time, we found out Paul was a guitarist, and after playing with us, asked him to join.

Q: Outsiders say you are an underground band, do you agree or disagree?

Ka Kui: I've never considered that Beyond is an "underground band". We like to play the music we like to listen to, never considered playing the music that other people like. I think my music is very popular, don't know why nobody listens to it, makes me very not be resigned to it.

What is an "underground band"? One that doesn't release records? Hasn't held a performance? Doesn't stoop to give publicity to themselves? THese are all others misunderstanding of "underground". "Underground" 's true meaning is that people cannot tolerate, like on the mainland singing revolutionary songs is "underground work". Hong Kong doesn't have much political protest. Expression of resent towards society, in the west this is a sort of very popular music, it's a pity too many Hong Kong music fans only can accept the popular music they like to listen to, not accepting calling Beyond an "underground band".

Q: Has Beyond intentionally been strange?

Ka Kui: We don't like songs having too much repetition. For the most part, pop music has two verses, one bridge, one chorus, which is very formulaic. We like change, even so much that our own music compositions we have difficulty remembering, because I don't know how to notate compositions, everytime I write a song I have to use the machine to record it. There are those who think Beyond's music isn't coordinated, like three songs in one. I think this is very dramatic, like a story. I think other people's music is very limited, without change.

Q: Some say Beyond's music is becoming more and more commercial, is this submitting to reality?

Ka Kui: People have said Beyond's music is old and strange kind of music, playing pleasing to the ear music just won't work. So I try to compose other people's kind of music, prove that since others can achieve it, I can also do it. This is a challenge to yourself, not to submit to reality. But I admit Beyond did try to become commercial, this is to accept fans way of thinking. If I persisted in playing the music that I thought was good, fans wouldn't understand, or accept it, but would resist, would be annoyed, not want to listen to Beyond's music anymore, this would lead to distancing the fans. I won't be resigned to it, so temporarily, after the fans accept us, again create the music that we like. I believe that Beyond did not intentionally become commercial, unless if now we only played The Earth, Really Love You, I Like You, only then are we a one hundred percent pop band, but Beyond hasn't stayed at The Earth, I Like You, stage.

Q: It appears at this stage that your works have or have not been restricted?

Ka Kui: Before we liked simple thoughts. Today we know Hong Kong people like simple things. Personally for a musician, all day you want to make a breakthrough, but you need to control yourself, don't want to go by convention. Sometimes for the song to be popular, to supress yourself no to empty out what you like as the fans may not accept it, makes me bored. I ask myself, what music am I playing? Why need to make it so hard?

During the time of The Earth and I Like You, we played simple songs and the feetback was the strongest. Using our hearts to play some more technically difficult songs, the response was very cold. Musicians want to shift the boundaries in their msuic, instead nobody cares, nobody appreciates. I felt in Hong Kong music there isn't any interest. Right now circumstances are a litle better, the number of music fans has stabilized, the record company also has confidence in us. So as long as in an album there are two, three songs which will be popular, we are given free rein. Beyond has been established for 10 years, I hope to compose the msuic that I like, fear that some fans won't accept the path I take, but Beyond will still take its own path.

Q: Spending 10 years in the music circle, what have you reaped?

Ka Kui: The biggest reward is that some fans understand guitar based music, know what drums are and know what guitars are. When we made mistakes, they would write a letter notting our mistakes that needed correction. These kind of fans aren't weak and appreciate our songs, also appreciate my hard work. They experience good guitar playing, then they wil definitely spend a lot of time practicising. I feel very happy, because our previous efforts weren't in vain. It's possible these types of fans wil grow up and become another band, like Beyond, like us criticising people, criticising society. They will also give us pressure, to do even better.

Q: After becoming famous, Beyond also shot movies, appeared on television, do television programs, is it that you do not accept only being musicians, have to be entertainers?

Ka Kui: We are one hundred percent musicians, wholeheartedly pursue music. When the album comes out we publicise it, ordinarily avoid it and pursue music. If we haven't released an album and also appear on television, television programs, only then that is an "entertainer". Beyond doing publicity means that music must be relevant. There are some singers who appear on television, step all over people, "drink milk" (meaning to suck up to), what meaning has this. Helping music equates to zero, only to raise their fame, that's all. Before I also tried to appear on a singing show, in the first place because of income problems, secondly to prove we could be like other entertainers. Appearing on singing shows you earn money, but everyday return home completely tired, then how will you have time left for music? Everyone worries about themselves, so why compete so greatly? Scared that others are "hotter" than you, scared of others vieing for your own fans!

Q: Since you wish to popularize music, why don't you write for other people?

Ka Kui: We wanted to write songs for other people, but the record company was opposed to it. They said, why don't you keep the good songs for yourself? If it isn't a good song, it will affect Beyond's name. That is to only be responsible for writing songs sin't okay. In short that any person's album has Beyond's name inside isn't alright, if you want to listen to Beyond's songs you should buy Beyond's albums. If each member did their own work, everybody would lose focus. Like TaiChi for example, they played for a lot of stars, obviously they played rock, but wrote other people's jazz songs. If done too much would result in not having your own individual character. You say, if we just use up the remaining songs, what will the band be like?

