Open Your Mind’s Eye 大开“眼”界

May 13, 2020 2020年5月13日

Chinese Psywaves is a collaboration between Neocha and M-Lab by Modern Sky. Throughout the month of May, we’re going to introduce four Chinese alternative rock groups who are making waves. For them, music is a spiritual sustenance that transcends the boundaries of genre. This week, we’ve got Chui Wan, a band that’s widely considered to be pioneers of Chinese neo-psychedelia. 

Little known to most, there’s a certain kinship between Taoist philosophy and the psychedelic counterculture of the ’60s. Parallels can be found throughout the values they touted: both believed in the importance of expanding our limited perspectives, disengaging from the artificiality of society, and liberating our minds from external influence, to name a few. As pioneering psychedelic rock acts such as Jefferson Airplane, The Doors, and The Beatles topped Billboard charts, these countercultural principles even began appearing in the pop music of the era.

In March of 1968, between the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and The White Album, the Beatles put out “The Inner Light,” a fairly obscure single that was tucked away as a B-side. The lyrics, penned by George Harrison, are entirely based on a chapter from Lao Tzu’s Tao Te Ching. Other Taoist ideals appear throughout the Beatles’ discography, but this was one of the most unambiguous up until then.

「Chinese Psywaves」系列由摩登天空 M-Lab Neocha 联合推出。整个五月,我们将为你查探四个中国区域地下摇滚乐队的独特波形。在他们的眼中,音乐不会任由形式的条框,精神的养料脱颖而出。本周,我们与成军刚满十年的吹万乐队进行了连线,通过他们洞察东方新迷幻音乐的独特一角。

你可能不知道,上世纪六十年代的嬉皮士运动其实与中国道教存在着一定的联系。在二者宣扬的价值体系中,我们可以观察到相通之处:他们都相信开阔有限视角、脱离社会人为因素、将思想从外部影响中解放出来的重要性。而作为迷幻文化运动的直接产物,迷幻摇滚乐似乎也与道家学说有着说不清道不明的联系。在那些赫赫有名的迷幻摇滚传奇乐队中,譬如 Jefferson Airplane、The Doors 和 The Beatles 等等,他们的一些作品多少都与道教思想有着相似的内涵。曾几何时,你甚至能在六十年代主流乐坛中瞥见这种类似道教的创作思路。

1968 3 月,在 The Beatles 专辑《Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club》和《The White Album》发行的间隔,乐队曾发行过一首名为《The Inner Light》的单曲,该单曲由乐队主音吉他手 George Harrison 编写完成。整首单曲的歌词摘自老子《道德经》的一个章节。尽管在 The Beatles 过往的作品中也出现过类似道教思想的例子,但《The Inner Light》的确是最直截了当的引用。

Oceans and decades away from the roots of the psychedelic movement, Taoism remains just as relevant for a new generation of psychedelic rockers in China. Beijing-based band Chui Wan—whose name itself comes from a passage of Taoist text that suggests beauty can be found in the mundane—is reweaving the thread between psychedelic music and Chinese culture as they dish out their unique take on the genre.

“As a Chinese musician, I don’t need to look to my Western peers, who may want to follow in the steps of their ‘60s predecessors,” says Yan Yulong, the frontman and guitarist of Chui Wan. “In our interpretation of the psychedelic sound, we only need to look to our own culture.”


Listen to some select tracks from Chui Wan’s White Night below:


In 2012, Chui Wan’s inaugural album, White Night, was released to critical acclaim. From the infectious surf riffs of the intro track “Swimming” to the wall-of-sound guitars and guttural bassline of “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Chui Wan debuted an impressive range that showed the world Chinese neo-psychedelia wasn’t to be taken lightly.

