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)




Monday, May 23, 2005

thoughts on the revolution

wong ka kui in 1986 (click for larger)

whenever i think of the word revolution lately, i come back to anton newcombe in the documentary dig!. in the film it seems this is the brian jonestown massacre visionary's favourite concept: "We're going to kick off a full-scale musical revolution. We're going to take over the world".

while his lofty ambition is undermined by his seeming presence on another planet, he does have the talent to back it up. but as dandy warhols' guitarist pete holmstrom says in the film: "There's no way to start a revolution when you stay underground."

so the dandy warhols end up making expensive video clips while the bjc tag along for free food. but even as they sell big in europe, their music comes across as a pale, pumped up version of what the bjc set out to do. songwriter courtney taylor clearly was on a different wavelength to newcombe.

but as in the case of bjc prior to the documentary's release, how do you make noise if there's nobody to hear you? do you stay underground regardless, or turn to more commercial pursuits?

in the business-orientated hong kong music industry, if you want to even try to change it from the inside, you have to adapt. the listening public cannot even begin to accept your music if it does not fit the mold. once becoming this commercial artist then only can you attempt to stretch the sounds and experience of the listeners. is this compromise worth it?

paul wong has been quoted as saying, "Wong Ka Kui had the knack of combining art and commerce."

ka keung has similarly said, "With Ka Kui, our music scored commercially in those years, proving that we were able to make our music as commercial and popular as any the best of them."

from that it would appear that ka kui was the mastermind of the plan, with a flurry of tv appearances and promotional events after their signing to tvb, followed by their most commercial album at that time, beyond iv. really love you was a big mother's day hit, and the album went platinum.

apart from the heavy rock true testimony, most of the albums released in the early nineties had the hits cinepoly and tvb salivated over. beyond continued to promote themselves, hosting after-school specials and even lending their voices to a cantonese-speaking teenage mutant ninja turtles! the sales continued with fate party went three times platinum, and in an effort to expand their horizons, they went on to sign a contract with amuse in japan, leading to the accident...

with all this commercial success, it is no wonder that on the surface the brightest time for beyond was prior to ka kui's death. the public knew the band well, and ka kui was the face and voice of it. without him, people not loyal to the band sometimes dismissed the work of the remaining three members without consideration, and beyond's attitudes towards the audience changed similarly:

Actually, we know very well that everytime we release our work, the sales goes very quickly in the beginning, but when it reaches a certain number, the sales stop. It's because people who like our music are the loyal fans, so we don't need to go impress them. Similarily, we also don't need to go impress the audience which we can't impress. (paul wong)

having worked hard and fought over record deals and terms for so many years, ka keung concludes that "...we now make the music that we really like. I think that if Wong Ka Kui were still with us today, he would totally agree. We don't care about the market because we just want to make the music we believe in."

but in the end, the musical revolution never happened in hong kong. artists who believe that their music has the possibility for change are still struggling to put something together, but find themselves up against the same barriers.

beyond was the only bridge between the underground and the mainstream. their successors that would continue the revolution never materialised during their time together. in some ways, their hopes of making a real, permanent change to the music scene died with wong ka kui, something that paul recognised:

"...the incident was not merely about a loss of an artist. It was about losing a music revolutionary, and an age of time."

if there was a real documentary on beyond, which made no attempt to hide the truth, what would it say?

Friday, May 20, 2005

a wallpaper i made for the website.

you can tell how long ago it was made because this resolution was the standard back then. nowadays this screen size is for old people.

one year when i was on holiday in malaysia, i found this wallpaper being used as the cover of a pirated cd-rom of beyond mp3s sold in shops. there was some weird sense of pride induced, but on the other hand i just wanted to rip the bloody thing up.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

yellow paul wong

my parents are heading off to hong kong on monday for a week, which is a week i get left at home. instead i'm left imagining what it was like to walk the streets of tsimshatsui, the last time i visited, and my first time ever.

beyond is as much a part of hong kong as it is the other way around, from the way i saw it, from crossing tsing ma bridge (a soundscape namesake on surprise) as we left the new airport; to passing the abandoned old kai tak airport, which was where the 2000 concert was held. even the phonebooths in tsimshatsui by the sea had been featured in a music video (until you are here).

not far away was a hmv, which i'd been looking forward to raiding. as soon as i walked into the door, i was assailed by the bright blue display of paul wong's solo album - the first solo release by a beyond member, which i'd forgotten all about.