Q: Why do you resent the Hong Kong entertainment industry?

Ka Kui: Hong Kong doesn't have a music circle, only has an entertainment circle. You watch every year at music awards who gets elected best singer? It's the "hot" entertainer. What song is chosen? All cover version songs. In the circle you can say that in essence people don't respect music, only use music to shape popularity, give publicity to singers, not using music to move people's hearts, the content is empty without feeling. The entertainer will be absorbed into the music world, singers filming movies, on television, being an actor and also becoming a singer. Many singers regularly attend charitable activitiesm helping the poor, go to orphanages, visit old people's homes, yet their songs always don't express loving care for society type messages. For what? Want to be "hot", becoming popular, and want to become even more popular!

Q: Why can Beyond stay together?

Ka Kui: To be a person the most important is to be true. Very strange, some entertainers can pretend to have a smiling face, obviously not having very happy thoughts, seeing them face to face, all disguise themselves as affectionate. Why? Perhaps they can't help it. I'm not willing to be an idol, towards people be strong with a smiling face. Musicians only need to write good music. We are not from college, in ten years my family have opposed it yet we have persisted in playing in a band. Towards my passion for music I have been influenced all my life, not a small number of fans have begun to understand music, we play wrongly, they will write a letter to criticise us, also fans write a letter sending their recorded music. Does Beyond still need to exist, because we have sowed the seeds and they have begun to sprout.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

more old stuff from me

(from when "Never Dies" was made the theme of Lethal Weapon 4 in Asia, ho ho!)
From East Touch 21/7/98

Intro: Beyond has always been "dynamic". This year, they're finally making a dash into Hollywood. No, Beyond's not turning into actors; but they'll be singing the theme song for Lethal Weapon 4 for the Asia market, known as "Never Dies".

" Even though Asia is huge, when you talk about Band Sound which possesses power and dynamism, which else can deliver it better than Beyond? The foreign version was done by the band Van Halen... Naturally the Asian version should be done by Beyond." Beyond expressed energetically.


Simply because Beyond is energetic, the movie and the band complement one another perfectly. Though the threesome are already 30+, they would not hold back any dissactisfactions. For instance, when their ex-manager re-produced some of Ka-Kui's pieces again, Ka Keung used three terms to describe how they felt -- very unhappy, disgusted and irritated. To continue on dissatisfaction, Keung frowned and added -- " just like the new airport, the facilities though look good, cannot function properly. The toilets are tiny and dirty; baggages get lost easily and the transportation services are useless... you spend some much yet it's not working well. Economy's affected, why did they still insist to use it ?!!!"

Looks like Beyond's never gonna keep their views to themselves!


Being able to perform this theme song, Beyond's reputation can be expected to soar again. Asked if they would be entering the international entertainment circle, Paul answered it with wits, " It's always been our dream. Able to perform the song this time round, we'll regard ourselves as an international band, thus we actually kinda looked forward for this chance!! We took about a week's time to finish this song, it's considered fast because we really feel that the movie and our band are a good match.


So Beyond's been around for 15 years. Still, they'll been criticised on their lyrics. Ka Keung's first response was, " anyone will have weaknesses, but uniqueness may also be uncovered from the weaknesses." Paul added, " Band members are not professional lyrists. We can only use the truest and most direct way to express our emotions and what we want to say. There may be no structure nor organisation actually. The lyrics if being too refined will not resemble band music too. Moreover, we aren't some learned or studious people... But we're trying to improve ourselves, by using different angles to look at matters and learning by observing other lyrists."


No doubt Beyond's appearing less and less in Hong Kong. Instead, they seem to spend more time in Taiwan. Wing explained, " Well Taiwan 's bigger, there are more media thus we have to spend relatively more time over there. In fact, much time are spent in traffic jams and waiting to take positions for TV shows. It's common to take 2-3 hours !" Finally Beyond declared that HK's good. Moreover, Taiwan's currency depreciates , while $HK is more stable!!!


When asked about the trend where commercial theme songs filled the HK pop, Ka Keung quickly responded, "That theme song for the commercial about skiing is a hit! I can hear it every night!!!" Beyond thinks that it has become a phenomenon in HK, but appears to be a fad. Just like earlier, TV theme songs were a hit. Paul commented, " These songs are like publicity trailers... they're played frequently, so it's really easy to be absorbed. It's just another mean of publicity for the record company." Would Beyond be interested to appear in commercials? Wing answered, " Unless the terms are really attractive, or that we're in need for cash!"

Thursday, October 13, 2005

still here

this blog is not dead, just sleeping... shall post soon enough...

Monday, August 15, 2005

I'm also a DJ

On Radio FM933 in S'pore on 24th August 1998 @ 1100 -1200 am

Throughout the show, they talked about their fave music type, shared some fave music pieces and tried to analyse their personality...

