In October 2017, Shanghai-based musician Shu Ying released her first full-length album Girl’s Girl’s World to critical acclaim—the ten-track record quickly making noise across China’s independent music scene. Formerly a keyboardist with the post-punk outfit Undress for Success and founding member of the electronic dance band Quadruple Cherry, Shu now inhabits her own radiantly untamed melodies amidst the loud, discordant, confused noise of twenty-first century Shanghai. A multitalented singer-songwriter who sings and writes both in Chinese and English, she also works as a digital content marketer and runs the Chinese-Dutch indie music label Waving Cat Records.
Listen to some of our favorite tracks from Shu Ying below / 点击即可试听树樱的几首歌曲
There’s a chameleon-like quality to her music, undoubtedly due to her diverse personal background. Of mixed Han and Kazakh descent, she spent her early years moving between Shaoxing, Urumqi, and Stockholm, and such youthful experiences proved formative for her music. “I remember taking a 60-hour train with my family to Urumqi as a kid. I encountered stories and different types of people when I was small and didn’t feel uncomfortable with it. Music is diverse—mixing cultures enables me to see things from a different angle.” Girl’s Girl’s World exemplifies Shu’s globally minded approach to music making: the Chinese singer’s album was recorded in the Netherlands and produced by Israeli Idan Altman.
多元的文化背景，使得她的音乐像变色龙一般变化多端。她是一名汉族和哈萨克族混血，从小在绍兴、乌鲁木齐和斯德哥尔摩三地生活，年轻时的经历塑造着她的音乐风格。“我记得小时候我和家人一起坐了 60 小时的火车去乌鲁木齐。那时候我遇见各式各样的人，听到各种故事，但从来不会觉得奇怪。音乐是多元化的，融合不同的文化能让我从不同的角度看待事物。”《Girl’s Girl’s World》体现了树樱音乐创作的全球性：这是一张中国歌手的专辑，在荷兰录制，并由以色列裔制作人 Idan Altman 操刀完成。
Despite its international imprint, Shu’s music bears faint echoes of the nightclubs and streets of Shanghai, or at least the beautiful chaos of the city’s recent past. Like most dynamic cities, Shanghai is a city in flux, its kaleidoscopic cultural landscape muted by ever-increasing levels of conspicuous consumption. “I used to go from club to club and street to street because I didn’t want to miss out on anything, but now Shanghai is a bit overwhelming, because of the pace of construction and consumerism,” she says. In a sense, her music has come to be defined less by place than by emotions and experiences: “I guess the emotion I get from my experiences is the most important part of my musical equation.”
From its title to the female characters behind the lyrics, Girl’s Girl’s World is also a female-driven record. Many of the songs are sung from a woman’s perspective and drawn from the experiences of Shu’s female friends. Many of her influences are also female vocalists. Tracks such as “Brought by a Haze” and “Never Want That Talk Ever Again” (from her 2015 EP Are You Still A Teenager?) evoke the visceral grittiness of PJ Harvey, while “Leaving the City” contains the electro-pop DNA of late 1990s Madonna.
In a male-dominated society, it can be especially difficult to find your voice and have it heard. “We don’t have a mature, healthy music industry in China, despite the fact that numbers of streaming music users and concert goers are growing rapidly.” Undeterred by these challenges, she persists in search of that elusive and unique sound: “You have to be totally independent, mentally and physically strong to be a misfit.”
从标题到歌词背后的女性角色，《Girl’s Girl’s World》是一张饱受女性影响的专辑。当中许多曲目都是从女性的视角出发，创作灵感大多来自树樱身边女性朋友的经历。她的音乐创作也受到了许多女歌手的影响，譬如，在她2015年的EP《你还是青少年吗？》（Are You Still A Teenager? ）中有两首歌《Brought by a Haze》和《Never Want That Talk Ever Again》就回响着英国女子另类摇滚 PJ Harvey 那种坚韧的精神；而《Leaving the City》（离开这座城市）则指向了90年代末麦当娜代表的电子流行乐。
在男性主导的社会中，作为一名女性，要找到你自己的声音，并让人们听到你的声音，不是一件容易的事情。“在中国，虽然音乐串流媒体用户和会去现场看表演的观众，两者数量都在快速增长，但这还不是一个成熟、健康的音乐产业。” 树樱无惧于这些挑战，坚持寻找自己那难以捉摸的独特声音，“想要成为非主流，你必须完全独立，在精神和身体方面都要很强大。” 她说。
Incidentally, it was painting, and not music, that provided the first studio experiences. She studied traditional Chinese painting and oil painting in primary school, and later developed an interest in the shapes and costumes of Japanese animation. Her training in visual art is reflected in her lush sonic landscapes: “Music has as many aspects as there are colors in the world—intense, destructive, endearing, passionate.” In fact, the two—painting and music—are linked for Shu in a synesthetic way: “Music is flavorless without the imaginative stretch of colors.”
If her eclectic list of musical influences is any indication, Shu Ying’s new album, slated to be released later this year, carries high expectations. Her current playlist includes stalwarts such as Syd Barrett, Neu!, The Kills, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, as well as her recent obsession: garage and punk bands from San Francisco and Los Angeles such as Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Fidlar, and Mystic Braves.
With songs full of attitude and vulnerability, disclosure and distance, Shu Ying’s music is an exciting presence on the Chinese indie music scene. Longevity almost seems beside the point. As she sings in “To Know Less,” the final track of the EP Are You A Teenager?, “Without short moments of clinking glasses / There won’t be everlasting memories.” Cheers to that.
各种多样的风格都影响、进而形塑了她的音乐，大家对她在今年即将发行的新专辑也寄予厚望。最近她常听的音乐有 Syd Barrett、Neu！、The Kills、The Jesus and Mary Chain，除此之外，她还迷上了旧金山和洛杉矶的车库和朋克乐队，如 Ty Segall、Thee Oh Sees、Fidlar 和 Mystic Braves。
树樱的音乐充满态度和脆弱性，既袒露赤裸却又保持距离，是中国独立音乐界中令人期待的力量。至于自己的音乐生涯能走多久，对她而言，这一点无关紧要。正如她在《你还是青少年吗？》EP 的最后一首歌《To Know Less》中所唱：“Without short moments of clinking glasses / There won’t be everlasting memories.”（没有玻璃叮当作响的瞬间，就不会有值得永驻的记忆。）真是说得太棒了！