"this is yellow"
high ethical standard
of the mass media

oh yeah, this was one of those things feeding the band breakup rumours (ver. 2000), but if paul could produce something this discordant at times outside of beyond, who cares?

the "yellow" in the title is a direct translation of an expression similar to "yellow running dog pack" aka the nickname for the hong kong media. the artwork inside the hardcover booklet is of a similar ilk, expressing discontent at things others may take for granted:

"if hong kong can do it, you can do anything!" runs the sarcastic line in hong kong can. the censored version is the one that is on the album, but ah yan (aka mc yan), ah fei, ah kit, ah wah and jimmy (members of lmf) let loose on their feelings on the "dirty version" included as a separate cd, in a yellow coloured sleeve.


this is part of the darker side of hong kong i only know through politics and cultural observations. as a tourist i only see the bright and the fast, the opportunity to eat good food anywhere, and the enjoyment in absorbing the gloss of an entertainment centre for a short period of time. observing much further away, i am sometimes appalled by the obsession with appearance, the propensity for self-censorship in fear of reprehension, and the workings of the music industry as a business.

maybe our love/hate relationship with the place is similar. but as someone born and bred in hong kong, paul wong's strong sentiments can only be out of love and concern for his home.

Beyond Never Dies, But Sings Louder

okay, first attempt at posting an article. i just realised that some of the articles i managed to salvage are incomplete, and i have less than i thought i did. bummer.

here's an article from 1998 - the title is a reference to their song "never dies" 打不死, hong kong theme song for lethal weapon x, the one where mel gibson is too old...

- - -

Magazine: CashBox (Taiwan)
Time: March, 1998 vol.46
Title: Beyond Never Dies, But Sings Louder

Ka Kui is a talent, but we're absolutely not; I'm not at least, so we have to use other ways to make up for the part that we're not talents. For example, we'll find many different ways to compose, maybe we see something that happened in society, we'll write it down on purpose, and we have to do some works on purpose.

To stage a comeback, the most difficult thing is to compose, because composing is the core of a band. Other people's countenances or…..These are already not important to us. I know many people compare Beyond today with former Beyond. Some people are expectant, but some are disappointed with you. There are many different confused opinions, but those are all other's opinions that we can't control. However, the most important and the biggest "toy" is in ourselves.

I think no matter Beyond of three or four, even the same band, comparing before with now must be progressive or doing less well than before. But being progressive or doing not well than before is just others' opinions. We have our own standard in our mind. We know what we wanna do. In fact, we don't know if Ka Kui was still alive, what kind of music he would have composed. Nobody knows, but we only do what we can do and what we like the most.

The most important of all, what we do to continue the band isn't for you to think we don't do less well than before. We insist that the songs in albums must be written by ourselves. The record companies have wanted us to use the song from other composer, but we never did. The boss asked us once, and our looks are bad, then he never mentions again and forever.

If a band can't compose songs, it shouldn't exist. No matter if it is in foreign countries or in Taiwan, every band composes their songs. A band's look or style is according of their music. If they have no band's look, it isn't a band. This's our most insistence.

Beyond today and former Beyond are different, but some things are the same, the feeling with which we play instruments and music doesn't change. However, composing is quite different. In former Beyond, Ka Kui composed more songs, but now Paul composes the most. Maybe there is something different, but I think the direction is correct.

Besides, we lack someone to play instruments. When we have two guitar players, composing is easy. When four people play instruments together, we can take the effect soon. It's very easy. Now, Ka Kui isn't here, and the feeling we three play instrument becomes weak. I think it's hard, especially in composing, and Paul is toilsome. He plays guitar himself, and we use keyboard to help him.

In fact, no Ka Kui, no Ka Kui's voice, the feeling of whole band is different, because his voice is gone basically. When Ka Kui organized this band, he made us learn many things. Although he left, we don't feel we got enough. The leaving of Ka Kui is a big effect for us. It's that we work harder and spend much time. If we work casually or do less well than before, we'll be ashamed to him.

Ka Kui had said before that "Hong Kong is no music sphere, but an entertainment sphere". It's true, and the same condition at present. It's funny that we don't pay attention to others in the backstage, and we can chat happily. We often heard that Beyond have our own language what we talk about. We don't know this situation, until one day, someone told us "Do you know? Nobody knows what you talk about". We don't reject others, and we don't feel rejected. It's just different way. We know about the rule. Sometimes, we can understand others. In the sphere for fifteen years, we seem to have insistence, but also seem to have no insistence. For example, we insist on playing live, but if the show we wanna go to can't let us play live, we'll compromise. In the sphere for a long time, maybe we can't adapt to it forever, but we have found our life style.

When we just came out, we had much pressure on every record. We faced a problem - the manager told us that if our next record couldn't be sold for an set amount, we should say bye bye. The record company was smaller, so they had pressure on numbers. They needed us to sell more.