ALL: Hi ! This is Beyond, and we're also the DJs for tonite.

Paul: Yeah we love to play music. If I'm not playing the guitar, I'll run to Wing's position to be the drummer. It's really COOL, you know. Moreover, it's so loud and everyone can't help but notice. Also, you needn't worry about the chords... Way Cool !

Wing: If Paul takes over, then I'll move to the piano.

KK: I play the bass. Actually, I like the drums as well. But Paul is always faster (the other two laugh). Anyway, I enjoy the guitar too. It 's lot more convenient to compose with it too.

("Forget You" starts playing)


Paul: Actually, we like a variety of music. Rock of couse, and Jazz too. Jazzists like Miles Davis..., we like new age as well...

KK:... Alternative

Wing: And we all Adore David Bowie.

KK: Yeah!

Paul: David Bowie is a chameleon. We've always regard him as a model to learn from.

KK: Now, we'll recommend a song we think is pretty good. Dou Wei's " Gao Ji Dong Wu"

[Music plays]

[Part 3]

KK: Our habit of composing music is...(laughs) we'll return to our 2nd home , that is our band room. Then we'll start to chat, and on and on and on......... [laughs again]

Wing:... then we'll go into our the room to start playing some music...

KK: Ha, i guess this's really our bad habit... we chat more than we make music most of the times... i think it's important to us coz we don't wanna make music when we lack inspiration. We don't want music without soul

Paul: Also, we don't wanna be like other 9-5 workers; we try not to see music as our work. We want to make music only when we have the inspiration. OK! I'll play the song by Zhang Chu , " Gu Du De Ren Shi Ke Chi De".

[Music plays]


KK: About my Personality... i'm a Scopio. I like to read and play the computer. I enjoy being in the crowd, but not all the time... Maybe few times a month... I stll prefer to stay at home actually.

Wing: Well, i'm a Leo. I love the nature. For instance, I enjoy fishing. And I really adore the sun!!! When I see the sun, I'm fiiled with hope!

KK: ...[laughs] doesn't it hurt your eyes...

Paul: And i'm an Aries. Supposedly, Aries are reckless bunch. But I don't think I am. Well, i guess i have split personality. Sometimes i'm outgoing, otherwise I can be an introvert as well... Can't really explain why. Heard that in the Horoscope there exists some elements which determine your characteristic.. maybe these different elements cause me to have split-personality...

KK: OK, i'll play for you from Garbage "Push it"

[music plays]

[Last part]

KK: I think that may Chinese musicians make good music too ! Say in China -- Dou Wei (Black Panther] , Zhang Chu... and there's this Zhu Zhe Qing's " Ah Jie Gu".. think it's comparable to international labels. Also in Hong Kong, for instance .... [pause for quite long]

The other 2 begin to chuckle...

Paul (tries to intimidate him) : WHO?!!!!

KK: our 'big brother' Sam Hui... and many who are behind the scene

Paul: I like Lau Cheock Fai.

KK: Yah, he's a lyrist.

Paul: Yeah! And Lam Zhei...

Wing: Lam Zhan Cheong...

Paul: more of the lyrists...

KK: OK! We'll the last song for tonite. Our "Miss You".

Paul: We'll miss you after we leave...

Wing: Hope you'll think of us as well...


[music plays]

Sunday, July 03, 2005

since the last post mentioned zen and rock records, here's some archival news...

February 02 1999



HK Commercial Radio Station held a 'Band Competition Show' on 31 Jan 1999, many bands attended the event, accepted awards & performed, including Zen, who hasn't been out for some time. However, Zen was bitterly booed by the audience almost once they started to sing, "SO UGLY! NOT FUN AT ALL! GO HOME!", with all kinds of horrid remarks. Although Zen took no notice, but BEYOND stood up for them. Paul told the audience, "Rock bands are getting extinct, yet you people are still trying to force them down the stage, isn't it like fighting within ourselves?! I really can't stand it! However, al least it was only a small group of people who are doing it, most of you are very well-behaved. As for those who don't like it, the door is just over there." BEYOND had never been booed before, but if they were to come across such a situation, they would simply turn up the sound effects, pretending not to hear, as well as not allowing any chances for anyone to boo.

Reporters felt Zen is really pitiful, but Zen said, "How pitiful? We got an award yet we are pitiful?" They treat the audience's remarks as a joke, because whenever Sam shouts to them in the recording studio, "GO HOME!", it means they've finished their work. Four of them said they heard nothing from the audience, as the music is really too noisy. They are not clear about the fact that BEYOND actually stood up for them, because they were then at backstage doing interviews. Lead vocal Heng said, "Their mouths belong to them, I can't control what they wanna say. Must I do everything they want me to do? I might as well 'go home'!"


BEYOND is always so full of fury, although they've been around for 15 years, but in a recent interview, Paul told the reporter Rock Records gave no help to their music at all for it is nothing but GARBAGE in and out!