Despite roster changes since, Chui Wan’s subsequent albums, the self-titled Chui Wan and The Landscape the Tropics Never Had, were built on a similar aural vocabulary, though each added a new lexicon of sounds. The band’s latest release, Eye, is perhaps their most ambitious to date. The album—backed by the experience of three LPs and multiple world tours—demonstrates a newfound sureness of footing as the band treads deeper into uncharted sonic and lyrical terrains. On “Primitive Reverberation,” Yan forgoes lucidity for a series of “ehs” and “ohs” uttered at varying inflections or stretched out in a single lungful of air; in “Just Beginning,” looping synth stabs give way to an unexpected outburst of distorted guitars and a few delicate notes of Japanese strings; on “All Tomorrow’s Flowers,” bassist and vocalist Wu Qiong closes the album with a lullaby that promises a better tomorrow—and if the band’s musical evolution is any indicator, with passing time, things do seem to only get better.

Neocha recently caught up with Yan, bassist and vocalist Wu Qiong, and drummer Wen Zheng to discuss the new direction they took with Eye, the importance of artistic collaboration, and how life in China influences their music.

2012 年,吹万乐队在兵马司厂牌下发行的首张专辑《白夜》,受到如潮好评。从第一首歌《游泳》中令人沉醉的冲浪摇滚吉他音效,到《明日未知》中噪音墙和咽喉深处的贝斯线条,再到《另一种爱》如一副山水画铺开在听众面前。吹万乐队初次亮相,便令人印象极为深刻,映证了中国新迷幻音乐不容小觑的实力。之后,吹万乐队如法炮制出《吹万》和《热带从未有过的风景》两张作品,同时每张专辑都会有新的元素融入。

2019 年,乐队最新发行的全长专辑《》,可能是吹万有史以来最具野心的作品。经历了前三张专辑积累的经验,以及多场世界巡演之后的感悟,吹万乐队更加深入地涉足未知的音域,歌词和演唱方面也有了更多的突破,开创了乐队新声音的大陆。在歌曲《原始回响》里,等感叹词代替了歌词部分,闫玉龙抑扬顿挫的唱腔弥漫在空气中;你还会在《刚刚开始》中听到飘绕往复的合成器旋律,同时歌中编入的失真吉他和日本弦乐器也令人前一亮。专辑在贝司手吴琼吟唱的一支摇篮曲《所有明天的花朵》中结束,表达了对美好明天的展望 —— 乐队把新声音的种子埋在地下,未来的花朵会开得更加响亮。

在本次采访中,Neocha 和吹万乐队聊了聊他们在专辑《眼》中呈现的新方向、专辑中的艺术合作、还有传统道教与音乐之间的联系,一起来看看!

Listen to select tracks from Chui Wan’s Eye below:


Neocha: Let’s talk a bit about the latest album, Eye. What were some of the inspirations behind it?

Yan: The title is inspired by perception and mysticism. The album as a whole is related to the memories and lives of the band members; it’s a subjective exploration of our sensory experiences.

In terms of sound, the recurring folk influences of past albums have taken a backseat in Eye. We wanted to get even more experimental. There’s also a lot more emphasis on lyricism and vocals.

Wu Qiong: I was inspired by close acquaintances and my relationships with them, in all their complexities and simplicities. Memories also play a big part. Lyrically, English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and Chinese poet Gu Cheng were big influences.

Wen Zheng: “Eye” represents seeing oneself with absolute clarity; it means peering through the window of the world.

Neocha: 在专辑《眼》的创作过程中,你们受到了怎样的启发?

闫玉龙: 新专辑名称的眼是指观察力和神秘学。但整个专辑算是描绘乐队成员们的日常生活状态吧,当然也可以说是主观的所见所闻和感叹。


吴琼: 身边人复杂而单纯的关系吧,和一些难忘的瞬间。歌词创作受到了雪莱和顾城的影响。

文正: “眼” 代表了认清自己,看见世界的窗口。

Neocha: Chui Wan’s music always seems to be wrapped in a sense of nostalgia. Is this something intentional? With passing time, do you have a new perspective on the topic of nostalgia and memories? 