Actually, most bands will consider the market and composing will be neutral, including Nirvana. After all, record companies are business minded. Many people said "Beyond's music seems not heavy than before". I think that's because our ages are different and our opinions of events or music are different, too. It's more mature. We'll use newer mature ideas to play. Three people stand up again, there are many things we need to overcome. Some things are hard when we lack one. For example, when we composed before, four people played together and we can know the feeling right away. But three people need to record in the tape and listen to music, then decide to increase instruments. The effect isn't bad, but slower. And we can't know the answer right away, so it's harder.

I remember the year 1995, we had a concert. It was the first big concert that we stand on the stage again. I found that fans gave us much support, so the pressure I gave myself become bigger and I wanted to do better. Because we don't want to make fans disappointed, make Ka Kui disappointed. We don't want to make the name Beyond bad.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

beyond & me part II

From 1997 (click for larger).

do you really remember what it was like without the internet, in what seems like a long long time ago?

i remember my father dialing up on a rotary phone, where he would look at bulletin boards on a monochrome monitor. that was the early 90s.

i didn't get online on the real internet aka the www, until about 1995, when loud modem dialtones alerted everyone to the fact you were about to cut off their phone line.

in 1996 i discovered icq, and my parents got really annoyed as i dialed in day and night to talk to fellow beyond fans online. (i was sixteen and still convinced i was going to marry ka keung one day, despite the double age difference.)

there was a girl with the nickname of czarina, who was very much into "band sound" and local bands like tat flip and lmf. i wonder if she's the same czarina who writes music articles and reviews in milk?

somewhere along the line we found ka keung on icq, or at least whom we thought was kk. hence began the big chat room sessions that went on for hours. he seemed to know all the answers to the difficult questions we asked him, and in character when a careless person asked him if he still missed his brother ka kui, he promptly logged off.

(because we know losing a close sibling is like a wound that never closes.)

sometime in 1998 i set up a website with the dorky name of 'the beyond station' (only a bunch of references left, no longer online).

a lot of work, a lot of time spent, and a lot of getting nice people to translate chinese articles into english for me. (if later on i post articles with particularly weird, running on english, those were probably me with a translator program and a dictionary.)

through it i met a lot of cool people online whom i have since lost contact with, who shared the same passion for the same band: ken who had a collection to die for including their original first releases (are you reading this?), mui from california whose favourite member was paul and was like the older sister i'd wished for. through email and the post, a thai fan sent me a cassette she'd made of beyond's japanese songs, painstakingly writing the japanese characters in tiny print on the cover, and making photocopies of the japanese cd booklets for me.

somewhere between losing internet access and getting busted by my parents for spending too much time online again, i think i stopped updating.

the fever for their music came and went (my brother knows the cyclical nature of my personality), but i never forgot the love of music the band instilled in me, and wanted to share it with others. lofty and sentimental, i know.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

beyond & me

From 1988 (click for larger).

it's true that i am very beyond fixated, after all these years.

just before last christmas, i was on holiday at genting highlands in malaysia, and the sight of those new year's eve concert posters was enough to make me try to extend my air ticket so i could fulfil my lifetime wish to see them play live. my relatives thought i was insane.

(of course extending my ticket would cost me twice as much as i paid for it; and the tsunami happened not long after i left, with the concert shortened in deference.)

when i first heard them, i was some kid who appreciated the pop idol way they had been preened by both their record company (cinepoly and kinn's) and tvb (the monopoly tv station). who was your favourite member? mine gravitated between babyface wong ka keung (top right) and guitar wiz paul wong (bottom right).

later on i would list my favourite song as forever waiting, the version recorded in 1987, when they were still an underground band who played punk and metal songs and hadn't yet been involved in record company wrangling over their music and image.

my first album was of all things a pirated cassette of 1991's deliberate, which i still have. it is full of cheesy tvb theme songs, but i know all the places to pump my fist up in the air and yell, "euuuaaay!" the way wong ka kui used to do a lot, that it's become a bit of an in-joke with the remaining members.

the community cantonese radio show told me that he had passed away sometime in june, 1993. i couldn't check on the internet in those days, and i couldn't read chinese well enough either, so it didn't really hit home until i saw the funeral procession pictures in a gossip magazine (hey apparently there were rumours online recently that he was still alive and well in japan, so i'm done hallucinating).

there isn't much else to say about this, except who knows what may have happened if he were really still alive today?

(end of this part)


this is a blog for beyond, a band from hong kong. for more information, please see the wikipedia entry (a work in progress).

the name, continue the revolution comes from their 1992 album. also because everything with 'beyond' in the title was taken already. also because you should.

previously i used to run a site many years ago called 'the beyond station'. i've been wanting to set up an english website again, but would find that too time consuming. enter that clunky word 'blog'.

so far i plan to post the english translations of articles i have, plus older news dating back to about 1999. pictures too that i've collected over the years. i may also post english news articles currently on the web, for archival purposes.

of course, contributions and help are welcome too.