Paul admitted he was the one who made this remark. "I said it. I'll take the responsibility." Ka Keung, who was beside him explained, "Maybe to say the Company is garbage is a bit too much, but they really DID made us all so FURIOUS! This particular interview was done during X'mas, about 2 months ago, before they explained things to us, we did not expect the report to be published only till now. Now that we've got all misunderstandings cleared, our fury had ceased."

The reason why BEYOND was so furious was because their latest album was originally planned as a Mandarin album, but as it was almost completed, Rock Records abruptly wanted them to change it to a Cantonese one. BEYOND felt the Company had no respect for them at all. When asked whether they would be worried the Company may be unhappy over Paul's remarks, Sai Wing snapped, "Did they consider our feelings before then?"

BEYOND hope Rock Records would keep their word and be more respectful, or else it won't be long before they are considered nothing but GARBAGE again.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

please let go of your hands

we need beyond: a hundred thousand signatures by china fans asking beyond not to breakup

translation by lil_bing on beyondforum

After 20 years, the most popular rock band Beyond announced their official break up this year, the three members are currently doing their farewell world tour to say goodbye to fans around the world. There is one group of fans still wish their idols would change their decision, they have started to gather ten thousand signatures, hoping this will change Beyond's decision on the break-up, until today, there are several thousand signatures already, this moves Beyond too.

The band who has been together for 20 years. Beyond, after hosting their farewell concert in February in Hong Kong, they are now very busy with their world tour, officially saying goodbye to their fans, after that the three members will be working separately. However, their fans still don't want to see the band break up, at the beginning of the year there were some fans faxing to the press threatening Beyond by saying they would kill themselves, there were also fans crying for them to get back together. But Beyond still stick with their decision, Ka Keung even expressed that one of the reasons for the break up is because of their different style of music. Beyond has just finished their tour at Beijing, Shen Yang and Harbin, coming next would be Tian Jin, Cheng Zhou, Chang Sa, and Hunan. A group of China fans are hoping to change Beyond's decision, they have started a partition, they follow Beyond to every farewell concert in China, setup a table outside the venue with a banner to ask fans to adopt their message hoping to change their decision by gathering a billion signatures.

Filled Up the Venue

50,000 Audience in 30,000 Seats

As of right now, the fans have already collected several tens of thousands of signatures, besides collecting signatures outside of the venue, they find their relatives and friends to help out, they also spread the words online to ask fans to go sign the partition, working very hard. However, on the other side, Beyond still didn't change their decision, when they were at the Beijing concert, Paul started the concert by saying "Beyond says breakup, we are breaking up." Fans immediately cried "Don't leave." When Beyond was at Shen Yang, the venue could hold 30,000 people but there were 50,000 people, the sponsor of the concert said that besides the 50,000 people inside the venue, there were more fans who couldn't get in, they just stand outside of the venue to listen. Similar situation happened at Harbin.

In response to the fans' hardwork, KaKeung said on the phone "wow, one hundred thousand?? It sounds more like bacteria. Everyone is so dedicated, actually isn't it better to use their spirit and dedication to support the things I want to do? Even after we break up, Beyond's spirit will not change, we are not expressing our spirit together, but we are doing it separately."

When asked if this group of fans successfully collect one billion signatures would they consider changing their minds, KaKeung replied "Actually having over a hundred thousand signatures is already very good, I am moved already by hearing it, we will talk more if it really happens."

Paul replies "I admire the fans' stubborness in their spirit, being so dedicated for something is good, but isn't it a waste of time? Why not use the time to be a volunteer? If there is really a hundred thousand signatures, I don't even know how I would react, it's kind of scary with such a huge effort, really have to wait till it actually happens to let you know what I think."

Releasing Fairwell DVD in Mid of the Month

Yip Sai Wing says "With a hundred thousand people supporting Beyond to not break up, why not tell these hundred thousand people to support Hong Kong's music industry, support legal music, musicians won't have to work so hard. We will see if there really are one billion signatures, but it's not like I don't know that the fans are putting so much effort in it, I am also moved by it."

On the other hand, Paul was in Beijing for an online interview with, he mentioned: "I feel that I am letting my fans down when I see the banner telling us not to breakup in my room. I hope they will respect our decision. Actually ever since KaKui left, we already felt that we have been broken up, without him, nothing has meanings." An online fan asked whether Beyond will get together for 25th and 30th anniversary? Paul said "Talk about in several years? We don't even know what's going to happen tomorrow, I guess there's a possibility."

After finishing the concert at Harbin, Beyond returned to Hong Kong to personally work on their Hong Kong farewell concert DVD as the last product of Beyond, which is planned to be released in the mid of the month. In addition, today is also Wong Ka Kui's death anniversary, Beyond's three members are currently at Tian Jin preparing for their concert, they have already went to visit KaKui couple of days ago.