Yan: Memories are important. They’re proof that we’re alive. Whenever I think about memories and life, a poem by Edith Sodergran comes to mind. In it, she muses on the loneliness of existence: we enter this world alone, and we must also leave alone.

To me, my younger years were my best years, musically. During that time, I’d say 80% of my time was dedicated to music; everything seemed so carefree. People say that getting older makes you wiser, but I feel like I’ve only gotten lazier.



Neocha: Descriptions like cinematic and filmic are often used to define Chui Wan’s work. How do you think this is achieved?

Wen Zheng: Every time we’re jamming out or working on a new song, it feels like my drumming is in dialogue with the melody. There’s a tangible exchange of emotions, with every member of the band adding to the conversation with their instruments. Whenever I get lost in that moment, that’s when I begin seeing visuals.

Neocha: 吹万的音乐往往会勾起人们对过去的回忆。这是你们在创作中关注的主题吗?随着时间的推移,这样的主题发生过怎样的变化?

闫玉龙: 拥有回忆是非常重要的事情,只有它能证明我们还活着。连索德格朗都说:“没有多少大海的沙砾知道,我是独自而来的,将独自而去。”


Neocha: 曾有人形容 Chui Wan 乐队的音乐是富有 “画面感” 的,这一点你们是怎么做到的?

文正: 每次在延伸创作动机时,感觉像在用鼓与旋律对话。我们能感觉到彼此之间的情绪,每个人互相用音乐交流。彼时彼刻,脑海中就会浮现一种场景。

Neocha: Having undergone multiple roster changes between White Night and Eye, would you say the band’s original vision has changed?

Yan Yulong: Every person who’s been a part of Chui Wan has been an indispensable part of the band. They’ve all contributed their unique talents and energy to our sound. As a quartet, every member is of equal importance. This collaborative mindset is what’s helped us shape our music.

With the new addition of guitarist Wu Dong, he’s bringing his own creative energy to the table. Aside from just music, he’s also an expert in making DIY instruments. I’ve always wanted to work with him and develop a new effects pedal. There’s a lot to look forward to. But no matter what, the most important thing for the band has always been to make music that every band member enjoys.

Wen Zheng: Every new member is a new variable in the equation. Though we’re all equally motivated to create good music, but the emotions of each person is completely different.

Neocha: 从《白夜》到《眼》,乐队经历过人员的变动,为乐队带来了哪些新的元素和期待?乐队创作理念发生了怎样的转变?

闫玉龙: 在之前在乐队中一起共事过的伙伴们,每一位都为 Chui Wan 带来了音乐上的能量,贡献出自己的才华。四个人的乐队,缺一不可,只有达到这样的程度才能做出好的音乐。


文正: 每一次新成员的加入都会是一种新的元素融入。同样的创作动机,每个人的感受都是不一样的。


Neocha: The band worked with director Ju Anqi on the music video for “Gentle Blinding Love.” What was that like?

Yan: It was great. It was effortless. When we were shooting the music video, our band members only had minimal input. I’ve always believed that support and trust are important parts of a collaboration. This holds especially true when working with someone who I admire and respect.

During the shoot, we just listened to Anqi. The band was only a supporting cast in fulfilling his creative vision. The only thing is, I’d say we could’ve improved on our acting skills. Hopefully, we can do better next time.

Wen Zheng: The concepts we had in mind were quite in sync with An Qi’s own ideas. We respected his expertise and gave him the creative reins. Our complete trust in him made the collaboration pretty straightforward.

Neocha: 去年,乐队与导演雎安奇合作了音乐 MV《缱绻温柔》,你们的合作过程怎么样?