- - - -

there have been rumours of breakups circulating for years, from their post tragedy reformation in 1994, to the release of solo albums by the three remaining members while still within the confines of beyond.

if you'd mentioned it to me in 1998 or thereabouts, i'd have screamed in your ear, and berated you for saying such things. one, because they were releasing albums that were expanding my poor musically challenged mind (please let go of your hands and surprise being examples); and two, because i couldn't let go of them either.

being together for more than twenty years, the band is akin to something familiar and comforting.

there's often some person at their concerts with a placard that reads, "i grew up with beyond". it's true for many people, especially those in their mid-twenties and older. in the beginning was beyond and many others, and now they are all that's left of the 80s bands (save for the occasional tat ming pair reunion). nobody else has risen, commercially anyhow, to take their place.

zen could have been it, but they were a bland commercial band, whose popularity peaked with their songs in the 'young and dangerous' movies. the only song i can remember liking was 'i remember you'. (lead singer wong wo hing released his own solo album this year, and the video that keeps playing on tvb makes me block my ears, frankly, when he hits those terrible notes.)

beyond's last full album, goodtime, was released in 1999. the artwork still perplexes me - the three of them stand in the background, whilst mischevious models upstage them with their displays of affection for each other.

the surprising thing from the credits was that they'd ditched their usual producer jim lee and decided to do it all themselves. while paul could probably churn out catchy enough rock songs like the title track in his sleep, the rest of the album just seems to be lacking. the production is muddled, and the songwriting seems uninspired. a rushed job perhaps, to mark the end of their contract and troubled relationship with rock records?

"we have had a goodtime after all", the booklet reads inside. with this, they announced their 'break' after the goodtime concert. fans were already worried that this break would become a breakup, but the band emphasised it was some time off to devote to solo projects.

the three of them have differing musical styles: ka keung's has been described as british influenced and is more pop (just look at his favourite albums of 04); paul's music is inclined towards metal and hard rock; and wing's is somewhere between the two.

maybe the itch to do their own thing and increasing conflict between the members produced that dull album. either ways, paul quickly churned out three albums and an ep (yellow paul wong, black & white,root ep and play it loud) in a similar number of years; ka keung took his time to release brb ('be right back'), pursuing some movie roles and general leisure time; and wing released the beautiful time machine ep before beyond reformed for their 20th anniversary in 2003.

and now we fasttrack to 2005 to bring the closing of the band's story, as they play dates in china up to the end of july, having already performed two sold out farewell concerts in hong kong at the beginning of the year. and the above piece of news.

when making reference to it, a person from the beyondstation mailing list said angrily that fans should 'please let go of your hands', quoting the 1997 album title and song.

there's an image from the video of the same song that i'm reminded of - the three of them walking up a ramp in the rain, with ka keung holding up an umbrella, and wing holding up a balloon. their other free hands are handcuffed to each other.

beyond is what binds them together, but now that they want to create music outside of these confines, there are fans who cannot accept it. some even threatened to commit suicide if it went ahead.

beyond is as much a symbol of endurance as it is living with the pain of the death of a loved one; the latter is a reminder that nothing is permanent. beyond was never meant to last forever, and could have easily ended in 1994 after ka kui's death, if not for the wishes of the fans.

i have to wonder if the breakup upsets these fans so greatly that they sign a petition asking for a reversal of the band's wishes, that beyond's achievements have really come to nothing. because isn't there room for music in their hearts, that maybe beyond has inspired a love of music that isn't just confined to these three people on a stage? why can't these fans throw their support behind sales of legitimate cds (china's piracy is staggering enough for the US to demand action or face trade embargo), and musicians who deserve their support? beyond has tried to encourage the music scene over these many years, but there's only so much you can do when there is no audience.

i have to thank beyond for so many years of good memories, for fighting for what they believed in, and for the music that will never leave me.

as long as they continue to make good music, whether solo or together, i'll continue to listen.

Friday, June 10, 2005

I bought a Beyond cd, but all I got was a lousy recording and a bunch of cards...

'beyond forever' cards. everything looks cheesier as a trading card.

Mention the name Leslie Chan Kinn Tim to a longtime Beyond fan, and they will probably scowl at you. While he was the first to believe in Beyond enough to release records on his own label with his own money, and was instrumental in setting up their later commercial success with Cinepoly, his relationship with the band in more recent times has been sour.

He was the one who spotted the band at a concert, and promptly signed them up on the spot. He saw their potential commercially, signalling an end to their independent days. He also helped to have Cinepoly Records (a subsidiary of Polygram) sign them, which one could say was a fruitful partnership, under which they produced platinum and gold selling albums. The band's signing to Warner Music in 1992 signalled the end of their association. In the Beyond mythology, Leslie Chan himself probably makes a fair representation of the human form of ideals and musical purity vs commericalism and a wider audience.

To Beyond fans such as myself, he remains an enigmatic figure. What are his motivations? What lead Beyond to split with him? What does he value in music, if anything at all past commercialism? There are brief mentions by Beyond in articles to their ex-manager, but as far as I have read (not a lot, mind you, because of my lack of Chinese ability) not much more than denouncements.

I would believe that most of the earlier songs released by Kinn's Music are still owned by him, which leads to periodic re-releases of these otherwise hard to find records. CD, DSD, MD, HDCD - the re-releases have appeared on any number of these formats over the years.

Beyond in the past has asked fans not to purchase these cds, as the band had no rights to these recordings, and seeing them as just yet another attempt by Chan to make money.

Fans lament over the moral dilemma - do I deny this money grubbing manager his profit, or do I deny myself the opportunity to listen to these early recordings unavailable elsewhere?

'beijing concert' and 'the real beyond I' cds.

I am a bit of a sucker for completism, even if my conscience says no, so I have two cds, plus an old cassette. The Beijing concert, dating back to 1988, is probably equivalent to a bootleg, sounding suspiciously mono. It also comes with a packet of "Beyond Forever" cards, with pictures from the time of the Africa charity visit. Somewhere on the sleeve, it suggests if you want more cards, to write to a certain address...

The other cd is one from "The Real Beyond" series from sometime in 1998. There were also CD+VCD versions of these later, in a shrewd but annoying marketing move. But more importantly, these contained unheard early demos with ubiquitous titles like "Southern All Star" (had they been listening to the Japanese band?). Sometimes they were just Ka Kui recording ideas with his acoustic guitar; other times they documented the band playing around with arrangement and suitable vocalists for the song.

The cassette consists of a 1988 concert (simply titled "88 Concert") and a version of the 'Forever Waiting' EP. The title track from the EP is eighteen years old already, but the punk ethos and youthful fervour hasn't changed. One of my favourite tracks is 'Metal Maniac', where double kick bass drums made an appearance before their rehashing in the uber-metal grunge period.

What happened to Leslie Chan after Beyond?

As of 1997, Leslie Chan was running a record label, Red Star, in China. The reportedly successful singer/songwriter Zheng Jun was signed on, but later broke his contract by simply leaving. Chan attempted to sue Zhang. According to Chan, "these practices would never happen in the West, but they can happen in China". As to whether the label is still running, it probably died out a while ago, but I can't discern from the information on the internet.

Recently Beyond secured a publishing deal with Universal, and Kinn's Music is also under the same label, suggesting that the two are closely associated. There may be a process in which Beyond slowly buys back rights to their earlier work. In fact the anniversary song, 'Crossing Twenty Years', originally written by Ka Kui many years ago as a demo without lyrics, had to be bought back before they could use it in the final recording by the band, and in the 20th anniversary concert.

But there continues to be releases of the old Beyond recordings, suggesting Chan may still have the rights for a while yet (and perhaps this might be his only musically related income). Last one I saw was a DSD cd combining the 88 concert plus the soundtrack to the film 'Black Wall', typically characterised by ugly artwork.

If this is the only way to listen to these recordings, what other choice do we have? I would suggest that anybody in posession of these cds group together and offer to bootleg them for other fans, thereby bypassing Leslie Chan altogether. Please leave a message in the comments section! Because after all, it's their music that should live on, not his bank balance.

Friday, June 03, 2005

the great wall

This is a Great Wall and only a great people with a great past could have a great wall and such a great people with such a great wall will surely have a great future.

Richard M. Nixon

taken from the video for 'cheung sing' - shot while they were recording in japan

june the 4th is almost upon us, sixteen years on from tianamen (notice the debate about wikipedia's entry). political arrests are still occuring. right now, beyond is holding concerts in china as part of their farewell tour, but many years ago they were banned from the country because of this song (the link for the mp3 is on the 'music' menu).

i've chosen to write about the beyond song 'great wall' (cheung sing), because i believe as much as it debunks the myth of a great civilisation and a man-made wonder, i believe the underlying meaning is of a government that continues to oppress and deceive its people, continuing the suffering signified by the wall.

the great wall, is of course the great wall of china. it was built and rebuilt over the centuries by several dynasties, starting from 208BC. but the precursor to the modern wall is attributed to the first emperor of china, qin shihuang. my impression was originally that the wall was constructed by a person obsessed with power and paranoid of invaders, and indeed he is often portrayed as a tyrant (but on the other hand in zhang yimou's film 'hero' he is depicted as a admirable man and a patriot).

the wall was intended to keep invaders out from the north, but as it was built in sections, it may have not been so difficult to transgress. and as this traveler notes, it is only more recently that parts have been reconstructed and joined together.

another myth is that the great wall is the only man-made object that can be seen from the moon, which has been revealed to be untrue.

the song 'cheung sing' appeared on the 1992 album 'continue the revolution' as the opening track. the song was composed by wong ka kui, with lyrics by gene lau (lau cheuk fai). i have to wonder if the lyrics were all lau's invention, or if beyond provided the original idea. either way, it was brave to record such a political song. there are three versions of the song: cantonese, mandarin and japanese (i am unsure as to the content of the japanese lyrics).

with thanks to cyrus chiu, here is an english translation of the lyrics (unicode optional):

Great Wall

遙遠的東方 遼闊的邊疆
In the far far east, there is a vastly extensive frontier

And also an ancient ruined wall.