闫玉龙: 轻松愉快,简单有效。在影片的创意中,乐队仅提供了少量的意见。对于我们欣赏,尊重,且已经充分沟通过的合作艺术家,支持和信赖是最重要的事情。在拍摄中,影片一直围绕着雎安奇导演的构思在进行,而乐队的工作就是作为演员在剧组中协助完成整个拍摄计划。希望作为演员,下次可以表现的再合格一些。

文正: 我们与雎安奇的很多想法一拍即合,大部分听从他的安排,因为他更专业。我们很信任他,所以没遇到什么困难。

Neocha: On the topic of collaboration, you’ve worked with collaborators worldwide, such as Rusty Santos. Have these collaborations changed the way you approach your music?

Yan: You learn a lot when collaborating with others, and it can bring your own flaws to light. Take for example, when we work with Rusty Santos, he’s always bringing new ideas to the table. Whether it’s recording or mixing, there are always new things to learn. It’s always fresh and exciting. We also now have a better understanding of how every country, every city, and every individual even has their own taste in music. These diverse tastes mean experimentative—eclectic even—sounds can flourish. 

Wen Zheng: With Rusty’s input, we included a lot of stringed instruments in the album. He offered a tremendous amount of creative insight that we wouldn’t have thought of ourselves.

Neocha: 你们在过去有很多国际上的合作,包括专辑《眼》也是与制作人 Rusty Santos 合作。这些合作对你们的音乐创作有什么影响?

闫玉龙: 合作的同时,也能学习到很多东西,意识到自己的不足。像每次与 Rusty合作,他总能拿出新的东西。包括录音和混音中每一天的进展,都是新奇有趣的。


文正: Rusty 为我们的作品融入很多管弦乐的部分,为我们提供了很多意想不到的创作元素。

Neocha: There’s a fluidity to the band’s brand of psychedelic rock that in itself is in line with Taoism, and the band is named after Taoist text. What’s the connection between Taoism and your music?

Yan: As many people know, the name Chui Wan comes from Lao Tzu. He wrote, “When the wind blows, every sound may be heard therein.” To us, that represents spontaneity, and it’s a poetic interpretation of what the band is all about. One thing to note is that what we focus on and create are—of course—contemporary music. In both life and music, our ideals should try and align with contemporary schools of thought, but at the same time, it’s good to look to the past for inspiration and wisdom. Right?

Neocha: 乐队的作品具有一种流动性,这与道教的流动性思维不谋而合。道教和吹万乐队有着哪些联系?

闫玉龙: 乐队名字”吹万”,来自于庄子。“风吹万窍”,随机性。从某种角度来说,这也是一种挺浪漫的自我解读。我们所关注和创作的,肯定还是当下的音乐。但其实不论是在生活还是音乐中,我们的内心也都更需要那些符合于当下世界的哲学观点论述。但与此同时,也多少会从前人那里寻找些灵感和慰藉,对吗?

Neocha: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the band’s formation. As veterans of Beijing’s underground music scene, how would you say it’s evolved? And for you guys, what are your aspirations going forward?

Yan: Wow! Time passes way too quickly. To be honest, I don’t think I’m as in touch with Beijing’s current underground music scene as before. As for the future, I just want this pandemic to end.

Neocha: 今年刚好是乐队组建的第十年,有什么特别的感想吗?这些年北京摇滚场景发生了怎样的变化?未来乐队还会有哪些令人期待的元素出现?

闫玉龙: 觉得时间过得好快!我变得不太了解北京地下音乐场景了。目前来说的话,就是希望疫情可以早些过去吧。

Like our stories? Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.


Weibo: ~/ChuiWan
Soundcloud: ~/Chui-Wan


Contributor: David Yen
Chinese Translation: Pete Zhang
Photographers: Hai Shen She, Fu Jing, Wang Yishu
Images Courtesy of Chui Wan

喜欢我们的故事?欢迎关注我们 Neocha 的微博微信


微博: ~/ChuiWan
Soundcloud: ~/Chui-Wan


供稿人: David Yen
英译汉: Pete Zhang
摄影师: 海参摄、负鲸、王轶庶
图片由 Chui Wan 提供