前世的滄桑 後世的風光
With many adversities in the past and a glory for the future,

This wall is closely knitted along a thousand hills.

It encloses an aging country;

It encloses a true story;

It encloses a long history;

圍着慾望與理想 (叫嚷)
It encloses desires and ideals (cries).

迷信的村莊 神秘的中央
Superstitious villages, a mysterious Central

And also a battlefield of yesterday.

皇帝的新衣 熱血的纓槍
The Emperor’s new clothes, the hot-blooded spears,

None was willing to wander around the frontier.

Covering up the ears,

Hear no more the cries of people over there on that day.

Woo Ah-Woo Ah-Ah-Ah

Covering up the eyes,

See once more the scar that we once respected.

Woo Ah-Woo Ah-Ah-Ah

It remains there on the crust of the earth.

無冕的身軀 忘我的思想
A body without a crown, a selfless thought,

And also an illustrious ruined wall.

誰也衝不開 誰也拋不低
None can break through it or leave it behind.

None is willing to lead a vagrant life.

briefly, i believe the 'cries' can refer to the dead workers - it has been said that the wall carries the remains of some of the many labourers who died whilst working on this colossal project, as the sense of urgency was so great that there was no time to stop for the weak, and no time for a burial. do you remember when david copperfield "walked through" the great wall of china? (according to the imdb, it was 1986) i wonder if he saw their bones lining the wall?

the song can also read as a testament to the events that occured in tianamen square in 1989. the government continues to deny that there was ever a crackdown, or reports the casualties as fewer than there actually were ('covering up the ears', 'covering up the eyes').

'body without a crown', 'the emperor's new clothes' and 'the superstitious village' can refer to the time of the qin dynasty and its historically regarded power mad emperor, but can equally be a reference to the communist party.

and more directly, that the great wall of china is not a monument of human achievment, but as a 'scar' upon the civilisation of china that should not be celebrated as glorious ('scar that we once respected'), but as a recognition of the suffering and mistakes of the past.

regarding the mandarin version of the song, as far as i can tell, they have transposed the same phrasing and meaning in the lyrics, which are credited to a different person. the video (made in taiwan for rock records) leaves nothing to the imagination about what beyond are yelling about. imperial guards spear each other, members of the people's liberation army fire at each other. terracotta warriors (a legacy of the qin dynasty) appear in the video, overlaid with the angry faces of the band.

my distaste for the chinese government was growing ever since i had seen those pictures on the news of the tanks in the square (our australian prime minister at the time, bob hawke, even shed tears publicly for the students). i was nine when it happened, but i could never regard china with the cultural naivety of a child looking upon her origins again.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

beyond's history

i had a request for the history of beyond from a reader, but as you may well know, their history is a long one. as much as i would like to put it into my own words (haha), there are several people who have done it already, so i'd probably be rehashing by referring to their dates and events.

a good one is at beyondline.

the other is by edmund gan, posted onto the soc.culture.hongkong.entertainment newsgroup in several parts:

in the beginning
the honeymoon
honeymoon's over, honey
towards independence
the invasion
the accident
a new beginning

will post a writeup about the song 'cheung sing' (great wall) soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

and now here is an article from singapore's i magazine, i think in 1998? during that trip they performed at the 'hello concert', which a kind singapore fan sent me the tape of. hmmm, off to watch it now...

i'm so used to hearing pr talk in articles that i find this one amusing.

- - - -

INTRO: * Ka Kui? Not to mention anymore. HK's future for bands? Talked a little about it. No music, no Ka Kui, so what else can be talked about with BEYOND's Wong Ka Keung, Yip Sai Wing and Wong Koon Chung(Paul)? There is something, this time, we talked about the topic on: Youngsters. Who says BEYOND is unsatisfied with the world?

* Unknowingly, BEYOND has been around for 15 years. Their first public performance was at one of HK's Cultural Centre's small location. 15 years, from a band of 5 to a 'Three-piece band', they had been through a lot of hardship.

PAUL: 15 years for playing music is not a very long period of time, there are still quite a lot of things I don't know, & the more I learn the more I realized there are even more things I had not know before.

WING: If you like something, do not hesitate to go ahead with it, then the chances of success will be higher.

* Rock music is not the leading trend. Who says so? BEYOND's lead vocalist Wong Ka Keung.

KEUNG: If u have enough guts to play music in HK... go ahead and try. I dare not guarantee you will succeed. Why aren't there space for rock bands to survive in a Chinese society? I don't know why the situation is so terrible, so poor. I don't even know how to advice other bands on how to walk down this path.

* Rock music is getting popular in Taiwan and China. Where are the other HK rock bands like Raidas, TaiChi, who once too had 'cells of rock' in them and went through happiness and anger with us? No more, the only left to mention seems to be BEYOND.

KEUNG: HK is an independent place. No matter what happens to the world, she remains the same. We won't get influenced by music from other places.

WING: Maybe HK is too small, the market cannot allow rock music. And maybe Taiwan is big enough to contain space for them to survive.

* Since HK's market proves this harsh, what is left to persist?

PAUL: No matter what happens to us, we still have a lot of supporters. This is the main reason. We won't want to disappoint them, some say we are the "big brother" of rock bands, we wish to do things for the best. This is a motivation to us.

* What's that about No. 1 Band? What "big brother of bands"? Is it pressurizing?

KEUNG: We work hard to produce music, but there are still comments that we are still not up to this, not up to that. This seems to be an unfair pressure on us, take a look at the many songs of most singers in the market today, whose exactly produces the most sincere work? We are definitely sincere in producing our music, but we face pressure because we are truly producing our own music, so people becomes even more picky on us.

* Em... would it be because of BEYOND's attitude? Many feels BEYOND is too cold, too distant. BEYOND are after all singers, should have more publicity done...

KEUNG: We are not cold. We are very friendly. Our rate of publicity used to be as high as any other singers. We used to do a lot of promotions. But now I feel a lot of singers don't do it as well. They can choose, we have the right to choose too. I feel if you wish to know us better, you could buy our reports or books.

PAUL: We spend too much time on playing music now. When we release an album, we do try and fit in with the promotions to be done. We hope to be treated fairly. There are certain promotions we can't fit into, a lot of media doesn't wish to do live shows as well, because it requires a lot of helpers, like soundman etc. Some TV stations just doesn't wish to spend money on it.

* Flipped through a HK mag the other day, & actually saw quite a lot of new arising bands in HK. This is good news! But do you know them?

KEUNG: Anodize is not bad. Basically, not many bands get to release albums.

PAUL: We know they do have a lot of spirit, see things widely like us. They are not like other bands, some resist the leading trend; they don't sing English songs, love songs. Not that it's no good, but they limit their future.

KEUNG: And there's Zen. Do you know them? (Soundtrack singers of movie 'Young and Dangerous') They have a lot of aspiration for music, not bad, and they're still young. Really should mention them, although I'm not sure if their music is alright to appreciate , but should really give them some support. They are a band, there are not much left in HK anymore.

PAUL: We give more respect to those who can really play musical instruments.

* Is the leading trend so terrible? I actually love Faye Wong and Jacky Cheung's songs! Does BEYOND favor any leading pop singers?

KEUNG: China has a lot of good bands around, I like Dou Wei(Faye Wong's hubby). He produces music too, basically, he is quite like us, we play music. But you don't mean this kind, do u? You mean those Jacky Cheung, Faye Wong huh? Those kind... doesn't seem to have any favor for them. (laughs) We do quite like Sam Hui, his music is quite like ours, he is also a leading pop singer, a big brother. He is a real musician.

* Maybe because of those movies like 'Young & Dangerous', these kind of 'attitude' movies had affected the way youngsters nowadays deal with things, seems rather extreme and unhealthy. If this goes on, what will the world be like in future?

KEUNG: I feel youngsters nowadays should grab on to their future. This is very important. The younger one is the more he should have aims. A life without an aim is easy to become complexed.

PAUL: Youngsters nowadays are weaker. Our generation is weaker than the upper generation, but they are even weaker than us. (shakes his head as he speaks)

WING: A lot of society problems in HK arise from youngsters commiting suicide. And the reason for suicide is actually because they were scolded by their mom, or failing their exams. As youngsters, they should be stronger, should make out their directions. They should learn to put aside their pride at the appropriate time, so as not to get hurt. Some problems are easy to solve, be optimistic.

PAUL: If kids in kindergarten are starting to learn the computer now, then they could be roaming about the internet by primary school, and would have a better understanding of what's going on around the world, and could also watch r-rated films secretly as well then.

KEUNG: Our generation is different, we could blush even if it's just a magazine!

* Youngsters, the hope for the future. Which country's youngsters are most worth praising?

PAUL: China. To be able to survive in such a reseved country is already really worth admiration! (laughs) It's true, imagine myself being there, I can't think of how I'm gonna survive! They do not have much places for entertainment, only thing to do is to read. HK youngsters are too fortunate. Look at those kids in China, they don't really have much, but they can still live happily.

KEUNG: They don't have any motives, making friends with them is a great pleasure. In fact, in those countries which are too progressive, many haven't a good heart. I do quite like Taiwanese youngsters too, they are better versed in literature. Many like to read, this is a good trend for youngsters to follow.

WING: I don't know many young people from other countries...

PAUL: (interrrupting) Thailand! (laughs) Thailand is not bad. They are very pure...

WING: I often read letters from Chinese and Taiwanese fans, they are not like HK fans, who always talk about themselves, it feels kinda gossipy. Taiwanese fans have quite a bit of feelings for music, they won't write rubbish, and they have beautiful handwriting.

PAUL: Unlike HK fans with lots of mistakes in words, even those which shouldn't go wrong! Like even the word 'ji' as of 'ji ben'(basically)!

WING: If they are really so rushed for time, might as well send tapes to me.

PAUL: (looking doubtful) Are they busy??????

KEUNG: (appearing indifferent) I haven't the time to listen. (laughs)